RAUL L. LAMBINO and ERICO B.G.R. No. 174153
AUMENTADO, TOGETHER WITH
- versus -
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,
ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS, INC.,
x ------------------------------------------------------ x
ONEVOICE INC., CHRISTIAN S.
MONSOD, RENE B. AZURIN,
MANUEL L. QUEZON III, BENJAMIN
T. TOLOSA, JR., SUSAN V. OPLE, and
CARLOS P. MEDINA, JR.,
ATTY. PETE QUIRINO QUADRA,
BAYAN represented by its Chairperson
Dr. Carolina Pagaduan-Araullo, BAYAN MUNA
represented by its Chairperson Dr. Reynaldo
Lesaca, KILUSANG MAYO UNO represented
by its Secretary General Joel Maglunsod, HEAD
represented by its Secretary General Dr. Gene
Alzona Nisperos, ECUMENICAL BISHOPS
FORUM represented by Fr. Dionito Cabillas,
MIGRANTE represented by its Chairperson
Concepcion Bragas-Regalado, GABRIELA
represented by its Secretary General
Emerenciana de Jesus, GABRIELA WOMENS
PARTY represented by Sec. Gen. Cristina Palabay,
ANAKBAYAN represented by Chairperson
Eleanor de Guzman, LEAGUE OF FILIPINO
STUDENTS represented by Chair Vencer
Businessmen, DR. DARBY SANTIAGO
of the Solidarity ofHealth Against Charter
Change,DR. REGINALD PAMUGASof
Health Actionfor Human Rights,
LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES,
MARIO JOYO AGUJA,and ANA THERESA
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO,
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
TRADE UNION CONGRESS OF THE
LUWALHATI RICASA ANTONINO,
F. ESTRELLA, TOMAS C. TOLEDO,
MARIANO M. TAJON, FROILAN M.
BACUNGAN, JOAQUIN T. VENUS, JR.,
FORTUNATO P. AGUAS,and AMADO
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
RONALD L. ADAMAT, ROLANDO
MANUEL RIVERA,and RUELO BAYA,
x -------------------------------------------------------- x
PHILIPPINE TRANSPORT AND GENERAL
WORKERS ORGANIZATION (PTGWO)
and MR. VICTORINO F. BALAIS,
x -------------------------------------------------------- x
SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented
by its President, MANUEL VILLAR, JR.,
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
SULONG BAYAN MOVEMENT
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
JOSE ANSELMO I.
BOCAR, MA. TANYA KARINA A. LAT,
ANTONIO L. SALVADOR,and
x -------------------------------------------------------- x
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE
SENATE MINORITY LEADER AQUILINO cralaw
Q. PIMENTEL, JR.and SENATORS
SERGIO R. OSMEŇA III, JAMBY
MADRIGAL, JINGGOY ESTRADA,
ALFREDO S. LIM and
JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA and
PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO,
MAR-LEN ABIGAIL BINAY,G.R. No. 174299
SOFRONIO UNTALAN, JR., and
RENE A.V. SAGUISAG,Present:
- versus -PUNO,
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,
represented by Chairman BENJAMIN cralawCARPIO,
S. ABALOS, SR.,and Commissioners AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
RESURRECCION Z. BORRA,CORONA,cralaw
FLORENTINO A.TUASON,cralawJR.,CARPIO MORALES,cralaw
ROMEO A. BRAWNER, CALLEJO, SR.,cralaw
RENE V. SARMIENTO,AZCUNA,
NICODEMO T. FERRER, and TINGA,
John Doe and Peter Doe,CHICO-NAZARIO,cralaw
Respondents.cralawGARCIA,andVELASCO, JR., JJ.
October 25, 2006
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
D E C I S I O N
cralawThese are consolidated petitions on the
The Lambino Group alleged that their petition had the support of 6,327,952 individuals constituting at least twelve per centum (12%) of all registered voters, with each legislative district represented by at least three per centum (3%) of its registered voters.The Lambino Group also claimed that COMELEC election registrars had verified the signatures of the 6.3 million individuals.
The Lambino Groups initiative petition changes the 1987 Constitution by modifying Sections 1-7 of Article VI (Legislative Department) and Sections 1-4 of Article VII (Executive Department) and by adding Article XVIII entitled 'Transitory Provisions. These proposed changes will shift the present Bicameral-Presidential system to a Unicameral-Parliamentary form of government.The Lambino Group prayed that after due publication of their petition, the COMELEC should submit the following proposition in a plebiscite for the voters' ratification:
DO YOU APPROVE THE AMENDMENT OF ARTICLES VI AND VII OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, CHANGING THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT FROM THE PRESENT BICAMERAL-PRESIDENTIAL TO A UNICAMERAL-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM, AND PROVIDING ARTICLE XVIII AS TRANSITORY PROVISIONS FOR THE ORDERLY SHIFT FROM ONE SYSTEM TO THE OTHER?
The Ruling of the COMELEC
cralawIn G.R. No. 174153, the
Lambino Group prays for the issuance of the writs of certiorari and mandamus to set aside
the COMELEC Resolution of 31 August 2006 and to compel the COMELEC to
give due course to their initiative petition. The Lambino Group contends that the
COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in denying due course to their
cralawIn G.R. No. 174299, petitioners (Binay
Group') pray that the Court require respondent COMELEC Commissioners
to show cause why theyshould not be cited in contempt
for the COMELEC's verification of signatures and forentertaining
the Lambino Group's petition despite the permanent injunction in
cralawIn his Comment to the Lambino
Group's petition, the Solicitor General joined causes with the
petitioners, urging the Court to grant the petition despite the
Various groups and individuals sought intervention,filing
pleadings supporting or opposing the Lambino Groups
petition. The supporting intervenors
uniformly hold the view that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in
cralawThe Court heard the parties and intervenors
in oral arguments on
cralawThe petitions raise the following issues:
1. Whether the Lambino Groups initiative petition complies with Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution on amendments to the Constitution through a people's initiative;
Whether this Court should revisit its
3. Whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in denying due course to the Lambino Group's petition.
The Ruling of the Court
There is no merit to the petition.
The Lambino Group miserably failed to
comply with the basic requirements of the Constitution for conducting a
people's initiative.Thus, there is even
no need to revisit
1. The Initiative Petition Does Not Comply with Section 2, Article XVII ofthe Constitution on Direct Proposal by the People
Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution is the governing constitutional provision that allows a people's initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution.This section states:
Sec. 2.Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
cralawThe deliberations of the Constitutional Commission vividly explain the meaning of an amendment 'directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition, thus:
MR. RODRIGO:cralawLet us look at the mechanics. Let us say some voters want to propose a constitutional amendment. Is the draft of the proposed constitutional amendment ready to be shown to the people when they are asked to sign?
