2022 Go-Duterte tandem: another way for Duterte to cling to power

Amidst the disaster of unabated rise of COVID-19 cases (breaching the 5, 000 mark last Saturday, the highest daily increase since Aug. 26, 2020), the Filipino people are being set up for another tragedy: an attempt to bastardize the Constitution for President Duterte to continue being in power after his term ends on June 30, 2022.

Last week, the government Philippine News Agency (PNA) and a few other news outlets carried a story about the result of a privately-commissioned Pulse Asia survey showing that if elections were held today, the winning tandem would be Christopher “Bong” Go for president and Rodrigo Duterte for vice president.

Pulse Asia Survey Voter preference for Presidential & VP tandems for 2022

A day after the release of the Pulse Asia survey, which was conducted Feb.10 to 19, Duterte disclosed in Dumaguete-Sibulan airport in Negros Oriental that Go had asked him to tell the people about his desire to be president of the country.

While introducing officials with him, including Go, Duterte shared: “When we were on our way here, he said, ‘please talk to the people, tell them that I want to run for president.’ So, Bong.”

That same day, there was a report about a PDP-Laban resolution calling on Duterte to run as vice president in the 2022 elections.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao, PDP-Laban acting president who is known to be nurturing presidential ambitions in 2022, shot down the resolution as “not authorized.”

We are sure that if the Go-Duterte tandem pushes through in 2022, it will be challenged in court. These are our initial thoughts on the scheme:

The Constitution says: “The President and the Vice President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years, which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any reelection. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”

Duterte and Go can say that the Constitution does not say that one who has served as president cannot run as vice president, but the Go-Duterte set up would be undermining the essence of the prohibition.

The role of the vice president has been famously described as a “heart beat” away from the presidency.

The Constitution further says: “If at the beginning of the term of the President, the President-elect shall have died or shall have become permanently disabled, the Vice President-elect shall become President.”

This is reiterated two paragraphs after with this provision: “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.”

As vice president, would Duterte be contented to be a spare tire to his gofer? Or is the scheme really for “President Go” to resign to pave the way for “Vice President Duterte” to return to the presidency?

Isn’t that circumventing the six-year term cap without reelection for the presidency?

Despite Duterte’s oft-repeated complaints about the burden of the presidency, he wants to cling to the position. His minions in the House of Representatives have been trying in vain to push Charter Change.

The “Bong Go for President in 2022” on its own has not taken off. That’s why they have to resort to this Constitution-twisting scheme, banking on the popularity of Duterte.

This scheme gives credence to talks that Duterte is not enthusiastic about his daughter Sara succeeding him because he can’t control her and her husband.

With Go, he would be the one pulling the strings. And it would be a Duterte presidency Part II.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.

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