Press Release
October 29, 2018


*Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Duterte's order for a military takeover of the BOC

President Rodrigo Duterte's order to the Philippine military to take over the operations of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is blatantly unconstitutional and dictatorial. By openly pushing for the military takeover of a civilian agency, President Duterte is violating the constitutional principle of the supremacy of civilian authority over the military. What's stopping the President from ordering a military takeover of other government agencies as well?

This is backdoor dictatorship. Galawang diktador, pasimpleng Martial Law. Kagaya kung paano nalusutan ang sambayanan ng bilyon-bilyong pisong shabu, ngayon naman, pasimpleng inilulusot ni Pangulong Duterte ang kanyang Martial Law.

President Duterte should give the military institution the respect it rightfully deserves. He should stop treating the military as his personal troubleshooting department. He cannot call on the military each and every time he is facing problems in governance. He should leave the military out of unconstitutional exercises. His order is not a demonstration of political will, it is a pathetic display of weak leadership.

Our Constitution is clear. Section 5 [4], Article XVI of our Constitution clearly states that no member of the armed forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.

Moreover, the "calling out powers" of the President under Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution are limited in scope. The President can only deploy the Armed Forces to suppress identified acts of violence (rebellion and lawless violence), which serve as factual basis for the calling-out power. The President cannot give the military extra powers and even order it to run the civilian affairs of the country.

If President Duterte is really sincere in eradicating corruption in the BOC and government in general, the solution is staring him in the face. He should repeal his "revolving door policy" of recycling corrupt and incompetent public officials. Instead of rewarding the corrupt and tolerating the incompetent, the President should see to it that they are not only permanently removed and barred from public office, but also administratively and criminally held accountable for violations of the standards of governance. He doesn't need the military for that. All it takes is real political will.

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