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G.R. No.

78059 August 31, 1987


ALFREDO M. DE LEON, ANGEL S. SALAMAT, MARIO C. STA. ANA, JOSE C. TOLENTINO, ROGELIO J. DE
LA ROSA and JOSE M. RESURRECCION, petitioners,
vs.
HON. BENJAMIN B. ESGUERRA, in his capacity as OIC Governor of the Province of Rizal, HON. ROMEO C.
DE LEON, in his capacity as OIC Mayor of the Municipality of Taytay, Rizal, FLORENTINO G. MAGNO,
REMIGIO M. TIGAS, RICARDO Z. LACANIENTA, TEODORO V. MEDINA, ROSENDO S. PAZ, and TERESITA L.
TOLENTINO, respondents.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
An original action for Prohibition instituted by petitioners seeking to enjoin respondents from replacing them from
their respective positions as Barangay Captain and Barangay Councilmen of Barangay Dolores, Municipality of
Taytay, Province of Rizal.
As required by the Court, respondents submitted their Comment on the Petition, and petitioner's their Reply to
respondents' Comment.
In the Barangay elections held on May 17, 1982, petitioner Alfredo M. De Leon was elected Barangay Captain and
the other petitioners Angel S. Salamat, Mario C. Sta. Ana, Jose C. Tolentino, Rogelio J. de la Rosa and Jose M.
Resurreccion, as Barangay Councilmen of Barangay Dolores, Taytay, Rizal under Batas Pambansa Blg. 222,
otherwise known as the Barangay Election Act of 1982.
On February 9, 1987, petitioner Alfredo M, de Leon received a Memorandum antedated December 1, 1986 but
signed by respondent OIC Governor Benjamin Esguerra on February 8, 1987 designating respondent Florentino G.
Magno as Barangay Captain of Barangay Dolores, Taytay, Rizal. The designation made by the OIC Governor was
"by authority of the Minister of Local Government."
Also on February 8, 1987, respondent OIC Governor signed a Memorandum, antedated December 1, 1986
designating respondents Remigio M. Tigas, Ricardo Z. Lacanienta Teodoro V. Medina, Roberto S. Paz and Teresita
L. Tolentino as members of the Barangay Council of the same Barangay and Municipality.
That the Memoranda had been antedated is evidenced by the Affidavit of respondent OIC Governor, the pertinent
portions of which read:
xxx xxx xxx
That I am the OIC Governor of Rizal having been appointed as such on March 20, 1986;
That as being OIC Governor of the Province of Rizal and in the performance of my duties thereof, I
among others, have signed as I did sign the unnumbered memorandum ordering the replacement of
all the barangay officials of all the barangay(s) in the Municipality of Taytay, Rizal;
That the above cited memorandum dated December 1, 1986 was signed by me personally on
February 8,1987;
That said memorandum was further deciminated (sic) to all concerned the following day, February 9.
1987.
FURTHER AFFIANT SAYETH NONE.
Pasig, Metro Manila, March 23, 1987.
Before us now, petitioners pray that the subject Memoranda of February 8, 1987 be declared null and void and that
respondents be prohibited from taking over their positions of Barangay Captain and Barangay Councilmen,
respectively. Petitioners maintain that pursuant to Section 3 of the Barangay Election Act of 1982 (BP Blg. 222),
their terms of office "shall be six (6) years which shall commence on June 7, 1982 and shall continue until their
successors shall have elected and shall have qualified," or up to June 7, 1988. It is also their position that with the
ratification of the 1987 Constitution, respondent OIC Governor no longer has the authority to replace them and to
designate their successors.
On the other hand, respondents rely on Section 2, Article III of the Provisional Constitution, promulgated on March
25, 1986, which provided:

SECTION 2. All elective and appointive officials and employees under the 1973 Constitution shall
continue in office until otherwise provided by proclamation or executive order or upon the
designation or appointment and qualification of their successors, if such appointment is made within
a period of one year from February 25,1986.
By reason of the foregoing provision, respondents contend that the terms of office of elective and appointive officials
were abolished and that petitioners continued in office by virtue of the aforequoted provision and not because their
term of six years had not yet expired; and that the provision in the Barangay Election Act fixing the term of office of
Barangay officials to six (6) years must be deemed to have been repealed for being inconsistent with the
aforequoted provision of the Provisional Constitution.
Examining the said provision, there should be no question that petitioners, as elective officials under the 1973
Constitution, may continue in office but should vacate their positions upon the occurrence of any of the events
mentioned. 1
Since the promulgation of the Provisional Constitution, there has been no proclamation or executive order
terminating the term of elective Barangay officials. Thus, the issue for resolution is whether or not the designation of
respondents to replace petitioners was validly made during the one-year period which ended on February 25, 1987.
Considering the candid Affidavit of respondent OIC Governor, we hold that February 8, 1977, should be considered
as the effective date of replacement and not December 1,1986 to which it was ante dated, in keeping with the
dictates of justice.
But while February 8, 1987 is ostensibly still within the one-year deadline, the aforequoted provision in the
Provisional Constitution must be deemed to have been overtaken by Section 27, Article XVIII of the 1987
Constitution reading.
SECTION 27. This Constitution shall take effect immediately upon its ratification by a majority of the
votes cast in a plebiscite held for the purpose and shall supersede all previous Constitutions.
The 1987 Constitution was ratified in a plebiscite on February 2, 1987. By that date, therefore, the Provisional
Constitution must be deemed to have been superseded. Having become inoperative, respondent OIC Governor
could no longer rely on Section 2, Article III, thereof to designate respondents to the elective positions occupied by
petitioners.
Petitioners must now be held to have acquired security of tenure specially considering that the Barangay Election
Act of 1982 declares it "a policy of the State to guarantee and promote the autonomy of the barangays to ensure
their fullest development as self-reliant communities. 2 Similarly, the 1987 Constitution ensures the autonomy of local
governments and of political subdivisions of which the barangays form a part, 3 and limits the President's power to
"general supervision" over local governments. 4 Relevantly, Section 8, Article X of the same 1987 Constitution further
provides in part:

Sec. 8. The term of office of elective local officials, except barangay officials, which shall be
determined by law, shall be three years ...
Until the term of office of barangay officials has been determined by law, therefore, the term of office of six (6) years
provided for in the Barangay Election Act of 1982 5 should still govern.
Contrary to the stand of respondents, we find nothing inconsistent between the term of six (6) years for elective
Barangay officials and the 1987 Constitution, and the same should, therefore, be considered as still operative,
pursuant to Section 3, Article XVIII of the 1987 Constitution, reading:
Sec. 3. All existing laws, decrees, executive orders, proclamations letters of instructions, and other
executive issuances not inconsistent, with this Constitution shall remain operative until amended,
repealed or revoked.
WHEREFORE, (1) The Memoranda issued by respondent OIC Governor on February 8, 1987 designating
respondents as the Barangay Captain and Barangay Councilmen, respectively, of Barangay Dolores, Taytay, Rizal,
are both declared to be of no legal force and effect; and (2) the Writ of Prohibition is granted enjoining respondents
perpetually from proceeding with the ouster/take-over of petitioners' positions subject of this Petition. Without costs.
SO ORDERED.
Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-28196

November 9, 1967

RAMON A. GONZALES, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, DIRECTOR OF PRINTING and AUDITOR GENERAL, respondents.
G.R. No. L-28224

November 9, 1967

PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION (PHILCONSA), petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
No. 28196:
Ramon A. Gonzales for and in his own behalf as petitioner.
Juan T. David as amicus curiae
Office of the Solicitor General for respondents.
No. 28224:
Salvador Araneta for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General for respondent.
CONCEPCION, C.J.:
G. R. No. L-28196 is an original action for prohibition, with preliminary injunction.
Petitioner therein prays for judgment:
1) Restraining: (a) the Commission on Elections from enforcing Republic Act No. 4913, or from performing any act
that will result in the holding of the plebiscite for the ratification of the constitutional amendments proposed in Joint
Resolutions Nos. 1 and 3 of the two Houses of Congress of the Philippines, approved on March 16, 1967; (b) the
Director of Printing from printing ballots, pursuant to said Act and Resolutions; and (c) the Auditor General from
passing in audit any disbursement from the appropriation of funds made in said Republic Act No. 4913; and
2) declaring said Act unconstitutional and void.
The main facts are not disputed. On March 16, 1967, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the
following resolutions:
1. R. B. H. (Resolution of Both Houses) No. 1, proposing that Section 5, Article VI, of the Constitution of the
Philippines, be amended so as to increase the membership of the House of Representatives from a maximum of
120, as provided in the present Constitution, to a maximum of 180, to be apportioned among the several provinces
as nearly as may be according to the number of their respective inhabitants, although each province shall have, at
least, one (1) member;
2. R. B. H. No. 2, calling a convention to propose amendments to said Constitution, the convention to be composed
of two (2) elective delegates from each representative district, to be "elected in the general elections to be held on
the second Tuesday of November, 1971;" and
3. R. B. H. No. 3, proposing that Section 16, Article VI, of the same Constitution, be amended so as to authorize
Senators and members of the House of Representatives to become delegates to the aforementioned constitutional
convention, without forfeiting their respective seats in Congress.
Subsequently, Congress passed a bill, which, upon approval by the President, on June 17, 1967, became Republic
Act No. 4913, providing that the amendments to the Constitution proposed in the aforementioned Resolutions No. 1
and 3 be submitted, for approval by the people, at the general elections which shall be held on November 14, 1967.
The petition in L-28196 was filed on October 21, 1967. At the hearing thereof, on October 28, 1967, the Solicitor
General appeared on behalf of respondents. Moreover, Atty. Juan T. David and counsel for the Philippine
Constitution Association hereinafter referred to as the PHILCONSA were allowed to argue as amici curiae.
Said counsel for the PHILCONSA, Dr. Salvador Araneta, likewise prayed that the decision in this case be deferred
until after a substantially identical case brought by said organization before the Commission on Elections,1 which
was expected to decide it any time, and whose decision would, in all probability, be appealed to this Court had
been submitted thereto for final determination, for a joint decision on the identical issues raised in both cases. In
fact, on October 31, 1967, the PHILCONSA filed with this Court the petition in G. R. No. L-28224, for review
bycertiorari of the resolution of the Commission on Elections2 dismissing the petition therein. The two (2) cases were
deemed submitted for decision on November 8, 1967, upon the filing of the answer of respondent, the memorandum
of the petitioner and the reply memorandum of respondent in L-28224.

