Bandillo: A great disaster

By RANDY FELIX P. MALAYAO
www.nordis.net

So the rally to support Duterte’s call for the establishment of a revolutionary government has fizzled out despite the huge resources spent by the government and its counterpart organisers. Save perhaps for Davao City that gathered an estimated 20,000 (far cry from Digong’s miting de avance of 200,000), there was no display of spontaneous support nationwide as projected.

While the President appears to have downplayed or dismissed the revgov initiative, it is actually sanctioned to expedite his federalism project. The other two include the convening of Congress as a constituent assembly, and, the other one is the creation of a Constitutional Commission. But he seems impatient to go through a rigorous constitutional processes with its concomitant debates. Thus the revgov November 30 rally… but how it failed so miserably.

There are pending proposals on federalism in Congress. The first one is the PDP Laban proposal which proposes a shift to parliamentary-federal and the Resolution of Both Houses No. 8 (RBH8) which proposes a presidential-federal form of government. According to Congress insiders, RBH8 has the edge as it has the support of the majority or tailor-made for them. However, provisions from the PDP Laban bill might as well be introduced and absorbed as they go through the readings. RBH8 is mainly authored by Cong Aurelio Dong D. Gonzales of 3rd District of Pampanga and Cong. Eugene Michael De Vera of ABS Partylist.

The president need not declare a revolutionary goverment. His minions in Congress are already fasttracking a constitutional power grab for him through RBH8. Under this bill, dictatorial powers will be given to Duterte especially in its transitory provisions. Sans checks and balances, he shall exercise executive, legislative and judicial powers ala Marcos.

Control of the legislative branch is the natural course after the abolition of Congress. The President is then granted to issue laws and presidential decrees (Sec 6, Transitory Provisions). Under Section 9, the justice system shall be reorganized, too. Ergo, under full presidential control. The Court of Appeals will be become Federal CAs in all 18 regions. Regional Trial Courts will be reorganised as Regional District Courts and so on. All judges will be reappointed by the President.

In the transitory provisions of RBH8 (Article XVIII), other key changes are as follows:

Congress will be abolished and the President shall exercise legislative powers (Section 6). Incumbent commissioners of constitutional offices shall all be removed within the year after ratification of the new Constitution (Sec 12).

All Regional Trial Courts shall be abolished and Regional District Courts be created and all judges to be appointed by Duterte (Sec 8). No fixed term of office for Supreme Court Justices unlike the term of office of the President and the Vice-President which is expressly assured to end on noon of June 30, 2022 (Sec 5). This is dangerous.

Top government officials – President, Vice-President, Senate President, Chief Justice, Senators, Representatives, Justices of the SC and Chairs of Constitutional Commissions – shall be exempted from tax payments (Sec 15). These and among other questionable provisions like the retirement package for terminated government workers.

RBH8 has sell-out provisions that will complete the opening of the country’s resources and economy to foreign interests (Article XII). All protectionist provisions in the 1987 Constitution are removed through innocuous legalese as “unless otherwise provided by law.” Despite constitutional prohibitions, RBH8 allows foreigners and their corporations to own land even those classified as agricultural lands (Sec. 7); solely explore, develop and utilize our natural resources 100% (Sec. 2); lease alienable lands of the public domain for beyond 50 years or even 100 years! (Sec 3), operate public utilities (Sec. 11); operate, managed universities and institutions (Sec. 11); 100% control of mass media even if they own a small percent of its capital Art XVI, Sec. 11(2).

RBH8 dilutes all the hard earned freedoms that have been won through struggles. It prohibits people power which is a legitimate exercise of people’s sovereign power. Sovereignty is now merely limited to suffrage (Article II. Sec.1).

The idea of democratising, devolving, and decentralizing powers is a pipedream. Selling out national patrimony is outright treason. Dilution of sovereign rights is fascistic. In sum, we are heading towards a great disaster. The people should vigorously expose and oppose this. # nordis.net

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