Six of the 13 former Vice Presidents of the national government have subsequently assumed the Presidency either through constitutional succession or direct vote by the electorate.
The current question and speculation going the rounds now is whether incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo will also be as fortunate as her former six counterparts and become the 14th President of the Philippines.
The six fortunate former VPs were Philippine Commonwealth Vice President Sergio S. Osmena Sr. (November 15, 1935-August 1, 1944); Elpidio R. Quirino (May 28, 1846-April 17, 1948); Carlos P. Garcia (December 30, 1953-March 17, 1957); Diosdado P. Macapagal (December 30, 1957-December 30, 1961); Joseph E. Estrada (June 30, 1992-June 30, 1998); and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (June 30, 1998-January 20, 2001).
Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon and Vice President Osmena were elected in the presidential polls held on September 17, 1935, the first election under the 1935 Constitution, as chronicled in the book “Philippine History and Government” (fifth edition of August 2002) by the father-and-daughter team Dr. Gregorio F. Zaide and Dr. Sonia M. Zaide.
Osmena assumed the presidency after the death of Quezon on August 1, 1944 while the Commonwealth Government chief was still in exile in the United States. Osmena ran for President in the April 23, 1946 polls but lost to his rival, Manuel Roxas who won the derby with Vice President Elpedio Quirino.
Quirino was elevated to the presidency after Roxas died of heart attack while delivering a speech at the former Clark Air Force Base in Pampanga on April 15, 1948. He became the second former vice president to assume the Presidency via constitutional succession.
After completing Roxas’ four-year term, Quirino ran in the 1949 elections and won in his own right as president until December 30, 1953. His vice president was Fernando H. Lopez of Iloilo.
In the 1953 national polls, former Defense Secretary Ramon F. Magsaysay defeated the re-electionist Quirino. Magsaysay’s vice president was Carlos P. Garcia of Bohol.
On March 17, 1957, Magsaysay died when the presidential plane Mt. Pinatubo crashed on a mountain in Cebu while on its return flight to Manila. Garcia thus became the third vice president to occupy Malacañang by constitutional succession.
Garcia finished the term of Magsaysay and ran for the same post and won in the 1957 elections, with Macapagal as vice president. They both completed their terms in office from December 30, 1957 to December 30, 1961.
In the 1961 national elections, Garcia lost to Macapagal who won with Emmanuel N. Pelaez as his Vice President.
In the succeeding general elections of 1965, Macapagal lost his reelection bid to former Senate President Ferdinand E. Marcos, whose vice president was Fernando H. Lopez again. Marcos became the first president to be reelected in the November 1969 polls.
In the election in May 1998, the country’s ninth vice president, Joseph E. Estrada (1992-1998), won as president, succeeding President Fidel V. Ramos.
Estrada was the fifth former vice president to sit at Malacañang. For being the seating chief executive at the end of the previous millennium in 2000, he could very well be considered as the country’s first millennial president.
On January 20, 2001, however, he was replaced by the country’s first woman vice president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, daughter of former President Macapagal, as a result of the so-called “People Power II” similar to the event that ousted the 20-year Marcos administration from Malacañang in February 1986.
Aside from being the sixth vice president to sit at the Palace, President Macapagal-Arroyo also became the second woman chief executive of the Philippines after President Corazon C. Aquino (1986-1992).
In the coming May 9, 2022 polls, outgoing Vice President Leonor G. Robredo is running for president. However, she has to prevail over nine other aspirants for the same post to be able to claim the title for the Malacanang seat.
Competing with Leni Robredo are nine other presidential aspirants — former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao, former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody de Guzman of the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, Faisal Mangondato of the Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi, and Jose Montemayor of Democratic Party of the Philippines. (Based on an original feature article of former PNA and PND Editor-in-Chief Severino Samonte)