Early this year, I was one of the first to float the idea of a Duterte-Duterte tandem in the 2022 elections, with Davao City Mayor Sara "Inday Sara" Duterte-Carpio as candidate for president and her father, incumbent President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte, as candidate for vice president. My reason for doing so is for continuity in the programs, policies and projects that were started by Digong, which can only happen if the next president belongs to his inner circle or his closest political ally, and his daughter, Inday Sara, is the best and most qualified person who can do that. At the same time, a "Leni Robredo situation," one where the vice president is more of an obstructionist and opportunist who causes unnecessary disruptions to government programs, policies and projects, and shamelessly smears on the image of government and the country before a local and foreign audience, should not happen again, thus the idea of having Digong becoming vice president after serving as president for six years.
What was a mere idea of Digong running for vice president months ago is now a real possibility. The recent Pulse Asia surveys showed Digong as among most preferred possible for vice president in the 2022 elections. Digong was consistently ranking as the first or second most preferred candidate for vice president.
Much earlier, Digong said that he would not seek the vice presidency if Inday Sara would run for presidency. For her part, Inday Sara said that she too would not run for higher office if Digong would run for vice president and that she would support her father should he decide to do just that. That seems to shoot down the idea of a Duterte-Duterte tandem, although some are still convinced that Inday Sara and Digong should be the tandem in 2022.
In a speech that he delivered during the National Assembly of his party, PDP-Laban, at Clark, Pampanga last July 17, 2021, Digong suggested that he would run for vice president in 2022 "because of the constitutional immunity from suit that accompanies the position, no thanks to persistent threat of lawsuits to filed against him by the likes of Antonio Trillanes IV and Antonio Carpio." PDP-Laban formally nominated him as its candidate for vice president. Digong eventually made it formal by telling the country and Filipinos that he is, indeed, running for vice president in 2022, with him accepting the nomination and signing the nomination papers of PDP-Laban.
Digong’s decision to run for vice president has, for some weird reason, shaken the Manila political, economic and intellectual elite, which still claims to have a monopoly over national political and intellectual discourse, and the decision-making process over the political and economic destiny of the country. The likes of Christian Monsod and Maria Sol Taule said on both traditional and non-traditional mainstream media outlets that Digong "is not allowed" to run for vice president because, according to them, 1987 Constitution prohibits the president for running for re-election, as they see a president running for vice president as a form of "re-election" because the vice president can succeed the president in case of the latter dies or becomes incapacitated. Other members of the Manila political, economic and intellectual elite, as well as the mainstream media, having run out of other valid reasons, were saying that Digong should not run for vice president in 2022 "out of delicadeza" because "he mismanaged the Philippines as president." Obviously, members of the elite in the capital is already overreacting to Digong’s decision to run for vice president because the probinsyano from Davao is turning out to be smarter than they initially thought of and was not the lame duck president that they were hoping for, as having a lame duck president during the latter part of his six-year term in office would enable the Manila elite to keep control over Malacanang, and, ultimately, the nation’s political and economic affairs.
More recently, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) opinion poll among 1,200 respondents from June 23 to 26 revealed that 60 percent of Filipinos believe that Digong’s decision to run for vice president in 2022 “would go against the provisions of the 1987 Constitution.” Most of those who said that Digong’s vice presidential bid is “unconstitutional,” at 65 percent, came from Balance Luzon. Among the 39 percent who said that Digong should run for vice president because “he should be able to continue his management of government,” 89 percent came from the Dutertes’ bailiwick of Mindanao, and, surprising, Metro Manila, which is supposed to be “leaning towards the political opposition” since it is the base of the Manila elite.
But then again, is Digong really qualified to run for vice president in 2022 when his six-year term as president ends?
Article VII, Section 4 of the 1987 Constitution states that:
"The President shall not be eligible for any re-electon."
What does "re-election" mean? Dictionary.com defines "re-election" as:
"The election of a person or persons for a further term of office."
