Duterte, Robredo terms cut short by election of transitory president, VP – Puno

MANILA, Philippines – The Consultative Committee (Con-Com) has decided to modify their proposed transitory provisions to facilitate the election of a transitory president and vice president who will take over government immediately after a new federal constitution is ratified.

"We shall be electing as per his (President Rodrigo Duterte's) suggestion, a transition president. Basically, he (transition president) will preside in the transition period but he shall also be exercising all the powers of the president in this constitution," said committee chairman Reynato Puno.

He was speaking to reporters on Tuesday, July 10, after a Con-Com meeting where Duterte's instructed changes were discussed. Duterte refuses to lead the transition to a federal constitution, saying he is "tired" and wants someone "younger" to take over.

Because the transition president will be president only from the time the new constitution is ratified until the regular elections in May 2022, he or she will have a short term. He or she will also not be allowed to run in May 2022.

"The transitory president will be ineligible to run in the 2022 elections," said Puno.

Come regular elections, a new president, vice president, senators, and congressmen will be voted into power under the new charter.

Once the transition president and vice president are elected, Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo's terms will end, said Puno. This is because the new constitution takes effect right after it is ratified by the Filipino people.

All positions vacant

The transition president will lead the shift to a new charter and will have the power to declare all positions under the 1987 Constitution vacant, including lawmakers and judges.

"In principle, the terms of office of all our officials elected and appointed under the '87 constitution will end the moment the new constitution kicks in...The natural effect would be the vacancy of all positions in the old constitution, that's automatic by force of law," said Puno, a former chief justice.

However, the transition commission, headed by the transition president, can decide to keep officials in a hold-over capacity until the May 2022 elections. The commission will also conduct the "vetting" of incumbent officials who could then be reappointed.

The elections for a transition president and vice president can take place 6 months after the ratification of the constitution. Puno thinks this should give the Commission on Elections enough time to make the necessary preparations.

The transition president and vice president shall be elected as a team.

Duterte has said he doesn't want to be a transition president but Robredo can opt to run for transition president or vice president. However, serving as transition president means she cannot run for president in the regular elections in May 2022, said Puno.

Ban on Duterte reelection

Puno also said that the Con-Com agreed to insert a provision that bans Duterte from seeking the presidency again under the new constitution.

This provision was Duterte's "special request" to the committee during their meeting on Monday. 

Though they are yet to come up with the final wording of the provision, it will most likely state a ban on the "incumbent president". – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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