Proclaim Duterte without waiting for VP – Panelo

Paterno Esmaquel II
'We will be avoiding a constitutional crisis,' Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo says, as the president-elect's camp laments it's being 'held hostage' by a tight vice presidential race

DUTERTE SPOKESMAN. Incoming presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo says their camp wants the immediate proclamation of Rodrigo Duterte as president-elect. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, May 26, pushed for the immediate proclamation of the Philippines’ new leader even without waiting for his new vice president.

“We will be avoiding a constitutional crisis,” incoming presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a news conference on Thursday.

Panelo explained that Duterte’s proclamation, “in a way,” is held hostage by the tight vice presidential race. 

Based on the partial official tally as of 3:30 pm on Thursday, Duterte enjoys a 2.07-million lead over the second placer, Senator Grace Poe.

The vice presidential race, in contrast, is hotly contested. 

Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni Robredo is winning by at least 253,180 votes over Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr based on the latest partial official tally.

Panelo said that if the vice presidential tally drags on, the Philippines could end up having no chief executive when President Benigno Aquino III steps down on June 30. 

That is, if Congress aims to proclaim the president and vice president at the same time.

This prospect is what Panelo described as a “constitutional crisis.”

Duterte camp: Santiago should concede

Given this possibility, Panelo said they agree with the camp of Marcos in calling for a separate canvassing of votes for president and vice president.

He also said presidential bet Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago should concede to hasten Duterte’s proclamation.

He said Santiago should follow the lead of Duterte’s 3 main rivals – Poe, former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, and Vice President Jejomar Binay, in this order –  who already conceded to the Davao City mayor.

Only Santiago – a feisty Harvard-educated senator who ended up the distant fifth placer in the presidential race – has not admitted defeat. 

Santiago is now on medical leave for cancer.

Panelo said Santiago will perform “an act of statesmanship” if she concedes.

Duterte’s spokesman said: “Hindi na kailangan magkaroon ng canvassing. What is the need for a canvass kung ‘yung 4 sinasabi na nilang ito na ang panalo?”

(We don’t need canvassing. What is the need of a canvass if 4 of them say he [Duterte] already won?)

‘A right can be waived’

For Duterte’s camp, after all, conceding is tantamount to waiving one’s right to undergo canvassing.

Panelo said: “A right has to be exercised and a right can be waived. If they will waive the right to the canvassing, then there is no problem.”

 

Panelo was also asked on Thursday why their camp seems to be in a hurry in proclaiming Duterte as president.

Duterte’s spokesman said, “Puwede naman nating madaliin para ‘yung concentration ng trabaho natin sa Congress ay mapunta na doon sa dapat pagtuunan ng pansin (We can hasten it so that the concentration of work in Congress can go to the things that really need attention).”

But we don’t mind kung gusto nilang matagal. E kami naman walang problema; overwhelming nga e (But we don’t mind if they want it to take a long time. We have no problem with that. After all it’s overwhelming),” Panelo said, referring to Duterte’s “overwhelming” victory in the May 9 elections.

The NBOC aims to proclaim the Philippines’ new president and vice president by Monday, May 30. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.