By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — A sub-committee of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution has decided to include in its proposed provisions a four-year term and one reelection for the President and Vice President in the new Constitution it is drafting.
In the current Constitution, the President and Vice President both serve for six years but only the Vice President is allowed one reelection.
Former Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Antonio Eduardo Nachura, chair of the ConCom sub-committee on the structure of the federal government, said this was one of the salient points decided by the sub-committee for submission to the ConCom’s en banc session on April 16.
“The members of the Committee felt that three years is too short so they made it four (years). This is a return to the 1935 Constitution of four years,” Nachura said in a press briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on Thursday.
Nachura said the sub-committee also decided to require “tandem voting” for the President and the Vice President in the new Constitution it is drafting.
“One special feature is that both the President and Vice President must belong to the same political party [and they are voted as a team] so that a vote for the President is to be counted also as a vote for the teammate Vice President,” Nachura said.
The current Constitution does not require the President and the Vice President to be voted as a team.
Nachura also said that the sub-committee will also recommend making it mandatory for the President to appoint the Vice President to a that the Vice President shall be appointed to the Cabinet, mandatory on the President, as the current Constitution does not require the President to give the Vice President a Cabinet post.
He explained that the President will have the discretion which position to give the Vice President.
This also means that the Vice President will hold a full Secretary rank and not merely a Cabinet rank.
The former Associate Justice admitted that the sub-committee “party” considered this provision to avoid a clash between the two top officials, such as what has happened between President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Robredo was once part of the Duterte Cabinet where she served as housing chief. However, she quit her post in December 2016 over political and ideological differences with the President.
”The situation today (between Duterte and Robredo) will not happen anymore because they will already be from the same party [and elected as a team]. A vote for the President is also a vote for the Vice Presidential candidate,” Nachura said.
Nachura said it was also proposed that in the event of a vacancy in the Office of the Vice President, the President shall appoint from among members of the House of Representative or the Senate, someone who belongs to the same political party–and this appointment will not require confirmation by Congress.
In the current Constitution, the President nominates from among the members of the House or Senate while the nomination is confirmed by the House and the Senate voting separately.
Nachura also said that an added qualification for the President and Vice President is that he or she should hold a college degree or its equivalent.
Last March 20, the ConCom sub-committee, on the whole, decided to require members of the two chambers of the Congress — Senate and House of Representatives — to have a college degree or its equivalent in the new Constitution it is drafting.
ConCom Senior Technical Assistant and spokesperson Ding Generoso earlier said that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has accredited tertiary institutions — universities and colleges — that have programs on equivalency.
Executive Order 330 issued by former president Fidel V. Ramos, entitled “Adopting the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program as an Integral Part of the Educational System and Designating the Commission on Higher Education as the Authority Responsible for Its Implementation”, allows individuals unlucky to get a college degree but who have accumulated work experience in a certain field or have undergone training for whatever forms to apply for equivalency.
Nachura said that while the sub-committee is expected to present the draft articles covering the executive and legislative branches, articles for the judiciary branch is still being reviewed and finalized. (PNA)