How Sara Could Become President
The field in the 2022 presidential race may come down to a photo finish between ex-Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo, but a third candidate to watch is Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, vice-presidential candidate. .
With just three months to go, President Rodrigo Duterte may be a lame duck by mainstream political traditions, but it’s too early to remove him or the Duterte dynasty from the emerging picture.
Based on the latest presidential and vice-presidential preference surveys, the Marcos-Duterte tandem is in the lead at this stage of the multi-stage race, just 28 days from the May 9 finish line.
Even if Robredo catches up with Marcos as they turn the corner after Holy Week three weeks before Election Day, Sara Duterte’s strong showing in the polls could result in a winning Marcos-Duterte or Robredo-Duterte pairing.
For Bongbong and Sara it will be normal to pull together, but a winning Leni-Sara combination will be phenomenal – but not entirely unexpected, with a crop of supporters springing up like mushrooms in the wet and somewhat warm Ro-Sa weather ( Robredo-Sara).
The likelihood of Sara winning as vice president with Bongbong or Leni has election analysts reassessing their data, fortune tellers polishing their crystal balls, and political butterflies rethinking their flip-flopping patterns.
Robredo said she could work with any vice president, a statement that reminded us that she was once allowed into Duterte’s Den and then let out after the trial’s brief coexistence failed. .
Becoming president of Leni with Sara as vice president shouldn’t be complicated if the two work together in good faith, even if the vice president’s father, former president Duterte, sometimes makes his diminished presence felt.
One would suspect that the Dutertes, among other players, could plot each day of a Robredo presidency to oust Leni so that Sara, the vice-president, could take over.
This disruption would be more political than legal. What could lead to colossal legal complications is if on Election Day Marcos Jr. and his partner Sara Duterte get the most votes up for grabs — but with his DQ still unresolved by the Supreme Court.
If the DQ petitions reach the High Court late enough (i.e. very close to the date the president-elect is expected to be formally proclaimed) to allow the 15-member tribunal to finally resolve Marcos’ DQ, that is it happening?
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The Constitution says in art. 4, Art. VII: “xxx The minutes of each election for the President and the Vice-President, xxx will be transmitted to the Congress. xxx Upon receipt of the solicitation certificates, the President of the Senate shall, no later than 30 days after election day, open all xxx certificates in joint open session, and Congress, xxx, solicit the votes.
“The person having obtained the greatest number of votes is declared elected xxx.
“xxx The Supreme Court, sitting en banc, is the sole arbiter of all disputes relating to the election, return, and qualifications of the President or Vice President, and may promulgate its rules to that effect.
The goal is to have a president-elect ready to be sworn in by noon on June 30, the day of the inauguration and rotation.
Whichever party/petitioner loses in the rampant disqualification cases in the Comelec is expected to sprint to the SC. But what if DQ requests don’t reach the appeal court fast enough, for whatever reason, fair or not?
(These details may seem unrelated to the cases, but for your information, 12 of the current 15 members of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, are appointed by Duterte. Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, the one of three appointees of the late President Noynoy Aquino, will retire May 14 at age 70, creating a vacancy.
(Under Article 15, Art. VII, two months before Election Day until the end of his term, the President is not authorized to make appointments, “except for temporary appointments to leadership positions where persistent vacancies will undermine the public service or endanger public safety”.
(The Comelec, now made up of a full body of seven commissioners who are all appointed by President Duterte, said it would resolve all DQ cases against Marcos this month.)
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But April ends just a week before Election Day, when official ballots listing the 10 presidential candidates (including Marcos) will be marked by voters to indicate their choice. There are approximately 67 million registered voters.
It could happen that the election of the president (among other officials) is underway or already completed, while the SC is still hearing petitions to disqualify Marcos.
To avoid a “crisis”, can President Duterte intervene, declare after May 9 a failure of the elections and remain beyond June 30 as interim president? The answer is no. First, only a Comelec majority en banc – not the president – can declare the election a failure.
We also learn from Sec. 6 of the omnibus electoral code, as modified by art. 4 of RA 7166, that “failed election” simply means that no election was held in any constituency, barangay, town, municipality or province due to a case of force major event, violence, terrorism, fraud or other similar causes or that the election has been suspended. There is no mention of the disqualification of a candidate among the causes.
If Marcos wins as President with Sara Duterte as Vice President – and they are both able to take the oath and have in fact begun to serve – Marcos, if later disqualified by the SC , will he still be removed from office? How and by whom?
Will Sara Duterte then emerge, probably as predicted, from the ashes of May 9 as the next president?
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NB: All Postscripts are also archived on ManilaMail.com. The author is on Twitter as @FDPascual. E-mail: [email protected]