Miffed over her criticisms against his banner counternarcotics campaign, President Rodrigo Duterte dared Vice President Leni Robredo to take over the drug war after he transfers his law enforcement powers to her.
“I will surrender my powers to enforce the law. I will give it to the vice president for six months. I’ll let her carry it out, let us see what will happen. I will not interfere,” he said in mixed Filipino and English.
“If she wants, I can commission her to be the drug czar,” Duterte said. “I’ll give her a clean slate, so she will know how easy it is to control drugs.”
There are at least two ways the president can do this legally.
1. Discharge all of his powers, according to Article VII Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution.
Under the Constitution such a move could be an admission that he can no longer perform his duties and responsibilities to warrant the second chief executive to take the reigns.
— Marco S (not Marcos) (@MALVSIII) October 28, 2019
This is stated in Section 11 Article VII requiring the president to submit a written declaration addressed to the Senate president or House speaker that he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”
Only then shall the vice president sit as the acting president. The exact provision goes:
“Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”
The vice president can only assume the presidency in case the following happened to the president: “death, permanent disability, removal from office or resignation,” provided by section 8 of the main charter.
2. Make a Cabinet reshuffling
There is something else though that the president can do. If he wishes not to hand over to Robredo his duties and powers, he can delimit the transfer of powers by appointing her to the Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace currently chaired by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
Robredo can be appointed to the cluster, which also includes:
- Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea
- Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles
- Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año
- Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
- Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra
- National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon
- Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Salvador Carlito Galvez Jr.
Duterte’s Executive Order 24 issued in May 2017 tasks the Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace with:
- Protect national territory and boundaries;
- Attain a just and lasting peace;
- Ensure the welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers;
- Strengthen the rule of law;
- Institutionalize an efficient and impartial justice system that delivers equal justice to the rich and poor; and
- Advance and protect human rights.
A sign of drug war’s failure?
Duterte’s supporters made use of his dare to poke fun at Robredo, while others perceived it as an excuse that he failed in keeping his promises.
You only criticize if you have a better way of doing it. That prompted the President to offer the drug czar job to Leni Robredo. It turned out she’s a mere CHATTERBOX…
— Ibarra Galang (@galangir) October 30, 2019
Duterte is realizing he’s in a no-win position in the drug war; that he cant solve it using his “kill-the-pusher” approach.
‘Robredo should shut up after refusing drug czar offer’https://t.co/lPkIUe1Q4p pic.twitter.com/R53jmYTrXm
— Luis Oreta (@ChitoOreta) October 30, 2019
Others noted that this announcement suggested Robredo was right about the drug war from the start.
I'm so tired of listening to all these things Duterte kept on saying abt Robredo. Wake up. Your war on drugs failed. Stop saying that she knows better than u, coz she does.
Clearing all drug addicts in 6 months was your promise, don't make Robredo fulfill it for you.
— 𝓳𝓪𝓳𝓲𝓷𝓰 👑 (@Jascyl2) October 28, 2019
Robredo has been voicing out her disagreement in using violence in combating illegal drugs since the war began. — with reports from Catalina Ricci Madarang