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President Rpdrigo Duterte is the most powerful president to sit in the Philippines, even beating Ferdinand Marcos, according to columnist Francisco Tatad. Tatad said that this is now the view of several political observers and businessmen. He says Marcos needed to declare Martial Law to impose authoritarian rule, but Duterte has done the same without declaring it. He gets what he wants by mere insisting on his benevolence, and a firm statement that he does not fear anyone.

Marcos needed to abolish congress to rid of politicians who could oppose him, but Duterte made them part of his adopted PDP-Laban to acquire a semblance of legality- from restoration of death penalty tp lowering age of criminal responsibility to nine, to the revision of the present constitution.

Marcos needed a military tribunal to try a Chinese illegal drugs manufacturer by the name of Lim Seng, Duterte only ordered the Philippine National Police to eliminate drug suspects and jail users.

While Marcos still is being criticized by Martial Law victims, Duterte shows no fear and refuses to be intimidated by the threat of being held accountable for his actions. He says he doesn’t “give a damn” and would do what he thinks is right.

Agnes Callamard, The UN special rapporteur on summary executions said, “claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings.

The US Department, The White House and Amnesty International on human rights have spoken against his methods. So have Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, former CBCP President and Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar V. Cruz, and Manila Cardinal-Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle.

Among the list of critics are 300 international nongovernmental organizations, and international media, prominent news sources such as The New York Times, Time, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, among many others.

Yet Duterte remains unmoved.

According to Tatad, the plans for a change in constitution are being undergone.

“In his speech, Alvarez did not refer to any infirmity of the present Constitution, which needs to be cured, other than the “highly centralized” unitary state that must now be replaced by a federal system, pursuant to the desire of the President. 

But in addition to changing the territorial structure from unitary to federal, Alvarez also spoke of changing the present bicameral Congress into a unicameral assembly or parliament under a system similar to the French. This means a thorough-going revision of the Constitution, not simply a matter of amending it. This is a task for the sovereign Filipino people, through their delegates in a constitutional convention, rather than for a rubber-stamp Congress.” he said.

The congress will be in charge of the constitutional revision.

Tatad opposes this revision, calling it “unprincipled” and “opportunistic” for the congress to propose it.

“ DU30, being smarter than all his minions, should reject the devil’s temptation to get involved, as strongly as Christ rejected it at the desert, and let the people, who are ultimately wiser than their machine-elected “leaders,” do what the Constitution prescribes.” he said.

Source: Manila Times

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