Palace recognizes wisdom in having a ‘Designated Survivor’

Published September 2, 2020, 11:01 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang has acknowledged the proposal to have a so-called designated survivor in case all officials prescribed by the Constitution to succeed the President perish.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Senator Ping Lacson called on fellow lawmakers to urgently act on the proposed legislation that will determine the line of succession beyond what is defined in the Constitution.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Roque said the idea of having a “designated survivor” probably came from the American series “Designated Survivor” where a Cabinet member was chosen to ascend to the presidency after the President and everyone in the line of succession died in a terrorist attack.

However, even though the series that starred actor Kiefer Sutherland was based on fiction, Roque said the particular scenario is something that really should be tackled.

“While the TV series is fiction where everyone in government explodes away because of a terrorist attack during the State of the Nation Address, there is that scenario that should be addressed,” he told “The Source” on Wednesday.

“We have a clear line of succession all the way down to the House Speaker but what happens, in fact, if, similar to what happened in the TV series, everyone perishes?” he asked.

According to Roque, there was wisdom behind Lacson’s proposal but said it should follow the process.

“Perhaps there is definitely wisdom in the bill filed by Senator Lacson but he will now have to file a counterpart measure in the House because the author in the House has withdrawn her authorship of the bill,” he said.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the vice president shall act as president should the chief executive die or suffer a permanent disability. If the vice president is unavailable, the Senate president will ascend to the presidency. The House Speaker will take over if the third in line was unable to do so.

Lacson’s appeal to lawmakers came after Quezon City Second District Precious Hipolito withdrew the bill’s counterpart in the House of Representatives, House Bill No. 4062, following the backlash it received from netizens.

The said bill aimed to authorize the President to pick a successor outside of the constitutional line of succession. However, this did not sit well with netizens.

Lacson filed a similar bill, Senate Bill No. 982, in August last year. His version provides for the most senior senator, based on the length of service in the Senate, to take over should all four officials in the line of succession are unable to assume the presidency.

Next to the most senior senator is the most senior representative based on the length of service in the Lower House. This is followed by a member of the Cabinet designated by the President.

Based on the Senate’s website, Lacson’s bill is pending in the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes and Laws.