Allan S.B. Batuhan

Foreign Exchange

IN the corporate world, we take it for granted that everyone knows the importance of good teamwork. For example, if you think of Bill Gates, you immediately think of Paul Allen as well. Without one or the other of this pair, the world will not know of a company as influential as Microsoft, and perhaps the world of computing would not have been the same.

It is critical that top executives of corporations think alike, and support each other’s decisions. Otherwise, it would be a very fractious and chaotic organisation indeed, where the ones in-charge at the top would be fighting each other every step of the way, and having different agenda for the future.

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Political systems in most places follow this principle.

In the United States, for example, a vote for the president is also a vote for the vice president. One will never see a case in America where the president is a Republican,

and the vice president a Democrat, or vice versa. It has to be that the pair belong to one party only.

It is, of course, only logical that this should be the case.

Vice presidents are, as they say, only a “heartbeat” away from the presidency. When the commander-in-chief dies or is in any way incapacitated and unable to govern, the vice president steps in and fills his shoes. It is therefore important that there is a continuity of programs of government, as one transitions to the other. It promotes a seamless change and ensures that the governance of the nation is not compromised.

In our country, however, we seem to be of a different mindset entirely.

Unlike most republican governments anywhere, in the Philippines, the president and the vice president have separate mandates. That is to say, the president could come from one party, and the vice president from another. Take for example the current administration, where President Arroyo and Vice President de Castro are from separate camps. Or even the previous government of President Estrada and Vice President Arroyo, who also belonged to different political persuasions.

In the case of the administration before this one, we had the vice president always positioning herself to take over the reins of power, and never really fully cooperating with the president to make effective governance happen. And when Edsa II took place, she was only too quick to pounce on the chance to crown herself number one.

Under the current regime, we have an impotent vice president, who despite his years of broadcast journalism experience, we have yet to hear hiim speak over national media on issues of substance. In both cases, the relationship at the top is a dysfunctional one, to say the least.

If other countries cannot do it, I do not know what makes the Philippines so special, that we think we can function effectively with having presidents and vice presidents coming from different political persuasions. When countries with mature political systems like the United States are practical enough to admit that this would not work, the logic of why we do ours the way we do it still continues to mystify me.

It is time we realised the folly of this situation. For two consecutive administrations now we have been witness to the charade that is the presidential and vice presidential tandem.

On both occasions, the second-in-command has been little more than a waste of space. Little wonder then that all the vice president has left to do is to plot for the overthrow of the boss, in order to take over the reins of power as quickly as possible.