Ramon A. Gonzales, the petitioner in L-28196, is admittedly a Filipino citizen, a taxpayer, and a voter. He claims to
have instituted case L-28196 as a class unit, for and in behalf of all citizens, taxpayers, and voters similarly situated.
Although respondents and the Solicitor General have filed an answer denying the truth of this allegation, upon the
ground that they have no knowledge or information to form a belief as to the truth thereof, such denial would appear
to be a perfunctory one. In fact, at the hearing of case L-28196, the Solicitor General expressed himself in favor of a
judicial determination of the merits of the issued raised in said case.
The PHILCONSA, petitioner in L-28224, is admittedly a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of
the Philippines, and a civic, non-profit and non-partisan organization the objective of which is to uphold the rule of
law in the Philippines and to defend its Constitution against erosions or onslaughts from whatever source. Despite
his aforementioned statement in L-28196, in his answer in L-28224 the Solicitor General maintains that this Court
has no jurisdiction over the subject-matter of L-28224, upon the ground that the same is "merely political" as held
in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito.3 Senator Arturo M. Tolentino, who appeared before the Commission on Elections and
filed an opposition to the PHILCONSA petition therein, was allowed to appear before this Court and objected to said
petition upon the ground: a) that the Court has no jurisdiction either to grant the relief sought in the petition, or to
pass upon the legality of the composition of the House of Representatives; b) that the petition, if granted, would, in
effect, render in operational the legislative department; and c) that "the failure of Congress to enact a valid
reapportionment law . . . does not have the legal effect of rendering illegal the House of Representatives elected
thereafter, nor of rendering its acts null and void."
JURISDICTION
As early as Angara vs. Electoral Commission,4 this Court speaking through one of the leading members of the
Constitutional Convention and a respected professor of Constitutional Law, Dr. Jose P. Laurel declared that "the
judicial department is the only constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of
powers between the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof." It is true that
in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito,5 this Court characterizing the issue submitted thereto as a political one, declined to pass
upon the question whether or not a given number of votes cast in Congress in favor of a proposed amendment to
the Constitution which was being submitted to the people for ratification satisfied the three-fourths vote
requirement of the fundamental law. The force of this precedent has been weakened, however, by Suanes vs. Chief
Accountant of the Senate,6 Avelino vs. Cuenco,7 Taada vs. Cuenco,8 and Macias vs. Commission on Elections.9 In
the first, we held that the officers and employees of the Senate Electoral Tribunal are under its supervision and
control, not of that of the Senate President, as claimed by the latter; in the second, this Court proceeded to
determine the number of Senators necessary for a quorum in the Senate; in the third, we nullified the election, by
Senators belonging to the party having the largest number of votes in said chamber, purporting to act on behalf of
the party having the second largest number of votes therein, of two (2) Senators belonging to the first party, as
members, for the second party, of the, Senate Electoral Tribunal; and in the fourth, we declared unconstitutional an
act of Congress purporting to apportion the representative districts for the House of Representatives, upon the
ground that the apportionment had not been made as may be possible according to the number of inhabitants of
each province. Thus we rejected the theory, advanced in these four (4) cases, that the issues therein raised were
political questions the determination of which is beyond judicial review.
Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose amendments thereto is not included in the general grant
of legislative powers to Congress.10 It is part of the inherent powers of the people as the repository of sovereignty
in a republican state, such as ours11 to make, and, hence, to amend their own Fundamental Law. Congress may
propose amendments to the Constitution merely because the same explicitly grants such power.12Hence, when
exercising the same, it is said that Senators and Members of the House of Representatives act, notas members
of Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly. When acting as such, the members of
Congress derive their authority from the Constitution, unlike the people, when performing the same function,13 for
their authority does not emanate from the Constitution they are the very source of all powers of
government, including the Constitution itself .
Since, when proposing, as a constituent assembly, amendments to the Constitution, the members of Congress
derive their authority from the Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily, that they do not have the final say on
whether or not their acts are within or beyond constitutional limits. Otherwise, they could brush aside and set the
same at naught, contrary to the basic tenet that ours is a government of laws, not of men, and to the rigid nature of
our Constitution. Such rigidity is stressed by the fact that, the Constitution expressly confers upon the Supreme
Court,14 the power to declare a treaty unconstitutional,15 despite the eminently political character of treaty-making
power.
In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress acting as a constituent assembly violates the
Constitution essentially justiciable, not political, and, hence, subject to judicial review, and, to the extent that this
view may be inconsistent with the stand taken in Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito,16 the latter should be deemed modified
accordingly. The Members of the Court are unanimous on this point.
THE MERITS
Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, as amended, reads:

The Congress in joint session assembled by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of the Senate and of
the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments to this Constitution or call a
convention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by
a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their
ratification.
Pursuant to this provision, amendments to the Constitution may be proposed, either by Congress, or by a
convention called by Congress for that purpose. In either case, the vote of "three-fourths of all the members of the
Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately" is necessary. And, "such amendments shall be valid
as part of" the "Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments
are submitted to the people for their ratification."
In the cases at bar, it is conceded that the R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 have been approved by a vote of three-fourths of all
the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately. This, notwithstanding, it is urged
that said resolutions are null and void because:
1. The Members of Congress, which approved the proposed amendments, as well as the resolution calling a
convention to propose amendments, are, at best, de facto Congressmen;
2. Congress may adopt either one of two alternatives propose amendments or call a convention therefore but
may not avail of both that is to say, propose amendment and call a convention at the same time;
3. The election, in which proposals for amendment to the Constitution shall be submitted for ratification, must be
aspecial election, not a general election, in which officers of the national and local governments such as the
elections scheduled to be held on November 14, 1967 will be chosen; and
4. The spirit of the Constitution demands that the election, in which proposals for amendment shall be submitted to
the people for ratification, must be held under such conditions which, allegedly, do not exist as to give the
people a reasonable opportunity to have a fair grasp of the nature and implications of said amendments.
Legality of Congress and Legal Status of the Congressmen
The first objection is based upon Section 5, Article VI, of the Constitution, which provides:
The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than one hundred and twenty Members who
shall be apportioned among the several provinces as nearly as may be according to the number of their
respective inhabitants, but each province shall have at least one Member. The Congress shall by law make
an apportionment within three years after the return of every enumeration, and not otherwise. Until such
apportionment shall have been made, the House of Representatives shall have the same number of
Members as that fixed by law for the National Assembly, who shall be elected by the qualified electors from
the present Assembly districts. Each representative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous
and compact territory.
It is urged that the last enumeration or census took place in 1960; that, no apportionment having been made within
three (3) years thereafter, the Congress of the Philippines and/or the election of its Members became illegal; that
Congress and its Members, likewise, became a de facto Congress and/or de facto congressmen, respectively; and
that, consequently, the disputed Resolutions, proposing amendments to the Constitution, as well as Republic Act
No. 4913, are null and void.
It is not true, however, that Congress has not made an apportionment within three years after the enumeration or
census made in 1960. It did actually pass a bill, which became Republic Act No. 3040,17 purporting to make said
apportionment. This Act was, however, declared unconstitutional, upon the ground that the apportionment therein
undertaken had not been made according to the number of inhabitants of the different provinces of the Philippines.18
Moreover, we are unable to agree with the theory that, in view of the failure of Congress to make a valid
apportionment within the period stated in the Constitution, Congress became an "unconstitutional Congress" and
that, in consequence thereof, the Members of its House of Representatives are de facto officers. The major premise
of this process of reasoning is that the constitutional provision on "apportionment within three years after the return
of every enumeration, and not otherwise," is mandatory. The fact that Congress is under legal obligation to make
said apportionment does not justify, however, the conclusion that failure to comply with such obligation rendered
Congress illegal or unconstitutional, or that its Members have become de facto officers.
It is conceded that, since the adoption of the Constitution in 1935, Congress has not made a valid apportionment as
required in said fundamental law. The effect of this omission has been envisioned in the Constitution, pursuant to
which:
. . . Until such apportionment shall have been made, the House of Representatives shall have the same
number of Members as that fixed by law for the National Assembly, who shall be elected by the qualified
electors from the present Assembly districts. . . . .

