VP back in leadership chain

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With a proposal of having the Senate President as successor to the Chief Executive in the event of a Federal shift shot down by the Senate itself, Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar revealed on Thursday that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo pushed the Vice President back in the first line of succession.

This was caused by the Senate’s refusal to entertain the draft submitted by Macapagal-Arroyo to the Upper House where senators deemed it as “dead on arrival.”

Macapagal-Arroyo, Del Mar said, now wants to bring back the vice president as second in the line of succession during the transitory period provision under the Federal charter draft in the House of Representatives.

Del Mar told reporters that he shared Speaker’s sentiments on the proposal that the Senate President should be the successor of the President during the interim period, saying “it needs to be corrected.”

“I think I was able to tell the Speaker that this will be corrected during the period of amendments, as far as I’m concerned.” Del Mar said. But Arroyo, he said, expressed urgency by telling him: “ We can’t wait” and “that has to be done immediately.”

The lawmaker narrated that Arroyo even called Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. to support Del Mar’s motion to amend the proposed line of succession.

“Then, Majority Leader Andaya approached and asked me if I was going to make that motion. I said, by all means if you allow me to. And more important than allowing me to raise it, if you support it.”

Del Mar explained it will be difficult to send the bill back to the committee level unless supported by the majority.

On Wednesday, the Federal Charter was thrown back to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments through Del Mar’s motion to revise Section 4 of Article XVII in the draft constitution.

The proposed succession reads: “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.”

Del Mar said the Vice President was really omitted as successor under the draft constitution.

“I cannot understand how it remained that way. I’m sure that there was an omission, because if you look at Section 8 also of the Executive Department, it states the normal line of succession: Vice-President, Senate President, Speaker, all that. So how can one provision be different from the other? So that needs to be really amended to follow the normal line of succession,” Del Mar explained.

Andaya motioned to amend Article XVII changing “Senate President” with “Vice President” and said that at the proper time, they will amend as requested by Del Mar.

If the amendment will be approved, Andaya said the provision will read: “In case a vacancy arises by reason of removal, resignation, permanent incapacity or death of the incumbent President, the incumbent Vice President shall act as President until a President shall have been chosen and qualified.”

RBH No. 15 is another version of a Federal Constitution draft which was authored by Arroyo and 21 other lawmakers seeking amendments to the 1987 Constitution and introduces a presidential-bicameral-federal form of government.

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