The presidential elections are less than 1 month away. Now’s a good a time as any to tackle the order of presidential succession under the Philippine Constitution, specifically under Article VII (Executive Department).
After the elections
a) the President-elect fails to qualify, the Vice President-elect shall only act as President until the President-elect shall have qualified, or
b) a President shall not have been chosen, the Vice President-elect shall only act as President until a President shall have been chosen and qualified. (Section 7)
Under these 2 scenarios, the Vice President does not become President but only Acting President until the condition required is met.
If no President and Vice-President shall have been chosen or shall have qualified, the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall only act as President until a President or a Vice-President shall have been chosen and qualified. (Section 7)
During the term of office
If the President:
b) is permanent disabled,
c) is removed from office, or
the Vice-President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term. (Section 8)
If the vacancy is only in the Office of the Vice-President, 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 by a majority vote of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately. (Section 9)
But, if both the President and Vice-President:
b) are permanent disabled,
c) are removed from office, or
the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall act as President until the President or Vice-President shall have been elected and qualified. (Section 8)
Necessity of Law
Beyond the officials above mentioned, the Congress needs to pass a law to provide for the manner in which one who is to act as President shall be selected until a President or a Vice-President shall have qualified, in case of death, permanent disability, or inability of said officials.
What exactly does a President sign up for? It might be hard for us to remember knowing how some past Presidents have behaved themselves, but since 1987, a President has had to utter these words under oath:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully and conscientiously fulfill my duties as President (or Vice-President or Acting President) of the Philippines, preserve and defend its Constitution, execute its laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate myself to the service of the Nation. So help me God.” (Section 5).
This coming May, we can only hope that we get a President who will keep these words to heart, in both letter and spirit.