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