Exercising power and political will

Opinion Sideglance

The sudden but not unexpected decision of President Rodrigo Duterte for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to temporarily take over the Bureau of Customs (BoC) is a breath of fresh air and a sigh of relief for those who believe that the BoC is already a nest of criminal syndicates.

Some people especially those who think that the president should strictly follow what is considered normal and ordinary governance in all circumstances are probably now so traumatized with the way Digong has been running the country.

But that is precisely what the country needs, a rude awakening to shock the senses into reality about the extreme depth of corruption, criminality and illegality that a developing country such as the Philippines is now experiencing. It took a foul mouth, brutally frank and decisive president to reveal to the people what certain agencies and offices in the government have become despite supposed vigilance and anti-corruption campaigns undertaken by previous presidents.

The decision of the President ordering the military to take over the Boc was never unexpected considering his already tough stance against corruption and his penchant for using the iron fist whenever necessary to meet a tough challenge head-on. This is evident in his war on drugs campaign being implemented by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other concerned agencies, his declaration and imposition of Martial in the entirety of Mindanao, his left and right removal and sacking of government officials alleged to be involved in corruption and his no-nonsense attitude about leading the country.

This is the kind of President that the people and the country needs and why despite criticism about his actions his popularity with the masses continues undisturbed.

But now that the issue of legality of his latest decision to allow the military to take over the Boc is coming out of the woodwork some simple analysis must be made whether such move is indeed allowed by law. Article III of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides in Section 17 thereof, “that The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed.” And in Section 18 of the same Article of the Constitution it also provides that, “The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion xxx.”

It is obvious that under the constitution the President has authority of supervision and control over the BoC, a bureau under the executive department. The president thus has the full power and authority to make the necessary changes within the BoC when in his determination it becomes necessary for the faithful execution of the laws of the land. Second the President being the commander in chief and exercising civilian authority over the military has also the full power and authority to issue the directive or order the AFP to take over the BoC temporarily until the desired changes are achieved.

It is not martial law but simply an exercise of prerogative by the President to resolve a situation that has forever affected the nation and deterred it from moving forward.

Many may still feign indifference but the reality is we now have a President willing to confront corruption head on.