Gomez insists con-con delegates must be college grads; Brosas questions move
MANILA, Philippines — Leyte 4th District Rep. Richard Gomez has insisted that college degrees should be required for all delegates elected or appointed to the proposed constitutional convention (Con-con) to ensure that the new Constitution would be crafted competently.
Gomez said this during the hearing of the House Committee on constitutional amendments on Monday in response to Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas’ concerns about placing the same standards on delegates who would come from the marginalized sector — considering that most farmers or other urban poor representatives do not have the privilege of pursuing college studies.
The committee was tackling the still unnumbered bill that is slated to be the enabling law in implementing “Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 6,” which seeks the creation of a constitutional convention to amend the 1987 Constitution.
“Now Mr. Chair on Section 3, now that you’ve moved na isama ‘yong appointed sa elected and appointed, Mr. Chair my question is kasi yung mga magsasaka hindi naman sila nakakatapos. Sorry ha, ganito talaga yung sitwasyon natin dito sa Pilipinas eh,” Brosas said.
(Now that you’ve moved to include the elected and appointed delegates, Mr. Chair, my question is, how about farmers who did not finish their studies? Sorry, but this is the reality of the situation in the Philippines.)
“‘Yong mga indigenous people kailangan mo bigyan ng College degree dito Mr. Chair, so ‘yong qualifications dito babagsak na sila dito pa lang. Mr. Chair now sinabi natin we would want na inclusive sila ‘di ba? So, kung ganun ‘yong mangyayari and ia-appoint sila particularly yung mga tatamaan yung peasant, indigenous people ‘di ba,” Brosas added.
(If you request college degrees from indigenous people Mr. Chair, they would immediately fail the qualifications. Mr. Chair, we are looking for inclusivity, right? But if this happens, and the marginalized sector is appointed as delegates, the peasant and indigenous people would be affected, right?)
Gomez, however, said that it is essential that college graduates be in charge of amending or changing critical components of the constitution, adding that the mere standard of being “able to read and write” is very broad.
“It is a very critical provision that will determine the composition and membership of our proposed constitutional convention,” Gomez said, referring to qualifications under Section 3.
“The ability to read and write is, I think, a very broad qualification, and it does not assure that the delegate possesses that ability to comprehend the issues and factors that have long-term implications on our entire community (and) analyze and come up with effective solutions driven provisions given the complex factors to be considered,” he added.
Committee chair and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez meanwhile asked Gomez if he would be amenable to placing exceptions for the sectoral delegates from the marginalized sector.
In reply, Gomez stood firm on his beliefs that college graduates must be tapped to make amendments or craft the new constitution, noting that there are members of marginalized sectors who are college graduates.
“Thank you, Cong. Richard. Will you be agreeable that the exception is only from the sectoral delegates from the marginalized sector?” Rodriguez asked.
“Even those on the marginalized sector Mr. Chair, maraming mga mahihirap ang naka-graduate, nakapagtapos ng pag-aaral. Hindi naman lahat ng marginalized ‘di nakapagtapos eh. ‘Yon yung lumalabas sa discussion ngayong umaga,” Gomez answered.
(Even those in the marginalized sector, Mr. Chair, a lot of poor people have finished their studies and have graduated from college. Not all members of the marginalized sector failed to get a college degree.)
Eventually, the panel approved a provision stating that only the elected delegates of the proposed constitutional convention should be college graduates, which means that this rule would not cover members appointed by the Senate President and the House Speaker.
The proposed constitutional convention of lawmakers from the 19th Congress followed the proposal of former chief justice Reynato Puno, as the body would be a hybrid system having both elected and appointed delegates.
Puno suggested during a previous hearing of the committee.
Earlier, the panel also approved a committee report containing the substitute bill that calls for a Con-con.
Seventeen lawmakers voted in favor of the committee report, two registered negative votes, and none abstained.