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When the spare tire is better

In the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses that caused massive flooding in many parts of Luzon, the stellar efforts of Vice President Leni Robredo to help out calamity victims have been the talk of the town, so much so that the President dedicated a portion of his most recent TV appearance disparaging her for making it appear that she was in charge, not him.

Presidential mouthpiece Harry Roque even alluded to the term ‘spare tire’ in describing the Vice-President in a follow-up attack.

The actual term is ‘Presidential spare tire’ – a rarely used term and more commonly used by political commentators, lawyers, political scientists, and teachers of the subject Philippine Constitution in college.

It comes from the following provision of the 1987 Constitution:

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.

Nowhere else in the Constitution can one find a more clear or distinct job description for the Vice-President. If he/she is not appointed to a Cabinet position, the Vice-President has literally nothing else to do except to wait to assume the presidency in case of the death, disability, or resignation of the incumbent President.

An excellent briefer on the Office of the Vice-President by Manuel Quezon III, tell of its colorful history, noteworthy is that the first Vice-President not appointed to any cabinet position was Diosdado Macapagal as he was from party different from the President’s.

Coming back to Vice-President Leni Robredo, she was once appointed to Cabinet as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council back in July 2016. On December 4, 2016 she was informed not to attend all Cabinet meetings anymore which led to her resignation from the Cabinet the day after.

Since then, the Vice-President has been doing what she can with what little her office has from helping healthcare workers to get much-needed PPEs and transportation when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a severe lockdown in Luzon to the more recent rescue and relief efforts in the aftermath of typhoon Ulysses.

As I have said before:

Naturally and thankfully, the Vice-President has stepped up and shown what real leadership is.