MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 06 July) – The ruling PDP-Laban has floated the idea of President Rodrigo Duterte running for vice president next year. Duterte played coy to such an idea at first, but later declared openness to it. There should be no problem if he decides to hang his political jersey. But if he decides to run for the country’s second highest post, it would trigger legal questions, the answer to which lies in the sacrosanct pages of the Constitution.
Section 4, Article VII (Executive Department) of the 1987 Constitution provides, “The President shall not be eligible for any re-election.” Some interpret this provision to mean only one thing – the president is barred from seeking re-election to the same post but not from running for any lower position, including that of the vice president.
Others, including former Commission on Elections chair Christian Monsod, who was a member of the commission that drafted the current Charter, opine that this provision does not only prohibit the President from holding the same position for more than one term; it also bars him/her from seeking the vice presidency.
Monsod warned that allowing a president to run as vice president “would open the door to a term longer than the replaced provision of a maximum of eight years.” The former Comelec chair has in mind the scenario of a former president getting elected as vice president, and winning back his old post if the new president steps down, dies, becomes incapacitated, or is removed from office through impeachment.
Palace spokesperson Harry Roque retorted: “If you can show me a provision which bars the President from running for the position of vice president then of course the President will honor that prohibition. But as it is, there is no literal provision in the Constitution that states that principle.”
Roque may be correct in insisting that there is no explicit provision barring a president from running for vice president. But he can be faulted for his lack of common sense. He should realize that more paramount than a literal provision is the spirit of the law, which is to prevent any president from staying in office for more than one term as a lesson learned during the dark years of Martial Law.
Or maybe, Roque chose to forget history.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at email@example.com.)