MR. SUAREZ:cralawThat can be reasonably assumed, Madam President.
MR. RODRIGO:cralawWhat does the sponsor mean? The draft is ready and shown to them before they sign. Now, who prepares the draft?
MR. SUAREZ:cralawThe people themselves, Madam President.
MR. RODRIGO:cralawNo, because before they sign there is already a draft shown to them and they are asked whether or not they want to propose this constitutional amendment.
MR. SUAREZ:cralawAs it is envisioned, any Filipino can prepare that proposal and pass it around for signature.(Emphasis supplied)
Clearly, the framers of the Constitution intended that the 'draft of the proposed constitutional amendment should be 'ready and shown to the people 'before they sign such proposal.The framers plainly stated that 'before they sign there is already a draft shown to them.The framers also 'envisioned that the people should sign on the proposal itself because the proponents must 'prepare that proposal and pass it around for signature.
The essence of amendments 'directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition is that the entire proposal on its face is a petition by the people.This means two essential elements must be present. First, the people must author and thus sign the entire proposal.No agent or representative can sign on their behalf.Second, as an initiative upon a petition, the proposal must be embodied in a petition.
These essential elements are present only if the full text of the proposed amendments is first shown to the people who express their assent by signing such complete proposal in a petition.Thus, an amendment is 'directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition only if the people sign on a petition that contains the full text of the proposed amendments.
The full text of the proposed amendments may be either written on the face of the petition, or attached to it.If so attached, the petition must state the fact of such attachment.This is an assurance that every one of the several millions of signatories to the petition had seen the full text of the proposed amendments before signing.Otherwise, it is physically impossible, given the time constraint, to prove that every one of the millions of signatories had seen the full text of the proposed amendments before signing.
framers of the Constitution directly borrowed
the concept of people's initiative from the
The rationale for this requirement
has been repeatedly explained in several decisions of various courts.Thus, in Capezzuto v.
State Ballot Commission, the Supreme Court of
[A] signature requirement would be meaningless if the person supplying the signature has not first seen what it is that he or she is signing. Further, and more importantly, loose interpretation of the subscription requirement can pose a significant potential for fraud. A person permitted to describe orally the contents of an initiative petition to a potential signer, without the signer having actually examined the petition, could easily mislead the signer by, for example, omitting, downplaying, or even flatly misrepresenting, portions of the petition that might not be to the signer's liking. This danger seems particularly acute when, in this case, the person giving the description is the drafter of the petition, who obviously has a vested interest in seeing that it gets the requisite signatures to qualify for the ballot.(Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)
in Kerr v.
of Appeals of
The purposes of 'full text provisions that apply to amendments by initiative commonly are described in similar terms. x x x (The purpose of the fulltext requirement is to provide sufficient information so that registered voters can intelligently evaluate whether to sign the initiativepetition.'); x x x (publication of full text of amended constitutional provision required because it is 'essential for the elector to have x x x the section which is proposed to be added to or subtracted from. If he is to vote intelligently, he must have this knowledge. Otherwise in many instances he would be required to vote in the dark.') (Emphasis supplied)
Moreover, 'an initiative signer must be informed at the time of signing of the nature and effect of that which is proposed and failure to do so is 'deceptive and misleading which renders the initiative void.
Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution does not expressly state that the petition must set forth the full text of the proposed amendments.However, the deliberations of the framers of our Constitution clearly show that the framers intended to adopt the relevant American jurisprudence on people's initiative.In particular, the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission explicitly reveal that the framers intended that the people must first see the full text of the proposed amendments before they sign, and that the people must sign on a petition containing such full text.Indeed, Section 5(b) of Republic Act No. 6735, the Initiative and Referendum Act that the Lambino Group invokes as valid, requires that the people must sign the 'petition x x x as signatories.
The proponents of the initiative secure the signatures from the people. The proponents secure the signatures in their private capacity and not as public officials.The proponents are not disinterested parties who can impartially explain the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed amendments to the people.The proponents present favorably their proposal to the people and do not present the arguments against their proposal.The proponents, or their supporters, often pay those who gather the signatures.
Thus, there is no presumption that the proponents observed the constitutional requirements in gathering the signatures.The proponents bear the burden of proving that they complied with the constitutional requirements in gathering the signatures - that the petition contained, or incorporated by attachment, the full text of the proposed amendments.
The Lambino Group did not attach to
their present petition with this Court a copy of the paper that the people
signed as their initiative petition. The Lambino Group submitted to this Court
a copy of a signature sheet
after the oral arguments of
The signature sheet attached to Atty. Quadra's opposition and the signature sheet attached to the Lambino Group's Memorandum are the same.We reproduce below the signature sheet in full:
PROPOSITION:DO YOU APPROVE OF THE AMENDMENT OF ARTICLES VI AND VII OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, CHANGING THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT FROM THE PRESENT BICAMERAL-PRESIDENTIAL TO A UNICAMERAL-PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT, IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE GREATER EFFICIENCY, SIMPLICITY AND ECONOMY IN GOVERNMENT; AND PROVIDING AN ARTICLE XVIII AS TRANSITORY PROVISIONS FOR THE ORDERLY SHIFT FROM ONE SYSTEM TO ANOTHER?
I hereby APPROVE the proposed amendment to the 1987 Constitution.My signature herein which shall form part of the petition for initiative to amend the Constitution signifies my support for the filing thereof.
Barangay Official WitnessWitness
(Print Name and Sign)(Print Name and Sign)(Print Name and Sign)
There is not a single word, phrase, or sentence of text of the Lambino
Group's proposed changes in the signature sheet.Neither does the signature sheet state that
the text of the proposed changes is attached to it.Petitioner Atty. Raul Lambino admitted
this during the oral arguments before this Court on
The signature sheet merely asks a question whether the people approve a shift from the Bicameral-Presidential to the Unicameral-Parliamentary system of government. The signature sheet does not show to the people the draft of the proposed changes before they are asked to sign the signature sheet.Clearly, the signature sheet is not the 'petition that the framers of the Constitution envisioned when they formulated the initiative clause in Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution.
