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Think president when electing a vice president

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - May 5, 2021 - 12:00am

The presidency of Rodrigo Duterte continues to go through at least two challenges which, singly or collectively, never fail to give open-minded Filipinos the creeps. These challenges, or issues, involve the crippling effects of the pandemic and the tension in the South China Sea. The creeps come unbidden upon realizing who the vice president is if, for whatever reason, Duterte is unable to finish his term.

Leni Robredo is a lawyer, a good mother, a decent woman. But not many believe these to be enough to make her a good president if given the chance, considering the aforementioned challenges she might inherit. In fact, precisely because of the aforementioned challenges, many open-minded Filipinos now think it was a grievous mistake to elect her vice president in 2016, thereby placing her a mere heartbeat from the presidency.

The South China Sea crisis and the COVID pandemic ought to be regarded as great political lessons that Filipinos can use to finally prod them to vote more wisely and practically in the next election, which is now just a year away. What we have experienced as a result of the two challenges we faced should tell us not to make distinctions when electing a president and vice president.

This means that the qualities and expectations we impose on our presidential choices should be the same for our choices for vice president. The vice president we elect must be one who can be president at a minute's notice. Never again must we elect a vice president simply because he or she is popular or that he or she is winnable and can carry the vote for the good of his or her party.

Never again must we have to live through the cripplingly agonizing possibility of a Leni Robredo taking over at a time when war breaks out with China or when the pandemic spins out of control. We need a vice president who can truly be president, one who can be strong for us, who can think not only of our immediate needs but, more importantly, our long-term interests.

Recent surveys have proposed several names that we might eventually find in the actual running for president and vice president. Those for president have in recent months become quite evident even without the surveys. So we will not bother with them for now. Besides, the topic of this piece is about electing a vice president truly qualified to take over as president.

So here are the names that emerged on top of the surveys who might be considered in the running for vice president: Sara Duterte, Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquiao, Tito Sotto, not necessarily in that order. Lest I be accused of kicking in the door too early, I will refrain for now from talking of qualifications. But there is one thing I like about one that I do not see in the other three, something I consider presidential in a vice president.

I am talking about sobriety or coolness under pressure. And I see it only in Tito Sotto. Sara Duterte, Isko Moreno, and Manny Pacquiao are too gung-ho, I think, for today's crises-squeezed world. I think we need a vice president/president who looks at the big picture, who does not knee-jerk, who is courageous in the best definition of courage, which is grace under pressure. And that I think Tito Sotto has that which the other three don't.

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