The provision does not support the view that, upon the expiration of the period to make the apportionment, a
Congress which fails to make it is dissolved or becomes illegal. On the contrary, it implies necessarily that Congress
shall continue to function with the representative districts existing at the time of the expiration of said period.
It is argued that the above-quoted provision refers only to the elections held in 1935. This theory assumes that an
apportionment had to be made necessarily before the first elections to be held after the inauguration of the
Commonwealth of the Philippines, or in 1938.19 The assumption, is, however, unwarranted, for there had been no
enumeration in 1935, and nobody could foretell when it would be made. Those who drafted and adopted the
Constitution in 1935 could be certain, therefore, that the three-year period, after the earliest possible enumeration,
would expire after the elections in 1938.
What is more, considering that several provisions of the Constitution, particularly those on the legislative
department, were amended in 1940, by establishing a bicameral Congress, those who drafted and adopted said
amendment, incorporating therein the provision of the original Constitution regarding the apportionment of the
districts for representatives, must have known that the three-year period therefor would expire after the elections
scheduled to be held and actually held in 1941.
Thus, the events contemporaneous with the framing and ratification of the original Constitution in 1935 and of the
amendment thereof in 1940 strongly indicate that the provision concerning said apportionment and the effect of the
failure to make it were expected to be applied to conditions obtaining after the elections in 1935 and 1938, and even
after subsequent elections.
Then again, since the report of the Director of the Census on the last enumeration was submitted to the President
on November 30, 1960, it follows that the three-year period to make the apportionment did not expire until 1963, or
after the Presidential elections in 1961. There can be no question, therefore, that the Senate and the House of
Representatives organized or constituted on December 30, 1961, were de jure bodies, and that the Members
thereof were de jure officers. Pursuant to the theory of petitioners herein, upon expiration of said period of three
years, or late in 1963, Congress became illegal and its Members, or at least, those of the House of Representatives,
became illegal holder of their respective offices, and were de facto officers.
Petitioners do not allege that the expiration of said three-year period without a reapportionment, had the effect of
abrogating or repealing the legal provision creating Congress, or, at least, the House of Representatives, and are
not aware of any rule or principle of law that would warrant such conclusion. Neither do they allege that the term of
office of the members of said House automatically expired or that they ipso facto forfeited their seats in Congress,
upon the lapse of said period for reapportionment. In fact, neither our political law, nor our law on public officers, in
particular, supports the view that failure to discharge a mandatory duty, whatever it may be, would automatically
result in the forfeiture of an office, in the absence of a statute to this effect.
Similarly, it would seem obvious that the provision of our Election Law relative to the election of Members of
Congress in 1965 were not repealed in consequence of the failure of said body to make an apportionment within
three (3) years after the census of 1960. Inasmuch as the general elections in 1965 were presumably held in
conformity with said Election Law, and the legal provisions creating Congress with a House of Representatives
composed of members elected by qualified voters of representative districts as they existed at the time of said
elections remained in force, we can not see how said Members of the House of Representatives can be regarded
as de facto officers owing to the failure of their predecessors in office to make a reapportionment within the period
aforementioned.
Upon the other hand, the Constitution authorizes the impeachment of the President, the Vice-President, the Justices
of the Supreme Court and the Auditor General for, inter alia, culpable violation of the Constitution,20 the enforcement
of which is, not only their mandatory duty, but also, their main function. This provision indicates that, despite the
violation of such mandatory duty, the title to their respective offices remains unimpaired, until dismissal or ouster
pursuant to a judgment of conviction rendered in accordance with Article IX of the Constitution. In short, the loss of
office or the extinction of title thereto is not automatic.
Even if we assumed, however, that the present Members of Congress are merely de facto officers, it would not
follow that the contested resolutions and Republic Act No. 4913 are null and void. In fact, the main reasons for the
existence of the de facto doctrine is that public interest demands that acts of persons holding, under color of title, an
office created by a valid statute be, likewise, deemed valid insofar as the public as distinguished from the officer
in question is concerned.21 Indeed, otherwise, those dealing with officers and employees of the Government
would be entitled to demand from them satisfactory proof of their title to the positions they hold,before dealing with
them, or before recognizing their authority or obeying their commands, even if they should act within the limits of the
authority vested in their respective offices, positions or employments.22 One can imagine this great inconvenience,
hardships and evils that would result in the absence of the de facto doctrine.
As a consequence, the title of a de facto officer cannot be assailed collaterally.23 It may not be contested except
directly, by quo warranto proceedings. Neither may the validity of his acts be questioned upon the ground that he is
merely a de facto officer.24 And the reasons are obvious: (1) it would be an indirect inquiry into the title to the office;
and (2) the acts of a de facto officer, if within the competence of his office, are valid, insofar as the public is
concerned.

It is argued that the foregoing rules do not apply to the cases at bar because the acts therein involved have not been
completed and petitioners herein are not third parties. This pretense is untenable. It is inconsistent withTayko vs.
Capistrano.25 In that case, one of the parties to a suit being heard before Judge Capistrano objected to his
continuing to hear the case, for the reason that, meanwhile, he had reached the age of retirement. This Court held
that the objection could not be entertained, because the Judge was at least, a de facto Judge, whose title can not be
assailed collaterally. It should be noted that Tayko was not a third party insofar as the Judge was concerned. Tayko
was one of the parties in the aforementioned suit. Moreover, Judge Capistrano had not, as yet, finished hearing the
case, much less rendered decision therein. No rights had vested in favor of the parties, in consequence of the acts
of said Judge. Yet, Tayko's objection was overruled. Needless to say, insofar as Congress is concerned, its acts, as
regards the Resolutions herein contested and Republic Act No. 4913, are complete. Congress has nothing else to
do in connection therewith.
The Court is, also, unanimous in holding that the objection under consideration is untenable.
Available Alternatives to Congress
Atty. Juan T. David, as amicus curiae, maintains that Congress may either propose amendments to the Constitution
or call a convention for that purpose, but it can not do both, at the same time. This theory is based upon the fact that
the two (2) alternatives are connected in the Constitution by the disjunctive "or." Such basis is, however, a weak
one, in the absence of other circumstances and none has brought to our attention supporting the conclusion
drawn by the amicus curiae. In fact, the term "or" has, oftentimes, been held to mean "and," or vice-versa, when the
spirit or context of the law warrants it.26
It is, also, noteworthy that R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 propose amendments to the constitutional provision on Congress,
to be submitted to the people for ratification on November 14, 1967, whereas R. B. H. No. 2 calls for a convention
in 1971, to consider proposals for amendment to the Constitution, in general. In other words, the subject-matter of
R. B. H. No. 2 is different from that of R B. H. Nos. 1 and 3. Moreover, the amendments proposed under R. B. H.
Nos. 1 and 3, will be submitted for ratification several years before those that may be proposed by the constitutional
convention called in R. B. H. No. 2. Again, although the three (3) resolutions were passed on the same date, they
were taken up and put to a vote separately, or one after the other. In other words, they were notpassed at the same
time.
In any event, we do not find, either in the Constitution, or in the history thereof anything that would negate the
authority of different Congresses to approve the contested Resolutions, or of the same Congress to pass the same
in, different sessions or different days of the same congressional session. And, neither has any plausible reason
been advanced to justify the denial of authority to adopt said resolutions on the same day.
Counsel ask: Since Congress has decided to call a constitutional convention to propose amendments, why not let
the whole thing be submitted to said convention, instead of, likewise, proposing some specific amendments, to be
submitted for ratification before said convention is held? The force of this argument must be conceded. but the same
impugns the wisdom of the action taken by Congress, not its authority to take it. One seeming purpose thereof to
permit Members of Congress to run for election as delegates to the constitutional convention and participate in the
proceedings therein, without forfeiting their seats in Congress. Whether or not this should be done is a political
question, not subject to review by the courts of justice.
On this question there is no disagreement among the members of the Court.
May Constitutional Amendments Be Submitted for Ratification in a General Election?
Article XV of the Constitution provides:
. . . The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members of the Senate
and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments to this Constitution or call
a contention for that purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by
a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their
ratification.
There is in this provision nothing to indicate that the "election" therein referred to is a "special," not a general,
election. The circumstance that three previous amendments to the Constitution had been submitted to the people for
ratification in special elections merely shows that Congress deemed it best to do so under the circumstances then
obtaining. It does not negate its authority to submit proposed amendments for ratification in general elections.
It would be better, from the viewpoint of a thorough discussion of the proposed amendments, that the same be
submitted to the people's approval independently of the election of public officials. And there is no denying the fact
that an adequate appraisal of the merits and demerits proposed amendments is likely to be overshadowed by the
great attention usually commanded by the choice of personalities involved in general elections, particularly when
provincial and municipal officials are to be chosen. But, then, these considerations are addressed to the wisdom of
holding a plebiscite simultaneously with the election of public officer. They do not deny the authority of Congress to
choose either alternative, as implied in the term "election" used, without qualification, in the abovequoted provision

