Former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr. was against amending the Constitution but if it would be done, he suggested once that it should include the election of the president and the vice president as a tandem. In other words, a vote for president would be automatically counted as a vote for his running mate.
This is the practice in the United States. Americans don’t vote for vice president. Oddly enough, while we copied the American system, we ignored the wisdom of voting for the president and vice president as a tandem. Thus, in 1957 we had a Nacionalista, Carlos P. Garcia, for president, and a Liberal, Diosdado Macapagal for vice president. In 1992, President Fidel V. Ramos and Vice President Erap Estrada belonged to different parties. So did President Erap and Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 1998. The “popularity” of President BS Aquino The Last, I mean The Third, failed to carry his running mate in the 2010 polls.
The election of the president and the vice president as a tandem ensures closer cooperation between the two highest officials of the land. What’s more, it promotes continuity of the programs of the popular president should his vice president take over the reins of government. Taken in this context, deeper consideration should be given by every presidential wannabe in choosing his running mate, one who would be ready to assume leadership when the time comes.
Before martial law, geography played a key role in the forming of a presidential ticket. A presidential candidate from Luzon then must have a running mate from the Visayas or Mindanao, and vice versa. This has been largely ignored since 1986 when the two main parties fielded all their candidates came from Luzon– Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan with Ferdinand Marcos and Arturo Tolentino and Unido with Cory Aquino and Doy Laurel.
Indications are that the United Nationalist Organization (UNO) will also come out with an all-Luzon presidential ticket in 2016. Vice President Jojo Binay is a shoo-in as the party’s presidential candidate. While he had said it was too early to name his running mate, he cited Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian of Valenzuela City and Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, from Manila, as “probables.”
Binay said the experience of Gatchalian and Atienza in running progressive local governments augurs well for a progressive national government. The two, like Binay, were mayors of their respective cities before becoming congressman. Between them, Gatchalian seems more interested in seeking a higher office, as shown by his frequent advertisements extolling his achievements as Valenzuela City mayor.
Incidentally, his ads bear a striking resemblance to those of then candidate Binay about what he had done as Makati City mayor. The ads of Gatchalian invariably cite the recognition of Valenzuela under his helm as Top 1 Best Governed Highly Urbanized City by the DILG in 2010; Business-Friendly City by the World Bank in 2011; Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2012.
Binay is trying to keep a stiff upper lip while being beset with accusations of corruption. If all he could say was that the Makati City Hall 2 was “world-class” and “green” and that its cost is comparable to that of a House of Representatives building and of the Iloilo Convention Center, then he would have to work doubly hard to prevent it from becoming a bigger election issue against him. I note though that Gatchalian is one of the few allies of Binay who have consistently defended him.
Gatchalian has also become a constant companion of Binay in the latter’s provincial sorties, which are now becoming more frequent. He’s a stalwart of the Nationalist People’s Coalition which counts among its members Senators Vicente “Tito Sen” Sotto and Loren Legarda. Tito Sen is running for reelection while Legarda hasn’t indicated any interest in running for vice president for the third time.
If the election were held today, Binay would beat other presidential candidates. And if the president and vice president are elected in tandem, then his running mate would also be elected. But, if it’s Gatchalian, does he have what it takes to take over in 2022? The symbiotic relationship of the two is unquestionable. Aside from their local government connection, they are also executives of the Boy Scout of the Philippines. However, I believe Gatchalian needs more exposure, more publicity on what he had done and is capable of doing before the ideal of presidential tandem could see fruition in the UNO ticket.