Robredo camp: 'Outright ridiculous' to remove VP as Duterte's successor

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo slammed the House's draft constitution proposing to remove her from the line of succession if President Rodrigo Duterte is unable to perform his duties during the shift to federalism.

Robredo’s lead lawyer Romulo Macalintal dubbed the proposal as "mere political calisthenics" based on the defense of the proposed provision presented by House committee on constitutional amendments chairperson Vicente Veloso. (READ: House draft charter skips VP in line of succession to avoid ‘instability')

Veloso said on Tuesday, October 9, that the House panel decided to make the Senate President – and not Robredo – as next in line to the presidency during the transition to federalism given the “instability” that may be brought about by the electoral protest filed against her by  former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. 

To this, Macalintal said: "The election protest filed by former senator Bongbong Marcos as ground for ousting VP Leni is clearly frivolous if not outright ridiculous. Since when did a pending election protest becomr the basis of succession to the highest position of the land?"

"Veloso’s ground has no visible means of any legal or factual support. It is baseless and does not deserve any consideration," he added

The provision on the line of succession is stipulated under Section 4, Article XVII on the Transitory Provisions of Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 15, authored by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and 21 other lawmakers.

"In case a vacancy arises by reason of removal, resignation, permanent incapacity or death of the incumbent President, the incumbent Senate President shall act as President until a President shall have been chosen and qualified," reads the proposed provision. 

Veloso had said however, that the provision can still be removed in the final House draft.

The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, recently upheld that the ballot shading threshold – the minimum amount of shade on a ballot oval for the vote to be considered valid – is at 25%. Marcos wanted the PET to stick to a 50% shading threshold.

But in the same decision, the PET also set aside the ballot shading in sorting out ballots. Instead, election returns (ERs) – the document reflecting totals from polling precincts – will now be used to determine how the votes would be credited to either candidates. 

Robredo’s lawyer Bernadette Sardillo said the use of ERs will hasten the resolution of the case.

Macalintal said the vice presidential electoral protest will still take several months to finish, as Marcos is contesting the results in 27 cities and provinces.

Robredo had also filed a counter-protest, requesting a vote recount in 13 provinces. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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