of the Constitution. Such authority becomes even more patent when we consider: (1) that the term "election,"
normally refers to the choice or selection of candidates to public office by popular vote; and (2) that the word used in
Article V of the Constitution, concerning the grant of suffrage to women is, not "election," but "plebiscite."
Petitioners maintain that the term "election," as used in Section 1 of Art. XV of the Constitution, should be construed
as meaning a special election. Some members of the Court even feel that said term ("election") refers to a
"plebiscite," without any "election," general or special, of public officers. They opine that constitutional amendments
are, in general, if not always, of such important, if not transcendental and vital nature as to demand that the attention
of the people be focused exclusively on the subject-matter thereof, so that their votes thereon may reflect no more
than their intelligent, impartial and considered view on the merits of the proposed amendments, unimpaired, or, at
least, undiluted by extraneous, if not insidious factors, let alone the partisan political considerations that are likely to
affect the selection of elective officials.
This, certainly, is a situation to be hoped for. It is a goal the attainment of which should be promoted. The ideal
conditions are, however, one thing. The question whether the Constitution forbids the submission of proposals for
amendment to the people except under such conditions, is another thing. Much as the writer and those who concur
in this opinion admire the contrary view, they find themselves unable to subscribe thereto without, in effect, reading
into the Constitution what they believe is not written thereon and can not fairly be deduced from the letter thereof,
since the spirit of the law should not be a matter of sheer speculation.
The majority view although the votes in favor thereof are insufficient to declare Republic Act No. 4913
unconstitutional as ably set forth in the opinion penned by Mr. Justice Sanchez, is, however, otherwise.
Would the Submission now of the Contested Amendments to the People Violate the Spirit of the Constitution?
It should be noted that the contested Resolutions were approved on March 16, 1967, so that, by November 14,
1967, our citizenry shall have had practically eight (8) months to be informed on the amendments in question. Then
again, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 4913 provides:
(1) that "the amendments shall be published in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette, at least twenty days
prior to the election;"
(2) that "a printed copy of the proposed amendments shall be posted in a conspicuous place in every municipality,
city and provincial office building and in every polling place not later than October 14, 1967," and that said copy
"shall remain posted therein until after the election;"
(3) that "at least five copies of said amendment shall be kept in each polling place, to be made available for
examination by the qualified electors during election day;"
(4) that "when practicable, copies in the principal native languages, as may be determined by the Commission on
Elections, shall be kept in each polling place;"
(5) that "the Commission on Elections shall make available copies of said amendments in English, Spanish and,
whenever practicable, in the principal native languages, for free distributing:" and
(6) that the contested Resolutions "shall be printed in full" on the back of the ballots which shall be used on
November 14, 1967.
We are not prepared to say that the foregoing measures are palpably inadequate to comply with the constitutional
requirement that proposals for amendment be "submitted to the people for their ratification," and that said measures
are manifestly insufficient, from a constitutional viewpoint, to inform the people of the amendment sought to be
made.
These were substantially the same means availed of to inform the people of the subject submitted to them for
ratification, from the original Constitution down to the Parity Amendment. Thus, referring to the original Constitution,
Section 1 of Act No. 4200, provides:
Said Constitution, with the Ordinance appended thereto, shall be published in the Official Gazette, in English
and in Spanish, for three consecutive issues at least fifteen days prior to said election, and a printed copy of
said Constitution, with the Ordinance appended thereto, shall be posted in a conspicuous place in each
municipal and provincial government office building and in each polling place not later than the twentysecond day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-five, and shall remain posted therein continually until after
the termination of the election. At least ten copies of the Constitution with the Ordinance appended thereto,
in English and in Spanish, shall be kept at each polling place available for examination by the qualified
electors during election day. Whenever practicable, copies in the principal local dialects as may be
determined by the Secretary of the Interior shall also be kept in each polling place.
The provision concerning woman's suffrage is Section 1 of Commonwealth Act No. 34, reading:

Said Article V of the Constitution shall be published in the Official Gazette, in English and in Spanish, for
three consecutive issues at least fifteen days prior to said election, and the said Article V shall be posted in a
conspicuous place in each municipal and provincial office building and in each polling place not later than
the twenty-second day of April, nineteen and thirty-seven, and shall remain posted therein continually until
after the termination of the plebiscite. At least ten copies of said Article V of the Constitution, in English and
in Spanish, shall be kept at each polling place available for examination by the qualified electors during the
plebiscite. Whenever practicable, copies in the principal native languages, as may be determined by the
Secretary of the Interior, shall also be kept in each polling place.
Similarly, Section 2, Commonwealth Act No. 517, referring to the 1940 amendments, is of the following tenor:
The said amendments shall be published in English and Spanish in three consecutive issues of the Official
Gazette at least twenty days prior to the election. A printed copy thereof shall be posted in a conspicuous
place in every municipal, city, and provincial government office building and in every polling place not later
than May eighteen, nineteen hundred and forty, and shall remain posted therein until after the election. At
least ten copies of said amendments shall be kept in each polling place to be made available for
examination by the qualified electors during election day. When practicable, copies in the principal native
languages, as may be determined by the Secretary of the Interior, shall also be kept therein.
As regards the Parity Amendment, Section 2 of Republic Act No. 73 is to the effect that:
The said amendment shall be published in English and Spanish in three consecutive issues of the Official
Gazette at least twenty days prior to the election. A printed copy thereof shall be posted in a conspicuous
place in every municipal, city, and provincial government office building and in every polling place not later
than February eleven, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, and shall remain posted therein until after the
election. At least, ten copies of the said amendment shall be kept in each polling place to be made available
for examination by the qualified electors during election day. When practicable, copies in the principal native
languages, as may be determined by the Commission on Elections, shall also be kept in each polling place.
The main difference between the present situation and that obtaining in connection with the former proposals does
not arise from the law enacted therefor. The difference springs from the circumstance that the major political parties
had taken sides on previous amendments to the Constitution except, perhaps, the woman's suffrage and,
consequently, debated thereon at some length before the plebiscite took place. Upon the other hand, said political
parties have not seemingly made an issue on the amendments now being contested and have, accordingly,
refrained from discussing the same in the current political campaign. Such debates or polemics as may have taken
place on a rather limited scale on the latest proposals for amendment, have been due principally to the
initiative of a few civic organizations and some militant members of our citizenry who have voiced their opinion
thereon. A legislation cannot, however, be nullified by reason of the failure of certain sectors of the community to
discuss it sufficiently. Its constitutionality or unconstitutionality depends upon no other factors than those existing at
the time of the enactment thereof, unaffected by the acts or omissions of law enforcing agencies, particularly those
that take place subsequently to the passage or approval of the law.
Referring particularly to the contested proposals for amendment, the sufficiency or insufficiency, from a
constitutional angle, of the submission thereof for ratification to the people on November 14, 1967, depends in
the view of those who concur in this opinion, and who, insofar as this phase of the case, constitute the minority
upon whether the provisions of Republic Act No. 4913 are such as to fairly apprise the people of the gist, the main
idea or the substance of said proposals, which is under R. B. H. No. 1 the increase of the maximum number of
seats in the House of Representatives, from 120 to 180, and under R. B. H. No. 3 the authority given to the
members of Congress to run for delegates to the Constitutional Convention and, if elected thereto, to discharge the
duties of such delegates, without forfeiting their seats in Congress. We who constitute the minority believe that
Republic Act No. 4913 satisfies such requirement and that said Act is, accordingly, constitutional.
A considerable portion of the people may not know how over 160 of the proposed maximum of representative
districts are actually apportioned by R. B. H. No. 1 among the provinces in the Philippines. It is not improbable,
however, that they are not interested in the details of the apportionment, or that a careful reading thereof may tend
in their simple minds, to impair a clear vision thereof. Upon the other hand, those who are more sophisticated, may
enlighten themselves sufficiently by reading the copies of the proposed amendments posted in public places, the
copies kept in the polling places and the text of contested resolutions, as printed in full on the back of the ballots
they will use.
It is, likewise, conceivable that as many people, if not more, may fail to realize or envisage the effect of R. B. H. No.
3 upon the work of the Constitutional Convention or upon the future of our Republic. But, then, nobody can foretell
such effect with certainty. From our viewpoint, the provisions of Article XV of the Constitution are satisfied so long as
the electorate knows that R. B. H. No. 3 permits Congressmen to retain their seats as legislators, even if they should
run for and assume the functions of delegates to the Convention.
We are impressed by the factors considered by our distinguished and esteemed brethren, who opine otherwise, but,
we feel that such factors affect the wisdom of Republic Act No. 4913 and that of R. B. H. Nos. 1 and
3, not theauthority of Congress to approve the same.

