TV series inspires real 'Designated Survivor' law

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: Reuters
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: Reuters
Philippine lawmakers have introduced legislation based loosely on a popular Netflix political thriller called the Designated Survivor to ensure the country has a president in the case of a constitutional leadership crisis.

Called the Presidential Succession Act, popularly referred to as the Designated Survivor bill, it will ensure the presidency if constitutional successors become unavailable, two lawmakers said in separate filings to both chambers of congress.

Senator Panfilo Lacson said his proposal was inspired by Netflix series Designated Survivor.

In the show, actor Kiefer Sutherland plays Housing and Urban Development Secretary Tom Kirkman, who is hidden away during the State of the Union. He was thrust into the United States presidency when the Capitol building is bombed during the address, killing the president and everyone in it.

"I filed the bill on designated survivor because the constitution's provision is lacking," Lacson told reporters on Thursday.

The Philippine constitution provides a succession of power in the event the sitting president dies, is removed, resigns, or is incapacitated while in office. But there is no provision if all successors die or become permanently disabled.

Lacson is proposing that the most senior member of the upper chamber, lower chamber or a designated cabinet member be appointed as the acting president.

The author of the bill in the lower house wants to copy the United States' practice dating back to the Cold War era of keeping a designated successor in a secret location away from high-level gatherings to ensure succession.

"The absence of a leader can lead to lawlessness and disorder, and worst, to anarchy," Congresswoman Precious Hipolito Castelo said in her bill. 

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