MANILA, Philippines – A few thousand supporters who gathered in Manila on Bonifacio Day, November 30, "granted" President Rodrigo Duterte the powers to declare a revolutionary government and rewrite the Philippine Constitution to effect a shift to federalism.
Led by actress Vivian Velez, various pro-Duterte groups under the Network Revolution (NetRev) umbrella, read a declaration that said a corrupt system of government had prevented reforms, and allowed the elite and the oligarchs to exploit it for their selfish interests. The only way toward real change, they said, would be to set this system aside and the President to start from scratch.
Specifically, the President's supporters believe revolutionary powers will allow Duterte to accomplish the following:
The crowd – nearly 3,000 during the peak of the rally, but placed by cops at 5,000 – repeated after Velez, word for word, the declaration in Filipino.
"Kami, ang nakapangyayaring sambayanang Pilipino at kumakatawan sa makapangyarihan na kalooban ng mamamayang Pilipino, ay lubos na nagkakaisa sa kapasyahan at pagpapahayag ng aming kagustuhang gawaran ng pambihirang kapangyarihan si Pangulong Rodrigo Roa Duterte na siyang kinikilala naming Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas," they said.
(We, the sovereign Filipino nation, and who represent the will of the Filipinos, are one in granting exceptional powers to President Rodrigo Duterte, whom we recognize as the President of the Republic of the Philippines.)
After their declaration, the crowd chanted, "RevGov na (RevGov now)" and "Duterte" multiple times, followed by a song praising the President.
In some cities, however, where the Duterte supporters annouced similar rallies would be staged, the activities either gathered only small groups or did not push through at all.
LOOK: Pro-revolutionary government protesters’ proclamation for November 30. pic.twitter.com/n2jFMuEZxk — Rambo Talabong (@rambotalabong) November 30, 2017
"Ang deklarasyon na ito ay isang pagkilala, na ang kasulukuyang sistemang politikal ay bulok, walang saysay at bisa na magkusa at lumikha ng isang tunay na pagbabago sa ating bansa," the group said in their statement.
"Ito ay mga hadlang sa pagbigay ng lunas sa ating mga problema. Ito ay ginagamit ng mga elit politikal at oligarkiya para sa kanilang pansariling kapakanan kahit ito ay kasiraan ng Sambayanang Pilipino," they added.
(This declaration is a recognition that the current political system is decaying, and has no use in putting forward true change in our country. It is a hindrance to curing our problems. It is being used by the political elite and the oligarchy for their own gains, even if it leads to the loss of the Filipino people.)
Should Duterte declare a revolutionary government, the 1987 Constitution will be set aside and bureaucracy will be overhauled. (READ: Can Duterte declare a revolutionary gov't? Here's what you need to know)
In a simultaneous rally organized by leftist groups, also in Manila, former Duterte Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo challenged the President's supporters: if they wanted real change, then they should tell the Chief Executive to reform policies. Monopolizing power is not the solution, she said.
Vice President Leni Robredo also pointed out that wanting a revolutionary government means distrust in the current administration. She said earlier that top security officials also assured her that they would not back the declaration.
In the streets, NetRev was opposed by anti-Duterte demonstrators who, while also declaring the current system as rotten, do not believe in a revolutionary government. (READ: 'Bonifacio turning in his grave' over Duterte's revolutionary gov't)
Duterte has been changing his statements on a revolutionary government, at one point threatening to declare one of critics continued to destabilize his government, and then saying later he will not declare a revolutionary government any time soon because the country will not get anything out of it. (OPINION: Revolutionary government: Show of force…or sign of weakness?) – Rappler.com