FILE PHOTO: The first meeting of Vice President Leni Robredo and President Rodrigo Duterte after their inauguration on a military ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, July 01, 2016. (Office of the Vice President)
MANILA, Philippines — If President Rodrigo Duterte is unable to preside over the country’s transition to the new system of government, the Senate president is the next in line and not Vice President Leni Robredo.
This is based on the resolution of both Houses No. 15 authored by House Speaker Gloria Arroyo.
House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chairman Vicente Veloso explained that they decided to skip Vice President Robredo due to the election protest against her filed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos.
“We wouldn’t know who is the vice president would be then. Would it be Robredo, Bongbong Marcos? But look at the uncertainty, I’ve been jurist for long time there is no certainty when it comes to finality of decision,” said Veloso.
But Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman questioned this provision.
“As of now the there is a vice president and that election protest will have to take its course. But meanwhile, we have a duly elected vice president who is incumbent and should not be deprived of the constitutional right to succeed to the presidency,” said Lagman.
Akbayan party-list Representative Tom Villarin also said the administration might be trying to impede Robredo’s succession, especially with the President’s current state of health.
“The problem now is you have the health condition of the President which the President admits and of course the President always been saying that he does not like Vice President Robredo to succeed him,” said Villarin.
The draft federal constitution also seeks to remove the term limit of senators and congressmen. Congressman Veloso says term limits breed political dynasty.
“Now that we have term limits in senator if you will read the history book the famous there would be Mrs. Tolentino, Mrs. Diokno, the spouses of senators because with term limit comes dynasty you will pass your work to those who can continue,” said the chairman.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said in a statement that the removal of lawmakers’ term limits is for GMA to still run in Congress and remain in power.
He said their group will do everything to stop the passage of this measure.
“So GMA in effect can still run for Congress; this is designed, thus, for her and many others to remain in power ad infinitum. Just like before, we must do everything to derail this by pulling the plug now,” said Zarate.
But according to Speaker Arroyo, “ The only thing I added was a provision that instead of establishing the federal states, there’s a mechanism to establish federal states. All the other provisions were already submitted by the Con-Com and everyone else. That’s the only thing I added to make it my version.”
Under Section 2 Article 17 of the draft charter change, any move to extend the terms of President Duterte and Vice President Robredo beyond June 30, 2022, is prohibited.
The first national and local election under the federal system of government will be conducted on the second Monday of May 2022.
Solons admitted there is a very low chance that the Senate will pass its version of the proposal. But the House committee on constitutional amendments said it will do its part to pass the resolution on time to start the transition period on May 2019.
The Lower House is now deliberating the draft charter in the plenary for second reading. — Grace Casin