2022 Philippine Elections

Duterte running for VP ‘contravenes spirit of Constitution’ – opposition senators

Mara Cepeda

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Duterte running for VP ‘contravenes spirit of Constitution’ – opposition senators

RUNNING FOR VP? President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech inside Malacañang on Manila on May 19, 2021.

Richard Madelo/Presidential Photo

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon argues that the spirit of the Constitution aims to prevent a two-term presidency

Opposition senators denounced the proposal being floated of a bid for the vice presidency by President Rodrigo Duterte, saying it goes against the spirit of the 1987 Constitution.

Lawyer turned veteran politician Franklin Drilon said on Friday, July 9, that while the 1987 Constitution did not explicitly prevent the sitting president from running for VP, doing so would pose a “serious problem” in the line of succession. 

“While the wording of the Constitution does not prohibit the President to run for any elected position, to run for vice president would contravene the spirit of the Constitution and could pose a serious problem of succession to the presidency later on,” warned Drilon.

He argued this is because the Constitution allows the vice president to become the president in case of resignation, impeachment, death, or permanent incapacity.

He then cited Article VII, Section 4 of the charter, which states: “The President shall not be eligible for any reelection. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”

Drilon said the spirit of the provision was to allow only one term for the president and to prohibit a two-term presidency. 

Meanwhile, Duterte has doubled down on floating his possible run for the vice presidency, telling his party PDP-Laban to choose a winnable presidential bet to ensure that he would not be isolated if he is elected as VP. He then endorsed his longtime aide Bong Go, now a senator, as a possible presidential candidate. 

But Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the Constitution, denounced Duterte’s plan, saying the latter’s possible VP run is an “ingenious and insidious move to circumvent the Constitutional provision on reelection.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros agreed, saying the proposal “simply flies in the face” of the Constitution. 

She also doubted Duterte would have any significant policies that he has to continue that would merit him taking a shot at the second highest post in the land. Hontiveros zeroed in on the Duterte’s flagship infrastructure program, where only half of the 75 big-ticket projects are expected to be completed by 2022. 

“So is this the kind of legacy that the President wants to continue with a second term? I don’t think bending the Constitution is at all a proper way to go here,” Hontiveros told CNN Philippines’ The Source

Detained Senator Leila de Lima, Duterte’s fiercest critic, then reminded the President that running for VP would not help him escape trial should the International Criminal Court (ICC) probe his bloody war on drugs for crimes against humanity.

De Lima remains in jail for what she has described as trumped-up drug charges against her. 

“He thinks he can escape the ICC and accountability for his crimes against humanity by becoming a VP this time,” said De Lima in a dispatch from her jail cell in Camp Crame.

“Fat chance. The ICC does not recognize either immunity or impeachability in going after criminals. Its jurisdiction is comprehensive in that way. So if impeachability does not protect Duterte from the ICC, why still bother to even become VP? He is still going to be arrested and dragged in chains to The Hague anyway,” De Lima added. 

Other political analysts have described Duterte seeking the vice presidency in 2022 as a “bastardization” of the electoral system. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.