The system of checks and balances underlying the judicial power to strike down acts of the Executive or of
Congress transcending the confines set forth in the fundamental laws is not in derogation of the principle of
separation of powers, pursuant to which each department is supreme within its own sphere. The determination of
the conditions under which the proposed amendments shall be submitted to the people is concededly a matter
which falls within the legislative sphere. We do not believe it has been satisfactorily shown that Congress has
exceeded the limits thereof in enacting Republic Act No. 4913. Presumably, it could have done something better to
enlighten the people on the subject-matter thereof. But, then, no law is perfect. No product of human endeavor is
beyond improvement. Otherwise, no legislation would be constitutional and valid. Six (6) Members of this Court
believe, however, said Act and R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 violate the spirit of the Constitution.
Inasmuch as there are less than eight (8) votes in favor of declaring Republic Act 4913 and R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3
unconstitutional and invalid, the petitions in these two (2) cases must be, as they are hereby, dismiss and the writs
therein prayed for denied, without special pronouncement as to costs. It is so ordered.
Makalintal and Bengzon, J.P., JJ., concur.
Fernando, J., concurs fully with the above opinion, adding a few words on the question of jurisdiction.

G.R. No. L-32432 September 11, 1970


MANUEL B. IMBONG, petitioner,
vs.
JAIME FERRER, as Chairman of the Comelec, LINO M. PATAJO and CESAR MILAFLOR, as members
thereof, respondents.
G.R. No. L-32443 September 11, 1970
IN THE MATTER OF A PETITION FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT REGARDING THE VALIDITY OF R.A. No.
6132, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION ACT OF 1970. RAUL M.
GONZALES,petitioner,
vs.
COMELEC, respondent.
Manuel B. Imbong in his own behalf.
Raul M. Gonzales in his own behalf.
Office of the Solicitor General Felix Q. Antonio, Acting Assistant Solicitor General Ricardo L. Pronove, Jr., and
Solicitors Raul I. Goco, Bernardo P. Pardo, Rosalio A. de Leon, Vicente A. Torres and Guillermo C. Nakar for
respondents.
Lorenzo Taada, Arturo Tolentino, Jovito Salonga and Emmanuel Pelaez as amici curiae.

MAKASIAR, J.:
These two separate but related petitions for declaratory relief were filed pursuant to Sec. 19 of R.A. No. 6132 by
petitioners Manuel B. Imbong and Raul M. Gonzales, both members of the Bar, taxpayers and interested in running
as candidates for delegates to the Constitutional Convention. Both impugn the constitutionality of R.A. No. 6132,
claiming during the oral argument that it prejudices their rights as such candidates. After the Solicitor General had
filed answers in behalf the respondents, hearings were held at which the petitioners and the amici curiae, namely
Senator Lorenzo Taada, Senator Arturo Tolentino, Senator Jovito Salonga, and Senator Emmanuel Pelaez argued
orally.
It will be recalled that on March 16, 1967, Congress, acting as a Constituent Assembly pursuant to Art. XV of the
Constitution, passed Resolution No. 2 which among others called for a Constitutional Convention to propose
constitutional amendments to be composed of two delegates from each representative district who shall have the
same qualifications as those of Congressmen, to be elected on the second Tuesday of November, 1970 in
accordance with the Revised Election Code.
After the adoption of said Res. No. 2 in 1967 but before the November elections of that year, Congress, acting as a
legislative body, enacted Republic Act No. 4914 implementing the aforesaid Resolution No. 2 and practically
restating in toto the provisions of said Resolution No. 2.
On June 17, 1969, Congress, also acting as a Constituent Assembly, passed Resolution No. 4 amending the
aforesaid Resolution No. 2 of March 16, 1967 by providing that the convention "shall be composed of 320 delegates
apportioned among the existing representative districts according to the number of their respective inhabitants:
Provided, that a representative district shall be entitled to at least two delegates, who shall have the same
qualifications as those required of members of the House of Representatives," 1 "and that any other details relating to
the specific apportionment of delegates, election of delegates to, and the holding of, the Constitutional Convention shall
be embodied in an implementing legislation: Provided, that it shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of this
Resolution." 2

On August 24, 1970, Congress, acting as a legislative body, enacted Republic Act No. 6132, implementing
Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4, and expressly repealing R.A. No.
4914. 3
Petitioner Raul M. Gonzales assails the validity of the entire law as well as the particular provisions embodied in
Sections 2, 4, 5, and par. 1 of 8(a). Petitioner Manuel B. Imbong impugns the constitutionality of only par. I of Sec.
8(a) of said R.A. No. 6132 practically on the same grounds advanced by petitioner Gonzales.
I
The validity of Sec. 4 of R.A. No. 6132, which considers, all public officers and employees, whether elective or
appointive, including members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as well as officers and employees of

corporations or enterprises of the government, as resigned from the date of the filing of their certificates of
candidacy, was recently sustained by this Court, on the grounds, inter alia, that the same is merely an application of
and in consonance with the prohibition in Sec. 2 of Art. XII of the Constitution and that it does not constitute a denial
of due process or of the equal protection of the law. Likewise, the constitutionality of paragraph 2 of Sec. 8(a) of
R.A. No. 6132 was upheld. 4
II
Without first considering the validity of its specific provisions, we sustain the constitutionality of the enactment of
R.A. No. 6132 by Congress acting as a legislative body in the exercise of its broad law-making authority, and not as
a Constituent Assembly, because
1. Congress, when acting as a Constituent Assembly pursuant to Art. XV of the Constitution, has full
and plenary authority to propose Constitutional amendments or to call a convention for the purpose,
by a three-fourths vote of each House in joint session assembled but voting separately. Resolutions
Nos. 2 and 4 calling for a constitutional convention were passed by the required three-fourths vote.
2. The grant to Congress as a Constituent Assembly of such plenary authority to call a constitutional
convention includes, by virtue of the doctrine of necessary implication, all other powers essential to
the effective exercise of the principal power granted, such as the power to fix the qualifications,
number, apportionment, and compensation of the delegates as well as appropriation of funds to
meet the expenses for the election of delegates and for the operation of the Constitutional
Convention itself, as well as all other implementing details indispensable to a fruitful convention.
Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4 already embody the above-mentioned details, except the appropriation of
funds.
3. While the authority to call a constitutional convention is vested by the present Constitution solely
and exclusively in Congress acting as a Constituent Assembly, the power to enact the implementing
details, which are now contained in Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4 as well as in R.A. No. 6132, does not
exclusively pertain to Congress acting as a Constituent Assembly. Such implementing details are
matters within the competence of Congress in the exercise of its comprehensive legislative power,
which power encompasses all matters not expressly or by necessary implication withdrawn or
removed by the Constitution from the ambit of legislative action. And as lone as such statutory
details do not clash with any specific provision of the constitution, they are valid.
4. Consequently, when Congress, acting as a Constituent Assembly, omits to provide for such
implementing details after calling a constitutional convention, Congress, acting as a legislative body,
can enact the necessary implementing legislation to fill in the gaps, which authority is expressly
recognized in Sec. 8 of Res No. 2 as amended by Res. No. 4.
5. The fact that a bill providing for such implementing details may be vetoed by the President is no
argument against conceding such power in Congress as a legislative body nor present any difficulty;
for it is not irremediable as Congress can override the Presidential veto or Congress can reconvene
as a Constituent Assembly and adopt a resolution prescribing the required implementing details.
III
Petitioner Raul M. Gonzales asserts that Sec. 2 on the apportionment of delegates is not in accordance with
proportional representation and therefore violates the Constitution and the intent of the law itself, without pinpointing
any specific provision of the Constitution with which it collides.
Unlike in the apportionment of representative districts, the Constitution does not expressly or impliedly require such
apportionment of delegates to the convention on the basis of population in each congressional district. Congress,
sitting as a Constituent Assembly, may constitutionally allocate one delegate for, each congressional district or for
each province, for reasons of economy and to avoid having an unwieldy convention. If the framers of the present
Constitution wanted the apportionment of delegates to the convention to be based on the number of inhabitants in
each representative district, they would have done so in so many words as they did in relation to the apportionment
of the representative districts. 5
The apportionment provided for in Sec. 2 of R.A. No. 6132 cannot possibly conflict with its own intent expressed
therein; for it merely obeyed and implemented the intent of Congress acting as a Constituent Assembly expressed in
Sec. 1 of Res. No. 4, which provides that the 320 delegates should be apportioned among the existing
representative districts according to the number of their respective inhabitants, but fixing a minimum of at least two
delegates for a representative district. The presumption is that the factual predicate, the latest available official
population census, for such apportionment was presented to Congress, which, accordingly employed a formula for
the necessary computation to effect the desired proportional representation.
The records of the proceedings on Senate Bill No. 77 sponsored by Senator Pelaez which is now R.A. No. 6132,
submitted to this Tribunal by the amici curiae, show that it based its apportionment of the delegates on the 1970

official preliminary population census taken by the Bureau of Census and Statistics from May 6 to June 30, 1976;
and that Congress adopted the formula to effect a reasonable apportionment of delegates. The Director of the
Bureau of Census and Statistics himself, in a letter to Senator Pelaez dated July 30, 1970, stated that "on the basis
of the preliminary count of the population, we have computed the distribution of delegates to the Constitutional
Convention based on Senate Bill 77 (p. 2 lines 5 to 32 and p. 3 line 12) which is a fair and an equitable method of
distributing the delegates pursuant to the provisions of the joint Resolution of both Houses No. 2, as amended. Upon
your request at the session of the Senate-House Conference Committee meeting last night, we are submitting
herewith the results of the computation on the basis of the above-stated method."
Even if such latest census were a preliminary census, the same could still be a valid basis for such
apportionment.6 The fact that the lone and small congressional district of Batanes, may be over-represented, because it
is allotted two delegates by R.A. No. 6132 despite the fact that it has a population very much less than several other
congressional districts, each of which is also allotted only two delegates, and therefore under-represented, vis-a-vis
Batanes alone, does not vitiate the apportionment as not effecting proportional representation. Absolute proportional
apportionment is not required and is not possible when based on the number of inhabitants, for the population census
cannot be accurate nor complete, dependent as it is on the diligence of the census takers, aggravated by the constant
movement of population, as well as daily death and birth. It is enough that the basis employed is reasonable and the
resulting apportionment is substantially proportional. Resolution No. 4 fixed a minimum of two delegates for a
congressional district.

