POSTSCRIPT / November 14, 2021 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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BBM-Sara tandem for 2022 elections!

The guessing game is over. Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will continue his quest for the presidency as standard-bearer of the Partido Federal Pilipino, with the party adopting Davao Mayor Sara Duterte as his vice presidential mate for the 2022 national elections.

The PFP announced yesterday Marcos’ move, after another story broke out earlier that Duterte had slid to being a vice presidential aspirant, replacing Lyle Uy, a placeholder of the Lakas-CMD for the VP slot.

The Marcos-Duterte alliance sealed after months of negotiation made clearer to opposition-inclined voters that the emerging choice in the 2022 elections is between Change and Continuity, between less bad government and more of the same.

The alliance comes through to them as representing “continuity” – or more of the same corrupt, inept and abusive administration.

The dominant Marcos element is likely to raise the specter of the late dictator’s family reclaiming the Palace they had to abandon in 1986 in panic, of Mrs. Imelda Marcos gaining pardon for her fabulous crimes, and of historical revisionism proceeding at full speed.

Had Sara stuck to her earlier resolve to run for president, her bid to replace her father would have turned her run into a referendum on his presidency marred by alleged extrajudicial killings, corruption, economic decline and a pivot to the left that lowered the guard on our maritime areas and patrimonial assets.

Until Friday, Sara and Bongbong were insisting separately that she/he is definitely running for president and would not consider sliding to being a vice presidential candidate or being second fiddle to the other.

Such tough talk was expected. They had to keep saying aloud for public consumption that no way will he/she back down from a drive for the presidency.

The noise level must have been much lower when the proposed Duterte-Marcos alliance was privately discussed. We won’t be surprised if the negotiations had touched on term-sharing, mutual protection and costings.

In the same way that Mrs. Marcos wants her criminal record washed clean, President Duterte seeks guarantees from the Marcoses of protection from lawsuits that are likely to be filed against him once his term ends in June 2022.

President Duterte has overseen similar deals, such as the term-sharing arrangements he brokered in 2016 and 2020 between congressmen Alan Peter Cayetano and Lord Allan Velasco on the “splitting” of the term of the Speaker of the House, a post that went first to Cayetano.

Political horse-trading may be tolerable at times, but not over the splitting of a constitutionally ordained six-year term between the incoming president and the vice president based mainly on private political considerations.

Candidates for public office submitting themselves to the electorate enter into a covenant with the people to serve their full term honorably. They may not secretly barter away part of the term of office given them by the electorate.

To be specific, if the Marcos-Duterte tandem wins in the 2022 elections, Marcos is understood to have agreed to serve the full six years of the president’s term and cannot turn over the office to Duterte after three years.

To create or supply the legal bases for such transfer of power and functions in the midterm, Marcos would have to resign for a valid reason, or be impeached, or permanently incapacitated or die at the end of his third year in office.

Sara resigned Tuesday from her Hugpong ng Pagbabago which, being a regional party, cannot be used as a vehicle to carry her as a presidential candidate. On the other hand, Marcos has filed a CoC for president under his Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

Lakas-CMD has sworn in Duterte as a member. It also has placeholders (although they do not want to be called as such) identified in reports as Anna Capella Velasco for president and Lyle Fernando Uy for vice president.

* Term-sharing is bad practice

WE asked election lawyer Romy Macalintal why term-sharing, or splitting the term of an official between two individuals, such as the president and the vice president is bad. He replied:

Term-sharing for the president and the vice president is against public policy and morals. Morally speaking, it cannot be the subject of an agreement. It should not, in the first place, be considered or thought of by any leader who has a sincere intention to lead the people.

These positions are not private properties that could be the subject of such a ridiculous and frivolous agreement.

The Constitution clearly provides that the elected president and vice president shall serve for a term of six years without any reelection. If they agree to a term-sharing of, say, each with three years’ tenure, they are betraying the will of the people who chose them to serve for six years. This is tantamount to an abandonment of the office for which they were elected.

If a local elective official cannot even complete his projects in the city or municipality within their three-year term, how much more of a president if he will only serve for three years. Our old charter provided for a four-year term of a president and vice president which was found to be too short for a good president. Precisely, their term was amended to six years because of the vast functions and duties they are expected to do.

If they would have term-sharing, it would mean that after three years there will be a complete revamp of the Cabinet for the incoming president. Once the vice president takes over, there will still be a need to appoint a new vice president.

The term-sharing in the leadership and various committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate cannot be the basis of the term-sharing between a president and vice president because the election of officials in Congress is done by the elected lawmakers who could be replaced any time even without a cause.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 14, 2021)

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