Matias Defesor said that the Chief Justice “is the most important appointment vested by the Constitution to the President” being fifth in line of succession to the Presidency.
Similarly, in his January 12 column in Manila Standard, Emil Jurado, a veteran journalist and lawyer, stated the following :
But a hiatus in the office of the chief justice poses clear and present danger to the country. There is the order of succession to the presidency: a Chief Justice is fifth in line. If there’s no President, Vice President, Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives proclaimed by June 30, who will take over the country?
Is the Chief Justice really fifth in order of succession to the Presidency?
The answer in the negative. There is no provision in the Constitution that says expressly or by implication that the Chief Justice is fifth in line of succession to the Presidency.
To be sure, let me quote the relevant provisions of the Constitution on presidential succession.
Where no President and Vice-President shall have been chosen or shall have qualified, or where both shall have died or become permanently disabled, the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall act as President until a President or a Vice-President shall have been chosen and qualified.
In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President, the Vice-President shall become the President to serve the unexpired term. In case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of both the President and Vice-President, the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, shall then act as President until the President or Vice-President shall have been elected and qualified.
Even in the United States, the Chief Justice is not in the line of succession to the Presidency per Presidential Succession Act of 1947.