"Victory for either tandem is almost certain."
At its party convention held last week, the administration PDP-Laban political party urged President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to run for vice president in the May 2022 elections. From what has been reported in the media, it looks like the President is open to the idea.
If President Duterte does run for vice president, it is almost certain that his presidential running mate will be a choice between his daughter, the fiery Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, and the President’s trusted alter-ego, the immensely popular Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
With either Sara Duterte or Bong Go as the presidential candidate and President Duterte as the vice presidential bet, the victory of the tandem in next year’s polls is almost certain, thanks to the continuing popularity of the President.
Victory for the tandem will allow President Duterte to continue with his laudable Build-Build-Build project which, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, had to be confined to the back burner of the gas range of national priorities.
Vice presidential wannabes are frowning at a Duterte bid for the vice presidency. Their handlers are already stirring questions about the legality of a Duterte vice presidential run, in the hope of discouraging the President from entertaining the idea.
There is nothing in the Constitution which prohibits an incumbent president from running for vice president.
At best, there is only one provision in the Constitution that categorically states what an incumbent president cannot run for in the elections at the end of his term. A line in Section 4, Article VII of the charter says, “The President shall not be eligible for any reelection.”
The term “reelection” means running for the same office in the elections at the end of one’s term. That definition finds support from the constitutional history of the Philippines, as seen in 1940 when the 1935 Constitution was amended to allow President Manuel Quezon, who was originally limited to one term in office, to seek reelection.
Since the Constitution only prohibits an incumbent president from running for a second consecutive term as president, and considering that there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits a sitting president from running for vice president, or for any lower public office for that matter, then President Duterte can lawfully run for vice president in May 2022.
In other words, President Duterte may lawfully run for vice president in May 2022.
That an incumbent president can run for a lower public office immediately after finishing his term as president is not without precedent.
Gloria Macagagal-Arroyo ran for and won a seat in the House of Representatives of Congress in the same year she stepped down as president. Joseph “Erap” Estrada got elected city mayor of Manila in 2010 after leaving Malacañang in 2001.
John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, ran and won a seat in the House of Representatives of the US Congress in 1831, two years after leaving the White House.
Obviously, the noisy sector stirring a pointless issue about President Duterte’s likely run for vice president in 2022 are those who want to run for vice president also in 2022 but are afraid of the immense popularity and vote-getting ability of President Duterte, in the event that the latter does run for vice president next year. They know that if they run against Duterte, they will surely get clobbered at the polls.
A slippery politician who mishandled the Otso Diretso senatorial ticket soundly defeated in the 2019 senatorial race knows that his plans for the vice presidency are in serious jeopardy if Duterte runs for veep in 2022.
There are also several presidential wannabes who are frightened at the prospect of a Duterte run for vice president. They know that if Duterte runs for vice president, his unprecedented popularity with the electorate can translate to millions of votes for his presidential running mate.
So far, the list of traditional politicians who are drooling to run for President in 2022 includes Senator Grace Poe, whose bogus claim to natural-born Philippine citizenship still haunts her camp, and the punch-drunk prize fighter Senator Manny Pacquiao who thinks that boxing skills are enough to qualify him for the highest office in the land, and whose handlers are salivating to seize Malacañang and the power that goes with the presidency.
Also eyeing the presidency is that political opportunist Antonio Carpio, who violated Section 12, Article VIII of the Constitution when, as an incumbent Justice of the Supreme Court, he served as legal counsel of the Philippine panel to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China.