Petitioner Atty. Lambino, however,
explained that during the signature-gathering from February to August 2006, the
Lambino Group circulated, together with the signature sheets, printed copies of
the Lambino Group's draft petition which they later filed on
The Lambino Group would have this Court
believe that they prepared the draft of the
have caused the preparation of the foregoing [Amended] Petition in my personal
capacity as a registered voter, for and
on behalf of the
The Lambino Group failed to attach a
copy of ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02 to the present petition.However, the 'Official Website of the Union
of Local Authorities of the
RESOLUTION NO. 2006-02
SUPPORTING THE PROPOSALS OF THE PEOPLE'S CONSULTATIVE COMMISSION ON CHARTER
CHANGE THROUGH PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE AND
WHEREAS, there is a need for the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) to adopt a common stand on the approach to support the proposals of the People's Consultative Commission on Charter Change;
WHEREAS, ULAP maintains its unqualified support to the agenda of Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for constitutional reforms as embodied in the ULAP Joint Declaration for Constitutional Reforms signed by the members of the ULAP and the majority coalition of the House of Representatives in Manila Hotel sometime in October 2005;
WHEREAS, the People's Consultative Commission on Charter Change created by Her Excellency to recommend amendments to the 1987 Constitution has submitted its final report sometime in December 2005;
WHEREAS, the ULAP is mindful of the current political developments in Congress which militates against the use of the expeditious form of amending the 1987 Constitution;
WHEREAS, subject to the ratification of its institutional members and the failure of Congress to amend the Constitution as a constituent assembly, ULAP has unanimously agreed to pursue the constitutional reform agenda through People's Initiative and Referendum without prejudice to other pragmatic means to pursue the same;
WHEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, THAT ALL THE MEMBER-LEAGUES OF THE UNION OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES OF THE PHILIPPINES (ULAP) SUPPORT THE PORPOSALS (SIC) OF THE PEOPLE'S CONSULATATIVE (SIC) COMMISSION ON CHARTER CHANGE THROUGH PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM AS A MODE OF AMENDING THE 1987 CONSTITUTION;
DONE, during the ULAP National Executive Board
special meeting held on
ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02 does not authorize petitioner Aumentado
to prepare the
For example, the proposed revisions of the Consultative Commission affect all provisions of the existing Constitution, from the Preamble to the Transitory Provisions.The proposed revisions have profound impact on the Judiciary and the National Patrimony provisions of the existing Constitution, provisions that the Lambino Group's proposed changes do not touch.The Lambino Group's proposed changes purport to affect only Articles VI and VII of the existing Constitution, including the introduction of new Transitory Provisions.
ULAP adopted Resolution No. 2006-02 on
In their Manifestation explaining their amended petition before the COMELEC, the Lambino Group declared:
After the Petition was filed, Petitioners belatedly realized that the proposed amendments alleged in the Petition, more specifically, paragraph 3 of Section 4 and paragraph 2 of Section 5 of the Transitory Provisions were inaccurately stated and failed to correctly reflect their proposed amendments.
The Lambino Group did not allege that
they were amending the petition because the amended petition was what they had
shown to the people during the February to August 2006
Lambino Group alleged that the petition of
Lambino Group never alleged in the
It is only in their Consolidated Reply to the Opposition-in-Interventions that the Lambino Group first claimed that they circulated the 'petition for initiative filed with the COMELEC, thus:
is persuasive authority to the effect that '(w)here
there is not (sic) fraud, a signer who did not read the measure attached to a
referendum petition cannot question his signature on the ground that he did not
understand the nature of the act. [82 C.J.S. S128h.
The Lambino Group's statement that
they circulated to the people 'the
petition for initiative filed with the COMELEC appears an afterthought,
made after the intervenors Integrated Bar of the
The Lambino Group cites as authority Corpus Juris Secundum, stating that a signer who did not read the measure attached to a referendum petition cannot question his signature on the ground that he did not understand the nature of the act.The Lambino Group quotes an authority that cites a proposed change attached to the petition signed by the people.Even the authority the Lambino Group quotes requires that the proposed change must be attached to the petition.The same authority the Lambino Group quotes requires the people to sign on the petition itself.
Indeed, it is basic in American jurisprudence that the proposed amendment must be incorporated with, or attached to, the initiative petition signed by the people.In the present initiative, the Lambino Group's proposed changes were not incorporated with, or attached to, the signature sheets.The Lambino Group's citation of Corpus Juris Secundum pulls the rug from under their feet.
It is extremely doubtful that the Lambino Group prepared, printed, circulated, from February to August 2006 during the signature-gathering period, the draft of the petition or amended petition they filed later with the COMELEC.The Lambino Group are less than candid with this Court in their belated claim that they printed and circulated, together with the signature sheets, the petition or amended petition. Nevertheless, even assuming the Lambino Group circulated the amended petition during the signature-gathering period, the Lambino Group admitted circulating only very limited copies of the petition.
During the oral arguments, Atty. Lambino expressly admitted that they printed only 100,000 copies of the draft petition they filed more than six months later with the COMELEC.Atty. Lambino added that he also asked other supporters to print additional copies of the draft petition but he could not state with certainty how many additional copies the other supporters printed.Atty. Lambino could only assure this Court of the printing of 100,000 copies because he himself caused the printing of these 100,000 copies.
Likewise, in the Lambino Group's Memorandum filed on 11 October 2006, the Lambino Group expressly admits that 'petitioner Lambino initiated the printing and reproduction of 100,000 copies of the petition for initiative x x x.This admission binds the Lambino Group and establishes beyond any doubt that the Lambino Group failed to show the full text of the proposed changes to the great majority of the people who signed the signature sheets.
Thus, of the 6.3 million signatories, only 100,000 signatories could have received with certainty one copy each of the petition, assuming a 100 percent distribution with no wastage.If Atty. Lambino and company attached one copy of the petition to each signature sheet, only 100,000 signature sheets could have circulated with the petition.Each signature sheet contains space for ten signatures.Assuming ten people signed each of these 100,000 signature sheets with the attached petition, the maximum number of people who saw the petition before they signed the signature sheets would not exceed 1,000,000.
With only 100,000 printed copies of the petition, it would be physically impossible for all or a great majority of the 6.3 million signatories to have seen the petition before they signed the signature sheets.The inescapable conclusion is that the Lambino Group failed to show to the 6.3 million signatories the full text of the proposed changes. If ever, not more than one million signatories saw the petition before they signed the signature sheets.
In any event, the Lambino Group's signature sheets do not contain the full text of the proposed changes, either on the face of the signature sheets, or as attachment with an indication in the signature sheet of such attachment.Petitioner Atty. Lambino admitted this during the oral arguments, and this admission binds the Lambino Group. This fact is also obvious from a mere reading of the signature sheet. This omission is fatal.The failure to so include the text of the proposed changes in the signature sheets renders the initiative void for non-compliance with the constitutional requirement that the amendment must be 'directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition. The signature sheet is not the 'petition envisioned in the initiative clause of the Constitution.
