By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
President Rodrigo Duterte (PCOO photo)
MANILA (Philippines News Agency)— Critics are free to challenge President Rodrigo Duterte’s perceived vice-presidential plan but everything is premature as long as he has not yet filed his certificate of candidacy. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte has yet to make up his mind but it should be noted that the 1987 Constitution is not prohibiting him from joining the 2022 vice presidential race. “On some groups challenging the legality of President Duterte’s vice-presidential bid to the Supreme Court, they may rightfully do so as long as they have the legal standing,” Roque said in a statement. Roque said there is no legal impediment as Section 4, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution is “clear” that Duterte is ineligible only if he seeks reelection. “President Duterte is not running for the same office and same position,” he said. “A careful reading of the Constitution would reveal that there is no expressed prohibition for the sitting President to run for a lower public office position.” 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 30th day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter, Section 4, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution states. The same provision states that the “President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time”. “Under the plain meaning rule or verba legis, if the statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without interpretation,” Roque said. In an interview with a news channel on Wednesday, lawyer and former Commission on Elections chair Christian Monsod said he is willing to challenge Duterte’s possible vice-presidential bid. Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, said Duterte’s plan to slide to Vice President could be questioned before the poll body, “subject to the Supreme Court,” if somebody brings it to the High Court.
Duterte previously said he is “seriously” thinking of running for Vice President. (PNA)