Senators should be a degree holder, not just high school graduates – Miriam

SENATOR Miriam Defensor-Santiago on Friday enumerated some of her insights on how we can truly respond better to the challenges of a globalized community, one of which is by imposing an academic requirements to members of local and national bureaucracies such as the Senate.

“For your information, there are members of the Senate who do not even finished high school. Halimbawa kung pumasok ka bilang pulis, dapat may bachelor’s degree ka. Pero, kung kailangan kang maging senador, hindi na ito kailangan,” she said in a school forum in the university belt.

“Kaya ganyan maraming polluted noise emanated from the Senate because there is no education requirement,” Santiago added apparently referring to Senator Lito Lapid, who did not finished his secondary school, but elected twice because of his popularity as former actor.

Santiago said that the country should professionalize important local and national offices by imposing academic qualification which can be put into the proposed changes in the 1987 Constitution.

“If we require members of local and national bureaucracies to be degree holders, there is no reason why we should not do the same for mayors, governors, congress people, senators, and presidents.  If we want global competitiveness, we should require our leaders to be, at the very least, formally educated,” she explained.

“This is because education is a powerful constraint against narrow parochialism and a gateway to ideas that can change communities.  The best place to impose this requirement is in the Constitution,” the lady senator added.

Shorten the Constitution

Santiago also said that we should shorten the Constitution because that is both noisy and verbose and it is full of too many grand statements that are the trademarks of political speeches.

She added that the Constitution must have a working mechanism for initiative and referendum. “This is a very important mechanism because initiative and referendum are constitutional processes that allow the people to continually update the constitution and force the hand of the legislature.”

Regionalizing Senate, party-list

Santiago also proposed the possibility of regionalizing both the Senate and the party-list system in order to respond to the problem of underrepresentation of certain regions of the country in the legislature.

“This might even undermine the power of nationally-popular public figures with little qualifications for important public offices to get elected.  Regionalizing the party list might also encourage local political organizations to bring their agenda before a national forum,” she said.

Also, among her proposal in changing the Constitution are:

1.      We should limit the corrupting power of pork barrel in the Constitution.
2.      We should think of the possibility of removing from the President the power to appoint members of the judiciary.
3.      And lastly, we should find a balance between the nationalist provisions of our Constitution and the demands of a global economy.

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