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Panganiban says Bongbong still can’t replace Leni even if SOCE woes unseat her

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Remember the Liberal Party’s (LP) belated filing of its statement of contributions and expenditures (SOCE) following the May 9, 2016 elections?

Former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban said for the sake of argument that while Vice President Leni Robredo may yet pay for her party’s “sin” with her current position as second highest official of the land, this still doesn’t necessarily mean that ex-senator Bongbong Marcos gets to replace her.

Marcos is of course the second-placer in last year’s vice presidential race, losing only to Robredo by around 260,000 votes. But there remains the issue on SOCE filing, which LP didn’t do on time.

It was only through an extension (June 8 to June 30, 2016) that the “yellow party” was able to fulfill the required filing of contribution and spending lists. This extension has been challenged by in court by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Under Republic Act (RA) no. 7166, a winning candidate who was picked by a political party that failed to observe the SOCE requirement will be prevented from taking up his or her post.

“Unquestionably, the Liberal Party filed its SOCE only during the extension granted by the Comelec, not within the period prescribed by RA 7166. Ergo, the Marcos partisans claim, Robredo (and all LP senators, congressmen and other winners) should be disqualified perpetually (though she and the other LP winners timely filed their SOCE as candidates), and that Marcos should replace her pronto as Vice President,” Panganiban wrote in his Inquirer column Sunday (January 15).

Not so fast though; according to the former chief magistrate, the lawful successor won’t be Marcos in case Robredo kisses the Vice Presidency goodbye. Instead, it will be among the sitting lawmakers.

“In general, however, when the cause for the ouster or vacancy arose prior the election, the second placer is deemed elected on the theory that the winner’s votes are invalid for having been cast for a noncandidate. But when the cause arose after the election, proclamation and assumption to office of the winner, then the vacancy shall be filled in accordance with the law on succession,” he said.

“The Constitution states: ‘Whenever there is a vacancy in the Office of the Vice-President during the term for which he was elected, the President shall nominate a Vice-President from among the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who shall assume office upon confirmation of a majority vote of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately’,” explained Panganiban.

“Did the cause arise after Robredo had been elected, proclaimed and assumed office? If so, an incumbent senator or representative, not Marcos, will take over as VP.”

Marcos’s term as senator ended on June 30, 2016.

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