Sen. Santiago wants Cha-cha to change qualifications of candidates for public office

By , on March 26, 2015

Veteran Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (Facebook photo)
Veteran Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (Facebook photo)

MANILA – With just over a year left before the 2016 national and local elections, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has pushed for Charter change to amend the qualifications of individuals running for public office, particularly for president.

Santiago, a law expert who ran but lost in the presidential race in 1992, said the requirements for seeking public office through the elections should include at least a college degree.

”Because right now, a person can run for president without graduating even from high school, but you cannot be a policeman unless you have a college degree. So, we have to reconcile these contrariety in our society,” Santiago said in her speech at the Maynilad Leadership Talk at GT-Toyota Center, University of the Philippines – Diliman, Quezon City.

In her speech, Santiago told the audience to think about businessman Manny Pangilinan for president of the Republic of the Philippines. Pangilinan is the chairman of the board of the Maynilad Water Services Inc. (Maynilad).

In the press conference, Santiago asked if it would mean endorsing Pangilinan for president.

”Yes, it is,” she answered.

”People who are like him should be in the position of leadership. It should not be people from highly publicized careers, because the careers where they are, the leading celebrities, might blind them to think that their qualifications are inspirations for the job. I’m particularly talking about people from mass media, films, and television,” Santiago said.

”My qualifications are, number one, the person should be honest, but that is the most difficult qualification to determine, because there is no guaranteed test for honesty in public service. The second is professional excellence, and the third is academic excellence,” she added.

When asked if she is going to pursue her own plan to run for president in 2016, Santiago said: “Well, just because it’s an option for me, doesn’t mean I have to close all options.”

”I’m just saying, thinking aloud, to the young people what type of candidate I have in mind. Maybe we can run a survey on the Internet and find out what the educated young think about all this circus in politics,” she added.

Santiago said amending the 1987 Constitution is necessary if the government wanted to push for the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

”As I’ve said, before the 2016 elections, my hope is that we can amend the Constitution, among other things, because we might need to amend it anyway for the BBL law,” Santiago said.

The lady senator, however, opposed the idea of changing the government from presidential to federal form of government.

”No, it will create more problems. Number one, the Filipino people will have to realize that they will lose the right by their own single vote to choose the president of the Philippines or whoever will be called the head of state, maybe prime minister or premier,” she explained.

Santiago’s Senate committee on constitutional amendments and revisions of codes recently conducted public hearings on the constitutionality of the BBL.

Santiago said she has to wait first for other committees – local governments and peace and unification to finish all the public hearings on the BBL before releasing her own report.

”My own report is finished, but I understand that the committee on local government headed by Sen. (Ferdinand) Marcos is not finished. Instead, it is in the middle of its proceedings. We all have to wait for all three committees so that we can produce a coordinated report, or we can at least produce three reports. So I don’t expect a report by those three committees any time soon. Don’t hold your breath,” Santiago said.

Marcos has already set the resumption of the public hearings on the BBL on April 13 after the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) submitted its own report on the Mamasapano incident to the Senate.