The Constitution does not prohibit President Rodrigo Duterte from seeking the vice presidency in 2022, the Palace said on Friday.

Earlier this week, Duterte said he was seriously considering running for the vice presidency.

Since the Philippines adopted the 1987 Constitution, no former president has sought the vice presidency.

“There is no legal impediment for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to seek the Vice-Presidency, contrary to the claims of certain quarters,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.

“Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution is clear: The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. President Duterte is not running for the same office and same position,” Roque added.

The Constitution also states that “no person who has succeeded as president and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”

“Under the plain meaning rule or verba legis, if the statute is clear, plain and free from ambiguity, it must be given its literal meaning and applied without interpretation,” Roque added.

Roque said those challenging the legality of Duterte’s possible vice presidential bid could direct their concerns to the supreme court.

‘Against the Constitution’s spirit’

Several lawmakers have denounced Duterte’s possible vice presidential bid, saying it would be against the spirit of the Constitution.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Duterte’s bid would not be unconstitutional but it could pose a “serious problem.”

“While the wording of the Constitution does not prohibit the President to run for any elected position, to run for vice president would contravene the spirit of the Constitution and could pose a serious problem of succession to the presidency later on,” Drilon said.

Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, said Duterte’s move could be a “backdoor” to another presidential term.

“I’m sure somebody will question it. I’m sure somebody will file and if nobody files then I’ll file,” he said in a July 6 Teleradyo interview.

“Parang palusot, backdoor. Because that vacancy can be created, by simply resigning ‘yung presidente, e hindi ata iyun ang intent ng Constitution,” Monsod said.

Duterte has been pushing his aide of 23 years, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, to pursue the presidency. His daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, is also expected to run.

Duterte’s presidency will end on June 30, 2022. John Ezekiel J. Hirro