If the VP is impeached, who takes over?
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – If the vice president of the Philippines is impeached, who takes over?
The question surfaced after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on March 17 said he is mulling the filing of an impeachment complaint against Vice President Leni Robredo. He had accused her of being behind a similar complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte by Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano. (READ: Highlights: Impeachment complaint vs Duterte)
While he is still “studying it,” the President’s longtime ally said the complaint may involve “betrayal of public trust” in relation to a video sent to the United Nations in which Robredo said that the war on drugs had left Filipinos feeling "hopeless and helpless.”
In the event the impeachment complaint pushes through and Robredo is impeached and removed from office, the 1987 Philippine Constitution gives the incumbent President the power to “choose” who the second highest executive official of the country will be. (READ: Spare tire or not? The role of the Philippine vice president)
Two-thirds of Senate members should vote to convict an impeachable official like the Vice President as outlined in the Articles of Impeachment, for her to be removed from office. (READ: FAST FACTS: How does impeachment work?)
Section 9 Article VII says that the president has the power to nominate a legislator from the Senate or the House of Representatives to fill the vacancy left in the Office of the Vice President.
Whoever is nominated by the president, however, would be subject to “confirmation by a majority vote of all the members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately" which ideally pushes for check-and-balance in the process.
Guingona was chosen as VP by Arroyo
This was what happened in the case of former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr, who was chosen by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to be her second-in-command.
Arroyo became president in 2001, after Joseph Estrada was ousted from office. She announced in a televised speech that she was nominating Guingona to take over the vice presidency, the position she used to hold.
Prior to being vice president, Guingona was the Senate minority leader. He “bested” 5 other colleagues on the list of Arroyo, including then Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr, Senator Franklin Drilon, the late senator Raul Roco, Senator Loren Legarda, and then senator Ramon Magsaysay Jr.
According to Arroyo, she chose Guingona because he was among key people behind the ouster of Estrada: "Let us not forget that it was his ‘I Accuse’ privilege speech that helped trigger the events that led to EDSA Dos.”
What if president and VP posts are vacant?
In the event that it is the Office of the President that becomes vacant due to “death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation,” the vice president assumes the highest position in the Philippines until the end of the unexpired term.
Among the 13 vice presidents the Philippines had had since the position was created, 4 had assumed the presidency following a death or resignation of the incumbent president: Sergio Osmeña after the death of Manuel Quezon in 1944, Elpidio Quirino after the death of Manuel Roxas in 1948, Carlos Garcia after the death of Ramon Magsaysay in 1957, and Arroyo when Ejercito Estrada stepped down in 2001.
If both the two highest positions in government become vacant for whatever reason, in the interim, the Senate president – or if he is unable, the House speaker – will act as president until a president or vice president “shall have been elected and qualified.”
According to Section 10 Article VII of the Constitution, Congress shall reconvene “at ten o’clock in the morning of the third day” of the vacancy and within 7 days enact a law for a special election.
This special election should not be held earlier than 45 days or later than 60 days from the time the call is made.
Allies of Robredo insist they are not behind the complaint against Duterte and that the video was sent to organizers of a United Nations meeting on extrajudicial killings as early as February. They had nothing to do with the timing of the video's release.
Malacañang, however, still insisted that the timing of the video's release and the impeachment complaint “seems too neat to be written off as mere coincidence.” (READ: Palace links Robredo to impeachment complaint)
Both Duterte and Robredo are just approaching their first year in office after being elected in May 2016, and impeachment complaints are already in the horizon. – Rappler.com
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