Letter to the Editor: Designated survivor bill seeks to extend line of succession – Lacson’s office [Inquirer]
September 7, 2020
September 7, 2020 - Please allow us to set the record straight regarding the column of Prof. Edilberto de Jesus (“Dangerous distractions,” Business Matters, 9/5/20), where he touched on a proposed piece of legislation that aims to avert a potential constitutional crisis and leadership vacuum by extending the constitutional line of succession.
It is unfortunate that De Jesus implied that: 1) the intent of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson’s Senate Bill No. 982, informally dubbed the “Designated Survivor” bill, was to “eliminate those in the constitutional line of succession in favor of the president’s choice”; and 2) discussing such proposed legislation is a “waste of time and energy.”
Had De Jesus read the contents of the bill in the first place, he would have figured out that Lacson’s bill is not like what he described in his column. Instead of subverting our 1987 Constitution as implied in his column, SB 982 seeks to enhance the Charter by extending the line of succession beyond the Vice President, Senate President, and House Speaker.
Not only that: The bill seeks to fulfill two provisions of our Constitution. Under Art. VII, Sec. 7 of the 1987 Constitution, “The Congress shall, by law, provide for the manner in which one who is to act as President shall be selected until a President or a Vice-President shall have qualified, in case of death, permanent disability, or inability of the officials mentioned in the next preceding paragraph.”
Art. VII, Sec. 8 of the Constitution provides that “The Congress shall, by law, provide who shall serve as President in case of death, permanent disability, or resignation of the Acting President. He shall serve until the President or the Vice-President shall have been elected and qualified, and be subject to the same restrictions of powers and disqualifications as the Acting President.”
As Lacson pointed out: “Needless to say, passing such legislation is not only constitutional. It is in fact, required under the 1987 Constitution.”
Under the bill, in case of death or permanent disability of those specified in the Constitution, the following elected and appointed officers who are not under any disability to discharge the powers and duties of the Office of the President shall act as President in the following order:
* 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.
And contrary to De Jesus’ claim that it would be a waste of time and energy to discuss the bill, there is no more urgent time to do so than now, with recent events involving “exceptional circumstances” such as terrorism—which knows no time or border. God forbid a situation where those in the current constitutional line of succession are rendered unable to function, and we are faced with scenarios such as a junta because of the resulting leadership vacuum.
Media Relations Officer
Office of Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson