Vice president, 2022

THE vice president (VP) has traditionally been seen as the spare tire to the president. We have never seen the vice president as being on par with the president; not even as a primus inter pares when, in fact, she or he succeeds the president in case of death or incapacity. The VP is critical not just for succession purposes, but more so for governance.

We have seen what collaboration and amity can do, what constructive criticism can provide and what consensus-building can offer in public service.

From 1992, we have had mixed tickets in the president/VP positions: Ramos-Estrada (1992), Estrada-Arroyo (1998), Aquino-Binay (2010) and Duterte-Robredo (2016). It was only in 2004 when we had both positions occupied by a tandem, Arroyo-de Castro. The “what ifs” then were: 1) could a popular de Castro win the presidency and 2) the death of former president Corazon “Cory” Cory Aquino in August 2009, a few months into the filing of the certificates of candidacy. The first we never saw because de Castro turned his back on presidential politics, deciding to return to broadcasting, and the second saw the entry of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd into a field of eight (from a high of 99) candidates despite his indifferent performance as legislator in the House and the Senate.

It is the prerogative of the president to give the VP a portfolio or assigned tasks, ending a divisive election with promised collaboration. In 1992, Ramos had Vice President Estrada given the position of chairman of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission from 1992-1997.

It was smooth sailing, all-hands-on-deck service. Both individuals respecting the mandate of each other and both working to bring the ship of state to a shared destination was made clear at the outset.

In 1998, President Estrada appointed VP Arroyo as Secretary of Social Welfare and Development, until the unseating of President Estrada in 2000. This allowed Arroyo a 10-year rule, the only vice president to succeed as president, post-martial law.

Although Aquino 3rd and Binay were from opposing camps, Binay was a loyal gatekeeper of the Aquino legacy, supporting Cory Aquino from day one until the transition to Ramos. Binay was given the housing portfolio as well as the post of presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers by Noynoy but the so-called Balay and Samar factions were tearing the government apart from Day 1, all eyeing the presidential hat in 2016. Balay was Mar Roxas while Samar was for VP Binay. If not for this internecine war, the Duterte wedge would not have materialized. Pushed by mutually assured destruction, Binay became the subject of 35 Senate hearings, all designed to peel the skin of the so-called brown Obama, in order to make sterling contrast out of Roxas. But Roxas was viewed as being too elite and out of touch. Binay resigned as a member of the Aquino 3rd cabinet on June 22, 2015. In this race, there were five candidates vying for the presidency.

As in 2010, the 2016 elections were also designed to ensure plurality. The more candidates, the more the base of strong candidates is weakened, preventing runaway win. If you study the 2016 elections, Poe, an independent, allowed Duterte to win. For the VP, 3 independents allowed a close fight between Robredo (35.11 percent) and Marcos (34.47 percent). Watch out for the independents, they may be there to play a specific role.

Again, in 1992, Estrada first filed to run as president, only to slide down and win as vice president. In 1998, Arroyo also floated the idea of running for president but was swayed to run as vice president under the ticket of former speaker Joe de Venecia. De Castro was also convinced to run under Arroyo in 2004. In these three instances, sliding down to VP allowed them to remain in contention for presidency. You would think the Roxas sacrifice would have been awarded with overwhelming nod of the electorate but as often pointed out, “in politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way (Franklin D. Roosevelt).” And that is the story of Aquino and Binay in 2016.

And then we had the penchant for of hailing to court or putting in jail presidents we have voted to office. Estrada and Arroyo were on house arrest during the full term of Arroyo and Aquino 3rd, respectively. Estrada was given a pardon and Arroyo was pardoned by Duterte. Estrada ran for president in 2010 and sought the mayorship of the capital in 2013 and 2016. As for Arroyo, nothing was proven. She was able to run as a member of the House of Representatives and became Speaker in the third regular session of the 17th Congress.

Lessons learned: one can be popular but knowing when to slide down takes a lot of wisdom; being VP is actually training ground for presidential politics, work and don’t be vociferous opposition; embrace the challenge if it is mixed ticket and rise up to opportunities in becoming VP; respect the mandate of the president and bring your mandate as VP to work hand in hand for the nation; do not be the cause of division, there are ways by which opposition can be registered without sounding as if you’re calling for the ouster of a duly elected president; get a spox who speaks for the institution of the VP and not a propagandist for a political party, the VP owes that to his/her voter and lastly, create beachhead in voter’s mind you can be president someday.

For 2022, with the leading names for the presidency and no dominating individual in the current pack, we should give the same weight in searching for the VP. The position is critical in rebuilding the nation. A steady, stable and capable hand is needed. Experience is necessary and the ability to work together primordial to get our nation back on its feet.

Always remember, a VP should take to heart the following: “You shut the door, you tell the boss exactly what you think. But when the door opens, the job of the vice president is to stand right next to the president and implement the policy he’s decided. And I am prepared to do that.”

Tandem becomes a deciding point for every Filipino voter and is a drastic shift from checks and balances of yesteryears. Some 60.3 of voters are partial to the idea of candidates belonging to the same duo. The partiality is markedly higher in the Visayas (64.3 percent) and Mindanao (67.1 percent) than elsewhere.

 

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About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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