Duterte hints at fewer checks and balances
In his seemingly unstoppable bid for the Palace, Duterte has reaffirmed his promise that he will strengthen anti-crime drives. While this is not new from the tough talking mayor, this time he has explicitly warned three major check and balance institutions to steer clear of his anti-crime purge: the Congress, the Commission on Human Rights, and the Ombudsman.
Duterte threatens Congress, Commission on Human Rights, and the Ombudsman
Duterte has cited three possible institutions that could hinder his campaign against crime, saying: "Ako hindi ako tarantado. I still have the basic decency, pero huwag akong ipitin ng Congress, huwag akong ipitin ng [Commission on] Human Rights, huwag akong ipitin ng Ombudsman, because I have a task to do, a very important one for this nation, especially for the protection of our young children," threatening the three powers to back off despite these institutions legally mandated to have the power to check the executive's power.
Duterte's rise to front runner status was due to his single-issue campaign of crime and drug purge, exploiting the frustration of voters not yet feeling the effects of change under the Aquino administration's reform government. He is known to be tough on crime, and is vilified for allegedly having a hand in the killings by the 'Davao Death Squad' in his home turf, Davao, during his mayoralty. All his rivals have pounced on him, with the Aquino administration calling him 'a threat to democracy'.
He has gained global condemnation for his rape joke, even justifying it but apologizing afterwards. After the controversial rape joke, his next subject of ridicule were the disabled.
If soldiers and police run scared of Congress, "ituro mo ako, ako bahala"
The Davao candidate has assured that under his presidency, those soldiers and policemen being investigated for human rights abuses, should run to him, seemingly implying that he will protect them. He has also promised to pardon soldiers and police found to have committed human rights abuses.
"Huwag niyo akong bara-barahin, like calling people to Congress. Alam mo how they are treated, even the congressman, iyung mga generals sinisigaw-sigawan. Don’t do that. I will not allow that, just because you are a congressman, senador. Do not do it, mag-engkwentro tayo," he said, saying he doesn't like the way Congress conducts its investigations even if these investigations are within the power of Congress as part of their power to check the president.
The mayor is criticized for openly saying that he will tolerate killing of criminals who will not yield to authorities.
"I will use the military and the police to go out and arrest them, hunt for them, and if they would offer a violent resistance, thereby placing the lives of the law enforcers and the military whom I would task for a job to do [at risk], I will simply say, 'patayin niyong lahat para matapos na ang problema," he said. Digong has not offered any specifics on how the police will classify 'violent resistance', prompting critics to lash out and call it a window for police brutality.
He has promised that his presidency will be 'bloody', and in three to six months crime will be solved. This promise was the pivot to his rise to front runner status, with many voters buying into the idea that Digong can do it under the premise that he did the same in Davao. It should be noted that Duterte took 20 years to 'clean up' Davao, and even now the Philippine National Police continues to rebut his claim that Davao has the "lowest crime index".
The powers of Congress, Commission on Human Rights, and the Ombudsman
With a Duterte presidency looming less than two weeks before the May 9 elections, Duterte has stated before that he plans to abolish Congress.
The legislative, through the Congress, is one of the three branches of government that is not only empowered to create laws, but it also vested with the power to check the executive.
There are three powers that Congress has to check the power of the president.
Congress may override a presidential veto if the president vetoes laws the Congress passes. It requires a two thirds vote of Congress. The Senate and House of Representatives will convene separately to discuss the terms of the veto, and both houses must vote two thirds in order to veto the bill.
Congress may also override the president's appointments in appointed posts. Finally, Congress also has the power to limit the war time expenses of the president. This balance is threatened because Duterte plans to establish a 'revolutionary government'.
Constitutional Commissions, on the other hand, are independent branches of the government tasked with checking the three branches of the government. These include the Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission, Commission on Human Rights, and the Commission on Elections.
The Commission on Human Rights, on the other hand, is tasked primarily with investigating human rights abuses in the country. As an investigative body, it may launch cases against possible human rights abuses, though in Cariño v. Commission on Human Rights, but it does not have the power to settle cases.
The Ombudsman is an independent body created to monitor all three branches of the government, and much like the Commission on Human Rights, investigates and files cases against erring government officials through the special court, the Sandiganbayan, that adjudicates graft and corruption cases. The Ombudsman is the answer to the question, "Who checks the government?" and is aptly named "Ang Tanodbayan ng Pilipinas".