A revolutionary government will be an overkill

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Marlen V. Ronquillo

If you ask a knowledgeable person to name a public institution that serves as a stumbling block to Mr. Duterte’s program of government, that person will answer this way: None at the moment. The public institutions are either pliable or fully supportive and Mr. Duterte can bend them to his will.

What about the so-called Fourth Estate, the press? Reporting on the DU30 administration spans this band bandwidth, from mildly critical to outright supportive. The critical stories are often trained on the underlings of Mr. Duterte, not the president himself. The New York Times has published more critical stories on Mr. Duterte than PH’s mainstream media.

Of all the presidents in our contemporary history, it is only Mr. Duterte who has his own Pravda, the armies of bloggers dedicated to the policies – and even the personal outbursts – of Mr. Duterte. Mr. Duterte does not even need the copy and paste PNA. Who among the previous presidents have had armies of cyber commentators who operate on just two rules: The President is always right. If you have any question, see Rule Number One

The most vital cooperation a President needs is the cooperation from Congress. It is Congress that gives flesh – via legislation – to the grand policy planks of the executive branch. While the Supreme Court rarely intrudes into executive actions and issuances, a President has to get a congressional greenlight for his most vital initiatives.


What is the level of support that the current Congress gives to Mr. Duterte? The quick answer is this. The kind of support the leader of any country in the West could wish for. Mr. Trump could only wish that Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel were as supportive as Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

There are only five out of the 24 senators who often speak against the policies of Mr. Duterte. Except for two — Mr. Trillanes and Ms. De Lima who is in jail — the criticisms have often been muted and civil. At the House of Representatives with over 200 members, less than five are critical of Mr. Duterte. The number of vocal critics would all fit into an AUV van.

Some in the US Senate and the US Congress talk of Mr. Trump as if he were an illegitimate president, one that needs a mental examination to test his fitness to govern.

If Mr. Duterte wants martial law in Mindanao to combat the ISIS, Mr. Duterte instantly gets martial law in Mindanao. Except for a few isolated voices, the two chambers answer in unanimous “ayes.”

There is no critical mass in the two chambers of Congress that oppose the thrust and spending items in the proposed 2018 national budget. There was no real opposition to the 2017 budget proposal.

The tax reform package, the TRAIN, is not opposed by the senators as far as its general thrusts are concerned. There is a shared consensus to reform the current tax structure. What the senators are doing is looking at the items such as the levy on diesel, which are potentially harmful to the general public and may bring about an unwanted level of inflation.

What the senators are doing, this is the fact, is looking for possible sources of public disenchantment in the TRAIN provisions not only to save their own skins but to avoid a possible backlash from the untampered anti-poor provisions. A backlash that would give the DU30 administration a blackeye.

Have you taken score of the voting record of the Commission on Appointments? It votes for the men and women Mr. Duterte wants and against the men and women that give Mr. Duterte a source of discomfort. The best cabinet choices of Mr. Duterte, Ms. Lopez and Ms. Taguiwalo, were voted down by the CA on the ground that they do not fit into the pliant, “yes men” persona of the members of the DU30 cabinet.

Based on Congress‘ voting record and decision-making choices, Mr. Duterte’s support from Congress is at the at 90 percent level.

Are you talking about the judiciary? After Mr. Duterte telegraphed his decision to allow the burial of a despot at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, the Supreme Court responded with a vote to allow the burial. Can you get a high court more cooperative than that?

What about the plutocrats and the oligarchs who own the mainstream media enterprises, those with the giant megaphones? To a man, they support Mr. Duterte and his core policies.

The “ Build, Build, Build” program of Mr. Duterte will modernize our fraying infrastructure. But first and foremost, it will further enrich the oligarchs and the plutocrats. If you look at the rules and terms of the massive infra program, they have been designed to fit into the capital, resources and building capabilities of the superrich conglomerates. Triple A contractors won’t even qualify. You are looking, at the very least, at P1 trillion in infrastructure fund that only the oligarchs are capable of undertaking.

With all the public institutions both supportive and pliable, and with the oligarchs 100 percent behind Mr. Duterte, the declaration of a revolutionary government is an overkill.

In combatting drugs, the Mautes and other rebel forces, Mr. Duterte has the kind of expertise and solid grounding that matter. Law and order is his field. He does not need the structure of a revolutionary government in dealing with dissident forces.

So, we should all stop dropping the ridiculous idea of evolving into a revolutionary government. Mr. Duterte can engage in executive overreach and no one can and will stop him.

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