Letter to the Editor: Reply to Federico Pascual’s column [Philippine Star]
September 14, 2020
September 14, 2020 - To Federico Pascual: Please allow us to set the record straight regarding some claims you made in your Sept. 6, 2020 column in The Philippine Star – including the suggestion that Senator Panfilo M. Lacson’s Senate bill enables President Rodrigo Duterte to “designate” who will succeed him.
Reply to Federico Pascual’s Column
Dear Mr. Pascual,
Please allow us to set the record straight regarding some claims you made in your Sept. 6, 2020 column in The Philippine Star – including the suggestion that Senator Panfilo M. Lacson’s Senate bill enables President Rodrigo Duterte to “designate” who will succeed him.
First, Senate Bill 982 aims to enhance the 1987 Constitution by extending the line of succession beyond the Vice President, Senate President and House Speaker as presently specified in our Charter, especially considering the threat of terrorism – which knows no timing nor border. The bill pertains to institutions, not personalities.
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.
Second, the bill provides a mechanism to ensure the continuity of government in case of an “exceptional circumstance” such as a terrorist attack, and thus avert a potential constitutional crisis and leadership vacuum. It certainly does not aim to benefit any particular personality, as you implied in your column.
Certainly you would agree that what would be truly obscene is a leadership vacuum and constitutional crisis after the President and the three officials currently listed in the constitutional line of succession are rendered unable to discharge their functions – and there is no mechanism to determine who will take over at least until a President or Vice President shall have been elected and qualified. God forbid such circumstances lead to scenarios such as a junta.
We hope this clarifies matters. Thank you.