While there may be other formulas for a reasonable apportionment considering the evidence submitted to Congress
by the Bureau of Census and Statistics, we are not prepared to rule that the computation formula adopted by,
Congress for proportional representation as, directed in Res. No. 4 is unreasonable and that the apportionment
provided in R.A. No. 6132 does not constitute a substantially proportional representation.
In the Macias case, relied on by petitioner Gonzales, the apportionment law, which was nullified as unconstitutional,
granted more representatives to a province with less population than the provinces with more inhabitants. Such is
not the case here, where under Sec. 2 of R.A. No. 6132 Batanes is allotted only two delegates, which number is
equal to the number of delegates accorded other provinces with more population. The present petitions therefore do
not present facts which fit the mould of the doctrine in the case of Macias et al. vs. Comelec, supra.
The impossibility of absolute proportional representation is recognized by the Constitution itself when it directs that
the apportionment of congressional districts among the various provinces shall be "as nearly as may be according to
their respective inhabitants, but each province shall have at least one member" (Sec. 5, Art. VI, Phil. Const.,
emphasis supplied). The employment of the phrase "as nearly as may be according to their respective inhabitants"
emphasizes the fact that the human mind can only approximate a reasonable apportionment but cannot effect an
absolutely proportional representation with mathematical precision or exactitude.
IV
Sec. 5 of R.A. 6132 is attacked on the ground that it is an undue deprivation of liberty without due process of law
and denies the equal protection of the laws. Said Sec. 5 disqualifies any elected delegate from running "for any
public office in any election" or from assuming "any appointive office or position in any branch of the government
government until after the final adjournment of the Constitutional Convention."
That the citizen does not have any inherent nor natural right to a public office, is axiomatic under our constitutional
system. The State through its Constitution or legislative body, can create an office and define the qualifications and
disqualifications therefor as well as impose inhibitions on a public officer. Consequently, only those with
qualifications and who do not fall under any constitutional or statutory inhibition can be validly elected or appointed
to a public office. The obvious reason for the questioned inhibition, is to immunize the delegates from the perverting
influence of self-interest, party interest or vested interest and to insure that he dedicates all his time to performing
solely in the interest of the nation his high and well nigh sacred function of formulating the supreme law of the land,
which may endure for generations and which cannot easily be changed like an ordinary statute. With the
disqualification embodied in Sec. 5, the delegate will not utilize his position as a bargaining leverage for concessions
in the form of an elective or appointive office as long as the convention has not finally adjourned. The appointing
authority may, by his appointing power, entice votes for his own proposals. Not love for self, but love for country
must always motivate his actuations as delegate; otherwise the several provisions of the new Constitution may only
satisfy individual or special interests, subversive of the welfare of the general citizenry. It should be stressed that the
disqualification is not permanent but only temporary only to continue until the final adjournment of the convention
which may not extend beyond one year. The convention that framed the present Constitution finished its task in
approximately seven months from July 30, 1934 to February 8, 1935.
As admitted by petitioner Gonzales, this inhibition finds analogy in the constitutional provision prohibiting a member
of Congress, during the time for which he was elected, from being appointed to any civil office which may have been
created or the emolument whereof shall have been increased while he was a member of the Congress. (Sec. 16,
Art. VI, Phil. Constitution.)
As observed by the Solicitor General in his Answer, the overriding objective of the challenged disqualification,
temporary in nature, is to compel the elected delegates to serve in full their term as such and to devote all their time
to the convention, pursuant to their representation and commitment to the people; otherwise, his seat in the

convention will be vacant and his constituents will be deprived of a voice in the convention. The inhibition is likewise
"designed to prevent popular political figures from controlling elections or positions. Also it is a brake on the
appointing power, to curtail the latter's desire to 'raid' the convention of "talents" or attempt to control the
convention." (p. 10, Answer in L-32443.)
Thus the challenged disqualification prescribed in Sec. 5 of R.A. No. 6132 is a valid limitation on the right to public
office pursuant to state police power as it is reasonable and not arbitrary.
The discrimination under Sec. 5 against delegates to the Constitutional Convention is likewise constitutional; for it is
based on a substantial distinction which makes for real differences, is germane to the purposes of the law, and
applies to all members of the same class. 7 The function of a delegate is more far-reaching and its effect more enduring
than that of any ordinary legislator or any other public officer. A delegate shapes the fundamental law of the land which
delineates the essential nature of the government, its basic organization and powers, defines the liberties of the people,
and controls all other laws. Unlike ordinary statutes, constitutional amendments cannot be changed in one or two years.
No other public officer possesses such a power, not even the members of Congress unless they themselves, propose
constitutional amendments when acting as a Constituent Assembly pursuant to Art. XV of the Constitution. The
classification, therefore, is neither whimsical nor repugnant to the sense of justice of the community.

As heretofore intimated, the inhibition is relevant to the object of the law, which is to insure that the proposed
amendments are meaningful to the masses of our people and not designed for the enhancement of selfishness,
greed, corruption, or injustice.
Lastly, the disqualification applies to all the delegates to the convention who will be elected on the second Tuesday
of November, 1970.
V
Paragraph 1, Sec. 8(a) of R.A. No. 6132 is impugned by both petitioners as violative of the constitutional guarantees
of due process, equal protection of the laws, freedom of expressions, freedom of assembly and freedom of
association.
This Court ruled last year that the guarantees of due process, equal protection of the laws, peaceful assembly, free
expression, and the right of association are neither absolute nor illimitable rights; they are always subject to the
pervasive and dormant police power of the State and may be lawfully abridged to serve appropriate and important
public interests. 8
In said Gonzalez vs. Comelec case the Court applied the clear and present danger test to determine whether a
statute which trenches upon the aforesaid Constitutional guarantees, is a legitimate exercise of police power. 9
Paragraph 1 of Sec. 8(a), R.A. No. 6132 prohibits:
1. any candidate for delegate to the convention
(a) from representing, or
(b) allowing himself to be represented as being a candidate of any political party or
any other organization; and
2. any political party, political group, political committee, civic, religious, professional or other
organizations or organized group of whatever nature from
(a) intervening in the nomination of any such candidate or in the filing of his
certificate, or
(b) from giving aid or support directly or indirectly, material or otherwise, favorable to
or against his campaign for election.
The ban against all political parties or organized groups of whatever nature contained in par. 1 of Sec. 8(a), is
confined to party or organization support or assistance, whether material, moral, emotional or otherwise. The very
Sec. 8(a) in its provisos permits the candidate to utilize in his campaign the help of the members of his family within
the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, and a campaign staff composed of not more than one for every
ten precincts in his district. It allows the full exercise of his freedom of expression and his right to peaceful assembly,
because he cannot be denied any permit to hold a public meeting on the pretext that the provision of said section
may or will be violated. The right of a member of any political party or association to support him or oppose his
opponent is preserved as long as such member acts individually. The very party or organization to which he may
belong or which may be in sympathy with his cause or program of reforms, is guaranteed the right to disseminate
information about, or to arouse public interest in, or to advocate for constitutional reforms, programs, policies or
constitutional proposals for amendments.

