The question of succession
In his column “Isko vs Sara: The battle of mayors” (7/20/21), Richard Heydarian seemed to make the argument that presidential daughter Sara Duterte’s reported bid for the presidency (with her father as running mate) could be for real, given that her “philosophy of governance stands in sharp contrast to her father’s, who is more visceral and top-down in his decision-making.” Her independent-mindedness may therefore be her strongest suit against critics who see her as no more than a dummy being used by her father to extend his term and gain immunity from prosecution for another six years via succession.
If Sara becomes — and stays — president, we may yet see the difference and breathe a sigh of relief. Or, she may just follow her father’s advice to step down and be spared from all the hurtful political intrigues that come with the job. So if she dutifully resigns and her father takes over, who then becomes vice president? The line of succession allows the Senate president and the speaker to succeed to the presidency only in default of the president and the vice president.
There is no succession to the so-called “spare tire” position. Section 9 of Article VII of the Constitution provides: “Whenever there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice-President… the President shall nominate a Vice-President from among the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume office upon confirmation by a majority vote of all Members of both Houses of Congress voting separately.”
Unlike the US Constitution which gives the new president the prerogative of appointing anyone to fill his old post with the approval of Congress, our Constitution limits the president’s choice to the members of Congress. Thus, if President Duterte does get recycled as president, he can nominate either Sen. Bong Go or Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte to fill the position he vacated, thereby placing any one of them in the position to succeed him in the event he feels he’s too sick or tired to continue running the show. And with either his son Paolo or best friend Bong as “president,” Citizen Duterte can remain just as powerful and untouchable, and may continue to dictate the terms of our elections even beyond 2028.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
STEPHEN L. MONSANTO
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