By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said anyone who meets the qualifications laid down by the Philippine Constitution is free to run for the highest government seat in the land.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Vice President Leni Robredo said that she keeping her options open for running for the presidency in 2022 despite the challenges of being part of the opposition.
In an interview, Panelo did not directly comment on Robredo’s statement but said that anyone who meets the qualifications to run for the presidency is free to do so.
“Well, the Constitution provides for qualifications. If anyone falls in that qualification, he or she is free to run for the presidency,” he said.
Under Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, only a natural-born citizen of the Philippines may be elected president. He must also be a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years of age on the day of the election and a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election.
Robredo is qualified to run for President since Section 3 of the same Article provides that a Vice President shall have the same qualifications and term of office as the President. Both shall be elected and can be removed in the same manner.
In November 2018, Robredo said that she had no ambition of becoming even the Vice President. However, she believed that her taking the second-highest position in the government had a “greater purpose”.
However, in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, Robredo said she left all doors open since there are still three years before the next elections.
“A lot can still happen, and I’ve always said that the presidency is a destiny. There are so many politicians who have sought the presidency and have prepared for it for many years,” she said.
“When I ran for the vice presidency, that was one of the prerequisites—that I’m ready to be President. Because the mandate of the Philippine Vice President is to take over if anything happens to the President. So I would not have run for the vice presidency if I thought that I was not ready for the presidency,” she added.
Robredo is facing an electoral protest filed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos, the second-placer in the vice presidential race during the 2016 national elections.
A year ago, Duterte said he can comfortably step down from office if his successor would be either Marcos or former Senator Francis Escudero, and not Robredo, saying she cannot win the war against corruption.
“I think, deep in my heart, if you follow the succession and Robredo takes over, hindi niya kaya (she cannot do it),” he said.
“Hindi niya kaya (She cannot do it), that’s my honest opinion ko lang. Kung na sino lang sana diyan (Maybe if it is), in the likes of [Senator Francis] Escudero or [former Senator] Bongbong Marcos,” he added.
Duterte explained that while he thinks Robredo is not fit to lead the country, he has nothing against the Vice President.
“Wala akong galit kay Robredo. Panalo na ako. Hindi ako nakikipag-away ng babae. Hindi nga ako sumasagot kung ano ang sinasabi nila (I have nothing against Robredo. I already won. I do not fight against women. I do not even answer their criticisms),” he said.
Duterte has been going back and forth with his opinion on Robredo. In July last year, he belittled Robredo’s leadership skills, saying she was incompetent and cannot do anything to improve the country. However, the following month, he said he had no doubt that Robredo is a good government official.
“She’s also good. No problem about that. Every Filipino is always good,” he said.