It is therefore patent that the restriction contained in Sec. 8(a) is so narrow that the basic constitutional rights
themselves remain substantially intact and inviolate. And it is therefore a valid infringement of the aforesaid
constitutional guarantees invoked by petitioners.
In the aforesaid case of Gonzales vs. Comelec, supra, this Court unanimously sustained the validity of the limitation
on the period for nomination of candidates in Sec. 50-A of R.A. No. 4880, thus:
The prohibition of too early nomination of candidates presents a question that is not too formidable in
character. According to the act: "It shall be unlawful for any political party, political committee, or
political group to nominate candidates for any elective public office voted for at large earlier than one
hundred and fifty days immediately preceding an election, and for any other elective public office
earlier than ninety days immediately preceding an election.
The right of association is affected. Political parties have less freedom as to the time during which
they may nominate candidates; the curtailment is not such, however, as to render meaningless such
a basic right. Their scope of legitimate activities, save this one, is not unduly narrowed. Neither is
there infringement of their freedom to assemble. They can do so, but not for such a purpose. We
sustain its validity. We do so unanimously. 10
In said Gonzales vs. Comelec case, this Court likewise held that the period for the conduct of an election campaign
or partisan political activity may be limited without offending the aforementioned constitutional guarantees as the
same is designed also to prevent a "clear and present danger of a substantive evil, the debasement of the electoral
process." 11
Even if the partisan activity consists of (a) forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees or other group of
persons for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a party or
candidate; (b) holding political conventions, caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades or other similar
assemblies for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against any
candidate or party; and (c) giving, soliciting, or receiving contributions for election campaign either directly or
indirectly, (Sec. 50-B, pars. (a), (b), and (c), R.A. 4880), the abridgment was still affirmed as constitutional by six
members of this Court, which could not "ignore ... the legislative declaration that its enactment was in response to a
serious substantive evil affecting the electoral process, not merely in danger of happening, but actually in existence,
and likely to continue unless curbed or remedied. To assert otherwise would be to close one's eyes to the reality of
the situation." 12;
Likewise, because four members dissented, this Court in said case of Gonzales vs. Comelec, supra, failed to muster
the required eight votes to declare as unconstitutional the limitation on the period for (a) making speeches,
announcements or commentaries or holding interviews for or against the election of any party or candidate for public
office; (b) publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials; and (e) directly or indirectly soliciting votes
and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against any candidate or party specified in Sec. 50-B, pars.
(c), (d) & (e) of R.A. 4880. 13
The debasement of the electoral process as a substantive evil exists today and is one of the major compelling
interests that moved Congress into prescribing the total ban contained in par. 1 of Sec. 8(a) of R.A. No. 6132, to
justify such ban. In the said Gonzales vs. Comelec case, this Court gave "due recognition to the legislative concern
to cleanse, and if possible, render spotless, the electoral process," 14 impressed as it was by the explanation made by
the author of R.A. No. 4880, Sen. Lorenzo Taada, who appeared as amicus curiae, "that such provisions were deemed
by the legislative body to be part and parcel of the necessary and appropriate response not merely to a clear and present
danger but to the actual existence of a grave and substantive evil of excessive partisanship, dishonesty and corruption as
well as violence that of late has marred election campaigns and partisan political activities in this country. He did invite our
attention likewise to the well-settled doctrine that in the choice of remedies for an admitted malady requiring governmental
action, on the legislature primarily rests the responsibility. Nor should the cure prescribed by it, unless clearly repugnant to
fundamental rights, be ignored or disregarded." 15

But aside from the clear and imminent danger of the debasement of the electoral process, as conceded by Senator
Pelaez, the basic motivation, according to Senate Majority Floor Leader Senator Arturo Tolentino, the sponsor of the
Puyat-Tolentino amendment embodied in par. 1 of Sec. 8(a) of R.A. No. 6132, is to assure the candidates equal
protection of the laws by according them equality of chances. 16 The primary purpose of the prohibition then is also to
avert the clear and present danger of another substantive evil, the denial of the equal protection of the laws. The
candidates must depend on their individual merits and not on the support of political parties or organizations. Senator
Tolentino and Senator Salonga emphasized that under this provision, the poor candidate has an even chance as against
the rich candidate. We are not prepared to disagree with them, because such a conclusion, predicated as it is on empirical
logic, finds support in our recent political history and experience. Both Senators stressed that the independent candidate
who wins in the election against a candidate of the major political parties, is a rare phenomenon in this country and the
victory of an independent candidate mainly rests on his ability to match the resources, financial and otherwise, of the
political parties or organizations supporting his opponent. This position is further strengthened by the principle that the
guarantee of social justice under Sec. V, Art. II of the Constitution, includes the guarantee of equal opportunity, equality of
political rights, and equality before the law enunciated by Mr. Justice Tuazon in the case Guido vs. Rural Progress
Administration. 17

While it may be true that a party's support of a candidate is not wrong per se it is equally true that Congress in the
exercise of its broad law-making authority can declare certain acts as mala prohibita when justified by the
exigencies of the times. One such act is the party or organization support proscribed in Sec. 8(a),which ban is a
valid limitation on the freedom of association as well as expression, for the reasons aforestated.
Senator Tolentino emphasized that "equality of chances may be better attained by banning all organization
support." 18
The questioned par. 1 of Sec. 8 (a) likewise can easily pass the balancing-of-interest test. 19
In the apt words of the Solicitor General:
It is to be noted that right now the nation is on the threshold of rewriting its Constitution in a hopeful
endeavor to find a solution to the grave economic, social and political problems besetting the
country. Instead of directly proposing the amendments Congress has chosen to call a Constitutional
Convention which shall have the task of fashioning a document that shall embody the aspirations
and ideals of the people. Because what is to be amended is the fundamental law of the land, it is
indispensable that the Constitutional Convention be composed of delegates truly representative of
the people's will. Public welfare demands that the delegates should speak for the entire nation, and
their voices be not those of a particular segment of the citizenry, or of a particular class or group of
people, be they religious, political, civic or professional in character. Senator Pelaez, Chairman of
the Senate Committee on Codes and Constitutional Amendments, eloquently stated that "the
function of a constitution is not to represent anyone in interest or set of interests, not to favor one
group at the expense or disadvantage of the candidates but to encompass all the interests that
exist within our society and to blend them into one harmonious and balanced whole. For the
constitutional system means, not the predominance of interests, but the harmonious balancing
thereof."
So that the purpose for calling the Constitutional Convention will not be deflated or frustrated, it is
necessary that the delegatee thereto be independent, beholden to no one but to God, country and
conscience.
xxx xxx xxx
The evil therefore, which the law seeks to prevent lies in the election of delegates who, because they
have been chosen with the aid and resources of organizations, cannot be expected to be sufficiently
representative of the people. Such delegates could very well be the spokesmen of narrow political,
religious or economic interest and not of the great majority of the people. 20
We likewise concur with the Solicitor General that the equal protection of the laws is not unduly subverted in par. I of
Sec. 8(a); because it does not create any hostile discrimination against any party or group nor does it confer undue
favor or privilege on an individual as heretofore stated. The discrimination applies to all organizations, whether
political parties or social, civic, religious, or professional associations. The ban is germane to the objectives of the
law, which are to avert the debasement of the electoral process, and to attain real equality of chances among
individual candidates and thereby make real the guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
The political parties and the other organized groups have built-in advantages because of their machinery and other
facilities, which, the individual candidate who is without any organization support, does not have. The fact that the
other civic of religious organizations cannot have a campaign machinery as efficient as that of a political party, does
not vary the situation; because it still has that much built-in advantage as against the individual candidate without
similar support. Moreover, these civic religious and professional organization may band together to support common
candidates, who advocates the reforms that these organizations champion and believe are imperative. This is
admitted by petitioner Gonzales thru the letter of Senator Ganzon dated August 17, 1970 attached to his petition as
Annex "D", wherein the Senator stated that his own "Timawa" group had agreed with the Liberal Party in Iloilo to
support petitioner Gonzales and two others as their candidates for the convention, which organized support is
nullified by the questioned ban, Senator Ganzon stressed that "without the group moving and working in joint
collective effort" they cannot "exercise effective control and supervision over our
leaders the Women's League, the area commanders, etc."; but with their joining with the LP's they "could have
presented a solid front with very bright chances of capturing all seats."
The civic associations other than political parties cannot with reason insist that they should be exempted from the
ban; because then by such exemption they would be free to utilize the facilities of the campaign machineries which
they are denying to the political parties. Whenever all organization engages in a political activity, as in this campaign
for election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention, to that extent it partakes of the nature of a political
organization. This, despite the fact that the Constitution and by laws of such civic, religious, or professional
associations usually prohibit the association from engaging in partisan political activity or supporting any candidate
for an elective office. Hence, they must likewise respect the ban.

The freedom of association also implies the liberty not to associate or join with others or join any existing
organization. A person may run independently on his own merits without need of catering to a political party or any
other association for support. And he, as much as the candidate whose candidacy does not evoke sympathy from
any political party or organized group, must be afforded equal chances. As emphasized by Senators Tolentino and
Salonga, this ban is to assure equal chances to a candidate with talent and imbued with patriotism as well as nobility
of purpose, so that the country can utilize their services if elected.
Impressed as We are by the eloquent and masterly exposition of Senator Taada for the invalidation of par. 1 of
Sec. 8(a) of R.A. No. 6132, demonstrating once again his deep concern for the preservation of our civil liberties
enshrined in the Bill of Rights, We are not persuaded to entertain the belief that the challenged ban transcends the
limits of constitutional invasion of such cherished immunities.
WHEREFORE, the prayers in both petitions are hereby denied and R.A. No. 6132 including Secs. 2, 4, 5, and 8(a),
paragraph 1, thereof, cannot be declared unconstitutional. Without costs.
Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon and Castro, JJ., concur.
Makalintal, J., concurs in the result.
Teehankee, J., is on leave.

