The big non-issue

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the June 23, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

The man with the best job in the country is the vice-president. All he has to do is get up every morning and ask, “How is the president?” – Will Rogers

In between the World Cup matches, the conversation drifted to the issue of vice president-elect Binay getting a job in the Aquino administration.

“Why the intense lobby to appoint Binay to a cabinet position?” I asked my pro-Binay friend.

“Because he got 14 plus million votes,” he replied.

“Why, did they vote him vice president so he could become Aquino’s secretary of the interior?”

“No, they voted for him because he promised to make the rest of the Philippines like Makati.”

“Oh, I thought it was because they liked him more than they did Roxas and Legarda,” I quipped.

“That too,” he replied.

“Kidding aside,” I said, “a vice president has no function under our Constitution except to wait for a vacancy at the top.”

“But surely there’s something the vice president can do,” he said.

“You mean besides wait for the president to die, resign, become permanently disabled, or impeached?”

“Yes.”

“Look, this is not America where the Constitution says the vice president also presides over the Senate and votes as a tie-breaker when necessary. This is the Philippines our vice president is a spare tire, well that is unless he becomes like Dick Cheney. Then, as Bill Maher puts it, he can start wars, enrich his friends, subvert the Constitution, and shoot people in the face. But that won’t happen here. Our Constitution made sure of that.”

“You’re wrong buddy,” he said. “Our Constitution did not prevent a vice president from grabbing power, subverting the Constitution, and enriching herself.”

“Touche,” I replied. He grinned.

“But seriously, if Binay wanted a role in Aquino’s administration then he should have supported him from the get go,” I said.

“What do you have against Binay?” he asked.

“I have nothing against him. I’m not against Aquino giving him a cabinet position and I’m not against him lobbying for one despite the fact that he ran with someone else. As far as I’m concerned, if Aquino and Binay can work together then that’s okay and if they can’t then that’s okay too because they each have their own thing to do or not do. There is no co-dependency, no relationship between a president and a vice president other than what the Constitution says.”

“Aquino should find something for Binay to do,” he said. “Every president since Cory gave the vice president a job.”

“Yes, but not all vice presidents were given cabinet posts,” I replied.

“You’re beginning to sound like you are pro-Mar Roxas,” he said.

“Roxas is not an issue even though you are trying to make him one. You are using him as a means to corner Aquino into putting Binay in DILG (Department of Interior and Local Governments) and that’s not fair to him, Binay, or Aquino.”

“But if Aquino does not appoint Binay to his cabinet he will be turning his back on the 14 million people who voted for Binay.”

“Why does not appointing Binay to a cabinet post mean that Aquino is turning his back on Binay’s followers? How did you reach that conclusion?”

“Well, anyway I hope Aquino finds something for Binay. He could be a big asset to the administration,” he replied.

“I agree and if I were Aquino I would appoint him peace negotiator. He’s tough and he’s got a big constituency in Mindanao.”

“Hmmm…”

“Or he could appoint him to head the investigation into the shenanigans of the Arroyo regime.  They won’t be able to scare him off or bribe him to mess that up.”

“But Binay has bigger plans for the country,” he replied.

“Well, if he has big plans for the country he should have run for president.”

“So what are you doing on June 30?” he asked, changing the topic.

“I haven’t decided yet. I don’t know if I’ll go to the exorcism at the Palace or join the citizen’s posse to arrest Gloria.”

“Call me when you decide, maybe we can car pool,” he said on his way out of the bar.

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