DUMAGUETE CITY – Eyebrows began to raise at the mention of the word dictator. Contemporary Philippine history tells us that the dictatorship during the Marcos administration was wrestled against by the People of the Republic of the Philippines, a part of history which Sec. Panelo took part in as he rallied the streets against Marcos for his dictatorial regime. However, Sec. Panelo clarified that the dictatorship contemplated under the Duterte administration will materialize if the common problems of the Philippines will not be rectified and eradicated before Pres. Duterte’s term, where, a few months thereof, the President will abolish Congress—a body he sees as one of the hindrances in the progress he envisions for the country—and establish a “revolutionary government.” This is when a “constitutional dictator” comes in; the “constitutional dictator” will have the absolute power to “clean the country” within the metes and bounds of the laws of the land and the power allowed by the people, thereby echoing the maxim “salus populi est suprema lex.” Sec. Panelo believes that the said power need not shake the people because it is going to be held by someone who has no other intention but to help in the growth and development of the country.
During the open forum, Nash Denver Baya, a junior law student of Foundation University and an active volunteer of the Salonga Center, posed a question on the absolute power to be given to the President, must the “revolutionary government” be resorted to. “Following the maxim ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ how can you guarantee to us that the President will not abuse the said power given to him under such circumstances?” Sec. Panelo responded that “the Filipino people are not a force to be reckoned with….if they dislike the entity that they placed in power, they will always see to it that the said entity will be taken down by them. Take for example the Marcoses, Ex-Pres. Erap, and other leaders that they have stripped off of powers. Let us not underestimate the power of the voice of the Filipino people.”
Given that the said talk was held a day before Labor Day 2018, another student volunteer and incoming senior law student, Neapolle Fleur Blanco, asked “Regarding the situation in Kuwait, how will [this] affect international relations between countries (Philippines and Kuwait in particular) considering that it’s the first time that an Ambassador has been declared persona non grata?” Sec. Panelo quickly responded that “President Duterte is sending special teams to Kuwait [to solve the situation].”
The program was opened by Dr. Noel Marjon E. Yasi, the Vice-President for Administration, Planning, and Development of Negros Oriental State University. Afterwards, Atty. M. Mikhail Lee Maxino, director of the Dr. Jovito R. Salonga Center for Law and Development, introduced the guest speaker.
The said forum was moderated by City Councilor Karissa Faye Tolentino-Maxino. (By EDCARL REALIZA CAGANDAHAN (LLB-II) & NEAPOLLE FLEUR BLANCO (LLB-III))