MANILA - A party-list lawmaker on Friday criticized the proposal of the charter change consultative panel requiring senatorial bets to have a college degree or its equivalent under the proposed federal system.
Anakpawis party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao called such a proposal "politically ill-advised" and "anti-democratic," arguing that it would hinder the poor from running for public office.
"The suggestion is a property qualification for running for elective posts. It will disenfranchise the poor from even aspiring to become candidates, from having a chance to run in any election and for any government post," he said.
"One's educational background should not be a hindrance for people to run for government posts," Casilao added.
Voting 13-5, the charter change panel had earlier agreed that candidates for senator under the proposed federal system would need at least a college degree or its equivalent.
Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, who chairs the committee, had noted that only 10 percent of Filipinos aged 5 or older finish college, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The proposal, however, can also cover other candidates depending on the outcome of subsequent discussions.
Senatorial candidates at present are required only to be at least 35 years old, able to read and write, a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and a resident of the country for at least 2 years before the elections.
Casilao urged the charter change panel not to push through with such a requirement under the federal system.
"We urge the Con-Com not to close the door to ordinary, poor and property-challenged Filipinos who want to serve the country in their capacity," he said.
"The proposal of the Con-Com is manifestly anti-democratic. Clearly, it violates the basic rights of every Filipino who aspires to serve the people," Casilao added.
The charter change panel is a recommendatory body.