For sure, the great majority of the 6.3 million people who signed the signature sheets did not see the full text of the proposed changes before signing.They could not have known the nature and effect of the proposed changes, among which are:
1. The term limits on members of the legislature will be lifted and thus members of Parliament can be re-elected indefinitely;
2. The interim Parliament can continue to function indefinitely until its members, who are almost all the present members of Congress, decide to call for new parliamentary elections.Thus, the members of the interim Parliament will determine the expiration of their own term of office; 
3. Within 45 days from the ratification of the proposed changes, the interim Parliament shall convene to propose further amendments or revisions to the Constitution.
These three specific amendments are not stated or even indicated in the Lambino Group's signature sheets.The people who signed the signature sheets had no idea that they were proposing these amendments.These three proposed changes are highly controversial.The people could not have inferred or divined these proposed changes merely from a reading or rereading of the contents of the signature sheets.
During the oral arguments, petitioner Atty. Lambino stated that he and his group assured the people during the signature-gathering that the elections for the regular Parliament would be held during the 2007 local elections if the proposed changes were ratified before the 2007 local elections.However, the text of the proposed changes belies this.
The proposed Section 5(2), Article XVIII on Transitory Provisions, as found in the amended petition, states:
Section 5(2).The interim Parliament shall provide for the election of the members of Parliament, which shall be synchronized and held simultaneously with the election of all local government officials. x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
Section 5(2) does not state that the elections for the regular Parliament will be held simultaneously with the 2007 local elections.This section merely requires that the elections for the regular Parliament shall be held simultaneously with the local elections without specifying the year.
Petitioner Atty. Lambino, who claims to be the principal drafter of the proposed changes, could have easily written the word 'next before the phrase election of all local government officials. This would have insured that the elections for the regular Parliament would be held in the next local elections following the ratification of the proposed changes.However, the absence of the word 'next allows the interim Parliament to schedule the elections for the regular Parliament simultaneously with any future local elections.
Thus, the members of the interim Parliament will decide the expiration of their own term of office.This allows incumbent members of the House of Representatives to hold office beyond their current three-year term of office, and possibly even beyond the five-year term of office of regular members of the Parliament.Certainly, this is contrary to the representations of Atty. Lambino and his group to the 6.3 million people who signed the signature sheets.Atty. Lambino and his group deceived the 6.3 million signatories, and even the entire nation.
This lucidly shows the absolute need for the people to sign an initiative petition that contains the full text of the proposed amendments to avoid fraud or misrepresentation.In the present initiative, the 6.3 million signatories had to rely on the verbal representations of Atty. Lambino and his group because the signature sheets did not contain the full text of the proposed changes.The result is a grand deception on the 6.3 million signatories who were led to believe that the proposed changes would require the holding in 2007 of elections for the regular Parliament simultaneously with the local elections.
The Lambino Group's initiative springs another surprise on the people who signed the signature sheets.The proposed changes mandate the interim Parliament to make further amendments or revisions to the Constitution. The proposed Section 4(4), Article XVIII on Transitory Provisions, provides:
Section 4(4). Within forty-five days from ratification of these amendments, the interim Parliament shall convene to propose amendments to, or revisions of, this Constitution consistent with the principles of local autonomy, decentralization and a strong bureaucracy. (Emphasis supplied)
During the oral arguments, Atty. Lambino stated that this provision is a 'surplusage and the Court and the people should simply ignore it.Far from being a surplusage, this provision invalidates the Lambino Group's initiative.
cralawSection 4(4) is a subject matter totally unrelated to the shift from the Bicameral-Presidential to the Unicameral-Parliamentary system.American jurisprudence on initiatives outlaws this as logrolling- when the initiative petition incorporates an unrelated subject matter in the same petition.This puts the people in a dilemma since they can answer only either yes or no to the entire proposition, forcing them to sign a petition that effectively contains two propositions, one of which they may find unacceptable.
Under American jurisprudence, the effect of logrolling is to nullify the entire proposition and not only the unrelated subject matter. Thus, in Fine v. Firestone, the Supreme Court of Florida declared:
Combining multiple propositions into one proposal constitutes 'logrolling, which, if our judicial responsibility is to mean anything, we cannot permit.The very broadness of the proposed amendment amounts to logrolling because the electorate cannot know what it is voting on-the amendment's proponents' simplistic explanation reveals only the tip of the iceberg.x x x xThe ballot must give the electorate fair notice of the proposed amendment being voted on. x x x x The ballot language in the instant case fails to do that.The very broadness of the proposal makes it impossible to state what it will affect and effect and violates the requirement that proposed amendments embrace only one subject.(Emphasis supplied)
Logrolling confuses and even deceives the people.In Yute Air Alaska v. McAlpine,
the Supreme Court of
Whenever a bill becomes law through the initiative process, all of the problems that the single-subject rule was enacted to prevent are exacerbated.There is a greater danger of logrolling, or the deliberate intermingling of issues to increase the likelihood of an initiative's passage, and there is a greater opportunity for inadvertence, stealth and fraud in the enactment-by-initiative process.The drafters of an initiative operate independently of any structured or supervised process.They often emphasize particular provisions of their proposition, while remaining silent on other (more complex or less appealing) provisions, when communicating to the public.x x x Indeed, initiative promoters typically use simplistic advertising to present their initiative to potential petition-signers and eventual voters.Many voters will never read the full text of the initiative before the election.More importantly, there is no process for amending or splitting the several provisions in an initiative proposal.These difficulties clearly distinguish the initiative from the legislative process.(Emphasis supplied)
Thus, the present initiative appears merely a preliminary step for further amendments or revisions to be undertaken by the interim Parliament as a constituent assembly.The people who signed the signature sheets could not have known that their signatures would be used to propose an amendment mandating the interim Parliament to propose further amendments or revisions to the Constitution.
Apparently, the Lambino Group inserted the proposed Section 4(4) to compel the interim Parliament to amend or revise again the Constitution within 45 days from ratification of the proposed changes, or before the May 2007 elections.In the absence of the proposed Section 4(4), the interim Parliament has the discretion whether to amend or revise again the Constitution.With the proposed Section 4(4), the initiative proponents want the interim Parliament mandated to immediately amend or revise again the Constitution.
However, the signature sheets do not explain the reason for this rush in amending or revising again so soon the Constitution.The signature sheets do not also explain what specific amendments or revisions the initiative proponents want the interim Parliament to make, and why there is a need for such further amendments or revisions.The people are again left in the dark to fathom the nature and effect of the proposed changes.Certainly, such an initiative is not 'directly proposed by the people because the people do not even know the nature and effect of the proposed changes.
There is another intriguing provision
inserted in the Lambino Group's amended petition of
Section 4(3).Senators whose term of office ends in 2010 shall be members of Parliament until of the thirtieth day of June 2010.
