In one freewheeling interview given by former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile recently, he proposed that the number of Senators be increased to 48.
He also made other proposals like loosening the requirements for the declaration of martial law and amending the current Constitution to follow the 1935 Charter.
He said that a Constitution should be short, concise, and simple. I fully agree.
But I am not entirely sold to the two other suggestions. I do not believe that the public is that enthusiastic to see an increase in the number of Senators or the loosening of the requirements for the declaration of martial law.
But we cannot simply ignore his observations and recommendations.
After all, he is one person who can truly claim that he has been there and done that.
There are not too many people around for example who had witnessed the birth of our Constitutional democracy.
He was old enough to witness the ratification of the 1935 Constitution and was a principal participant in historic events that unfolded in this country since the 1960s which include the martial law years and its aftermath.
It does not, of course, mean that what he says should be taken as ex-cathedra. We simply have to look at it for its possible value.
With regard to increasing the number of senators, I would think that the public would rather have less of these people in Congress than more.
For one, not one current Senator came out to indorse the idea.
The principal reason of the good ex-senator for wanting to increase the number of senators is the growth in our population. As we know, the number of our Representatives in Congress have been growing because of population increase.
Whether this has been good to the country as a whole has yet to be studied and researched on to prove that it has positive effects for the country.
We seem to have taken for granted that as population increases, so should our representatives in Congress.
We now have 319 members which in a few years will keep on increasing.
It is no secret that it is expensive for the tax payers just to maintain one legislature.
It is not only the funds that support the salaries of the Representatives and their respective staffs that is costly but also the huge amount of pork barrel funds that go to the representatives and senators.
One argument that we often hear is that the public must be represented in Congress to protect their interest.
But there are also a lot of people who would argue that it is not really the interest of the public that is being protected but the interest of the individual lawmakers.
Another good argument that could be made is that it might be better to have representatives based on geography rather than population. That way, we will have less rather than more.
What the public is perhaps clamoring is better quality of legislatures and an end to political dynasties.
If we look at the current composition of the 24 senators, we have a mother and son and two pairs of siblings.
Because of the fascination of the voting public of entertainment personalities, we currently have six coming from that sector in the Senate which is 25 per cent of the body.
There is really nothing intrinsically wrong with that but it is a phenomenon that has been taken to the extreme in this country.
From what I understand, each representative is supposed to be allocated P70M in pork barrel funds per year.
Each senator on the other hand gets about P200M. In practice, however, both actually get a lot more. Without even going to specific numbers, it does cost a lot to have a huge legislative bureaucracy.
Amending the Constitution is something that has been suggested by many for some time.
The only reason why it has not happened is because of disagreements on what avenue to take.
Should Congress constitute itself as a Constitutional Assembly to amend the constitution or should it be by Constitutional Convention?
Even on the issue of Constitutional Assembly, both chambers could not agree whether the vote should be separate or joint.
There are simply too many personal interests at stake that it is hard to see our politicians giving away what is good for them.
There are many good reasons to amend the Constitution and a Constitutional convention is the best way to do it.
But there are roadblocks.
As to its being short, concise, and simple, let us hope that those who will eventually draft or amend the Constitution will have the wisdom to do just that.
Simplifying the process of declaring martial law as suggested will not reach first base.
This martial law business has cost the country a lot of pain and heartaches and there is no popular support or appetite to do it.
In the meantime, the government should just concentrate on dealing with the many problems confronting the country.