MANILA — Experts on election laws on Monday weighed in on President Rodrigo Duterte's supposed plan to run for vice president next year.
1Sambayan convenor Howard Calleja, who is an election lawyer, said a disqualification case may be filed against Duterte if he pushes through with his 2022 plans.
While Calleja believes Duterte "will not win" in the vice presidential race, he may face legal challenges before the Commission on Elections and eventually before the Supreme Court.
"I’m sure marami ang magfa-file. At yan ay pag-uusapan natin sa legal community na syempre ayaw naman nating magkagulo-gulo. Mas maganda, kung may magfa-file, magsama-sama. Siguro, in one petition, mas maganda na i-file po iyon. At I’ll be more than happy to join or to lead any group that would challenge the same at the proper time," Calleja said.
Duterte on Saturday said he will run for vice president in next year’s elections if it means having legal immunity. He said he is aware of the lawsuits his critics plan to file after his 6-year term ends next year.
Calleja said his position was anchored on Section 4 Article VII of the Constitution which prohibits the reelection of a president who has served for more than four years.
He believes that the letter and intent of the Constitution prohibits the President from seeking the vice presidency.
LEGAL BUT NOT RIGHT
But law professor Eirene Jhone Aguila believes the Constitution will not be a hindrance to the 2022 vice presidential plans of the President.
Aguila said that legal experts in the academe have noted that during the Constitutional Commission (con-com) deliberations, the possibility of a president running for vice president and eventually become president again was discussed.
"Among the commissioners, they actually clarified, if the president runs for vice president, pwede siyang maging president at some point and that was clarified during the con-com deliberations, and they said yes, as worded, that’s a possibility," Aguila said.
She, however, pointed out that the President’s plans may be legal but not necessarily right.
"I don’t think anyone who’s been president should run for vice president, regardless of who it is. If you are not to think about the personalities, you shouldn’t because one, yes there is the right to be voted and there is the right to run, and we want to expand the democratic space," Aguila said.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal also said Duterte can run for vice president. But he also believes that while there is no legal question, the President should not pursue his vice presidential ambition.
"Maaaring may karapatan siyang tumakbo pero hindi naman ibig sabihin ay tamang-tama yun. Kasi para sa akin, ito ay pagpapakita na mahina ang kanilang polital party o ang PDP-Laban dahil sa wala na silang makuhang kandidato," Macalintal said.
On the issue of the vice president being immune from suit, both Calleja and Aguila said that Duterte may still face charges if he is elected to the post.
"Ang immunity from suit is only for the president. Wala hong immunity from suit ang vice president," Calleja said.
"I think the President himself knows that it is not correct," Aguila added.
Macalintal, however, believes that the presidential immunity from suit should extend to the vice president and other officials.
"Ang tanong, paano ang iba? Ang vice president, ako, dapat immune din from suit ang pangalawang pangulo, ang Supreme Court justices, Ombdusman at Constitutional commissioners. 'Yan ay batay sa probisyon ng Saligang Batas na ang impeachable officers ay hindi pwedeng matanggal sa posisyon kundi sa pamamagitan lang ng impeachment," Macalintal said.