The camp of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo over the weekend cast suspicion on the proposal to abolish the vice president post in the proposed federal government, saying it is not relevant to the planned shift to a new system of government.
Ibarra Gutierrez, legal adviser of Robredo, was referring to the proposal of President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party, PDP-Laban, that “in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President, the President of the senate, or in case of his inability, the Speaker of the federal assembly shall then act as President until the President shall have been elected and qualified.”
“The current proposals to revise the  Constitution are supposedly anchored on a drive to promote and institute a federal system of government. The question is, how does abolishing the OVP relate to the establishment of federalism? Or is the abolition already in service of some other, unstated, agenda?” Gutierrez asked.
Article 7, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution states that “in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President, the Vice-President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term.”
The 1987 Charter also provides that in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of both the President and Vice-President, the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall then act as President until the President or Vice-President shall have been elected and qualified.
“The Office of the Vice President has been a feature of our republic for over 80 years,” Gutierrez said.
Robredo earlier said amending the Constitution should not benefit incumbent elected officials, including herself.
“The issue is simple. As for me, when I ran for office in May 2016, it is for a contract that I will serve as vice president for six years. It is not to serve six years and possibly more. Having said that, incumbent officials should not benefit from proposals of term extension,” Robredo, also a lawyer, said in her weekly radio program Biserbisyong Leni.
“Otherwise, the intention of the incumbent officials will also be in question. The term extension will look like a self-serving move,” she added.
Former Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list warned that the PDP-Laban’s proposal ultimately means ousting Robredo and extending the term of Duterte since the proposal provides that “no person shall serve as President for more than two consecutive terms.”
“Under the PDP-Laban Constitution, Vice President Robredo will be ousted from her office long before her term ends in 2022. While PDP-Laban may argue that they will not apply this to VP Robredo, this is not expressed in PDP Laban Constitution since they have refused to divulge their transitory provision. And even if Vice President Robredo is allowed to stay until 2022, she will be a lame-duck Vice President who is not even listed in the line of succession to President Duterte,” Colmenares said in a statement.
“Even if one supports federalism, this charter change must be opposed because of its anti-people provisions and self-serving motivations,” he added.