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Duterte’s People Power

by Jose Alejandrino

I have always spoken out my mind on fb. I have no vested interests to protect. I only have one agenda and that is to help bring change to our country.
16.6 million Filipinos voted Rodrigo Duterte to the presidency. Today 80 percent of Filipinos have given him their trust according to the latest opinion survey. Those who voted for Duterte wanted change. The 80 percent today are impressed by his achievements since he took office six months ago. They expect more from him.

The problems Duterte faces are even bigger than he thought when he decided to run for the presidency. Looking at the list of thousands of public officials involved in the illegal drug trade from senators to governors to mayors to police to judges to barangay captains, he admitted, “Hindi kuna kaya ito.”

It is an open admission that even with the vast powers of the Philippine president, he would not be able to solve them short of extraordinary powers. He was just being realistic about the limitations of his present powers.

What is he facing? A flawed political system dominated by a few oligarchs and powerful business interests who control three-fourth of the wealth of the nation. A flawed democracy where cheating is prevalent during elections. Corruption that eats up one-third of our national budget each year.
An illegal drug trade estimated at 450-billion pesos annually. Poverty where 25 percent of our population live below the poverty line. A system of justice so slow and cumbersome few big fish go to jail. An Opposition that continues to plot against the president to oust and replace him with someone more malleable who will preserve the status quo.

What has the Supreme Court done to speed up the system of justice? What has the Ombudsman done to charge big crooks? What has Comelec done to prevent cheating at the polls? What has the Senate done to rid from its midst protectors of druglords?

The answer is nothing because its members are protected by tenure under the 1987 Constitution which itself is flawed. It is no longer of consequence that the Supreme Court flouts the law and makes the law that is beyond its province like in the Poe case.
It is no longer of consequence that Congress accepts pork barrel that has been declared unconstitutional. The simple truth is our institutions are broken. When they themselves break the law, how do they expect the citizenry to follow?

President Duterte wants a new Constitution in effect by 2020. Politicians and vested interests are getting into the act to ensure they are protected. How then can you expect a good Constitution to emerge with a few cosmetic changes?

When the new Constitution with a new form of government is ratified by the people in a plebiscite, new elections would have to be called. That means elected officials in last May’s elections would have to step down.

That means President Duterte will only have the next three years to finish the job for which he was elected. He has said publicly he will step down once a new Constitution is in place. He does not expect to complete his six-year term.
How can he complete his job of change in three years given the magnitude of the problems facing him and the limitations of his powers?

I do not recommend the president asking for extraordinary powers or declaring martial law because in both cases he would be accused of wanting to be a dictator which of course is absurd given his age.
Rather I would favor the people inviting him by People Power to assume revolutionary powers which he can use or not use at his discretion depending on the circumstances called for. The people can grant such powers by its sovereign will.

In a democracy the sovereign will of the people is supreme. People Power is the highest form of expression in a democracy. It can abrogate Constitutions because what the people can do they can undo. Such powers become co-terminus with President Duterte.

When he steps down the powers are automatically dissolved. A new Constitution takes over. The people gave revolutionary powers to Cory. Why not to Duterte who faces bigger problems than Cory had?
The president and his Cabinet must not be involved in this process. It is the people who must take the initiative. It is the people who must decide. I have drafted a People’s Proclamation inviting the president to assume revolutionary powers that can be read out to the massive crowds in rallies in various cities of the country. We have the numbers.

Without extraordinary powers, I am convinced his program of change cannot be completed within the remaining time at his disposal. If the president fails, the country will revert to the status quo.
The only way after that to effect change will be through a bloody revolution or civil war which will inevitably lead to military rule to re-establish order. The way I propose is a much better way.
Please share to all groups. Next year will be a decisive year. Be ready.


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