BY ED LIBRANDA
President Duterte for Vice President in 2022 national elections?
The truth has come out. President Rodrigo Duterte is running for vice president in next year's presidential elections after all. Many in his political party PDP-Laban are urging him to select his running mate, but political pundits are pushing for the tandem of Sen. Bong Go for president and President Duterte for vice president.
In the event that Duterte chose Go as his running mate, can a sitting president run for vice president?
Article 7, Section 5 of the Philippine Constitution states: "The President and the Vice President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible to any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.
“No Vice President shall serve for more than two successive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which he was elected.
“Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice President shall be held on the second Monday of May."
The presidency is indeed limited to one term of six years, while the vice presidency is limited to two terms of six years each. But the President is not barred from running for any elected position lower than the presidency. An example is the election of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as representative of Pampanga. Her election was never questioned in the Supreme Court (SC). Arroyo was even elected as House Speaker on July 23, 2018.
So why the fuss over Duterte’s desire to run for the vice president in 2022? I can only surmise that the President wants to extend his public service to the Filipinos because his administration’s flagship program Build, Build, Build is still ongoing.
Many of the administration’s infrastructure projects in the Visayas and Mindanao have been slow typhoons and other calamities have hampered construction.
In Metro Manila, residents have to yet see the completion of the ambitious Metro Manila Subway, a 36 kilometer-long underground transport system. Phase one of the project is expected to be completed in 2025.
The most ambitious of all the projects is the New Clark City in Pampanga, slated to be the seat of the national government by 2030.
I am sure President Duterte wants to see the fruition of his infrastructure projects even after he has served the Filipinos as well as see his successor succeeds in pursuing to the fullest the completion of at least most of the projects by 2028.
The SC must be fully aware of President Duterte's desire to run for the vice presidency and is just waiting for anybody to file a petition regarding the legality of his candidacy.
As I read the Philippine Constitution, no provision bars the President from doing so. And the issue has not been raised and debated in the SC. Even retired SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, a vocal critic of Duterte on his handling of the West Philippine Sea dispute, acknowledged that Duterte can run for vice president in the May 2022 elections.
So let us wait if President Duterte is sincere in his public declaration that he intends to run for the vice presidency.