Some follow-up FAQs on Presidential Succession

I just wanted to add some additional FAQs on Presidential Succession:

Is a snap election legally possible?

Yes, as snap election is legally possible in the Philippines. But only in two scenarios:

1. In cases of a permanent vacancy in both offices of the President and the Vice-President. (e.g., both die in a planecrash, both resign, or any combination of causes for a permanent vacancy).

2. The Vice-President takes over as acting President but then another permanent vacancy occurs in his Presidency before a replacement Vice-President has been confirmed.

So is it possible for someone to be President without being elected?

Trick question, your Honor!

1. In the sense that one was not elected as President, that scenario is possible. The clearest example of this is a Vice-President elected as such that assumes the presidency.

Likewise, a Gerald Ford scenario is likewise theoretically possible in the Philippines. Remember, Gerald Ford was likewise nominated Vice-President by Richard Nixon before Watergate forced Dick to resign. Hence, Gerald Ford was the only President that was not elected, even as Vice-President.

A similar situation is legally possible here in the Philippines.

2. Here’s the trick. To be eligible to be nominated as the replacement Vice-President in the first place, you have to be a member of Congress (Congressman or Senator), an elected position. In another sense, therefore, one still has to be elected (as such) before he can even hope to be appointed Vice-President. (Section 9, Article VII, 1987 Constitution)

Therefore, it is possible to become President without being elected as President, in the case of a (incumbent or acting) Vice-President becoming president.

But to be eligible to assume the post of President in the first place, one has to assume an eligible elected position first. So in another sense, it is not possible to become President without being elected into any of the eligible positions in the first place.

Kind of convoluted but I think you’ll get it…we lawyers like to make razon-thin distinctions…

And of course, there are the “extralegal” ways of becoming President. But as a lawyer, I cannot discuss that…

(To my “students” reviewing for the bar, be wary of this kind of question. Always dissect each question and answer exactly what is asked.)


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