By Deighton Acuin


President Rodrigo Duterte’s possible candidacy for vice president is meant to “protect” Filipinos.

This was the statement of chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo as he slammed the critics and those who are involved in the Charter "can neither replace the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution."

"As there is no textual prohibition for PRRD to run for any elective office save for the presidency, there is no legal justification to bar him to run for vice president," he said.

He also responded to the concerns that Duterte will only control the Office of the President if the latter was elected as vice president, as such fears were “illogical.”

"Had the framers of the Constitution intended to prevent a president from seeking any other public office, they would have said so by way of a constitutional provision . . . What the Constitution does not prohibit it allows,” he said.

Attorney Christian Monsod, one of the Constitution framers, said Duterte’s bid for vice presidency goes against the law. Moreover, administration allies had defended Monsod’s remark by saying it is legal.

"The only impetus of the man is his obedience to the constitutional command to serve and protect the people . . . The prohibition . . . refers to re-election and not to succession to the presidency," Panelo said.

"Accordingly, he only seeks to serve the people in such capacity that they wish him to serve in,” the chief legal counsel added.

Meanwhile, on claims that Duterte’s vice presidential run only seeks to run away from the International Court (ICC), Panelo said there is no truth on the matter.

Duterte has been criticized due to one of his flagship programs against illegal drugs that claimed thousands of lives, with the ICC requesting the relatives of the drug war victims to submit documents that can help in investigating alleged crimes against humanity.

"They postulate that PRRD running for the post would circumvent the prohibition against a presidential re-election with some even contending that the idea if pursued is meant for him to stay in power and avoid being prosecuted for imagined crimes," he said.

Earlier this week, ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN) urged the chief executive to run for the second-highest elective post this year.

Duterte then told the members he is “seriously thinking” the matter and his successor must be his “friend” or he will be “inutile.”

Report source: ABS-CBN News