House Bill 6183, filed on April 13, attempts a “surgical” Constitutional amendment to require a run-off election with the top two (2) candidates in case no presidential candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. It is “an Act amending Article VII Section 4 of the Constitution, requiring the holding of a run-off election for the position of President and/or Vice President in case no candidate garners more than 50% of the total votes cast, to ensure the election of a majority President and Vice President."
A surgical amendment, as described by Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, will be the result of the regular legislative process in which there will be committee hearings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, which will have to approve the amendment by a majority of three-fourths (3/4) of Congress with the House and the Senate voting separately. Below is a copy of the Bill.
House Bill 6183
Introduced by Rep. Raul T. Gonzalez, Jr.
Even before his term of office begins, a minority-elected president is already at a great disadvantage. Instead of “hitting the ground running,” so to speak, a chief executive who is elected by a mere plurality or less than 50% of total votes cast, first, would have to strike alliances with various political groups in order to solidify his hold on power and govern more effectively. Lacking the confidence of a decisive mandate, the newly-elected minority president understandably would be averse to introduce necessary but unpopular reform programs and would be more susceptible to the influence of vested interests.
All of the post-EDSA presidents were minority presidents. Fidel Ramos in the 1992 elections got only 24% of the vote. Despite being reputed to be very popular among the masses, Joseph Estrada, only managed to get 40% of the votes in 1998 while our incumbent president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, got 39% of the votes in the last 2004 elections. By contrast, all except one of our pre-EDSA presidents were elected by majority vote. Manuel Quezon got 68% of total votes cast in the 1935 elections and a resounding 82% in 1941. In the 1946 elections, Manuel Roxas received 54% of the vote while in 1949, Elpidio Quirino got 51%. Ramon Magsaysay won in the 1953 elections with a decisive 69% of the vote while Carlos Garcia prevailed in 1957 by a mere plurality of 41% of the total votes cast. In 1961, Diosdado Macapagal defeated Garcia garnering 55% of the vote while in 1965, Ferdinand Marcos in turn routed him cornering likewise 55% of the total votes cast. Marcos would go on to win in the 1969 elections getting 61% and in the 1981 special elections with an unbelievable 91% of the vote.
What our country needs today is a “surgical” Constitutional amendment to require a runoff election with only 2 candidates in case no presidential candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the initial run with several candidates. The runoff election will greatly increase the probability that the electoral system will produce a strong national executive who can claim to possess a clear and indubitable mandate from the people so that he can have the political capital to deal with vested interest groups and implement difficult reforms as well as unite our nation especially during crucial times. If allowed to continue, the current plurality system will eventually lead to a situation wherein a candidate could get himself elected president with a mere 20% or even less of the vote in an election with eight or more solid contenders.
BILL No. 6183: "An Act amending Article VII Section 4 of the Constitution, requiring the holding of a run-off election for the position of President and/or Vice President in case no candidate garners more than 50% of the total votes cast, to ensure the election of a majority President and Vice President."
Article VII Section 4 of the Constitution shall be hereby amended to read as follows:
SEC. 4. The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at of the same date six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. 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.
No Vice-President shall serve for more than two successive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of the service for the full term for which he was elected.
Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election for President and Vice-President shall be held on the second Monday of May.
The returns of every election for President and Vice-President, duly certified by the board of canvassers of each province or city, shall be transmitted to the Congress, directed to the President of the Senate. Upon receipt of the certificates of canvass, the President of the Senate shall, not later than thirty days after the day of the election, open all the certificates in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives in joint public session, and the Congress, upon determination of the authenticity and due execution thereof in the manner provided by law, canvass the votes.
[The person having the highest number of votes shall be proclaimed elected, but in case two or more shall have an equal and highest number of votes, one of them shall forthwith be chosen by the vote of a majority of all the Members of both Houses of the Congress, voting separately.]
The person who garners more than 50% of the total votes cast shall be proclaimed elected. If no person gets more than 50% of the total votes cast, whether for President or Vice-President or for both offices, a run-off election shall be held between the candidates garnering the two highest numbers of votes, whether for President or Vice-President or for both offices. Provided, that the run-off election shall be held not later than three (3) weeks after the recent election.