A curious feature of the 1987 Constitution is that the President and Vice President are not elected as a team or ticket, like they are in the United States, but instead, run in simultaneous but separate elections for the two posts. Therefore, it is always possible for the people to elect a President with an opposition Vice President that could replace him or her in case something goes wrong, in effect placing a Sword of Damocles over the throne in the Palace in case Damocles rules unjustly. This makes the Vice Presidency a worthy and separate goal of lofty, or craven, political ambition. Who would make a good fiscalizing vice president in 2010?
This larger point is that the electorate can hedge its bet on the President by choosing a Vice President who may not be inclined to just sit back as a Spare Tire, but may be determined to act as a super-fiscalizer to the President with his or her own Bully Pulpit. Although the Vice President would not have the resources or immediate command of the executive as the elected President, nonetheless he or she could pose a threat, or perhaps a check and balance to the President.
Article VII The Executive DeptIt is well worth noticing also that the possibility of serving for more than six years as President can only be attained under the 1987 charter by first becoming the Vice President and somehow succeeding to the higher office through death, resignation, permanent disability or impeachment, conviction and removal from office of the President. This feat has already been achieved by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, with disastrous effects. But the larger point is that it can be done again, intentionally.
Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines.
Section 2. No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.
Section 3. There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with, and in the same manner, as the President. He may be removed from office in the same manner as the President.
The Vice-President may be appointed as a Member of the Cabinet. Such appointment requires no confirmation.
Section 4. The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.
No Vice-President shall serve for more than two successive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which he was elected.
Considering the large number of presidentiables already semaphoring their intentions to run for President, perhaps some of them ought to look with more imaginative eyes at the Vice Presidency and the unique possibilities of that office. The younger or less winnable candidates for the Presidency might find it profitable to aim a little lower, though it is likely the crowd for that office will grow and the race for veep even more competitive. The reason being that whether a vice president behaves in opposition to the President or not, another rule of thumb seems to be that the Vice President is an automatic top contender for President in the next election cycle.
The big, portentous question now is: who might he run with??