The term of the incumbent President
The signature sheets do not explain this discrimination against the Senators.The 6.3 million people who signed the signature sheets could not have known that their signatures would be used to discriminate against the Senators.They could not have known that their signatures would be used to limit, after 30 June 2010, the interim Parliament's choice of Prime Minister only to members of the existing House of Representatives.
cralawAn initiative that gathers signatures from the people without first showing to the people the full text of the proposed amendments is most likely a deception, and can operate as a gigantic fraud on the people.That is why the Constitution requires that an initiative must be 'directly proposed by the people x x x in a petition -meaning that the people must sign on a petition that contains the full text of the proposed amendments.On so vital an issue as amending the nation's fundamental law, the writing of the text of the proposed amendments cannot be hidden from the people under a general or special power of attorney to unnamed, faceless, and unelected individuals.
cralawThe Constitution entrusts to the people the power to directly propose amendments to the Constitution.This Court trusts the wisdom of the people even if the members of this Court do not personally know the people who sign the petition.However, this trust emanates from a fundamental assumption:the full text of the proposed amendment is first shown to the people before they sign the petition, not after they have signed the petition.
cralawIn short, the Lambino Group's initiative is void and unconstitutional because it dismally fails to comply with the requirement of Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution that the initiative must be 'directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition.
2. The Initiative Violates Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution Disallowing Revision through Initiatives
A people's initiative to change the Constitution applies only to an amendment of the Constitution and not to its revision.In contrast, Congress or a constitutional convention can propose both amendments and revisions to the Constitution.Article XVII of the Constitution provides:
AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS
Sec. 1.Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:
(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members, or
(2) A constitutional convention.
Sec. 2.Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative x x x.(Emphasis supplied)
cralawArticle XVII of the Constitution speaks of three modes of amending the Constitution.The first mode is through Congress upon three-fourths vote of all its Members.The second mode is through a constitutional convention.The third mode is through a people's initiative.
cralawSection 1 of Article XVII, referring to the first and second modes, applies to '[A]ny amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution. In contrast, Section 2 of Article XVII, referring to the third mode, applies only to '[A]mendments to this Constitution.This distinction was intentional as shown by the following deliberations of the Constitutional Commission:
MR. SUAREZ:cralawThank you, Madam President.
May we respectfully call the attention of the Members of the Commission that pursuant to the mandate given to us last night, we submitted this afternoon a complete Committee Report No. 7 which embodies the proposed provision governing the matter of initiative. This is now covered by Section 2 of the complete committee report. With the permission of the Members, may I quote Section 2:
The people may, after five years from the date of the last plebiscite held, directly propose amendments to this Constitution thru initiative upon petition of at least ten percent of the registered voters.
This completes the blanks appearing in the original Committee Report No. 7.This proposal was suggested on the theory that this matter of initiative, which came about because of the extraordinary developments this year, has to be separated from the traditional modes of amending the Constitution as embodied in Section 1. The committee members felt that this system of initiative should be limited to amendments to the Constitution and should not extend to the revision of the entire Constitution, so we removed it from the operation of Section 1 of the proposed Article on Amendment or Revision. x x x x
x x x x
MS. AQUINO:cralaw[I] am seriously bothered by providing this process of initiative as a separate section in the Article on Amendment. Would the sponsor be amenable to accepting an amendment in terms of realigning Section 2 as another subparagraph (c) of Section 1, instead of setting it up as another separate section as if it were a self-executing provision?
MR. SUAREZ:cralawWe would be amenable except that, as we clarified a while ago, this process of initiative is limited to the matter of amendment and should not expand into a revision which contemplates a total overhaul of the Constitution. That was the sense that was conveyed by the Committee.
MS. AQUINO:cralawIn other words, the Committee was attempting to distinguish the coverage of modes (a) and (b) in Section 1 to include the process of revision; whereas, the process of initiation to amend, which is given to the public, would only apply to amendments?
MR. SUAREZ:cralawThat is right. Those were the terms envisioned in the Committee.
MS. AQUINO:cralawI thank the sponsor; and thank you, Madam President.
x x x x
MR. MAAMBONG:cralawMy first question: Commissioner Davide's proposed amendment on line 1 refers to "amendments." Does it not cover the word "revision" as defined by Commissioner Padilla when he made the distinction between the words "amendments" and "revision"?
MR. DAVIDE:cralawNo, it does not, because "amendments" and "revision" should be covered by Section 1. So insofar as initiative is concerned, it can only relate to "amendments" not "revision."
MR. MAAMBONG:cralawThank you.(Emphasis supplied)
cralawThere can be no mistake about it.The framers of the Constitution intended, and wrote, a clear distinction between 'amendment and 'revision of the Constitution. The framers intended, and wrote, that only Congress or a constitutional convention may propose revisions to the Constitution.The framers intended, and wrote, that a people's initiative may propose only amendments to the Constitution.Where the intent and language of the Constitution clearly withhold from the people the power to propose revisions to the Constitution, the people cannot propose revisions even as they are empowered to propose amendments.
This has been the consistent ruling of state supreme courts
The initiative power reserved by the people by amendment to the Constitution x x x applies only to the proposing and the adopting or rejecting of 'laws and amendments to the Constitution and does not purport to extend to a constitutional revision.x x x xIt is thus clear that a revision of the Constitution may be accomplished only through ratification by the people of a revised constitution proposed by a convention called for that purpose as outlined hereinabove.Consequently if the scope of the proposed initiative measure (hereinafter termed 'the measure') now before us is so broad that if such measure became law a substantial revision of our present state Constitution would be effected, then the measure may not properly be submitted to the electorate until and unless it is first agreed upon by a constitutional convention, and the writ sought by petitioner should issue. x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
Likewise, the Supreme Court of Oregon ruled in Holmes v. Appling:
It is well established that when a constitution specifies the manner in which it may be amended or revised, it can be altered by those who favor amendments, revision, or other change only through the use of one of the specified means.The constitution itself recognizes that there is a difference between an amendment and a revision; and it is obvious from an examination of the measure here in question that it is not an amendment as that term is generally understood and as it is used in Article IV, Section 1.The document appears to be based in large part on the revision of the constitution drafted by the 'Commission for Constitutional Revision authorized by the 1961 Legislative Assembly, x x x and submitted to the 1963 Legislative Assembly.It failed to receive in the Assembly the two-third's majority vote of both houses required by Article XVII, Section 2, and hence failed of adoption, x x x.
To call it an amendment is a misnomer.
Whether it be a revision or a new constitution, it is not such a measure as can be submitted to the people through the initiative.If a revision, it is subject to the requirements of Article XVII, Section 2(1); if a new constitution, it can only be proposed at a convention called in the manner provided in Article XVII, Section 1. x x x x
Similarly, in this jurisdiction there can be no dispute that a people's initiative can only propose amendments to the Constitution since the Constitution itself limits initiatives to amendments.There can be no deviation from the constitutionally prescribed modes of revising the Constitution.A popular clamor, even one backed by 6.3 million signatures, cannot justify a deviation from the specific modes prescribed in the Constitution itself.
