Spend as much time in picking your VP too — Sen. Pimentel

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All six contenders for the vice presidency are sitting lawmakers.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said Friday (February 26) that voters should spend as much time in choosing their vice president as they do with the president.

The position has been regarded as a spare tire, but Pimentel noted its importance.

“The vice president is very important because the qualification for vice president is the same as qualification for president… You should be ready to be president at any given time should something happen to the president,” he said this during CNN Philippines’ roundtable discussion on the vice presidential race.

The senator also pointed out that a vice president is allowed a cabinet position.

“The Vice President will be part of the administration, so he can contribute his knowledge, his opinions, his insights to the administration if the president should welcome his participation,” he added.

Pimentel, who was representing Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, was joined in the roundtable discussion by Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz representing Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Magdalo party-list Rep. Francisco Ashley Acedillo representing Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Dela Cruz and Acedillo also agreed with Pimentel. Acedillo described the position as a “heartbeat away from the presidency.”

Meanwhile, Dela Cruz said that the position might be a spare tire, but it’s “a spare tire that needs to be properly set up because otherwise the country can become paralyzed if something happens to the president.”

Toughest contender

All six contenders for the vice presidency are sitting lawmakers. Cayetano, Marcos, Trillanes, Francis Escudero, and Gregorio Honasan II are in the Senate, while administration bet Leni Robredo is the Camarines Sur representative.

When asked who among the vice presidential hopefuls is the toughest contender for their respective candidates, a common name mentioned by the three was Escudero.

Escudero has been leading in the polls. Marcos, however, climbed up and shared the top spot with Escudero in the latest Social Weather Stations survey.

Marcos’ camp, however, said they are expecting this.

“He was not exactly there at some point in time but we were thinking that as we go along we will be able to provide the necessary initiative for our voters to recognize that he’s his own man, he has a message,” Dela Cruz said.

He added that Robredo is also considered a strong contender by the Marcos camp even though the former trails behind the latter in polls.

“We’re looking at Congresswoman Leni as a very strong contender because she’s being supported, of course, by the administration. They have all the machinery and the resources that goes with it," he said.

He added that Cayetano’s compelling stance against criminality, drugs, and corruption makes him a tough contender as well.