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Former military, police officials reject call for Duterte-led revolutionary government

A group of retired military and police officers on Wednesday, August 26, rejected the renewed calls of supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte to establish a revolutionary government, saying that it was “baseless, illegal, and would only add to the suffering of our people.”

As Advocates for National Interest or ANI, the retired security officials emphasized the need for the country to remain “united under one flag, one Constitution.”

“We oppose any initiative from any sector that will undermine the Constitution of the Philippines. We are against the establishment of a revolutionary form of government because it is baseless, illegal, and will only add to the suffering of our people,” ANI said in its statement sent to Rappler.

“It seeks to bring about major changes in the institutions of our country including the legislative and the judiciary [through] authoritarian [and] undemocratic means. It will produce bigger problems than what it tries to solve,” the group emphasized.

ANI is chaired by retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) lieutenant general Edilberto Adan. The members include: former ambassador Ramon Farolan; former Armed Forces chiefs of staff generals Renato de Villa, Rodolfo Biazon, Alexander Yano, Victor Ibrado, Eduardo Oban, and Emmanuel Bautista; former Philippine National Police chief Recaredo Sarmiento II; retired Vice Admiral Emilio Marayag; former representatives Plaridel Abaya and Ashley Acedillo; retired commodore Plaridel Garcia; retired colonels Niceto Festin, Guillermo Cunanan, and Alejandro Flores; retired major general Melchor Rosales; former Social Security System (SSS) president and CEO Renato Valencia; and lawyer Mariano Santiago.

Retired Brig Gen Eliseo Rio, who most recently was an information and communications technology undersecretary under the Duterte administration, has also joined the group.

ANI said it supports the leadership of the defense department, the AFP, and the Philippine National Police “in their swift rejection of the call for the establishment of a revolutionary government.”

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, and even Malacañang had dismissed the calls for a revolutionary government that Duterte's supporters said would be led by the President himself.

Talks of establishing a revolutionary government circulated in 2017, with Duterte himself saying he would declare one if his critics “are about to take over the nation.”

But on Tuesday, August 25, Duterte disowned the initiative of his supporters that called themselves Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC). In a televised address, he said he did not know these supporters even as he had actually appointed some of them to positions in his administration.

ANI has kept itself relatively low-key but had issued statements whenever it deems necessary, such as when it called for voters to choose leaders who would defend the country’s democracy during the midterm elections in 2019.

“We lend our voices on selected issues of vital national interest, especially on defense, security, and peace and order [which is] our background and field of expertise,” Yano told Rappler on Wednesday.

Yano said the group does not issue formal statements all the time, but they would discuss issues at meetings.

Yano also said they had tackled the revolving door practice for the appointments of the AFP chiefs of staff and major AFP commanders, reforms and institutional changes in the Philippine Military Academy, and support for the Anti-Terrorism Act.

“We are tackling the [Anti-Terrorism Act] from our viewpoint as former security practitioners. There should be a balance between human rights and real danger of terrorism…[It’s still] under discussion,” Yano said. – Rappler.com

Nikko Dizon

Nikko Dizon is a freelance journalist specializing in security and political reporting. She has extensively covered issues involving the military, the West Philippine Sea maritime dispute, human rights, and the peace process.

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