By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The Consultative Commission’s (ConCom’s) draft federal constitution has raised the qualifications for an elective President, Vice President, and member of Congress to be at least a college graduate, but Senate President Vicente Sotto III said yesterday this provision may likely not be approved.
Sotto said the proposal of the ConCom to require officials of the Federal Republic to be college graduates may not sit well with lawmakers and the public.
The draft federal constitution states that “No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, holder of a college degree or its equivalent, and on the day of the election, at least 40 years of age, and domiciled in the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding such election.”
The same qualifications apply to the Vice President who shall also have the same term of office as the Chief Executive under the federal system of government.
Apart from the age and residency requirements, the ConCom also approved that members of the Senate and House of Representatives must be holders of “college degree or its equivalent.”
The same educational attainment should also apply to members of the federal Commission on Elections (Comelec), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and the Regional Assembly.
Sotto, however, said such provisions were “vague.”
“For you to be a president, a vice president, or a senator, or congressman, you must be a college graduate or its equivalent. Ano ‘yong definition ng ‘its equivalent’ hindi ba? Medyo malabo ‘yon (What is the definition of ‘its equivalent’? That was quite vague),” Sotto said in a press briefing Thursday.
The Senate chief added that the public may protest the proposal as he noted that not all individuals are able to finish college, despite the government already implementing the Free Tertiary Education Act.
“Baka sabihin ng ibang mga kababayan natin, anti-poor dahil hindi lahat hindi kayang makatapos ng college, hindi makakagraduate ng college. Sasabihin nila, ‘Libre na ang tertiary education,’ oo, pero hindi naman libre ang pamasahe saka ang baon, eh (Some of our countrymen may find this anti-poor because not all can afford to finish college. They might argue that tertiary education is free now, yes, but we should remember that transportation and daily allowance are not free),” he said.