Candidates split on ‘tandem voting,’ more powers for VP
MANILA, Philippines – Not all vice presidential candidates are on the same page on the issue of whether the Philippines should adopt “tandem voting” — that is on having the president and the vice president elected together as one ticket.
Only three of the seven candidates who took part in the vice presidential debates sanctioned by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said they were in favor of it: Dr. Willie Ong, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, and lawyer Carlos Serapio.
According to Ong, who stressed that the vice president should not be treated as a spare tire, being allowed to win together as a tandem will allow the president and the vice president to work together more effectively.
“In my experience, I saw our politics is a bit chaotic, so many hurtful words being said. So if they’re not partners, I don’t know how they will work,” Ong said in Filipino. “So it’s better at least if they’re partners.”
Pangilinan echoed Ong’s sentiments, adding that winning as a tandem would allow the partners to avoid unnecessary conflict.
“The vote for the president must also be a vote for the vice president — for cooperation, for unity, for completeness from the beginning and without any conflict,” he said.
Meanwhile, activist Walden Bello said that he was fine with candidates of opposing positions getting elected together.
“It’s nice if you are both elected with whoever you’re in tandem with. But it’s also okay otherwise. It’s okay to have a bit of check and balance in the executive [branch],” he said.
“I think it can create some sort of good dynamics,” he later added.
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, on the other hand, said that he was against it primarily because of “check and balance” and for the sake of democracy.
“In the Philippines, with 64 million voters, will we will allow the presidential candidate to be the one to determine the vice president? That’s 64 million Filipinos who should vote who they want to be the leader of the country, right?” he said.
Pro-life advocate Rizalito David, an outspoken advocate of a parliamentary form of government, shrugged off the idea, saying that it would not change anything.
“It doesn’t really matter, even if we have tandem voting. It still won’t resolve our problem in governance. Even if you’re together in one party, it’s the slow processes of the presidential system that we have to address,” David said.
“That cannot be addressed by tandem voting So what I am pushing for now is for us to be parliamentary,” he added.
As to giving the vice president more powers under the Constitution, Pangilinan said no additional powers should be given to the country’s second-highest leader.
“I believe that our Constitution is sufficient in the matter of the powers that may be given to our VP,” he said.
“Bakit? Nasa VP na ‘yun kung sino man siya kung paano niya gagamitin ang posiyon at kapangyarihan para makatulong sa ating mga kababayan,” he added. “Why? It’s up to the VP, whoever they may be, how they will use their position and power to help our countrymen.”
He cited as an example his running mate, Vice President Leni Robredo, who launched several COVID-19 response programs, including free shuttle rides, personal protective equipment, and E-Konsulta among others.
Sotto expressed the same sentiments, explaining that a vice president alone could already do a lot. But he said that, if given the chance, he would make the vice president the Senate president — that is, the presiding officer of the Senate.
Sotto cited his time as the vice mayor of Quezon City when he pushed for vice mayors to become presiding officers of municipal councils.
“We were able to do that. And look at the municipal councils now. They are being run by the vice mayors and they are partners of the mayor. So that’s my point of view,” he said.
Meanwhile, David took the opportunity to instead push for a shift to parliamentary government.
“If we change the Constitution, let’s just go to a more sensitive method of governing society,” he said.
“Let’s get rid of the presidential. Let’s move to parliamentary so that= elections would be cheaper, and artists and popular people would not win that easily,” he added.
For his part, Manny Lopez said the vice president should be able to “determine the validity of the assumption of the top position” or the presidency.
‘Tandem vote’ for president, VP posts proposed
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