Analysis by Raïssa Robles
The sight would be comical if it did not cast such a dark shadow over the country’s future: Vivian Velez, a former bold actress who has seen better days, reading aloud a manifesto “handing over” to President Rodrigo Duterte the power to abolish Congress and take over its law-making powers.
The reason it isn’t funny is that Velez and others like her ( including people in government like comedian Jimmy Bondoc) can be charged with the non-bailable, very serious crime called “inciting to rebellion”.
Let me explain.
One of the ways to commit an act of rebellion is by “depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.” In other words, rebellion is a crime committed not only against the President. It is also a crime committed against Congress, by “depriving” the law-making body in full or in part of any of its powers or prerogatives.
This crime is listed under Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code, as further amended by Republic Act No. 3815.
The crime also violates the Constitution, which clearly states that Congress is the only state institution that can enact laws.
I ran this past human rights lawyer and former Senator Rene Saguisag. He confirmed that my interpretation of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by R.A. 3815, is correct.
What Velez and Company have been doing and continue to do is tantamount to “inciting to rebellion” because they said they have “handed over” to Duterte the power to abolish Congress, take over its law-making function and form a revolutionary government.
Listen to Velez say this:
REVGOV powers Proclamation by Vivian Velez Mendiola, ManilaNov. 30. 2017#RevGov#Federalism
Posted by Community Newswatch PH on Thursday, November 30, 2017
They aren’t just requesting Duterte to take over. They are actually claiming to grant Duterte the power to take over, which is tantamount to inciting to rebellion.
What is “inciting to rebellion”
The crime of of “inciting to rebellion” is committed by “any person who, without taking arms or being in open hostility against the Government, shall incite others in the execution of any of the acts specified in Article 134 of the Penal Code, by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other presentations tending to the same end.”
Facebook posts, tweets, YouTube videos and blogs can be used as evidence to show that certain personalities are inciting to rebellion.
Duterte, his presidential legal counsel and his spokesman Harry Roque are all lawyers. But far from condemning their followers’ demands, they seem to welcome it.
Watch this video showing Jimmy Bondoc standing beside Duterte and actor Philip Salvador. elaborating on the plan to give #RevGov powers to Duterte should there be a destabilization attempt against the President.
Did Duterte have them arrested then and there for suggesting to the President of the Republic of the Philippines to commit such an unconditional act? Did he at least caution Bondoc that what he was doing was illegal?
Not at all.
Duterte is open to a revolutionary government
In fact, Duterte is open to it. He recently said “all options are on the table” in order to “preserve” the Republic. And THAT includes the #RevGov option.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque even elaborated: “Magdedeklara lang siya ng RevGov kung naghihingalo na ang ating republika at hindi po ‘yan nangyayari ngayon. Move on, move on, please.” [He will only declare a revolutionary government if our Republic is dying and that is not happening today.]
But, Roque added, “I think there’s no factual or legal basis as of now (for a #RevGov) because the President has said that he will consider a revolutionary government if destabilizers will persist in their plan to have him removed from office.”
Such statements, coming from a constitutional law expert, are highly disturbing. He forgot to even mention the fact that there is no legal basis EVER for a revolutionary government. It is not one of the constitutional remedies for a “dying Republic”.
There is only one practical political instance where a revolutionary government is created: WHEN SOMEBODY GRABS POWER
Duterte is fond of citing the revolutionary government of President Corazon Aquino as an example of a model #RevGov that he wants to emulate.
The reality was, it was a revolutionary government in name only. It was a pale version of a real revolutionary government. Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., the founding father of Duterte’s adopted PDP-Laban ruling party and one of Cory Aquino’s closest cabinet ministers, once told me that she was loath to used her revolutionary powers because she wanted to be “the opposite of Marcos”.
Besides, Cory Aquino did not grab power. It was handed to her by the crowd in the streets and the soldiers beside them.
The REAL REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT was installed by Ferdinand Marcos after he imposed Martial Law in September 1972, arrested all his critics, shut down Congress and forced an ongoing Constitutional Convention to rewrite its draft and insert law-making powers for Marcos.
It was a self-coup – or what Ninotchka Rosca, a renowned Filipino novelist and former political detainee of Marcos called an “auto-golpe”.
Marcos’ term as president was about to end the following year 1973.
In other words, Martial Law was only THE MEANS for Marcos to grab power and install himself dictator for life with a revolutionary government. What Marcos did was unconstitutional and illegal because even under the 1935 Constitution, Martial Law was never designed to “build a new Society”, but just to quell unrest.
By the time Marcos had imposed Martial Law, however, no one could complain since he had jailed his most prominent critics in one fell swoop, cowed the Supreme Court justices and shut down all media except those owned and controlled by his cronies.
Duterte’s secret model for a #RevGov is Marcos’ dictatorship
This is why Duterte would rather mention Cory Aquino’s revolutionary government and not Marcos’ revolutionary government. It’s to lull you and everyone into thinking that a revolutionary government is not such a bad thing. It’s a good thing.
And, eerily, Duterte has also said he did not want to be known as the president who presided over the death of the Republic. Marcos also said he had imposed Martial Law in order “to save the Republic and build a New Society”.
Marcos took years to plan and implement his power grab. Assuming Duterte wants to grab power, he doesn’t have the luxury of time. He is 72 years old. So what we could see unfolding is a crude, fast-break that works like this:
Duterte followers play a key role. They planted the seed when they publicly proclaimed they were turning over dictatorial power to their idol.
All that Duterte has to do is claim is that he is bowing to the sovereign will of the people by accepting the powers already handed to him last November 30 by Vivian Velez to form a #RevGov.
Spokesman Roque’s statements can be read as saying Duterte can accept Vivian Velez’s grant of revolutionary powers to him anytime, should he wish to do so.
I believe there is a concerted effort today by Duterte and his supporters to massage the public into accepting a #RevGov by making it sound palatable and inviting. By claiming that it is the ONLY remedy to fight corruption, illegal drugs and poverty and achieve economic growth.
Why do I say that?
Because of the proliferation of video clips on YouTube and Facebook promoting #RevGov.
In short, the government is now seeding the Internet with the idea that #RevGov is good. The way they tried before to seed the Internet with the idea that Martial Law is good.
For instance, look at this video below of two men discussing so very casually that while #RevGov will enable Duterte to assume both executive and legislative powers, that’s OK because Duterte has the trust of the people.
Or this video of a certain Mr. Riyoh advocating a revolutionary government.
All these grossly violate the Constitution and Duterte, a former prosecution lawyer as he likes to brag, has made no moves to tell his supporters to stop it. In fact, as you have seen, Duterte seems to be encouraging it.
The funny thing is, they only want #RevGov if Duterte is in charge of it.
If people critical of Duterte were to advocate a #RevGov with say, Senator Grace Poe or Vice-President Leni Robredo or Senator Panfilo Lacson in charge but with the same aims that Vivian Velez and Mr. Riyoh have outlined, I bet you the justice department would swiftly file cases of inciting to rebellion against them.