The present Constitution imposes only three requirements to be elected President of the Philippines:
1. One must be 40 years of age on the day of election;
2. One must be a natural-born Filipino citizen;
3. One must be able to read and write.
I’ve put together a comparative chart of presidents elected to office, so that readers can take a look at past presidential biodatas, for the purpose of evaluating those seeking the presidency in 2010. Lists like these, however, can’t reflect the changing attitudes and preferences of voters as to what they consider essential requirements for the presidency.
For example, there are basically two eras: 1935 to 1969 (the last pre-martial law presidential election) and post-1986 to the present. In the first era, Ramon Magsaysay, the lone non-lawyer prior to 1969, would be in many ways the major exception to the expectation of a long, sustained, record of public service beginning in local, then provincial, and legislative and executive positions. But in many ways he was the harbinger of our modern, post-party machine politics, and so ties in to the post-1986 trend Marcos helped launch by means of institutionalizing mistrust of lawyer-presidents.
Of the twelve presidents elected in national elections, the following observations can be made.
Education: seven were lawyers (all of whom were top ten in the Bar exams); two had degrees in economics; two had doctorates; only one didn’t finish college.
Pre-profession: Aside from their main professions, six had other professions/occupations, including two poets.
Military: Five achieved officer rank in the military.
Judicial: none served in the judiciary.
Legislative: three served as municipal councilors; eight have served in the lower house, with four serving as committee chairmen, and two of them as Speaker of the House; eight have been senators, and three have been Senate President, and two, Senate President Pro Tempore.
Executive: One has served as mayor; five have been provincial governors (including Magsaysay’s serving as Military Governor of Zambales); nine have held presidential or executive appointments in the bureaucracy or civil service; in addition, seven have held cabinet portfolios, with two each holding the National Defense and Foreign Affairs portfolios. Six have been elected Vice-President, four have succeeded to the presidency from that position (three by virtue of the death of the president, one by authority of the Supreme Court).