‘Oust­ing’ Leni Ro­bredo be­fore she gains the Pres­i­dent’s seat

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

PRES­I­DENT Duterte said it at least twice that his vice pres­i­dent, Leni Ro­bredo, does not have “the skills of run­ning a coun­try like the Philip­pines.”

Last July 10, Duterte said he didn’t think Ro­bredo “will ever be ready to gov­ern”; she is “in­com­pe­tent,” he added. Thus, he said, he wouldn’t re­sign. Last Satur­day (Oct. 6), amid new ques­tions about his health, he said Ro­bredo is weak “when it comes to strat­egy” and for that he wouldn’t “hand” her the pres­i­dency.

His re­jec­tion of Ro­bredo as suc­ces­sor be­came more pro­nounced when last Aug. 15, he said he pre­ferred Bong­bong Mar­cos, mar­tial law pres­i­dent Fer­di­nand Mar­cos Sr.’s son, or Sen. Chiz Es­cud­ero. Or even, a mil­i­tary junta, he said, which was a joke or a di­rect as­sault on the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Branded a re­ject

Ro­bredo re­signed as hous­ing sec­re­tary af­ter she was told on Dec. 5, 2016 “to de­sist from at­tend­ing all Cab­i­net meet­ings.” That was later fol­lowed with the re­peated pub­lic sham­ing for her al­leged in­com­pe­tence to sit as Pres­i­dent.

Not only was she de­nied the cour­tesy of a Cab­i­net post, which most past pres­i­dents did for their VP, she in ef­fect was branded as a “re­ject” by Duterte’s stan­dard for the high­est seat of the land.

Routes he can’t block

This ex­er­cise may be called block­ing Ro­bredo from Mala­cañang. In a way, one may call it “oust­ing” Leni even be­fore she could sit as pres­i­dent.

But that can legally cover only one route: va­cancy by res­ig­na­tion. He wouldn’t re­sign, he said, as it would give the pres­i­dency to “an in­com­pe­tent.” That’s the only way he can con­sti­tu­tion­ally and law­fully bar Ro­bredo and one that is within his will.

But he would’ve no con­trol on other causes of suc­ces­sion. “Re­moval from of­fice” he could only help avert but the rule on suc­ces­sion is fixed. But “death” and “per­ma­nent dis­abil­ity” would be beyond his power. He can­not mar­shal the armed forces against death or dis­abil­ity the same way he can or­der them to quell re­bel­lion or law­less vi­o­lence. He can­not in­voke the Catholics’ God whom he calls stupid.

No in­flu­ence on choice

Ro­bredo was not Duterte’s choice. His run­ning mate was Alan Peter Cayetano, now the for­eign af­fairs sec­re­tary, whom in­ter­est­ingly the Pres­i­dent has omit­ted in his enu­mer­a­tion of suc­ces­sors of choice. But she was elected by the peo­ple and un­less the Pres­i­den­tial Elec­toral Tri­bunal (PET) would un­seat her by fi­nal judg­ment, it is not within the pres­i­dent’s power to choose the per­son who would take his place.

It’s only by not re­sign­ing that he could tor­pedo Ro­bredo’s claim to the pres­i­dency. Other than that, or the PET’S de­ci­sion fa­vor­able to Mar­cos Jr., Duterte would have no in­flu­ence at all on suc­ces­sion by his duly elected VP, which as of now hap­pens to be Ro­bredo.

But yes, there’s an­other way. Pros­e­cute and jail her. She’d be out of the way./sunstar Cebu

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