As the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled in In re Initiative Petition No. 364:
It is a fundamental principle that a constitution can only be revised or amended in the manner prescribed by the instrument itself, and that any attempt to revise a constitution in a manner other than the one provided in the instrument is almost invariably treated as extra-constitutional and revolutionary.x x x xWhile it is universally conceded that the people are sovereign and that they have power to adopt a constitution and to change their own work at will, they must, in doing so, act in an orderly manner and according to the settled principles of constitutional law.And where the people, in adopting a constitution, have prescribed the method by which the people may alter or amend it, an attempt to change the fundamental law in violation of the self-imposed restrictions, is unconstitutional. x x x x(Emphasis supplied)
This Court, whose members are sworn to defend and protect the Constitution, cannot shirk from its solemn oath and duty to insure compliance with the clear command of the Constitution―that a people's initiative may only amend, never revise, the Constitution.
The question is, does the Lambino Group's initiative constitute an amendment or revision of the Constitution?If the Lambino Group's initiative constitutes a revision, then the present petition should be dismissed for being outside the scope of Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution.
cralawCourts have long recognized the distinction between an amendment and a revision of a constitution.One of the earliest cases that recognized the distinction described the fundamental difference in this manner:
[T]he very term 'constitution implies an instrument of a permanent and abiding nature, and the provisions contained therein for its revision indicate the will of the people that the underlying principles upon which it rests, as well as the substantial entirety of the instrument, shall be of a like permanent and abiding nature. On the other hand, the significance of the term 'amendment implies such an addition or change within the lines of the original instrument as will effect an improvement, or better carry out the purpose for which it was framed.(Emphasis supplied)
Revision broadly implies a change that alters a basic principle in the constitution, like altering the principle of separation of powers or the system of checks-and-balances.There is also revision if the change alters the substantial entirety of the constitution, as when the change affects substantial provisions of the constitution. On the other hand, amendment broadly refers to a change that adds, reduces, or deletes without altering the basic principle involved.Revision generally affects several provisions of the constitution, while amendment generally affects only the specific provision being amended.
The qualitative test inquires into the qualitative effects of the proposed change in the constitution. The main inquiry is whether the change will 'accomplish such far reaching changes in the nature of our basic governmental plan as to amount to a revision.Whether there is an alteration in the structure of government is a proper subject of inquiry.Thus, 'a change in the nature of [the] basic governmental plan includes 'change in its fundamental framework or the fundamental powers of its Branches.A change in the nature of the basic governmental plan also includes changes that 'jeopardize the traditional form of government and the system of check and balances.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Under both the quantitative and qualitative tests, the Lambino Group's initiative is a revision and not merely an amendment.Quantitatively, the Lambino Group's proposed changes overhaul two articles -Article VI on the Legislature and Article VII on the Executive -affecting a total of 105 provisions in the entire Constitution.Qualitatively, the proposed changes alter substantially the basic plan of government, from presidential to parliamentary, and from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature.
cralawA change in the structure of government is a revision of the Constitution, as when the three great co-equal branches of government in the present Constitution are reduced into two.This alters the separation of powers in the Constitution.A shift from the present Bicameral-Presidential system to a Unicameral-Parliamentary system is a revision of the Constitution.Merging the legislative and executive branches is a radical change in the structure of government.
The abolition alone of the Office of the President as the locus of Executive Power alters the separation of powers and thus constitutes a revision of the Constitution.Likewise, the abolition alone of one chamber of Congress alters the system of checks-and-balances within the legislature and constitutes a revision of the Constitution.
By any legal test and under any jurisdiction, a shift from aBicameral-Presidential to a Unicameral-Parliamentary system, involving the abolition of the Office of the President and the abolition of one chamber of Congress, is beyond doubt a revision, not a mere amendment. On the face alone of the Lambino Group's proposed changes, it is readily apparent that the changes will radically alter the framework of government as set forth in the Constitution.Father Joaquin Bernas, S.J., a leading member of the Constitutional Commission, writes:
An amendment envisages an alteration of one or a few specific and separable provisions. The guiding original intention of an amendment is to improve specific parts or to add new provisions deemed necessary to meet new conditions or to suppress specific portions that may have become obsolete or that are judged to be dangerous. In revision, however, the guiding original intention and plan contemplates a re-examination of the entire document, or of provisions of the document which have over-all implications for the entire document, to determine how and to what extent they should be altered. Thus, for instance a switch from the presidential system to a parliamentary system would be a revision because of its over-all impact on the entire constitutional structure. So would a switch from a bicameral system to a unicameral system be because of its effect on other important provisions of the Constitution.(Emphasis supplied)
In Adams v. Gunter,
an initiative petition proposed the amendment of the
The proposal here to amend Section 1 of Article III of the 1968 Constitution to provide for a Unicameral Legislature affects not only many other provisions of the Constitution but provides for a change in the form of the legislative branch of government, which has been in existence in the United States Congress and in all of the states of the nation, except one, since the earliest days.It would be difficult to visualize a more revolutionary change.The concept of a House and a Senate is basic in the American form of government.It would not only radically change the whole pattern of government in this state and tear apart the whole fabric of the Constitution, but would even affect the physical facilities necessary to carry on government.
x x x x
We conclude with the observation that if such proposed amendment were adopted by the people at the General Election and if the Legislature at its next session should fail to submit further amendments to revise and clarify the numerous inconsistencies and conflicts which would result, or if after submission of appropriate amendments the people should refuse to adopt them, simple chaos would prevail in the government of this State.The same result would obtain from an amendment, for instance, of Section 1 of Article V, to provide for only a Supreme Court and Circuit Courts-and there could be other examples too numerous to detail.These examples point unerringly to the answer.
The purpose of the long and arduous work of the hundreds of men and women and many sessions of the Legislature in bringing about the Constitution of 1968 was to eliminate inconsistencies and conflicts and to give the State a workable, accordant, homogenous and up-to-date document.All of this could disappear very quickly if we were to hold that it could be amended in the manner proposed in the initiative petition here.(Emphasis supplied)
The rationale of the
cralawThe Lambino Group theorizes that the difference between 'amendment and 'revision is only one of procedure, not of substance.The Lambino Group posits that when a deliberative body drafts and proposes changes to the Constitution, substantive changes are called 'revisions' because members of the deliberative body work full-time on the changes.However, the same substantive changes, when proposed through an initiative, are called 'amendments' because the changes are made by ordinary people who do not make an occupation, profession, or vocation out of such endeavor.
