Lacson backs passage of ‘designated survivor’ law

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Sen. Panfilo Lacson shows documents during a Committee of the Whole inquiry on August 18, 2020. Joseph Vidal, Senate PRIB

MANILA – Sen. Panfilo Lacson is pushing for the passage of the "designated survivor" bill, after the measure was withdrawn in the House of Representatives over the weekend.

The bill – which was named after an American television show – will "address soonest the limitations of the 1987 Constitution's current provision on the line of succession," Lacson said in a statement.

"Because of the failure of Congress to pass the necessary legislation in extending the line of succession beyond the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a constitutional crisis is possible if all four top elected officials, God forbid, die in one event such as the SONA due to a terrorist attack in the Batasang Pambansa, or any occasion where the President and all three officials in the line of constitutional succession are present," the senator said.

"If such a tragedy occurs, who will act as President until the next election of the President and Vice President, since the constitutional line of succession to the President stops at the House Speaker?" he added.

Under the proposed measure, the President is authorized to name a Cabinet member to serve as "acting president" should the Vice President, the Senate President and the House Speaker all be unable to assume leadership after the chief executive's demise or permanent disability.

"Needless to say, passing such legislation is not only constitutional. It is in fact, required under the 1987 Constitution," Lacson said, noting that the Constitution designates Congress to "provide who shall serve as President in case of death, permanent disability, or resignation" of the Acting President.

Lacson filed a similar measure in the Senate in August 2019, but the chamber's Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes and Laws has yet to tackle the bill.

Quezon City 2nd District Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo earlier withdrew her bill in the House of Representatives to "erase any wrong impression that she is for ignoring or scrapping the constitutional line of succession to the presidency."

"I write to respectfully request for the withdrawal and permanent archiving of House Bill No. 4062, which was filed on Aug. 20, 2019," Castelo said in a letter to House Secretary General Jose Luis Montales.

"Please take note that the said bill has not been acted upon by the Committee on Constitutional Amendments since the date of its filing," she said.

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