Don’t let idiots run for president – Miriam

Ayee Macaraig

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Santiago wants to change the Constitution to require national elective officials to at least be college graduates

'BAN IDIOTS.' Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago says the Constitution should be amended to require candidates for national positions to be college graduates to stop "idiots" from running.

MANILA, Philippines – “Any idiot can run for president and possibly poll a certain number of votes among his fellow idiots.”

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said she opposes moves to change the Constitution but if lawmakers will insist on the move, she will push to amend the requirements for running for higher office to stop “idiots” from getting elected. 

The chairperson of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments said candidates for president, vice president, senator and representative should be at least college graduates. Santiago wants to change the constitutional provision that only includes a citizenship, age, literacy and residency requirement.

In a speech before the International Youth Leadership Conference in SM Aura in Taguig, Santiago lamented the quality of the country’s leaders.

“’Yun ang tinatanong ng publiko: Sino ang dapat ihalalal sa 2016? No correct answer. We should have a president who can turn out to be the best president if he knows how to adjust ourselves. Nakita natin lahat ng senador at congressman puro gago tapos ‘pag sinumbong sila, galit sila. Situational leadership, dapat ang presidente puntahan sila isa-isa at hamunin ng suntukan. ‘Di makuha sa pakiusap e,” Santiago quipped on Friday, March 21.

(The question of the public is: Who should we vote for in 2016? We can see that all of the senators and congressmen are all stupid and when you tell on them, they get mad. We need situational leadership. The President should go to them and challenge them to a fistfight. You cannot negotiate with these people.)

Santiago reiterated that policemen are even required to be college graduates under statute books while public officials follow a lower standard for election.

The international law expert also talked about the Crimean crisis and touched on the history of Kosovo, which experienced ethnic cleansing in the nineties. Yet Santiago could not help but relate it to Philippine leaders.

“Ako gusto ko rin magcleansing sa Senado kung pwede lang ba dahil non-educable nga sila. Naging propesor ako sa UP but I’ve never seen such a group so resistible to education as the Philippine Senate.”

(I also want cleansing in the Senate if only it were possible because they are really non-educable. I was a professor of UP but I’ve never seen such a group so resistible to education as the Philippine Senate.)

Besides the college degree requirement, Santiago said she wanted another amendment in the Constitution.

“I’m dying to introduce an amendment so that the provision against dynasties should be self-enforcing instead of leaving it to Congress to pass a proper law. Notice they never passed a law, notwithstanding that there is a commandment in the Constitution for them to do so,” Santiago told reporters after her speech.

Santiago was referring to the constitutional provision prohibiting political dynasties, which has yet to be enforced due to the lack of an enabling law. The senator filed an anti-political dynasty bill.

Watch this report below.

‘Chacha can’t be limited to one topic’

Santiago, a constitutional law expert, also warned that Charter change cannot be limited to one topic like economic provisions, as lawmakers in the House of Representatives are pushing for. She hinted that moves to change the Constitution will open it up to other types of amendments.

“My only caveat or warning is once you decide to change the Constitution, you cannot by law limit the change or amendment of the Constitution to just one particular point. There are opinions of the Supreme Court ruling that once Congress makes the 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 to economic provisions. That will go against the ratio decidendi [rationale for the decision] of these cases decided by the SC,” she added.

Santiago also reiterated her opposition to the argument that Charter change is needed to improve economic growth, a position shared by President Benigno Aquino III. (READ: Cha-cha for economic growth? Not necessary, says Aquino)

“Other countries on the planet have achieved industrialization, the last stage of economic growth without allowing foreigners to control corporations in the country or buy land in the country. You can do this by other means. All you have to do is study the experience of successful nations. It will depend on what economic provisions are being talked about,” she said.

She said she looked at current moves to change the Charter’s economic provisions “with a very skeptical eye.”

“I am against changing economic provisions for the sake of change. We don’t need to experiment. The experiment has already been conducted. Other factors other than land ownership, corporation ownership seem to be the salient points for economic progress,” Santiago said.

‘What’s IQ of corrupt politicos?’

While her speech focused on the qualities of a world-class youth leader and the Crimea crisis, Santiago made room for her classic corruption jokes and pick-up lines.

She greeted international delegates, “Welcome to Metro Manila, the seat of government, glamor, bling and the seat of the most atrocious corruption you’ve ever seen.”

“Let me ask you: do you know what is the result of the IQ exams of corrupt politicians? Answer: negative.”

“One of these corrupt politicians went for a job interview and the recruitment manager said we’re looking for someone who is responsible. The applicant said, ‘I’m the man for the job. In my last job, when everything went wrong with the PDAF given to non-existent NGOs or the Department of Agriculture, they always said I was responsible.’”

She even talked about the release of the bar exam results.

“I heard one of the questions was: should Santa Claus be considered a criminal? Guess! The answer is yes. Santa Claus is liable for crime such as illegal surveillance, unfair labor practices, animal abuse,” she said, drawing laughter from the crowd.    

“I have a pick-up line for aspiring leaders: Can I follow you home? Because my parents always told me to follow my dreams.” –


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