Raising the bar


SHOULD we raise the qualifications for public office, including the presidency, the highest elective post?

Former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., a member of the consultative committee on charter change, thinks so, and he is not the first one to make that suggestion.

The late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, we recall, said the same thing many years ago, obviously out of dismay over the mediocre performance of not a few public officials whose only qualifications are that they are able to read and write, are of voting age, and are residents of the areas where they are running for public office.

We agree that the literacy requirement be upgraded from simply being able to read and write to completion of high school, at the very least, for those running at the local level. For national positions, including the presidency, we could even raise the bar even higher, that they should be college graduates. The premise is that those seeking public office should be sufficiently equipped with the knowledge and skills they can use to solve problems and set directions for their constituents and the nation.

We understand that the current Constitution sets only the barest minimum qualifications for public office. Thus, anyone, even card-carrying crackpots, can file certificates of candidacy for president. While we cannot guarantee that college graduates and even PhD holders can keep their noses clean and not steal from the public coffers, at least we know that our public officials can think beyond ABC and 1-2-3.