QC solon withdraws filed ‘designated survivor’ bill in House
MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo withdrew Sunday the bill she earlier filed seeking to authorize the President to name a temporary successor from among the members of the Cabinet should the successors in the line of succession as identified by the Constitution are unable to assume the presidency.
In a letter addressed to House Secretary-General Jose Luis Montales, Castelo requested for the “withdrawal and permanent archiving” of House Bill No. 4062 or the “Presidential Succession Act” filed in August 2019.
“Please take note that said bill has not been acted upon by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments since the date of its filing,” Castelo said in the letter.
In a separate statement, Castelo said her decision to withdraw the bill seeks to erase any impression that she is in support of ignoring or scrapping the constitutional line of succession to the presidency.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the line of presidential succession only includes the Vice President, Senate President, and House Speaker.
“That is not so, far from it. The bill does not remove the line of succession. I am for respecting that provision of the Constitution and the line of succession to the highest office,” Castelo said.
Under Castelo’s bill, the President is given the power to assign a successor from among his or her Cabinet members should all the Constitutional successors die or be incapacitated to serve as Chief Executive.
“During occasions when the President, the Vice-President, Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are all gathered in one place, the President shall delegate a successor from among his Cabinet officials, who shall take over the Presidency in the unlikely event that the President and all his Constitutional successors die or become incapacitated to fill in the role of the President,” Castelo said in the bill.
Castelo said the delegated successor would be kept in a secure and undisclosed place during the occasion or gathering for which his appointment was made.
“The appointment of the delegated successor shall be pro hac vice and shall be limited to the circumstances under which it is made. The appointment shall be of no effect in case the President and/or any of his Constitutional successor survive the occasion or gathering,” Castelo said.
In her explanatory note, Castelo cited that in the United States, during the Cold War era, the practice was to keep a “designated successor” away from events at which numerous high-ranking officials gather.
“Since our Constitution does not provide for the same rule, we can only imagine how tragic the outcome will be in case the unthinkable happens. The absence of a leader can lead to lawlessness and disorder, and worst, to anarchy,” the lawmaker said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson has also filed a similar bill in the upper chamber.
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