By Francis Wakefield
A retired military official on Thursday expressed belief that President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier pronouncement that he prefers a military junta or a more competent successor has no basis and will not be supported by the military.
Retired Col. Mariano Santiago, the brother of former AFP Chief of Staff Dionisio Santiago and currently a member of the Advocacy Group for National Interests (AGNI) composed of retired senior military officers of the Armed Forces, made the comment following an interview.
“It has no basis in the constitution as that is like inviting military takeover which I don’t think will be supported by the military,” Santiago said.
“The military is for the constitution and whatever it is. We like the president to succeed, I think that should be the position, the president do not have that power,” he said.
Santiago said he sees two scenarios in case the president insisted on a military junta.
“One is he will be the head of the junta and the second is he will be out because it is basically a military take over,” he said.
President Duterte earlier declared that he has “no illusion of dictatorship,” saying he was prepared to step down and give way to a military junta or a more competent successor.
The President said he was actually “tired” and would be “happy to go home” in Davao City, after admitting he could not resolve the problems of corruption and illegal drugs within his term.
“For those who are dreaming that I will extend my term and be a dictator, you must be the lowest idiot in this country even to suggest that I have a plan,” Duterte said during the launch of “Pilipinas Angat Lahat Alliance” in Malacañang Tuesday.
“For all of you, no illusions about extension, about dictatorship. At this time I’m telling you, I’m ready to step down and retire,” he said.
Duterte said he would even administer the oath of military officials who want to install a junta to replace him.
“I would suggest to the military, if you want a junta, look for the — or if you want yourselves to be the junta, I said line up here, I’ll put you in your proper place. ‘I, I, General, do hereby solemnly swear that as a regular junta member of this republic,’” he said.
“Then I go home to Davao and solve the problems of the country because I will fail. I cannot do it and so I have to admit to the people that I failed. So look for another one. And I’d be happy to go home,” he added.
Duterte said he was also ready to be replaced by a “more competent” leader after acknowledging that corruption and drugs would probably outlast his term.
“If you think there is somebody more competent, then by all means, place him. Or a group of persons who you think could bring prosperity to this nation, then do it because I said I’m tired and I think I cannot fulfill the promise of ending all these problems,” he said.
Duterte however opposed a constitutional succession in case he vacates his office, reiterating that he does not believe in the competence of Vice President Leni Robredo. “Were it not for the fact that I do not believe in the competence of the Vice President, I’m ready to go anytime,” he said.
Duterte admitted that he has become “exasperated” since corruption and illegal drugs appeared to be getting worse despite his efforts. He noted that illegal drug transactions have increased from millions to billions of pesos.