'No legal impediment' for Duterte to run for VP, but it’s 'politically wrong' — election lawyer | Inquirer News

‘No legal impediment’ for Duterte to run for VP, but it’s ‘politically wrong’ — election lawyer

/ 01:03 AM July 09, 2021

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Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal. Photo by Otso Diretso

MANILA, Philippines — The possible vice presidential candidacy of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte may not be against the 1987 Constitution, but an election lawyer questioned whether it would be politically correct for him to pursue such office.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal on Thursday said Section 4, Article 7 of the Constitution states that the President cannot run for a reelection — which means that he cannot seek the presidency again.

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This means that under the current law, Duterte could well run for vice president.

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“There is no legal impediment for President Duterte to run for Vice-President (VP). Section 4, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution says that ‘The President is not eligible for any reelection.’ And reelection means to run again for the same position. Thus, if Duterte runs for VP then he is not running for ‘reelection’ as he has never been elected as VP,” Macalintal said

“Those who say otherwise argue that the ban for ‘reelection’ applies to an elected president running for VP. But, with due respect and, as clearly worded, ‘reelection’ applies only to an elected president. There is nothing in the said provision that, if an elected president runs for VP, it is equivalent to running for President. In a word, there is nothing in the constitution which clearly provides that an elected president cannot run for VP,” he added.

But the problem, Macalintal said, is that Duterte’s openness to running for vice president may be seen as a sign of political weakness within the ruling party, PDP-Laban.

According to Macalintal, who also served as Vice President Leni Robredo’s lawyer, Dutete’s bid can be construed as if PDP-Laban has not developed any possible candidate other than the sitting President.

“It would be politically wrong for the PDP-Laban to have Duterte as its vice-presidential bet in the 2022 elections as it could be construed as a sign of its political weakness.  It practically runs counter to PDP-Laban’s vaunted position that it is the ‘ruling party’ since it would appear that it has not even developed anyone, other than Duterte, to run for VP in 2022,” he added.

Macalintal also noted that the reasons for Duterte’s allies to egg him on to run in 2022 again — to steer the country towards the post pandemic recovery — might backfire considering that the Philippines is having the worst economic contraction under his term.

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“The party’s reason for urging Duterte to run for VP is for the ‘government to be able to expeditiously and effectively deliver our people, our communities, our economy, back to good health,’” he said.

“This argument could backfire against PDP-Laban because it would seem that Duterte, as President, has not ‘expeditiously and effectively’ delivered our people to ‘good health’,” he added.

Duterte on a Tuesday meeting with PDP-Laban officials said that he remains open to running or vice president, amid uneasiness among allies about losing the supposed gains garnered under his administration.

However, he declined to make any promises regarding the topic.  Also, he said that it is important that the next president would be his ally.

But earlier, staunch critic and activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan said that Duterte’s openness to a vice presidential bid in 2022 — and his desire for any of his allies to be elected as president — stems from his wanting to avoid prosecution.

Macalintal said that it would be good to clarify provisions on reelection to avoid a potential constitutional crisis, citing the case of the United States where there are provisions explicitly stating that individuals disqualified from running for president cannot also make a vice presidential bid.

“In the United States, its constitution, as amended, provides that ‘…no person constitutionally ineligible to serve the office of the President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States,’” he said.

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“The problem with our charter is that it does not have a similar clear provision barring an elected President from running for VP.  The framers of our constitution probably thought that it was enough to provide that an elected president ‘shall not be eligible for any reelection’. It never entered their minds that there could come a time that an elected President would run for VP to recapture the presidency through the backdoor,” he added.

TAGS: Bayan, Philippine news updates, Rodrigo Duterte

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