PDP-Laban’s move to get President Duterte to run for Vice President in the 2022 elections tells me that self-interest, not the country’s welfare, still dominates our political dynamics. Self-interest is blinding politicians to the lesson we should learn from our negative experience with Vice President Leni Robredo.
VP Robredo, for belonging to the opposition, refused to honor her mandate from voters to serve as Vice President. Instead, she served as her party’s prime campaigner for the coming elections. She accomplished this by stinking up the incumbent party in an obvious effort to let her party come out smelling roses.
She used the people’s money (her and her staff’s salaries, allowances etc.) to serve the opposition party and not the people. If she had persevered as chairwoman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, she would have helped more people. She would also have fulfilled her mandate of Vice President.
President Duterte could win the Vice Presidency. But what if the winning President is from the opposition? Which can easily happen, what with all the fatal (to democracy) flaws in our electoral system. What will Duterte do? How will he function as Vice President?
This should tell us that we have to change that part of our constitution that stipulates for a separately elected Vice President. We should abolish the office and have the Senate President, followed by the Speaker of the House, assume the Presidency in an acting capacity in the event of the incumbent President’s death or removal from office.
Either that or we adopt the U.S. style of not electing the Vice President separately from the President but instead get the same number of votes as his or her Presidential running mate. This way, they will win together and not be wiping each other out but cooperating to advance their administration’s strategies and priorities.
The main qualification of a Vice President should be a proven ability to exercise executive power in the event of an incumbent President’s death or removal from office. Can you imagine what would have happened to this country if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo died or was removed from office? Vice President Noli de Castro was clearly incapable of running the country. He was nominated to the Vice Presidency, as was Leni Robredo, for their ability to get votes for their party.
Hence, the Vice Presidency should be a priority item for charter change, if possible before the 2022 elections. We cannot afford a President and a Vice President who cross each other out. We cannot take the risk of having a Vice President that is incapable of running the country in the event of an incumbent’s death or removal from office.