Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has acknowledged that there is a possibility that he may be seriously ill. Should his recent health exams reveal the presence of such an illness, he has vowed to fully disclose the results to the public while also stating that if he has stage-three cancer he will simply wait to die rather than seek treatment. While Duterte’s supporters and those with a clean conscience will hope that the President is healthy, the very fact that there is a possibility he may be seriously ill raises immediate political concerns.
If Duterte were to become too ill to remain in office or were he to tragically die in office, according to the current constitutional order, Vice President Leni Robredo would become President. It is not just that in the Philippine system, the Vice Preisdent is awkwardly elected separately from the President, thus allowing for the possibility of the two individuals having a totally different set of policies and political beliefs (as is the case with Duterte and Robredo), but the current Vice President is so vastly incompetent that if she were in charge of the nation, there is a likelihood that The Philippines could be politically and economically destroyed in a short period of time.
Duterte himself has admitted that the Vice President is “weak” and previously stated that one of the only reasons that he does not step down early is because he does not believe she is fit to govern. Robredo’s overt stupidity, lack of diplomatic understanding and total ignorance regarding both political geography and basic mathematics is well known. It therefore becomes necessary for the President to accelerate future constitutional reforms in order to prevent the disaster that is Robredo from coming anywhere near an important seat of power.
According to Philippine law, the President has it within his power to declare a Revolutionary Government. Under a Revolutionary Government, all normal political institutions are temporarily suspended and a new emergency government comes into operation in order to create new constitutional reforms in order to allow for a quick transition to a new form of normal civilian government.
In 1986 when Corey Aquino came to power in the aftermath of a deeply controversial election, she issued Proclamation No. 3 which suspended all normal political institutions and in their place consecrated a revolutionary government that would rule the country until such a time that a new constitution could be adopted.
This extraordinary move was justified by the extraordinary circumstances which transpired on the streets of The Philippines in the aftermath of the 1986 election. However, while critics have stated that the manifold obstacles preventing President Rodrigo Duterte from executing his democratic mandate do not rise to the level of extraordinary circumstances necessary to justify a revolutionary government, in reality that which faces Duterte today is far more extraordinary than which the leadership faced in 1986.
While Corey Aquino’s election was mired in controversy, President Duterte’s 2016 election was a clean and unambiguous victory. Yet ever since the former Mayor of Davao City became The President of The Republic of The Philippines, multiple opponents of Duterte have done everything in their power to obstruct him from carrying out his legal mandate which includes a mandate for vast constitutional reforms aimed at transforming the unitary republic into a more democratic federal republic.
While Duterte has been largely successful in scoring political victories against the obstructionists, if he were forced to suddenly depart from office due to ill health, all of his reforms would be instantly jeopardised. Therefore, while he still has it within his power to do so, Duterte must call for a Revolutionary Government during which time constitutional experts will begin to implement the existing constitutional reform proposals of Duterte’s PDP-Laban party which call for the creation of a federal-parliamentary republic.
Now only would this save The Philippines from the political horror show that is Leni Robredo but it would at long last usher in a political system fit for the 21st century – one where deadlock and the elevation of the individually incompetent is replaced by an efficient, transparent, meritocratic parliamentary system at a national level while federalised units of the country would reserve the historical trend of the labour of the poorest parts of The Philippines seeing the profits generated in these poor regions trickle up to Imperial Manila without seeing these profits return in any form.
A Philippines under the current broken presidential/congressional system without Duterte would regress so rapidly so as to make most of Duterte’s historic reforms meaningless. The fact that this is possible and in fact highly likely should Duterte fall ill, makes it all the more necessary for Duterte to take action while he still can and insure that the country has a federal-parliamentary system in place which will ultimately strengthen Philippine democracy, break the power of the old corrupt political class and help pave the way for a new generation of Philippine politicians whose focus is on reform, tackling corruption and opening up the economy to the wider world through the abolition of the 60/40 rule which presently prohibits foreign direct investment from pouring into the country in the way it for example pours into Singapore and China’s Hong Kong.
In order to accomplish this with the least amount of political turbulence, Duterte must form a Revolutionary Government that will rapidly implement these reforms in order for The Philippines to be saved from its own 1987 Constitution that itself was the product of the oligarchs who have since enshrined their power over the country at the expense of the democratic populace that continues to rally behind President Duterte both in sickness and in health. Right now Duterte is the only thing standing between a prosperous future and political and economic oblivion. In order to make it so that the fate of the entire nation is not wholly dependent on the health of one man, Duterte must declare a revolutionary government in order to set in motion the implementation of reforms which will transform the country into one with a government fit for its own people.