Saturday, March 22, 2014

Miriam: Cha-cha OK if it disqualifies 'idiots' from presidential race


MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago remains skeptical over moves to change the Constitution, but she will consider it if the amendments will dwell on preventing "idiots" from running for high posts in the government.

"...I want to go on to the qualifications for persons who are running for President of the Philippines," she said.

Santiago noted that at present there are no educational qualifications for those running for president.

Santiago saw a disparity that a person with no educational attainment can run for president when people who apply to become policemen must be at least college graduates.

"There is no such provision for a presidential candidate so any idiot can run for president and possible poll a certain number of votes among his fellow idiots...," she said.

Santiago pushed for revisions on the educational attainments of candidates who want to run the country.   " we should make it of record that the Constitution should require the the candidate for national office – president, vice president or senator – to be at least a college graduate and maybe even, include representatives," she explained.

As chairperson of the Senate committee on the Constitutional amendments, she understands that there is a very strong movement in the House of Representatives to change the Charter.
"My only caveat is, that once you decide to change the Constitution, you cannot by law, limit the change or amendment of the Constitution to just for a particular point," she said.

Santiago cited the opinions of the Supreme Court ruling that once Congress has made a decision to open the Charter to change, it cannot limit what a constitutional convention or constituent assembly can do.

"You cannot say just limit it economic provisions. That will go against the ratio of the cases decided by the Supreme Court. So if that’s going to happen, I generally do not want the Constitution to be amended so soon," she said.

While she is not keen on amending the Constitution, Santiago said she is "dying to introduce an amendment" on prohibiting political dynasties and qualifications of the president, vice president and lawmakers.

"For example, the prohibition vs dynasties should be self-enforcing instead of leaving it to Congress to pass the proper law. Notice that they have nowhere passed a law. There is a commandment in the Constitution for them to do so," she added.

Sought for her opinion on proposals to loosen up foreign investments in the country, Santiago noted that other countries have achieved industrialization, the last stage of economic growth, without allowing foreigners to control corporations in the country or to buy land in that country.

"You can do this by other means. All you have to do is study the experience of other nations. So it will depend on what economic provisions are being talked about," Santiago said.

She added that she is against changing the economic provisions for the sake of change.

"We don't need to experiment," the senator said, adding that an experiment has already been conducted.

Santiago believes that other factors, other than land ownership, and corporation ownership seem to be the salient points for economic progress.

"So if that is the attitude that we should change the economic provisions of the Constitution, so that we can attract more foreign investment, I will look at that with a very skeptical eye," Santiago added.

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