Con-com panel wants to require college degree for Senate, House elective posts
The Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution (Con-com) is keen on requiring members of Congress to have a college degree under the draft federal Constitution.
The Con-com’s subcommitee on structure on federal government voted on Monday to include the provision requiring members of the Senate and House of Representatives to be college degree holders or its equivalent.
Former Chief Justice and Con-com chairman Reynato Puno said on Tuesday that the subcommittee decided to include the provision to “improve the quality of laws” from Congress.
“There were lots of discussions on the issue of imposing this educational qualification. On one hand, there is school of thought that somehow that this is anti-democratic somehow on the ground that you’re limiting the right of some Filipinos those without college degree to run for office,” Puno said in a press briefing.
“On the other hand there is that school of thought that you need this qualification in order to improve the quality of laws that will come from Congress. And ultimately, the second school of thought worked,” he added.
Puno, however, clarified that given the very few people in the current composition of the Senate and the House are college undergraduates, the committee’s recommendation was just an “affirmation” of the people’s vote.
“But we did also consider that right now, if you look at the members of the House and the Senate, you will find out that there are very few who lack the college degree so in effect the committee recommendation is just an affirmation of the vote of the people in the past,” he explained.
The Con-com en banc will vote on the measure once it commences after the Lenten break.
This was not the first time such proposal was floated. In 2013, the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago proposed that the requirement of a college degree for government officials should be enshrined in the Constitution.
The 1987 Constitution’s requirements for a person to be elected senator is that “he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least thirty-five years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.”
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