Thus, the Lambino Group makes the following exposition of their theory in their Memorandum:
cralaw99. With this distinction in mind, we note that the constitutional provisions expressly provide for both amendment and 'revision when it speaks of legislators and constitutional delegates, while the same provisions expressly provide only for 'amendment when it speaks of the people.It would seem that the apparent distinction is based on the actual experience of the people, that on one hand the common people in general are not expected to work full-time on the matter of correcting the constitution because that is not their occupation, profession or vocation; while on the other hand, the legislators and constitutional convention delegates are expectedto work full-time on the same matter because that is their occupation, profession or vocation.Thus, the difference between the words 'revision and 'amendment pertain only to the process or procedure of coming up with the corrections, for purposes of interpreting the constitutional provisions.
cralaw100. Stated otherwise, the difference between amendment and 'revision cannot reasonably be in the substance or extent of the correction. x x x x(Underlining in the original; boldfacing supplied)
cralawThe Lambino Group in effect argues that if Congress or a constitutional convention had drafted the same proposed changes that the Lambino Group wrote in the present initiative, the changes would constitute a revision of the Constitution.Thus, the Lambino Group concedes that the proposed changes in the present initiative constitute a revision if Congress or a constitutional convention had drafted the changes. However, since the Lambino Group as private individuals drafted the proposed changes, the changes are merely amendments to the Constitution.The Lambino Group trivializes the serious matter of changing the fundamental law of the land.
cralawThe express intent of the framers and the plain language of the Constitution contradict the Lambino Group's theory.Where the intent of the framers and the language of the Constitution are clear and plainly stated, courts do not deviate from such categorical intent and language.Any theory espousing a construction contrary to such intent and language deserves scant consideration.More so, if such theory wreaks havoc by creating inconsistencies in the form of government established in the Constitution.Such a theory, devoid of any jurisprudential mooring and inviting inconsistencies in the Constitution, only exposes the flimsiness of the Lambino Group's position. Any theory advocating that a proposed change involving a radical structural change in government does not constitute a revision justly deserves rejection.
The Lambino Group simply recycles a theory that initiative proponents in American jurisdictions have attempted to advance without any success. In Lowe v. Keisling,the Supreme Court of Oregon rejected this theory, thus:
Mabon argues that Article XVII, section 2, does not apply to changes to the constitution proposed by initiative.His theory is that Article XVII, section 2 merely provides a procedure by which the legislature can propose a revision of the constitution, but it does not affect proposed revisions initiated by the people.
argue that the proposed ballot measure constitutes a wholesale change to the constitution that cannot be enacted
through the initiative
process.They assert that the distinction between amendment and revision is determined by reviewing the scope and subject matter
of the proposed enactment, and that revisions
are not limited to 'a formal overhauling of the constitution.They argue
that this ballot measure proposes far reaching changes outside the lines of the
original instrument, including profound impacts on existing fundamental rights
and radical restructuring of the government's relationship with a defined group
of citizens.Plaintiffs assert that,
because the proposed ballot measure 'will refashion the most basic principles
We first address Mabon's argument that Article XVII, section 2(1), does not prohibit revisions instituted by initiative.In Holmes v. Appling, x x x, the Supreme Court concluded that a revision of the constitution may not be accomplished by initiative, because of the provisions of Article XVII, section 2.After reviewing Article XVII, section1, relating to proposed amendments, the court said:
From the foregoing it appears that Article IV, Section 1, authorizes the use of the initiative as a means of amending the Oregon Constitution, but it contains no similar sanction for its use as a means of revising the constitution. x x x x
It then reviewed Article XVII, section 2, relating to revisions, and said: 'It is the only section of the constitution which provides the means for constitutional revision and it excludes the idea that an individual, through the initiative, may place such a measure before the electorate.x x x x
Accordingly, we reject Mabon's argument that Article XVII, section 2, does not apply to constitutional revisions proposed by initiative.(Emphasis supplied)
Similarly, this Court must reject the Lambino Group's theory which negates the express intent of the framers and the plain language of the Constitution.
We can visualize amendments and revisions as a spectrum, at one end green for amendments and at the other end red for revisions.Towards the middle of the spectrum, colors fuse and difficulties arise in determining whether there is an amendment or revision.The present initiative is indisputably located at the far end of the red spectrum where revision begins.The present initiative seeks a radical overhaul of the existing separation of powers among the three co-equal departments of government, requiring far-reaching amendments in several sections and articles of the Constitution.
cralawWhere the proposed change applies only to a specific provision of the Constitution without affecting any other section or article, the change may generally be considered an amendment and not a revision.For example, a change reducing the voting age from 18 years to 15 years is an amendment and not a revision.Similarly, a change reducing Filipino ownership of mass media companies from 100 percent to 60 percent is an amendment and not a revision.Also, a change requiring a college degree as an additional qualification for election to the Presidency is an amendment and not a revision.
The changes in these examples do not entail any modification of sections or articles of the Constitution other than the specific provision being amended.These changes do not also affect the structure of government or the system of checks-and-balances among or within the three branches. These three examples are located at the far green end of the spectrum, opposite the far red end where the revision sought by the present petition is located.
cralawHowever, there can be no fixed rule on whether a change is an amendment or a revision.A change in a single word of one sentence of the Constitution may be a revision and not an amendment.For example, the substitution of the word republican with 'monarchic or 'theocratic in Section 1, Article II of the Constitution radically overhauls the entire structure of government and the fundamental ideological basis of the Constitution.Thus, each specific change will have to be examined case-by-case, depending on how it affects other provisions, as well as how it affects the structure of government, the carefully crafted system of checks-and-balances, and the underlying ideological basis of the existing Constitution.
Since a revision of a constitution affects basic principles, or several provisions of a constitution, a deliberative body with recorded proceedings is best suited to undertake a revision.A revision requires harmonizing not only several provisions, but also the altered principles with those that remain unaltered.Thus, constitutions normally authorize deliberative bodies like constituent assemblies or constitutional conventions to undertake revisions.On the other hand, constitutions allow people's initiatives, which do not have fixed and identifiable deliberative bodies or recorded proceedings, to undertake only amendments and not revisions.
