House restores VP Leni Robredo to succession line
Robredo’s reinclusion came in the form of an amendment presented by Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. to the draft federal constitution the House is considering.
Michael Varcas
House restores VP Leni Robredo to succession line
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives last night restored Vice President Leni Robredo to the line of succession to the presidency during the transition to the envisioned federal system.

Robredo’s reinclusion came in the form of an amendment presented by Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. to the draft federal constitution the House is considering.

The chamber, at the request of Cebu City Rep. Raul del Mar, returned the draft to the committee on constitutional amendments so it could introduce “perfecting amendments.”

Robredo described as “very desperate” the move to exclude her from the presidential line of succession being pushed by allies of President Duterte.

In a speech at the 5th provincial congress of the Negros Occidental Small Fishers Alliance yesterday, Robredo said her critics are thinking of everything to remove her from her post.

She cited the filing of an impeachment complaint and an electoral case before the Supreme Court.

“Now, they are trying to insert it in the proposed Charter change,” she said, noting many House members are not aware of such provision.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, committee chairman, said Robredo was excluded in the succession line to the presidency during the transition for the sake of “political stability.”

Veloso said the country could be plunged into uncertainty if the Presidential Electoral Tribunal voided Robredo’s victory in the 2016 vice presidential election and declared former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the real winner.

He said Robredo’s exclusion was the idea of the ruling PDP-Laban, although he claimed he could not remember the proponent.

His committee’s decision to take out the Vice President in the succession line has received numerous criticisms.

Robredo laughed off Veloso’s claims and reminded him that she defeated Marcos by more than 200,000 votes.

She said Veloso, who is also facing an election protest, led by less than 100 votes against his opponent.

During election, Robredo said many winning candidates are charged by their opponents who cannot accept the result of the voting.

She said the mandate of the Vice President is to succeed the President.

“If you remove such mandate, nothing is left for the vice president. Might as well remove the position of the vice president,” she said.

Robredo welcomed Senate President Vicente Sotto’s statement that the Senate would reject the provision in the proposed federal government.

Meanwhile, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is puzzled by the provision that sought to exclude Robredo from the presidential line of succession.

DILG Assistant Secretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said it was not clear to them why the Vice President is being eased out from the order of succession when the House seeks to maintain the presidential system.

“The existing term limits must be respected so the people will not question the motives behind the President’s push for a federal system,” Malaya said.

He said the DILG stands by the consultative committee (Concom)’s proposed federal constitution in light of a new draft federal constitution submitted by the House committee on constitutional amendments. 

Malaya said there are marked differences between the two drafts and the political and electoral reforms in Concom’s draft are “necessary ingredients” for federalism to succeed.

As such, the DILG endorses Concom’s proposal for a self-executing anti-political dynasty provision in the federal constitution, which will open up and democratize the country’s electoral process.

Malaya said the Concom’s recommendation to adopt a proportional representation as possible replacement to the party-list system should merit serious consideration by the House. 

The DILG is hoping that the present Congress can still convene as a constituent assembly to debate on the proposed Concom amendments to the 1987 Constitution. 

“We ask both the Senate and the House to fully consider all the features of the draft submitted by the Concom to President Duterte. It’s the product of a non-partisan body with no vested interests,” Malaya said.  — With Helen Flores, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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