The Vice President should not be a “spare tire” to the President, but while the candidates for the country’s second-highest elective position all agreed on this, they differed on how they should wield their power and influence following the May 9 polls.
In the first VP debate organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said it was up to the winning candidate how to use their position to help the public.
Should he be given the opportunity to amend the Constitution, Sotto III said he would make the Vice President as Senate President, as it is in the United States and other countries.
Pangilinan, for his part, cited incumbent Vice President Leni Common Robredo, his running mate, who launched several COVID-19 response programs.
Rizalito David pushed for a shift to parliamentary government, saying if the Constitution had to be changed, the Philippines should turn to “a more sensitive method of governing society” by moving to a parliamentary system.
This shift would allow the elections to be cheaper for the government to stage and to prevent actors, entertainers, and other popular personalities from winning seats in the government at will, David added.
Candidate Manny Lopez said the Vice President should be given the power to “determine the validity of the assumption of the top position” or the presidency.
Dr. Willie Ong said he believes he could help the President by taking the helm of the Department of Health and the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response, while Walden Bello wanted to take the reins of the Department of Finance owing to the power it wields over the country’s economic policies and foreign creditors.
Carlos Serapio, along with Pangilinan, Ong, said he supports tandem voting – where the President and Vice President are automatically voted together – in future elections, while Bello and Sotto said a “check and balance” would be welcome in the executive department.
Bello again took a swipe at survey leader Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who was absent from the debate and opted to attend a campaign sortie with running mate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malabon on Sunday night.
“I really would like to hear from Sara Duterte. I don’t know why she doesn’t appear in this debate to appear in front of the people,” he said.
Another candidate, Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, did not attend the debate following a medical operation.
Sotto recalled that when he was vice mayor of Quezon City, he pushed for the appointment of a vice mayor as Presiding Officer of the
Municipal or City Council.
The current Senate President, who served as vice mayor of Quezon City from 1988 to 1992, founded the Vice-Mayors’ League of the Philippines
and was its first president.
Sought for his comment on tandem voting, Sotto said he does not favor it, citing the need for a check and balance. He said 64 million voters
should be allowed to choose their own Vice President.
According to the Senate leader, the government should manufacture the country’s own vaccines, personal protective equipment, syringes,
needles, and even cotton to stop importation.
He also cited the need for the government to give higher wages to frontline health workers — nurses and doctors and barangay workers.
He said hazard pay was included in the Bayanihan 1 and 2 laws passed by Congress, but unfortunately, these were not immediately given to
“I want to implement these laws,” Sotto added.