" The vice president is not just a spare tire."
The most credible, truest and strongest motive to run for vice president is to succeed to the presidency once left vacant by the incumbent. An aspirant for vice president may not wish his presidential team mate ill will or that he or she would meet a tragic accident. He would not ever think of hatching a sinister plot to eliminate him by violent means.But what will always be lurking in his mind is a deeply-held secret of ascending to the presidency once the president simply kicks the bucket or suddenly is called by St. Peter to check in.
A vice presidential aspirant knows that a candidate for president will pick him as a team mate because he can help both of them win. It is his credentials, vote-getting appeal or popularity, and his experience and track record in public service which will convince the presidential aspirant to take him as his running mate.
Indeed, there are many very good and plausible reasons why anyone, who thinks he is someone, wants to be vice president.
The vice presidency as the second highest elective position in government is certainly more prestigious than that of the senate presidency. the speakership of the House of Representatives or the primus inter pares among the justices of the Supreme Court.
Whoever gets elected vice president immediately gains a certain measure of social and political ascendancy. The vice president is generally accorded as much respect as the president.
The vice president is not just a spare tire or of secondary importance in government. He could be influential if given a cabinet position or made by the president as his trouble-shooter or special envoy to the most powerful and richest countries. .
While the vice president also enjoys perks and special privileges befitting his position, he also has to address tremendous responsibilities and endure the blandishments of vested interests and countless others asking for favours. Vice presidents are envied even if admired, pilloried by the media whenever he gets out of decorum, or ridiculed for his failures and shortcomings.
The president will always be wary of the vice president who is just a heartbeat away from him. In the event he is impeached or another People Power Revolution forces him out of office, we may find the vice president just around the corner, ready to take over the most coveted position in government.
These are the come-ons and drawbacks which a prospective candidate for vice president must take into serious consideration before he joins the race for the second most powerful position.
He must also take stock of his fitness for the job and how valuable he can be to the presidential candidate. An aspirant for vice president should go over the past presidential and vice presidential elections to learn meaningful lessons and vignettes from the lives of those who occupied or failed to win the position.
The Quezon-Osmeña political relationship was a classic story of how a president-vice president relationship played out
Osmeña gained national eminence and leadership ahead of Quezon in the early years of American colonial administration. He was elected speaker of the first National Assembly and earlier, as president of the League of Governors with Quezon playing a secondary role. It was when Quezon forcibly wrested the national leadership from Osmeña in the early days of the Commonwealth period that the two quarrelled, broke up, and reunited in three political honeymoons.
In all the three times they quarrelled and patched up, Osmeña suffered a diminution in rank but rose higher in public esteem and stature. The Cebuano political kingpin sacrificed his personal ambitions in order not to derail the campaign for independence.
Osmeña was a staunch nationalist who stood his ground in all his differences with high American officials, including one with President Howard Taft on the appointment of two Philippine representatives to the US Congress.
General Douglas McArthur, wary of Osmeña’s obstinacy, packaged Roxas to become president when the country regained its independence. He absolved Roxas of charges of collaboration with the Japanese government, arranged a ticker-tape parade for him in New York, and prompted him to run against Osmeña for president. Osmeña did not even campaign throughout the election period as he, in fact, earlier wanted to retire from politics and wanted Roxas to succeed him.
Unfortunately, Roxas died from a heart attack and Elpidio Quirino succeeded him — to the displeasure of US officials involved in the colonial administration of the Philippines.
Wary of Quirino’s strong nationalist bent, Uncle Sam let loose his CIA agents to make Ramon Magsaysay run for president, beating Quirino who he earlier appointed him as secretary of national defense.
When Magsaysay died in a plane crash, Vice President Carlos P. Garcia gracefully took over the presidency. He was then in Canberra, Australia, attending an international conference. It was his aide, Col. Nicanor Jimenez with whom he was then playing chess, who received the call about the tragic accident.
The vice president calmly received the news and asked his aide to resume the chess game. Col. Jimenez recalled that he was ahead before the call came but his play deteriorated when they resumed the game and he lost to the vice president.
