Presumptive president-elect Rodrigo Duterte is said to be assembling a cabinet akin to the so-called “team of rivals.” Before anything else, what does the term mean?
The term is derived from the 2005 book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” a political biography written by Pulitzer-prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The book narrated how Lincoln, regarded as one of the greatest American presidents ever, was able to persuade three men who ran against him during the 1860 presidential race to be part of his cabinet.
Speaking to Time Magazine shortly before he was elected president, then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama explained that he will follow the “team of rivals” model in forming his own cabinet. “I don’t want to have people who just agree with me. I want people who are continually pushing me out of my comfort zone,” he said in 2008.
Obama kept his word when he gave four of his former presidential rivals top posts in his administration: he tapped then-Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his Vice President, then-New York Senator Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary, and then-New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as Commerce Secretary (though he eventually withdrew the nomination).
Unfortunately, Duterte can’t do the same here because of Article IX, Section 6B of the 1987 Constitution which states: “No candidate who has lost in any election shall, within one year after such election, be appointed to any office in the Government or any Government-owned or controlled corporations or in any of their subsidiaries” (emphasis added).
Section 94.b of the Local Government Code mirrors that provision as well:
“Except for losing candidates in barangay elections, no candidate who lost in any election shall, within one year after such election, be appointed to any office in the government or any government-owned and controlled corporation or in any of their subsidiaries.“
Ideally, Duterte should have absolute prerogative on the people he wants to work with, based on their qualifications and his level of comfort with them. However, the aforementioned Constitutional provision restricts him from maximizing his choices.
For example, he said during the campaign that he wants his running-mate Alan Peter Cayetano to head the Foreign Affairs Department. Since Cayetano lost the Vice Presidential race, he will have to wait for one year before he can assume that post. In the meantime, Perfecto Yasay will serve as his seat warmer.
This is similar to what happened in 2011 when President Benigno Aquino III was only able to give his former running mate Mar Roxas a cabinet post a year after his defeat. It seems that Article IX, Section 6B of the 1987 Constitution serves no other purpose except from forcing election losers to wallow in their defeat for one year instead of being able to engage in public service through other means.