A Philippine lawmaker on Thursday, October 11, revealed that House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has “readily agreed” to bring back the vice president as the first successor to the presidency in the draft federal constitution.
Cebu City First District Representative Raul del Mar said that he urged the House speaker to put back the vice president ahead of the Senate president in the line of succession during the proposed transition period.
“[I told Arroyo] I will introduce the amendment in that provision to put back the vice president as the first successor. Now, she not only readily agreed. She said, ‘We can’t wait! That has to be done immediately,’” del Mar said as reported by The Manila Times.
Del Mar is a member of the Liberal Party (LP) led by Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo. He made the motion to recommit Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) 15 to the committee level.
According to Article 17, Section 4 of the Transitory Provisions of RBH 15: “In case a vacancy arises by reason of removal, resignation, permanent incapacity or death of the incumbent President, the incumbent Senate President shall act as President until a President shall have been chosen and qualified.”
The lawmaker noted that both he and Arroyo believed that the said provision is questionable and amending such should be necessary. He added that Arroyo had assured him she would immediately “take care” of the matter.
“Both of us (Arroyo) shared the sentiment that it needs to be corrected,” Del Mar said.
The said RBH 15 drew criticisms far and wide as it skipped Robredo for the sole reason that there is an election protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against her.
“I thought that it was too desperate. They have been thinking of all possible ways to remove me from my post,” Robredo said.
The draft charter also indicates that the president and the vice president must come from the same political party. They must also be elected as a team during the elections in 2022. It also removes the term limits of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and gives Congress the power to create federal states.
House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez previously described the constitutional amendment as a “gargantuan effort” in both chambers of the Congress.
“It is possible but difficult. Frankly, I think amending the Constitution will take a gargantuan effort for (the House of Representatives and the Senate),” Suarez said.
The House expects to submit the draft to the Senate in February 2019.