A very desperate move.
That was how Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday described her exclusion from the presidential line of succession as stipulated in a draft federal charter prepared by the allies of President Rodrigo Duterte in the House of Representatives.
Robredo, who spoke at the 5th provincial congress of the Negros Occidental Small Fishers Alliance at Business Inn in Bacolod City, said that her critics are thinking of anything just to oust her as Vice-President, citing also the filing of an impeachment complaint, a case before the Supreme Court, and an election protest of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., among others.
Now, they are trying to insert it in the proposed charter change, she added, noting also that many members of the House of Representatives are even not aware of such provisions.
Deputy Speaker, Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso, who chairs the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, told reporters Tuesday that they were trying to keep the country from plunging into uncertainty that may arise from a decision by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal on the election protest filed by Marcos Jr., as he justified the dropping of Robredo from the line of succession.
“Can we submit this Republic to that kind of uncertainty? We’re just foreseeing reality,” he stressed, noting that Robredo’s victory over Marcos was only by a “very slim margin”.
Under the proposed charter, the Senate president is to be designated as the automatic successor to the president in case of a transition to a federal system.
Robredo, who just laughed off the claims of Veloso, reminded him that she was leading by more than 200,000 votes against Marcos, an ally of President Duterte.
She recalled that Veloso, who also faces an election protest, led by less than 100 votes against his political opponent. “Are you saying that before the completion of the protest case, he should not assume his position as congressman and not perform his mandate, since there is an ongoing election protest?” Robredo asked.
During election periods in the Philippines, Robredo said she has observed that many winning candidates have been charged by their opponents, who cannot just accept the results.
But we should not allow this to hamper our duty in performing the mandate given to us, she stressed. What is the mandate of the Vice President, if something happens? “Siya ‘yong hahalili.”
The Vice President also noted that many congressmen and senators have spoken on the issue, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III said that it will not be passed in the Senate.
DUTERTE MEDICAL CONDITION
Robredo said the announcement of Duterte that he is free of cancer is a welcome development, as many speculations about his health is not good.
The country needs a healthy president so he can focus on his job, she added.
“We are thankful that, finally, he confronted the health issue head on, if not, it will breed more speculations, which are usually far from the truth, Robredo said.
As to opposition senatorial candidates who did not make it among the 12 winning senatorial candidates, Robredo said she expected it because of the popularity of Duterte, that was a factor in the mid-term election.
But she said this should not be a reason not to elect those who are qualified. We will not select them just for their winnability but also to give voters an alternative, and provide a contrast among those being offered, she added.
Robredo said the Liberal Party will field candidates who may not be known, but with a long list of experience and history of serving the Filipino people. She only named three, who include incumbent Senator Bam Aquino, Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, and former Rep. Erin Tañada, as of this time, in order not to pre-empt the announcement of LP senatorial candidates on Oct. 24.
But Robredo said she prefers that the LP will have only eight senatorial candidates.*
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