Press Release
January 17, 2011


Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, chair of the Senate committee on constitutional amendments, revision of codes and laws, said that hearings on proposals for constitutional revision will begin in the middle of February next month.

"It is the prerogative of Congress to initiate charter change hearings. It might not be a priority for the executive branch, but it will be among the priorities of the legislative branch," said Santiago, a recognized constitutional law expert and professor.

Santiago said that she was encouraged to revisit proposals for charter change, after President Aquino announced that he will not seek a second term, and that charter change is not one of his priorities.

"That was a very becoming presidential statement. It immediately clears the air of any political agendas which could pollute the charter change initiative," the senator said.

Santiago said that she expects the delegates to a constitutional convention to be elected together with other public officials in the 2013 elections, and that the public will be able to vote on a plebiscite during the 2016 elections, which should be the start of the transitory period for the new Constitution.

"These constitutional exercises cost a lot of money, so it is better to make them coincide with national elections," she said.

Santiago made the announcement during a well-applauded speech (enclosed) on antiterrorism and community policing, at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, marking the founding anniversary of the PNP Intelligence Group, on 17 January 2011.

The senator said it is not necessary for her to file a resolution, because as committee chair, she is authorized by the Senate rules of procedure to hold, committee hearings on any national policy on her own initiative.

"My attention was piqued not only by the recent speech of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, but also by a provision of the PNP law," Santiago said.

She pointed out that while the PNP law requires a college degree for a policeman, the Constitution does not impose any academic requirement, except literacy, on any candidate for president or senator.

"It is incongruous for the Constitution to allow just any person to run for national office, while a mere law requires a college degree from a policeman. In fact, chiefs of police are required to have a law degree or a master's degree.

This is an absurd situation," she said.

Santiago, a UP law honor graduate with a US law doctorate, said that the better alternative is for the Constitution to require any candidate for any public office to take an IQ test.

"First, we must weed out the idiots. Then, we should weed out those who do not even have a college degree. The world has changed, and leaders are required to possess analytical and critical faculties," she said.

Santiago talked to the PNP media after her speech, and proceeded to attend her first Senate session, after a sick leave of some six months.

The senator told media her endocrinologist has approved her return to work, provided she does not overwork in the first few months.

"I was a kept woman for six months. I rather liked it," Santiago joked, after telling the media that a low thyroid hormone level sapped her energy, and afflicted her with chronic fatigue and dizziness.

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