Charter review body wants ‘mandatory’ cabinet post for VP

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 12 2018 01:32 PM

MANILA—The committee drafting a new federal constitution is looking to require subsequent presidents to appoint the vice president to a cabinet position, with both leaders elected from the same political party or ticket.

The proposal, set to be formalized by President Rodrigo Duterte’s consultative committee on Monday, seeks to address the recurring problem arising whenever the 2 top officials of the country were in conflict.

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Eduardo Nachura on Thursday acknowledged that the committee considered “partly” the situation between Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.

At present, the president is not required to give a cabinet post to the vice president. They also can be elected from different parties.

Robredo served briefly in Duterte’s cabinet handling the government’s housing program, but quit over policy differences.

But this situation would “not happen anymore,” Nachura told reporters, because presidential and vice presidential candidates would be elected in tandem — or from the same party — under the proposed constitution.

WHAT IF VP IS INCOMPETENT?

Asked if the president wanted to fire his vice president for incompetence, Nachura said the official could be moved to another cabinet post.

“He will have to bear with his incompetent partner for 4 years,” he said in jest. 

Under the proposal, the president, vice presidential, senators, and members of the House of Representatives will serve for a 4-year term and will be eligible for one reelection.

All candidates for these positions will be required to have a college degree or its equivalent.

The vice president’s cabinet post need not go through confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, Nachura said.

As in the present constitution, the vice president can still be removed if he or she is found guilty of committing an impeachable offense in an impeachment trial, he said.

REGIONAL SENATORS

The committee agreed to have between 2 and 4 senators elected from each region or federal state.

It has yet to fix the number because it has yet to decide how many “federated” regions would be created. Proposals range from 5 to 17 regions under a federal Philippines.

Sixty percent of the members of the House of Representatives will be elected as district representatives, as in the current system. 

The rest will be picked under a system of proportional representation, meaning voters will choose political parties, which will then select from among their ranks who will assume the position.

If done right, the system would allow highly competent—though unpopular candidates—to serve in the House, experts say.

Nachura said a House member would also lose his seat if he transfers to another party, noting the official assumed the position precisely because the partly picked him.

Another suggestion, he said, was to allot a portion of the 40-percent congressional representation to “socio-economically disadvantaged sectors.”

These include labor, peasants, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, and the urban poor, he said.