Sotto opposes limiting top elective posts to college graduates

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — Senate President Tito Sotto rejects the proposed constitutional change that seeks to allow only college graduates to run for top elective posts, including the presidency.

Sotto on Thursday said this is among the "many debatable issues" in the new constitution proposed by the Consultative Committee (ConCom) created by President Rodrigo Duterte to review the present charter.

Under the proposed constitution, the president, vice president and lawmakers should all be college degree holders.

"Baka sabihin nung iba na mga kababayan natin anti-poor dahil hindi lahat kayang makagraduate ng college," Sotto said in a media briefing. "Kawawa naman yung mahihirap nating kababayan."

[Translation: "Others may think this is anti-poor because not everyone can afford to have a college degree. I feel sorry for our fellow Filipinos."]

READ: ConCom's final draft Federal Constitution

He explained that although the free tuition law waives school fees in state and local universities and colleges, some still cannot afford to pay for miscellaneous costs such as travel expenses.

Sotto mentioned other contentious issues in the ConCom's proposed constitution, including provisions on the political party system, democracy fund, and ban on political dynasties.

He did not disclose his reservations on the first two issues, but said the anti-political dynasty section still does not cover mistresses and extramarital partners.

Section 8 of the proposed charter prohibits political dynasties, or "when a family whose members are related up to the second degree of consanguinity or affinity, whether such relations are legitimate, illegitimate, half, or full blood, maintains or is capable of maintaining political control by succession or by simultaneously running for or holding elective positions."

Sotto also said that the Senate is not in a rush for charter change, as they sense the public is not yet aware of its implications.

The ConCom's version will allow for a shift to a federal form of government. This is among Duterte's campaign promises, aimed at providing more autonomy and faster development in the regions.