MANILA - A measure granting President Rodrigo Duterte the power to designate a successor in the event that all his Constitutional successors are killed in a gathering has been filed at both chambers of Congress.
Senate Bill No. 982 and House Bill No. 4062, filed on Aug. 20, provides that the President delegate a successor from his Cabinet officials ahead of a gathering of high-ranking officials such as the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
The successor will be kept in a secure and undisclosed place during the occasion and will take over the presidency should all Constitutional successors die or become incapacitated.
In the explanatory note of Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo, she cited the practice of the United States to assign a designated successor "in order to guarantee that there will always be someone to assume the reins of the government in case an unimaginable disaster happens."
A US television series based on the practice was aired from 2016 to 2019.
“While the strongest and strictest security measures have always been implemented and enforced during SONA, there is always a chance, whoever slim, that a tragedy can happen," Castelo said.
“In the unlikely chance that all of these officials become unavailable to fill in the role of the President, our supreme law does not provide a rule. During SONA, or during any other assembly where officials are gathered, the probability of this happening becomes greater."
She added: "The absence of a leader can lead to lawlessness and disorder, and worst, to anarchy."
The House measure was referred to the chamber's committee on Constitutional Amendments on Tuesday.
Aside from delegating a successor, the Senate bill, penned by Sen. Panfilo Lacson, seeks to provide "an exhaustive line" of presidential succession.
The Constitution provides that the President, in the case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation will be succeeded by the Vice President.
Should the second-in-command be incapable to assume the position, the Senate President will be the next in line and then the House Speaker.
Under the measure, the following officials will succeed the Acting President:
- the most senior Senator, based on the length of service in the Senate
- the most senior Representative based on the length of service in the House of Representatives
- the member of the Cabinet designated by the President