Election lawyer: Duterte's VP bid to deny others equal access to public service

Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2021 09:33 AM | Updated as of Aug 28 2021 10:12 AM

President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on August 9, 2021. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on August 9, 2021. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo

MANILA— Veteran election laywer Romulo Macalintal on Saturday said there is no stopping President Rodrigo Duterte from seeking the second highest position in the land in the 2022 national elections as there is no constitutional prohibition on the President running for other posts once his term ends.

But the question is, is it a moral move?

“Maaaring legal na siya’y tumabkbo pero 'yan ba ay moral? 'Yan ba ay nararapat na gawin ng isang pangulo? 'Yan ang mga bagay-bagay na dapat pag-usapan ng taumbayan at ang taumbayan lang ang makapagdedesisyon sa bagay na 'yan,” Macalintal said.

(Legally, he can run, but is that moral? Is that the right thing for a president to do? These are the things that should be discussed by the people and the people will make a decision on that matter.)

Duterte has accepted the endorsement of the Cusi faction of his party PDP-Laban for him to run as Vice President in 2022. He is seen to run in tandem with his long-time aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go. But Duterte's planned bid is seen as a backdoor to the presidency, perhaps to protect him from future litigation.

In an interview on TeleRadyo, Macalintal said framers of the 1987 Constitution should have been more clear on the prohibitions on a President running for any office. 

“Kung ang dating pangulo pwedeng pumalit na congressman, senador, walang dahilan kung bakit hindi siya tatakbo bilang isang vice president,” he said,

(If a former president can run as congressman, senator, there is no reason for him not to run for Vice President.)

Duterte has said he would continue his crusades against illegal drugs, insurgency and criminality if elected as Vice President.

But Macalintal said the move would deprive others of equal access to public service.

“Hindi naman pwedeng sila lamang ang nakakaalam kung ano ang dapat gawin sa ating bansa. Ang sabi ko nga maliwanag sa ating Saligang Batas dapat ang paglilingkod sa ating bansa binibigyan din ang ibang tao ng oportunidad, equal access to public service,” he said. 

(They are not the only ones who know what is right for the country. It’s clear in the Constitution that there should be equal access to public service. 

He said others should be given the chance to serve the country.

“Subukan naman natin ang iba, ika nga. Bigyan naman nila ng pagkakataon ang iba naman ang maglingkod. Hindi naman pwedeng sabihin para itong private property na sila lamang ang may-ari ng nasabing position sa ating bayan,” he said.

(Let’s give others a chance, so to speak, give them the chance to serve. This is not a private property that only they could own a position.)

Macalintal also said that it would be hopeless to even question the matter before the Supreme Court. 
 
“'Yung mga naglalayong 'yan ay gawin siguro mag-isip na lang tayo ng ibang paraan kung papaano matatalo 'yang si Digong kung 'yan talaga ang kanilang purpose kasi sinasayang nila ang panahon sa isang bagay na alam naman nila hindi mananalo,” he said.

(Those who are planning on doing that, just think of other ways on how to beat Digong if that is their purpose, because they would just be wasting their time on something that they know won’t work.)

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Macalintal also shared his thoughts on the possibility of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and the president running as a tandem in 2022. The elder Duterte had said he won't run for vice president if his daughter would launch a bid to succeed him in Malacañang.

Duterte-Carpio topped recent opinion polls on preferred presidential candidates for the 2022 elections.

“Pulitika 'yan. Of course, sa akin hindi maganda. Morally speaking, hindi tama,” he said.

(That’s politics. Of course, for me that’s not good. Morally speaking, that is not right.)

Macalintal believes that this is just a political strategy of the president.

"Alam ko na may delicadeza rin ang mga 'yan at malaking gamble ang kanilang gagawin kung tatakbong pangulo si Sara at tatakbong pangalawang pangulo si Duterte sapagka't baka 'yan ay hindi tanggapin ng taumbayan,” he said.

(I know they have delicadeza and it would be a big gamble for them if Sara runs for president and Duterte as vice president because that might not be acceptable to the public.)

Macalintal also pointed out that fielding Duterte as Vice President only shows weakness in the PDP-Laban as a party.

“Kasi kung malakas kang political party, sinasabi mong ikaw ang reigning political party sa ating bansa bakit hindi ka man lang nakapag-develop ng isang taong tumakbo bilang vice president, na kailangan mo pang hikayatin ang pangulo ng bansa para tumakbong vice president?” he said.

(If you’re a strong political party, the reigning political party in the country, how come they were not able to develop someone to run for Vice President and they had to convince the President to run as Vice President?)