Is an incumbent president running for vice president when his term of office ends a form of "re-election?" Even a grade school-level child would say no because the positions of president and vice president are not the same. A person who seeks re-election means that he wants a further term of office for the same elected office, which is not possible in the case of the President because Section 4, Article VII of 1987 Constitution explicitly stated that the incumbent cannot run for re-election when his single six-year term ends, which makes the assertion of Monsod and Taule partially correct.
However, the 1987 Constitution did not explicitly prohibit the incumbent president from seeking a lower elective post such as the vice president, senator, congressman, governor, vice governor, provincial board member, mayor, vice mayor, city or municipal councilor, barangay captain and barangay kagawad. There are precedents to this prior to the hullabaloo created by members of the Manila political, economic and intellectual elite, and mainstream media when the idea of Digong running for vice president in 2022 was floated.
When Joseph "Erap" Estrada was deposed from power as president in 2001, he ran again for president in 2010. He claimed that he could run again for president because "he was not able to finish" his six-year term as president, which was supposed to end in 2004. He ranked second behind eventual winner Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, III and even performed better than early frontrunner and his erstwhile ally Manny Villar. In 2013, after making a highly publicized decision to switch voter registration and residence from San Juan to Manila, he ran for Mayor of Manila, challenging and eventually winning against then incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim. Erap served as Mayor of Manila for six years from 2013 to 2019.
At the conclusion of her full six-year term as President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ran for and won the House seat for her home province of Pampanga. PGMA served as Pampanga congresswoman for nine years, most of which she spent under hospital and house arrest due to trumped up charges filed against her by Noynoy's administration, all of which were eventually dismissed by the courts. On her final three-year term as congresswoman, she was elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, replacing Davao del Norte Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez and with her leading the chamber in passing key pieces of legislation that were in line with the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration.
When Erap and PGMA decided to seek lower elective posts upon the conclusion of the respective terms of office as President of the Philippines, did we hear anything from the Manila political, economic and intellectual elite, as well as the mainstream media? The answer is none. There was nothing but silence from them at both instances.
So why are the Manila political, economic and intellectual elite, as well as the mainstream media afraid of Digong running for vice president in 2022? Are they fearful of the possibility of him winning as vice president, as how the results of the recent Pulse Asia surveys would suggest? Are they afraid of the possibility of two Dutertes- Inday Sara as President and Digong as Vice President- holding the top two political positions of the land, as suggested also by the recent Pulse Asia preferred president and vice president candidates surveys, especially with Inday Sara often having a strong showing as the most preferred candidate for president?
Clearly, there is no legal impediment for Digong to run for vice president, senator, congressman, governor, vice governor, provincial board member, mayor, vice mayor, city or municipal councilor, barangay captain and barangay kagawad when his term as president ends. As a lawyer and former prosecutor, he knows the provisions stated by the 1987 Constitution, which is why everything is going to be legal should he decide to seek the vice president post next year. If he decides to run and eventually wins as vice president during the 2022 elections, and, for one way or another, becomes president on the basis of line of succession, as stated on Article VII, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution, that should not be faulted on him but on Corazon Aquino's handpicked framers of the 1987 Constitution, such as Chito Gascon, Christian Monsod and Hilario Davide, for lack of foresight and their reactionary nature when they drafted it as a reaction to the events that happened during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos.
Questions regarding the constitutionality of Digong’s vice presidential bid in 2022 should be raised and decided upon before the Supreme Court. It is utterly wrong to raise the matter before the court of public opinion, taking advantage of the lack of total knowledge of common Filipinos when it comes the 1987 Constitution and other matters of law. Only those with no way of winning in the courts of law resort to using the court of public opinion in an attempt to influence the outcome of the elections or any political decision.
I should say let Digong run for vice president in 2022 if he really wants to run during next year's election. At the end of the day, it will be the Filipino people who would decide if they want him to become vice president after serving as president for six years. The only ones who make a fuss out of the idea of Digong running for vice president in 2022 are those who are aware of the fact that the majority of Filipinos does not like them anymore and, just like in 2016 and 2019, they are going to end up being flushed down the drain once again.
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