Thursday, February 21, 2008

Constructive Resignation

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The '87 Constitution provides the following passages with regard to the replacement of the Chief Executive of the Republic. Just a few words to serve as a guide in the process. Beyond these words, any act done in consideration thereof is already unconstitutional and in effect violates or amends it.


  • 1. Section 7, par.4...If at the beginning of the term of the President, the President-elect shall have died or shall have become permanently disabled, the Vice President-elect shall become President..
  • 2. Section 8. In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President, the Vice-President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term. In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of both the President and Vice-President, the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall then act as President until the President or Vice-President shall have been elected and qualified.
Under Section 7, it allows only two instances:

1. Death- the cessation of a person's existence.
2. Permanent Disability- the incapacity to perform normal biological functions. Contemplates a condition which is unexpected or expected but cannot be avoided. Such as a 'myocardial infarction' or commonly known as a heart attack. A failure or loss of capacity to act.

In other instances, permanent disability may be viewed as a state of being unable to perform a task one is hired to do. Losing the substantial requirements. A driver, may be permanently disabled relative to his official function in case he looses a limb in an amputation operation due to diabetes. There is no way the person may recover from such a disability. The person is therefore considered as 'permanently disabled' relative to the employment functions. That's according to the established provisions under the subject of Social Legislation.

The concept of 'recovery' therefore, should be taken relative to disability.
Taking note of the disjunctive word 'OR'.
Section 8 is a recapitulating extension of Section 7. They should be viewed as a singular idea. The interpretation of the succeeding section should not go beyond what is provided as a limitation on the process. In consonance with the doctrine on 'Harmony of Laws', we cannot possibly have two conflicting provisions, one limiting and the other extending. The latter should be guided by the former unless it provides an expressed exception (I am reminded of the Devil's Dictionary).

The two concepts of 'removal from office' and 'resignation', even 'death' must be viewed under 'permanent disability'. Being its most prevailing character. Should a temporary disability be considered?

Herein lies the concept on a Temporary Leave of Absence. The result of course is that the successor will be serving in an 'acting capacity'.
Removal from Office- refers to the constitutionally provided method of impeachment. The 'Articles of Impeachment' from the lower house then the trial at the Senate completes the required stages. A conviction makes the President 'permanently disabled' to hold the position. It may also provide further disabilities to hold any other subsequent public office.
Resignation- an act of submission with a realization that one is unable to perform functions due to a permanent disability. Contemplates an act freely done in consideration of the attendant circumstances, unequivocal, declarative, honest, and based on personal choice. Consenting. An act of will, free from anything that vitiates it. Voluntary, in contrast with the nature of an impeachment which is totally involuntary.

Nixon's controversy may be viewed in this manner, he decided to resign rather than face impeachment. He cannot get away from the evidence gathered. Instead of prolonging his agony towards an evident conclusion, he realized that his acts caused him the loss of his 'moral ascendancy'. Out of respect for the Seat of the Chief Executive, his conscience told him that he no longer deserved the position he held. He was incapacitated in that manner, permanently. Due to his very own conscious acts.


So, where can there be a constructive resignation?

It could possibly exist when there is a presumption of death where the will of the public official cannot be ascertained. One scenario is when he becomes a missing person. The law has adequate provisions on the matter. Including time frames within which a judicial declaration may be sought by any party in interest.

Here, we could safely say that it could also be validly done when there is a willful abandonment of official duties without a justifiable cause.

But what if the abandonment of a duty was caused by external events which are beyond the control of the public official? Would it not constitute a force majeure? Isn't it an exempting element with regard to performing acts under the laws of Obligations and Contracts?

Liability and accountability therefore may not be properly enforced and attached under the given scenario. The external events constitutes a coercive force towards the individual will. Coercion clouds the will to act freely. Just like in a 'shotgun marriage'. Remedy comes when the coercive force has ceased to exist. The reckoning of prescriptive periods.

We also have a doctrine in law which provides that when there is no ambiguity in the provisions, when the law is plain and clear, we should not construe or interpret. We let the words and the spirit stand. Without a need for further interpolations.


The law should not be stretched to make it justify a wrong. It must be solid and stable. Otherwise, it ceases to be one and becomes a tool for evil ends. Any attempt to modify it should be resisted by all means possible.


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