“The prohibition is essentially violative of the spirit of a democratic election.”
To make it clear, the term backdoor entry is not illegal. Many of our ambitious politicians are saying that the administration and possibly the President himself may outwit the opposition in this awaited presidential election. They see the 2022 election as their day of reckoning.
All lumped themselves under the umbrella of the opposition, from the leftist group pretending to be nationalist and to the traditional lackeys whose agenda is to keep the Philippines under the clutches of American imperialism. Others include the Islamic separatist, the landlords who are the patrons of feudalism, the ultra-conservative Church, and the corrupt politicians who take advantage of our utterly dysfunctional political system. They all see the election as some kind of payback time.
To begin with, the argument raised by Christian Monsod, a one-time operator of the National Movement for Free Election or Namfrel and later commissioner to the Cory Aquino Constitution is arguing that should President Duterte decide to run for vice president only to re-assume the position of President is to circumvent the provision prohibiting the President from seeking a second term.
Nobody really knows who advised Monsod or he may be just fanatical to believe that for the President to stay in office longer than what is contemplated is to have a tinge of dictatorship or authoritarianism. Article VII, Section 4 of the Constitution provides to quote: “The President and the Vice President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June following the next day of the election and shall end at noon at the same date six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”
Monsod should bear in mind that his interpretation of the alleged prohibition in the constitution, in effect violates the right of the person to run for office and to the majority who voted for him. The prohibition is essentially violative of the spirit of a democratic election on which their ideology is anchored. The sanctimonious drafters of the 1987 Constitution effectively violated the right not only of the person who is seeking re-election and the people who voted for him, for essentially, they nurture a wrong notion of what constitutes a democracy.
Monsod should know that his use of the term “backdoor” or “palusot” is hazy and legally untenable. These can never be prohibited. For the vice president to switch his position with the president can never be said to be illegal or unconstitutional. A provision must clearly state that such an act is illegal and unconstitutional to be meted with punishment. In fact, doubt always favors the accused, such that those making “palusot” or making a backdoor approach can be absolved on the basis of this principle in law.
Moreover, our question as to how long will the person elected as President serve is completely outside our purview. Our only concern is to implement the rights of the people and elect the candidate of their choice. The only safeguard is to ensure that candidates are elected by the majority of the voters who are qualified to vote. Which is the true spirit of democracy. Beyond that, we cannot prejudge the candidate by imposing a weird qualification that imposes a limitation on our freedom. Democracy simply revolves in the holding of elections and to guarantee candidates declared the winner obtained the majority of the votes cast.
A prohibition to one seeking reelection, especially to a different position, is a limitation on his freedom. This explains why the term limit of the president or head of state in Russia and China has altogether been scrapped. The elimination did not make President Vladimir Putin or President Xi Jinping undemocratic, authoritarian or dictatorial. For as long as we see that our President is performing his job well and in accordance with the duty to which he was sworn to perform, he cannot be less democratic. Monsod should instead focus on the possibility of the elected president resigning just to give way to the elected vice president to succeed. That now violates his duty to which he was sworn to serve.
For as long as the head of state can perform the function of his office, he can seek re-election and the only limitation is when he is physically disabled, impeached or removed from office. They judge their leader not by the length of time he served or by his age but by his performance in office.
Remember, US President when Franklin D. Roosevelt ran and was elected for the fourth term. Those overtly jealous politicians decided to put a term limit to the position of President, and that was made after his death. The limitation was intended against President Truman and not on Roosevelt who was already dead when that law as enacted.
The ludicrous view floated by Monson goes beyond the idea of punishing the vice president to get away with Section 4, Article VII. It did not enter into the mind of this remnant of “people power” constitutionalists that to do that is to implement a bill of attainder upon the person of the President for alleged crime without the benefit of him being tried. This we say because nobody is more qualified to commit this kind of violation than the former President for the reason of seeking re-election which is questionable.
Besides, any complaint contemplated by Monsod is bound to be dismissed. He is not a party-in-interest or will be directly affected by the decision of President Duterte to run for vice president. Should he fail, his complaint is bound to be dismissed. Surely, Monsod will not be seeking that office so much that there is no way for him to win against Duterte.
Maybe corruption was reduced but this is an attribute to the political will and determination of the leader who is patriotic enough to serve the country. The greatest fallacy floated by this self-righteous is in giving the President a one term to serve to lessen politics and the costly expense in our electoral system.
On the contrary, the frequent holding of presidential elections resulted in the huge and periodic expense with some estimating to cost a presidential candidate between P6 to P8 billion pesos. Neither did they eliminate the plague of political dynasty, which is attributed to the refusal by Congress to pass a law that would eliminate political dynasty. These are evils in our political system that undoubtedly was bequeathed by the preacher of democracy.