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Opinion

Culpable violation of Constitution if Duterte runs for VP – Monsod

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

• President Rody Duterte culpably will violate the Constitution if he runs for vice president in Election 2022.

• The framers of the 1987 Constitution intended for the President to serve only one term.

• As next in line, a president-turned-VP can re-ascend in case of creation of a self-serving presidential vacancy. This will circumvent the Constitution.

Constitution framer Christian Monsod stressed those points as Duterte last week asked voters to consider him for VP in the May 2022 balloting.

The 48 constitutional commissioners specified only a single, six-year term for the President. The original wording was, “The President shall be disqualified from immediate reelection,” Monsod recalled their work in 1986. They revised it to reflect the one-term limit.

Previous Constitutions provided for a four-year presidential term with one possible reelection, Monsod noted. But they figured that six years is enough for a good President but can be too long for a bad one. They decided on one term to avert presidential abuse and prolonged stay.

Under the 1987 Charter, “The President can no longer be reelected immediately or anytime thereafter, or even succeed to the presidency,” Monsod explained. “He can occupy the position for only six years.”

There is only one exception to the single term, Monsod said. If a VP or any other successor serves as president for less than four years, then that successor is eligible for election to a full presidential term. Monsod cited how Gloria Macapagal Arroyo first completed the term of Joseph Estrada in 2001-2004, then was elected to a full term till 2010.

Check out the intent of the 1987 Charter authors, Monsod told Sapol-dwIZ Saturday. Transcripts of the deliberations are available online.

Monsod is one of a dozen or so surviving constitutional framers. An expert in electoral principles and processes, he was also Comelec chairman in 1991-1995.

The final wording of Article VII, the Executive Department, Section 4 is: “The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years... The President shall not be eligible for any reelection. 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.”

In Section 5, the oath of office, the President swears to “preserve and defend the Constitution.”

Officers of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, of which Duterte is chairman, urged him last month to run for VP. They also asked him to pick his presidential runningmate. At first Duterte was ambivalent. A week later he said, “It’s not a bad idea.” After another week, he asked to be considered for VP “for equilibrium.”

Filing such candidacy would be a culpable violation of the Constitution, an impeachable offense, Monsod said. A case will also likely be filed before the Supreme Court. Even if 13 of the 15 Justices are Duterte appointees, Monsod expects them to disallow Duterte’s VP run. The magistrates will have to base their decision on the intent of the constitutional commissioners, contained in the transcripts.

Asked why they did not detail that the president cannot run for VP, Monsod said it was already clear in the deliberations that the president was to sit for only six years, no reelection, no succession.

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High Defense officials and police-military generals need to refrain from reacting to social media memes. Otherwise they might be derided for shallow intelligence gathering.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana fumed last weekend at an online post accusing his department of an anomalous multibillion-peso purchase. Since the visual carried a photo of Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Lorenzana challenged him to prove his charge. Apparently the online card was made by a disgruntled netizen. Countless similar allegations of against the Duterte administration have been circulating in the Net after the President and Pacquiao’s falling-out over corruption. Pacquiao’s office denied issuing the meme about the Defense department. Disbelieving, Lorenzana retorted, “Tell that to the Marines.” Generals have also been denying other items and denouncing Pacquiao, as if in orchestration.

Somebody should instruct them on the nature of social media. Anyone can post anything, true or false, and attribute those to whoever.

The officials should also avoid falling for trolls. Trolls can concoct tales to incite people against each other. Where are those troll farms based? Facebook, for one, has been closing down fake accounts by the dozens that delve on Philippine affairs but based in Xiamen, Guangzhou and Shanghai. The strategy of any Philippine enemy is to divide and conquer.

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“Gotcha: An Exposé on the Philippine Government” is available as e-book and paperback. Get a free copy of “Chapter 1: Beijing’s Bullying and Duplicity”. Simply subscribe to my newsletter at: https://jariusbondoc.com/#subscribe. Book orders also accepted there.

PRESIDENT DUTERTE
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