Let’s change the manner of electing President and VP

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - June 24, 2021 - 12:00am

The president and the vice president should be elected as a package deal, just like what they do in the USA. In other words, all votes for the president shall be counted as votes for the vice president as well. This is to avoid a deadlock between the two highest executive officials of the land. And to make sure that there shall be teamwork between them. In fact, what is even better is a setup where the vice president is made the presiding officer of the Philippine senate so that there shall be a close coordination between the executive and the legislature.

Of course, lack of time is our stumbling block. I know that this change cannot be implemented in 2022 without a constitutional amendment. We do not have enough time anymore, unless the president shall certify it as a priority measure, and shall call a special session, where both houses of Congress can convene as a constituent body and forthwith pass this immediately. But then again, it requires the ratification of the Filipino people in a plebiscite duly called for the purpose. Thus, we just have to wait for the 2028 presidential elections, and many of us may not have survived the COVID-19 pandemic by then.

That also depends on the opinion of the next leadership of the land. We have to learn from the lessons of history. In 1899 to 1901, Emilio Aguinaldo was elected president in the Tejeros Convention with his vice president Mariano Trias. There was no problem because the two belonged to the same Magdalo faction that defeated the Magdiwang faction of Andres Bonifacio.

 From 1901 to 1935, we were under American colonization and were not granted self-government. Spain sold us to the US for twenty million dollars, along with Guam and Puerto Rico, by virtue of the Treaty of Paris. In 1935, by virtue of the Tydings-McDuffie Law, we were allowed to elect our Commonwealth president and vice president. There was no problem because Manuel L Quezon and Sergio Osmeña Sr were both Nacionalista Party mates and close friends. In 1946, Osmeña assumed the presidency without any vice president because Quezon died in New York. Jose P Laurel was installed by the Japanese in 1943 with Benigno Aquino Sr. as vice president. Then after independence, Manuel Roxas and Elpidio Quirino were elected president and vice president, respectively, and they were both Liberal Party bets. Roxas died in office and was replaced by Qurino. Qurino ran in 1949 with Fernando Lopez as vice president, both LPs. They won over Eulogio Rodriguez and Jose P Laurel of NP.

But in 1953, Ramon Magsaysay and his vice president Carlos P Garcia, both NP, defeated the LPs. Magsaysay died in office and was replaced by Garcia. When Garcia ran in 1957, as NP, he won over LP's Jose Yulo but his team mate Jose P Laurel lost to the LP's Disosdado Macapagal. This was the start of conflicts between the president and the vice president. Macapagal defeated Garcia in 1961 and he had no problem with Emmanuel Pelaez as VP who was also an LP. Then Marcos won in 1966 and remained in office until ousted in 1986. Marcos had no problem with his vice presidents Fernando Lopez and Arturo Tolentino, although his martial rule ruined the Lopez business empire. The irony of it all was that President Cory and her VP, Salvador Laurel, were both UNIDO party mates, but they had a falling out later. Then FVR and Erap, president and vice president, were not of the same party but they did not quarrel like Cory and Doy.

The problem was in 1998 when Erap was president and GMA as vice president. He was ousted on the theory of “constructive resignation” as a result of the unfinished impeachment proceedings. GMA had a problem with her first vice president Teofisto Guingona and so she replaced her with the harmless Noli de Castro. PNoy's vice presidential bet, Mar Roxas, lost to Jojo Binay in 2010. PNoy and Binay had differences but they were resolved immediately. In 2016, Duterte's vice presidential bet, Alan Peter Cayetano, lost to Leni Robredo. And they have serious conflicts not just on matters of style but also on principles, policies and values.

All these conflicts between the two highest officials can be minimized if and when we elect the two from the same party with the same ideology and basic principles and policies.

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