Espinoza: Visit to media outlets

Free Zone

THERE is nothing to be alarmed about the visit to media outfits by the police. But for what purpose was it? That reminded me of the martial law (ML) years. I was 19 and had to stop going to college when ML was imposed in September 1972. The now defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) could, at that time, just invite a person to its headquarters and book him for no reason at all.

Under the present setup though, policemen are more civil or courteous than the PC. But I don’t know how the police would act in places where the media is less active or where there is no media presence at all.

I am not saying that we in media should be treated differently. We all have the same fundamental rights under our Constitution as well as under the laws of the land and should therefore be treated equally. The visit may not be that alarming but still it is chilling, particularly to critics of the Duterte administration.

If the intention was to establish better media, police and community relation, there are ways of doing it other than one that could be misunderstood as harassment. Or, is the police cooking something that the public has yet to know? Consider that ML is still in place in Mindanao even if some Mindanaonons are objecting to its continued imposition.

A group of President Duterte supporters is reviving the call for the establishment of a revolutionary government or “rev gov” upon learning of the not-so-good news about President Duterte’s health. The President underwent medical tests (yesterday, he said the result of the test is negative).

Who ordered the policemen’s visit? Did it come from the police hierarchy in the region? Many of us in media were not threatened by it, but could this be preparation for what’s coming in the Visayas and then in Luzon?

To recall, President Duterte joked about placing the entire country under ML after this was declared in Mindanao as a consequence of the Marawi City siege. He is, after all, a fan of the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the architect of military rule.

There are signs of a possible declaration of a “rev gov.”

One, the President, even if he knows the law on succession, does not want Vice President Leni Robredo to succeed him in the event of vacancy in his office. He claims Robredo is not competent.

Two, the President favors former senator Bongbong Marcos (BBM) to succeed him even if his election protest against Robredo is still ongoing before the Supreme Court. But wasn’t Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections Alan Cayetano, who is now the foreign affairs secretary, and not Marcos?

Three, if in case BBM loses his electoral protest against Robredo, what would happen next? A rev gov is imposed and a military junta runs the government but with a president and a VP. Is it possible to install BBM as VP after Robredo is removed from office as enemy of the state? I don’t think so.

What is more disturbing is the proposal of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to amend the Constitution with a provision that would bar the vice president from succeeding the president in case of the latter’s death or incapacity.

With Arroyo as leader in the Lower House, the shift to a Federal form of government is dead in the pond. Of course, amending some provisions of the Constitution that are not any more responsive to the current mode is a better option than a total overhaul.


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