MANILA - It will be "undemocratic" to ask elective public officials for qualifications higher than being able to read and write, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution said Monday.
There have been proposals to include educational qualifications in both the 1971 and 1987 charters, but they were turned down because "public service must be open to all," said former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.
"Illiteracy is not really the fault of the one who’s illiterate. It could even be the fault of the government by not providing enough educational facilities," he said.
Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., now a member of the consultative committee on charter change, on Saturday said qualifications should be raised for those seeking public office.
Candidates seeking the position of barangay official, district representative, senator, or even the president are only required to be able to read and write as prescribed by the Constitution.
Davide said he would prefer an illiterate who is "patriotic."
"Look at the people we have elected: they are not illiterates, they’re even college graduates, but what are many of them doing in Congress?" he said.
"I would prefer an illiterate to be there, who would really be patriotic and heroic in all his deeds," he said.
The House of Representatives and the Senate separately began discussing proposals to amend the 1987 Constitution to give way to the shift to federalism, one of President Rodrigo Duterte's key campaign promises.
Leaders of both chambers, which were in a deadlock over the mode of voting, met last week and agreed to focus on the "substance" of charter amendments.