Robredo camp hits draft charter's 'ridiculous' basis for omitting VP from line of succession

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com
Robredo camp hits draft charter's 'ridiculous' basis for omitting VP from line of succession
"The election protest filed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos as ground for ousting VP Leni is clearly frivolous if not outright ridiculous," lawyer Romulo Macalintal said. The draft federal constitution at the House of Representatives removes Vice President Leni Robredo from the line of succession in the transition government.
STAR / Joven Cagande

MANILA, Philippines — The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo questioned the proposed draft federal charter, which removes the vice president from the line of succession in the transition government.

The draft charter that House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and 21 other lawmakers authored puts Senate President Tito Sotto as next in line should President Rodrigo Duterte be unable to lead the transition government.

Section 4, Article XVII of the House draft federal constitution states, "In case a vacancy by reason of removal, resignation, permanent incapacity or death of the incumbent President, the incumbent Senate President shall act as President until a President shall have been chosen and qualified."

Romulo Macalintal, Robredo's legal counsel, said the proposal was a mere "political calisthenics" based on the reason of Rep. Vicente Veloso (Leyte).

Veloso, chair of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, said this proposal was made to prevent "instability" that comes with the election protest against Robredo.

Former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. filed the poll protest against Robredo after he lost by 263,473 votes in the 2016 national elections.

"The election protest filed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos as [a] ground for ousting VP Leni is clearly frivolous if not outright ridiculous," Macalintal said.

"Since when did a pending election protest be the basis of succession to the highest position of the land?" he added.

Macalintal stressed that Veloso's reasoning has no visible means of any legal or factual support.

Questions on Duterte's health

Robredo's lawyer raised questions on why Duterte's allies appear to be implying that the president would not be able to perform his duties while Malacañang has been insisting that he is healthy.

"If he is sick, succession should not be the topic of discussion but prayers for his health," Macalintal said.

The vice president's lawyer said the Senate and the House would not even have enough time to make a final draft of the proposed shift to federalism.

"The Senate and the House could not even resolve how they would vote, whether jointly or separately. There is still the need to submit the proposed charter for people's ratification and the process would involve substantial time and public funds which will never be achieved till the next presidential polls in 2022," the lawyer said.

Macalintal expressed confidence that the proposal to remove Robredo in the transition government would never happen.

A report of the House panel dated October 2 showed that Arroyo's draft charter has been recommended without amendment to the plenary.

The draft also lifts the term limits for members of Congress and made no mention of anti-dynasty provisions.

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As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: March 21, 2023 - 1:35pm

The consultative committee, tasked with drafting a new constitution, eyes the removal of the impeachment power of Congress over justices of the Constitutional Court, one of the proposed three Supreme Courts under the draft charter.

READ: Concom eyes 3 supreme courts

Concom proposes that the impeachment of justices in Constitutional Court be decided instead by the 15-member Supreme Court.

The proposed Constitutional Court will have a presiding justice appointed by the Supreme Court and six associate justices with two appointees each from three branches of government.

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