Two enabling legislations prescribing the order of presidential succession have been introduced in the Senate.

The twin moves made by Senators Koko Pimentel III and Ping Lacson seek to provide an order of presidential succession giving the President the power to delegate if those named as presidential successors in the Constitution could not perform their duty.

Lacson and Pimentel, in their respective Senate Bill Nos. 982 and 996, noted Congress’ mandate in enacting a law that will provide for a manner of selecting an “Acting President” in the event that both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are unable to act as President until a President or a Vice President shall have qualified.

“This bill seeks to provide an exhaustive line/order of presidential succession.”

“This bill seeks to provide an exhaustive line/order of presidential succession in the event of death, permanent disability, removal from office or resignation of the Acting President to ensure that the Office of the President is never vacated even in exceptional circumstances,” Lacson said in Senate Bill 982

“For 32 years, Congress has not acted on this mandate. It is in line with this mandate that this bill is filed. Apart from the fact that Congress is obligated to provide for this contingency, it is important to prepare for all possible scenarios that may arise relating to vacancies in the leadership of our government,” Pimentel added, referring to Article VII, Section 7 of the Constitution.

Lacson noted that the Constitutional provision mandates the legislature to enact a law identifying who shall serve as President in case of death, permanent disability or resignation of the Acting President until the election and qualification of a new President or Vice President.

“The most senior senator based on the length of service in the Senate will be first in line of succession.”

Under the veteran legislator’s bill, he proposed that the most senior senator based on the length of service in the Senate will be first in line of succession in the event of permanent disability, death, removal from office or resignation of the Acting President before the President or Vice President shall have been elected and qualified.

Next in order of succession in the seasoned lawmaker’s bill is the most senior representative based on the length of service in the House of Representatives and if there’s none, the third in line will be the member of the Cabinet designated by the President.

“The President shall designate a member of the Cabinet to be sequestered in a secret and secure location,” the senator’s bill stated.

This is in the event of an extraordinary circumstance resulting in the death or permanent disability of the President, Vice President, most senior senator and most senior representative in the House of Representatives.

He further proposed that the Acting President shall perform official functions and shall remain effective unless revoked by the elected President within 90 days from his or her assumption or reassumption of office.

Pimentel, on the other hand, proposed a manner in selecting the Acting President: first, the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), second the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and third the Secretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) in the event that the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are both unable to act as President.

Provided, however, that the government official’s nomination or appointment has already been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) and who is not under any disability to discharge the powers and duties of the Office of the President until a President or Vice President shall have been qualified.

The said bills had already been referred to the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes chaired by Senator Kiko Pangilinan.

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