ather Joaquin Bernas, SJ, only assumed he had written the Last Word Saturday on whether Erap can run again for President, because his new PDI essay, Presidential Re-election gives the matter a whole new complexion with a discussion of the two fold intent of the Framers to abolish the incumbent's advantage and to limit Presidents to six years in such high office. That they utterly failed at both is none of Erap's fault!
Even the incomparable Founding Father Bernas appears to miss the supreme irony in this matter. We now know that what the Framers wanted was to prevent a certain evil by strictly limiting every elected President to not more than six years in office, as Ambrosio Padilla eloquently argued for reconsideration and prevailed. But by framing the presidential term limit provision as a perpetual prohibition on RE-ELECTION, the Framers apparently failed to realize that they had left a giant loophole in the Constitution, because there is in fact another way to spend more than six years in office as President, WITHOUT being re-elected in the sense of being elected more than once to the Presidency. That loop hole is SUCCESSION via the Vice Presidency. That Gloria Macapagal Arroyo went through this loophole to legally and Constitutionally frustrate the intent of the Framers, only reveals the utter failure of the Framers to write a Constitution that would indeed fulfill their intentions! Ouch!
BERNAS: "The debates on the proposal on the number of allowable terms for the President took place after the Commission had decided that the President’s term of office would be six years. As to the number of times a person may be President, the initial votes were as follows:
No immediate reelection: 32 votes.
Absolutely no reelection: 21 votes.
One immediate reelection: 1 vote.
On motion of Commissioner Ambrosio Padilla, a Senate veteran, who had voted for the approved proposition, the vote was reconsidered. Padilla gave his reasons for “perpetual” disqualification after a single term. He said: “I think the evil that we have been trying to prevent, and which I thought was already concurred in by the majority, if not practically by all, is that we do not want the President to control the nation and govern the people for more than six years, with the idea that he should never return to the presidency even if he allows another, probably of his own party, to run in the meantime because that will not cure the evil of reelection on the part of the President. In other words, Madam President, I want to eliminate that word ‘immediate.’”
Another Senate veteran, Commissioner Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo countered: “The philosophy behind disqualifying a President from immediate reelection is so he cannot use his power as President to help him in his reelection bid. But if it is not immediate reelection, if he is out of office for six years and he runs after six years not being President, he cannot use that power of the President to help him win his election bid.”
But Fr. Bernas' two essays are nonetheless invaluable. He proves conclusively that the INTENT of the Framers was to strictly limit occupancy of the Presidency by any one person to a single six year term. Even if their prohibition against any re-election turns out to have been ineffective at preventing someone controlling the Presidency for more than six years, it shows that what they were really attacking and preventing was the Incumbent's Advantage, as I claimed in my caveat to Bernas' Saturday piece, Can Erap Run Again?
We do not and cannot know the full answer to this as a POLITICAL QUESTION, but an important conclusion from Bernas' essay to day is this. IF Erap were to run again, and served only till 2013 as he has bruited about, he would NOT frustrate either of the Framer's intentions: that no person occupy the Presidency for more than six years, nor would he have the Incumbent's Advantage! Ironically, what is now considered Constitutional--thanks to Davide!--is the career of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo--which DID violate both intents since she will serve for TEN years and had the Incumbent's Advantage in 2004!
My basic conclusion is this: Forbidding ANY RE-ELECTION is NOT ENOUGH to guarantee that no person will wield the powers of the Chief Executive for more than six years, nor does it preclude the use of Incumbent's Advantage by a sitting President!
In the meantime of course, I think that Erap is just DICKING with everybody. He has been made practically invincible and can do whatever pleases his mischievous lil heart.