Vice president Garcia, according to Jimenez, stood up and addressed him; “Nick, don’t tell me that the news affected you more than myself.”
What was interesting, from hindsight, is that Garcia was not the original choice of Magsaysay as his vice presidential team mate. The position was first offered to Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson who was by then very popular. But the mayor casually rejected the offer, saying he has no chance of becoming president since Magsaysay is so healthy and strong that it is unlikely that he will die in office.
Garcia won a term of his own with a slim margin over Jose Yulo. But his candidate for vice president lost to Diosdado Macapagal who spent his whole term campaigning for president against the incumbent. Magacapagal won with Emmanuel Pelaez as his vice president. When the Stonehill scandal was exposed, Pelaez broke away from Macapagal and joined the opposition. In a hotly-contested convention to select the official candidate of the Nacionalista Party against reelectionist Diosdado Macxapagal, Pelaez lost to Ferdinand Marcos who earlier also broke away from the Macapagal administration.
Marcos treated vice president Fernando Lopez with condescension. He took over the business interests of the Lopezes when he placed the country under martial law.
Cory Aquino ran against Marcos in the snap presidential election with Salvador Laurel as her teammate. After completing her term, she supported her defense secretary, Fidel Ramos, who won by a mere plurality of 23% over other candidates, which included Speaker Ramon Mitra, Imelda Marcos, Eduardo Cojuangco, and Jovito Salonga barely made it. Joseph Estrada slid down from the presidential race and won the vice presidency with ease.
Erap won the presidency on his own but Gloria Macapagal Arroyo grabbed the vice presidency by also sliding from the presidential race to win the vice presidency like what Erap did.
Broadcast journalist Noli de Castro was GMA;s vice president. But de Castro did not aspire for the presidency and instead retired from politics.
A battle royale for the presidency was shaping up for the 2010 elections between Manny Villar, Joseph Estrada, and Mar Roxas when a providential event, the death of former president Cory Aquino, propelled Benigno Aquino III to enter the presidential race. Mar Roxas gave way to Noynoy as official candidate for president of the Liberal Party. The turn of events rocketed the candidacy of Noynoy and eclipsed the initial leads of Villar, But Roxas lost by a slim margin the vice presidency to Jejomar Binay.
In the 2016 presidential derby, Mar Roxas, Jejomar Binay and Grace Poe were leading in the initial surveys with Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte hardly considered as a threat.
Had Grace Poe accepted the offer of Roxas to slide down as his vice presidential teammate, she and Roxas might have been both elected. But Rodrigo Duterte inched up in the social media platforms, sneaked in and eventually won the presidency to the consternation of his opponents.
Another widow stole the show by winning the vice presidency to the chagrin of the president. .
What is going on now is a hectic round of negotiations and bargaining among the aspirants for president and vice president. Their names and their possible tandems have already been floated.
Senate President Tito Sotto, Gilbert Teodoro and Martin Romualdez have already acknowledged their joining the vice presidential derby.
A Sarah Duterte-Bongbong Marcos or vice versa team has likewise been proposed. Manny Pacquiao has been making waves as a possible presidential candidate but appears as more likely interested in running for vice president.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso is gaining media mileage as a maverick presidential candidate. If he gets officially nominated by the National Unity Party, one of the political parties which has more than 60 members in the House of Representatives and a number of incumbent officials in local governments, he might just become the man to beat. President Duterte even mentioned Isko as one of about four aspirants whom he might endorse for president.
The Liberal Party has yet to officially raise the hands of Vice President Leni Robredo as its bet for president. 1Sambayan, led by former Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, is still conducting an in-depth search for a presidential flag bearer. The possibility of San Miguel Corporation’s top honcho, Ramon S. Ang getting spontaneous and massive appeals to run for the highest office is not remote and is, in fact, being talked about in business and political gatherings.
Let us hope that whoever runs for the vice presidency will strive to acquit himself creditably to deserve and earn the people’s mandate.
(Mr. Ernesto G. Banawis is a student of government and history. His email address: email@example.com )