In the present initiative, the Lambino Group's proposed Section 2 of the Transitory Provisions states:
Section 2. Upon the expiration of the term of the incumbent President and Vice President, with the exception of Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution which shall hereby be amended and Sections 18 and 24 which shall be deleted, all other Sections of Article VI are hereby retained and renumbered sequentially as Section 2, ad seriatim up to 26, unless they are inconsistent with the Parliamentary system of government, in which case, they shall be amended to conform with a unicameral parliamentary form of government; x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
cralawThe basic rule in statutory construction is that if a later law is irreconcilably inconsistent with a prior law, the later law prevails.This rule also applies to construction of constitutions.However, the Lambino Group's draft of Section 2 of the Transitory Provisions turns on its head this rule of construction by stating that in case of such irreconcilable inconsistency, the earlier provision 'shall be amended to conform with a unicameral parliamentary form of government. The effect is to freeze the two irreconcilable provisions until the earlier one 'shall be amended, which requires a future separate constitutional amendment.
cralawRealizing the absurdity of the need for such an amendment, petitioner Atty. Lambino readily conceded during the oral arguments that the requirement of a future amendment is a surplusage.In short, Atty. Lambino wants to reinstate the rule of statutory construction so that the later provision automatically prevails in case of irreconcilable inconsistency.However, it is not as simple as that.
The irreconcilable inconsistency envisioned in the proposed Section 2 of the Transitory Provisions is not between a provision in Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and a provision in the proposed changes. The inconsistency is between a provision in Article VI of the 1987 Constitution and the 'Parliamentary system of government, and the inconsistency shall be resolved in favor of a 'unicameral parliamentary form of government.
Now, what 'unicameral
parliamentary form of government do the Lambino Group's proposed changes
refer to ― the Bangladeshi, Singaporean, Israeli, or
This drives home the point that the people's initiative is not meant for revisions of the Constitution but only for amendments.A shift from the present Bicameral-Presidential to a Unicameral-Parliamentary system requires harmonizing several provisions in many articles of the Constitution.Revision of the Constitution through a people's initiative will only result in gross absurdities in the Constitution.
In sum, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Lambino Group's initiative is a revision and not an amendment.Thus, the present initiative is void and unconstitutional because it violates Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution limiting the scope of a people's initiative to '[A]mendments to this Constitution.
A Revisit of
The present petition warrants
dismissal for failure to comply with the basic requirements of Section 2,
Article XVII of the Constitution on the conduct and scope of a people's initiative to amend the Constitution.There is no need to revisit this Court's ruling in
This Court must avoid revisiting a ruling involving the constitutionality of a statute if the case before the Court can be resolved on some other grounds.Such avoidance is a logical consequence of the well-settled doctrine that courts will not pass upon the constitutionality of a statute if the case can be resolved on some other grounds.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
cralawNevertheless, even assuming that RA 6735 is valid to implement the constitutional provision on initiatives to amend the Constitution, this will not change the result here because the present petition violates Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution.To be a valid initiative, the present initiative must first comply with Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution even before complying with RA 6735.
Even then, the present initiative violates Section 5(b) of RA 6735 which requires that the 'petition for an initiative on the 1987 Constitution must have at least twelve per centum (12%) of the total number of registered voters as signatories.Section 5(b) of RA 6735 requires that the people must sign the 'petition x x x as signatories.
The 6.3 million signatories did not
sign the petition of
cralawThe Lambino Group's logrolling initiative also violates Section 10(a) of RA 6735 stating, 'No petition embracing more than one (1) subject shall be submitted to the electorate; x x x.The proposed Section 4(4) of the Transitory Provisions, mandating the interim Parliament to propose further amendments or revisions to the Constitution, is a subject matter totally unrelated to the shift in the form of government.Since the present initiative embraces more than one subject matter, RA 6735 prohibits submission of the initiative petition to the electorate.Thus, even if RA 6735 is valid, the Lambino Group's initiative will still fail.
4. The COMELEC Did Not Commit Grave Abuse of Discretion in Dismissing the Lambino Group's Initiative
In dismissing the Lambino Group's initiative
petition, the COMELEC en banc merely
followed this Court's ruling in
The Court ruled, first, by a unanimousvote, that no grave abuse of discretion could be attributed to the public respondent COMELEC in dismissing the petition filed by PIRMA therein, it appearing that itonly complied with the dispositions in the Decisions of this Court in G.R. No. 127325, promulgated on March 19, 1997, and its Resolution of June 10, 1997.
The Constitution, as the fundamental law of the land, deserves the utmost respect and obedience of all the citizens of this nation.No one can trivialize the Constitution by cavalierly amending or revising it in blatant violation of the clearly specified modes of amendment and revision laid down in the Constitution itself.
To allow such change in the fundamental law is to set adrift the Constitution in unchartered waters, to be tossed and turned by every dominant political group of the day.If this Court allows today a cavalier change in the Constitution outside the constitutionally prescribed modes, tomorrow the new dominant political group that comes will demand its own set of changes in the same cavalier and unconstitutional fashion.A revolving-door constitution does not augur well for the rule of law in this country.
An overwhelming majority − 16,622,111 voters comprising 76.3 percent
of the total votes cast−approved our Constitution in a national plebiscite held on
No amount of signatures, not even the 6,327,952 million signatures gathered by the Lambino Group, can change our Constitution contrary to the specific modes that the people, in their sovereign capacity, prescribed when they ratified the Constitution.The alternative is an extra-constitutional change, which means subverting the people's sovereign will and discarding the Constitution.This is one act the Court cannot and should never do.As the ultimate guardian of the Constitution, this Court is sworn to perform its solemn duty to defend and protect the Constitution, which embodies the real sovereign will of the people.
Incantations of 'people's voice,people's sovereign will, or 'let the people decide cannot override the specific modes of changing the Constitution as prescribed in the Constitution itself.Otherwise, the Constitution ― the people's fundamental covenant that provides enduring stability to our society ― becomes easily susceptible to manipulative changes by political groups gathering signatures through false promises.Then, the Constitution ceases to be the bedrock of the nation's stability.
The Lambino Group claims that their initiative is the 'people's voice.However, the Lambino Group unabashedly states in ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02, in the verification of their petition with the COMELEC, that 'ULAP maintains its unqualified support to the agenda of Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for constitutional reforms.The Lambino Group thus admits that their 'peoples' initiative is an 'unqualified support to the agenda of the incumbent President to change the Constitution.This forewarns the Court to be wary of incantations of 'people's voice or 'sovereign will in the present initiative.
This Court cannot betray its primordial duty to defend and protect the Constitution.The Constitution, which embodies the people's sovereign will, is the bible of this Court.This Court exists to defend and protect the Constitution.To allow this constitutionally infirm initiative, propelled by deceptively gathered signatures, to alter basic principles in the Constitution is to allow a desecration of the Constitution.To allow such alteration and desecration is to lose this Court's raison d'etre.
WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the petition in G.R. No. 174153.
ANTONIO T. CARPIO
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
MINITA V. CHICO-NAZARIOCANCIO C. GARCIA
Associate JusticeAssociate Justice
PRESBITERO J. VELASCO, JR.
cralawPursuant to Section 13, Article VIII of the Constitution, I certify that the conclusions in the above Decision were reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court.
ARTEMIO V. PANGANIBAN
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