Is the vice presidential post a 'spare tire'? Candidates speak up

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Is the country's second highest post just a "spare tire"?

During the first and only official vice presidential debate in the country, hosted by CNN Philippines, Commission on Elections, Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas, and Business Mirror on Sunday (April 10), the six candidates weighed the responsibilities of the country's second highest post.

For Sen. Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV, the vice president is "indeed a spare tire", if the Philippine constitution is the basis. But, traditionally and historically, the lawmaker said the vice president is given another position in the government, usually in the cabinet.

This is contrary to Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano's position, saying that the vice president is never a spare tire and he himself has never felt like a spare tire in all his years in the public service.

Also read: Cayetano likens Marcos wealth to Napoles money

Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. agreed with this, stressing that the vice president has his or her own mandate.

"Hindi ako binoto para mag-antay lang at maging spare tire," said Marcos.

[Translation: I was not elected to just wait and become a spare tire.]

Also read: Marcos: I do not participate in politically-motivated hearings

Sen. Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan II also dubbed the vice president as a "co-pilot."

Sen. Gringo Honasan: The VP is not a spare tire

"Ang vice president ay hindi spare tire kundi co-pilot. 'Pag pumunta sa men's room 'yung piloto o kinumusta 'yung mga pasahero, kailangan 'yung nagpapalipad ng eroplano kasing galing [ng piloto] dahil buhay ang nakasalalay," said Honasan.

[Translation: The vice president is not a spare tire but a co-pilot. When the pilot goes to the restroom or checked on the passengers, the co-pilot must be as efficient (as the pilot) because lives are at stake.]

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said the idea that the position is a spare tire only surfaced during the recent administrations, as the vice president was tasked to look into housing, which some people think is a meager responsibility.

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Escudero deemed if only the past administrations have been keen in providing more shelter for informal settlers, the country could have been more progressive, citing Taiwan as an example.

Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo did not give a categorical answer to the question.

Cabinet position

In the Philippines, the vice president is usually tasked to hold a cabinet position.

For Cayetano, this is unnecessary, as he sees himself more of a "bastonero" or an "agenda setter."

"I do not need a cabinet position — just put me in a position where I can see to it that all our platforms are implemented," said Cayetano.

Related: VP bets: Economic growth under Aquino is not inclusive

Meanwhile, if elected, Marcos wants to handle the Labor Department, as employment has become a challenge for the country.

Marcos vowed to end contractualization and to ensure protection of all members of the workforce. Training programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) is also a priority for Marcos.

Meanwhile, Robredo said she wants to handle the government's anti-poverty programs.

For his part, Honasan said security "in the general sense" will be his top concern if elected as vice president.

"I will help achieve security in all aspects of society," said Honasan.

Also read: What are VP candidates proposing to achieve peace in Mindanao?

Trillanes said the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will be his focal point if he wins the vice presidential seat.

He said he will vie for good governance and the dissemination of best practices in local government units (LGUs).

"Nang sa gayon, 'yung mga magagandang ginagawa sa mga progresibong lungsod, magawa rin sa ibang mga lungsod," said Trillanes.

[Translation: So that the best practices in progressive cities may also be applied to other cities.]

Escudero said he is not inclined to answer the question, as he would only accept orders from his president.

"Hindi ko ugaling sumagot nang hindi ako tinantanong ng pangulo kong si Sen. Grace Poe," he said.

[Translation: I am not in the habit of responding to questions when I am not being asked by my president Sen. Grace Poe.]