State of the Nation Address duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said “I will arrest all of you” Romeo Ranoco/Reuters file photo

The Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte, has threatened to declare a "revolutionary government" in the country with overriding powers. His threat comes as a direct response to critics from left-wing groups amid allegations that there are forces working to topple his government.

The firebrand leader has on many occasions spoken out against critics and independent bodies. He became notorious for his expletive-laden speeches targeting world dignitaries who have slammed his bloody drug war.

Appearing on state television on Friday (13 October), he said: "If your destabilisation is taking place and there is chaos already, I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term and I will arrest all of you and we can go to a full-scale war against the reds."

He was referring to the armed communist rebels fighting in the country for more than five decades.

A "revolutionary government" would take him closer to a full-fledged dictatorship. Unlike in the case of martial law, it would not require the approval of the Philippine Congress.

Duterte lashed out at anyone, ranging from European diplomats to the press, who have been critical of his drug war and his style of governance.

Reacting to his threat, lawmaker Edcel Lagman said a "revolutionary government has no constitutional basis and is based on imagined fears".

Others have called it a diversionary tactic. "I firmly believe that Duterte's latest threat ... is not only meant to intimidate those opposing his administration, but also to divert the attention from the various controversies in which his family is involved. It is also his only way to escape accountability for his crimes by perpetuating himself in power," said Senator Antonio Trillanes."If ever Duterte declares a revolutionary government, only then would we know if the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) leadership would follow him."