G.R. No. L-34150 October 16, 1971


ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, and THE CHIEF ACCOUNTANT, THE AUDITOR, and THE DISBURSING
OFFICER OF THE 1971 CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, respondents, RAUL S. MANGLAPUS, JESUS G.
BARRERA, PABLO S. TRILLANA III, VICTOR DE LA SERNA, MARCELO B. FERNAN, JOSE Y. FERIA,
LEONARDO SIGUION REYNA, VICTOR F. ORTEGA, and JUAN V. BORRA, Intervenors.
Arturo M. Tolentino in his own behalf.
Ramon A. Gonzales for respondents Chief Accountant and Auditor of the 1971 Constitutional Convention.
Emmanuel Pelaez, Jorge M. Juco and Tomas L. Echivarre for respondent Disbursing Officer of the 1971
Constitutional Convention.
Intervenors in their own behalf.

BARREDO, J.:
Petition for prohibition principally to restrain the respondent Commission on Elections "from undertaking to hold a
plebiscite on November 8, 1971," at which the proposed constitutional amendment "reducing the voting age" in
Section 1 of Article V of the Constitution of the Philippines to eighteen years "shall be, submitted" for ratification by
the people pursuant to Organic Resolution No. 1 of the Constitutional Convention of 1971, and the subsequent
implementing resolutions, by declaring said resolutions to be without the force and effect of law in so far as they
direct the holding of such plebiscite and by also declaring the acts of the respondent Commission (COMELEC)
performed and to be done by it in obedience to the aforesaid Convention resolutions to be null and void, for being
violative of the Constitution of the Philippines.
As a preliminary step, since the petition named as respondent only the COMELEC, the Count required that copies
thereof be served on the Solicitor General and the Constitutional Convention, through its President, for such action
as they may deem proper to take. In due time, respondent COMELEC filed its answer joining issues with petitioner.
To further put things in proper order, and considering that the fiscal officers of the Convention are indispensable
parties in a proceeding of this nature, since the acts sought to be enjoined involve the expenditure of funds
appropriated by law for the Convention, the Court also ordered that the Disbursing Officer, Chief Accountant and
Auditor of the Convention be made respondents. After the petition was so amended, the first appeared thru Senator
Emmanuel Pelaez and the last two thru Delegate Ramon Gonzales. All said respondents, thru counsel, resist
petitioner's action.
For reasons of orderliness and to avoid unnecessary duplication of arguments and even possible confusion, and
considering that with the principal parties being duly represented by able counsel, their interests would be
adequately protected already, the Court had to limit the number of intervenors from the ranks of the delegates to the
Convention who, more or less, have legal interest in the success of the respondents, and so, only Delegates Raul S.
Manglapus, Jesus G. Barrera, Pablo S. Trillana III, Victor de la Serna, Marcelo B. Fernan, Jose Y. Feria, Leonardo
Siguion Reyna, Victor Ortega and Juan B. Borra, all distinguished lawyers in their own right, have been allowed to
intervene jointly. The Court feels that with such an array of brilliant and dedicated counsel, all interests involved
should be duly and amply represented and protected. At any rate, notwithstanding that their corresponding motions
for leave to intervene or to appear as amicus curiae 1 have been denied, the pleadings filed by the other delegates
and some private parties, the latter in representation of their minor children allegedly to be affected by the result of
this case with the records and the Court acknowledges that they have not been without value as materials in the
extensive study that has been undertaken in this case.
The background facts are beyond dispute. The Constitutional Convention of 1971 came into being by virtue of two
resolutions of the Congress of the Philippines approved in its capacity as a constituent assembly convened for the
purpose of calling a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution namely, Resolutions 2 and 4 of the joint
sessions of Congress held on March 16, 1967 and June 17, 1969 respectively. The delegates to the said
Convention were all elected under and by virtue of said resolutions and the implementing legislation thereof,
Republic Act 6132. The pertinent portions of Resolution No 2 read as follows:
SECTION 1. There is hereby called a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution of the
Philippines, to be composed of two elective Delegates from each representative district who shall
have the same qualifications as those required of Members of the House of Representatives.
xxx xxx xxx

SECTION 7. The amendments proposed by the Convention shall be valid and considered part of the
Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast in an election at which they are submitted
to the people for their ratification pursuant to Article XV of the Constitution.
Resolution No. 4 merely modified the number of delegates to represent the different cities and provinces fixed
originally in Resolution No 2.
After the election of the delegates held on November 10, 1970, the Convention held its inaugural session on June 1,
1971. Its preliminary labors of election of officers, organization of committees and other preparatory works over, as
its first formal proposal to amend the Constitution, its session which began on September 27, 1971, or more
accurately, at about 3:30 in the morning of September 28, 1971, the Convention approved Organic Resolution No. 1
reading thus: .
CC ORGANIC RESOLUTION NO. 1
A RESOLUTION AMENDING SECTION ONE OF ARTICLE V OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE
PHILIPPINES SO AS TO LOWER THE VOTING AGE TO 18
BE IT RESOLVED as it is hereby resolved by the 1971 Constitutional Convention:
Section 1. Section One of Article V of the Constitution of the Philippines is amended to as follows:
Section 1. Suffrage may be exercised by (male) citizens of the Philippines not
otherwise disqualified by law, who are (twenty-one) EIGHTEEN years or over and
are able to read and write, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for one year
and in the municipality wherein they propose to vote for at least six months preceding
the election.
Section 2. This amendment shall be valid as part of the Constitution of the Philippines when
approved by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to coincide with the local elections in
November 1971.
Section 3. This partial amendment, which refers only to the age qualification for the exercise of
suffrage shall be without prejudice to other amendments that will be proposed in the future by the
1971 Constitutional Convention on other portions of the amended Section or on other portions of the
entire Constitution.
Section 4. The Convention hereby authorizes the use of the sum of P75,000.00 from its savings or
from its unexpended funds for the expense of the advanced plebiscite; provided, however that
should there be no savings or unexpended sums, the Delegates waive P250.00 each or the
equivalent of 2-1/2 days per diem.
By a letter dated September 28, 1971, President Diosdado Macapagal, called upon respondent Comelec "to help
the Convention implement (the above) resolution." The said letter reads:
September 28, 1971
The Commission on Elections Manila
Thru the Chairman
Gentlemen:
Last night the Constitutional Convention passed Resolution No. 1 quoted as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
(see above)
Pursuant to the provision of Section 14, Republic Act No. 6132 otherwise known as the
Constitutional Convention Act of 1971, may we call upon you to help the Convention implement this
resolution:
Sincerely,
(Sgd.) DIOSDADO P. MACAPAGAL
DIOSDADO P. MACAPAGAL
President

On September 30, 1971, COMELEC "RESOLVED to inform the Constitutional Convention that it will hold the
plebiscite on condition that:
(a) The Constitutional Convention will undertake the printing of separate official ballots, election
returns and tally sheets for the use of said plebiscite at its expense;
(b) The Constitutional Convention will adopt its own security measures for the printing and shipment
of said ballots and election forms; and
(c) Said official ballots and election forms will be delivered to the Commission in time so that they
could be distributed at the same time that the Commission will distribute its official and sample
ballots to be used in the elections on November 8, 1971.
What happened afterwards may best be stated by quoting from intervenors' Governors' statement of the genesis of
the above proposal:
The President of the Convention also issued an order forming an Ad Hoc Committee to implement
the Resolution.
This Committee issued implementing guidelines which were approved by the President who then
transmitted them to the Commission on Elections.
The Committee on Plebiscite and Ratification filed a report on the progress of the implementation of
the plebiscite in the afternoon of October 7,1971, enclosing copies of the order, resolution and letters
of transmittal above referred to (Copy of the report is hereto attached as Annex 8-Memorandum).
RECESS RESOLUTION
In its plenary session in the evening of October 7, 1971, the Convention approved a resolution
authored by Delegate Antonio Olmedo of Davao Oriental, calling for a recess of the Convention from
November 1, 1971 to November 9, 1971 to permit the delegates to campaign for the ratification of
Organic Resolution No. 1. (Copies of the resolution and the transcript of debate thereon are hereto
attached as Annexes 9 and 9-A Memorandum, respectively).
RESOLUTION CONFIRMING IMPLEMENTATION
On October 12, 1971, the Convention passed Resolution No. 24 submitted by Delegate Jose
Ozamiz confirming the authority of the President of the Convention to implement Organic Resolution
No. 1, including the creation of the Ad Hoc Committee ratifying all acts performed in connection with
said implementation.
Upon these facts, the main thrust of the petition is that Organic Resolution No. 1 and the other implementing
resolutions thereof subsequently approved by the Convention have no force and effect as laws in so far as they
provide for the holding of a plebiscite co-incident with the elections of eight senators and all city, provincial and
municipal officials to be held on November 8, 1971, hence all of Comelec's acts in obedience thereof and tending to
carry out the holding of the plebiscite directed by said resolutions are null and void, on the ground that the calling
and holding of such a plebiscite is, by the Constitution, a power lodged exclusively in Congress, as a legislative
body, and may not be exercised by the Convention, and that, under Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution, the
proposed amendment in question cannot be presented to the people for ratification separately from each and all of
the other amendments to be drafted and proposed by the Convention. On the other hand, respondents and
intervenors posit that the power to provide for, fix the date and lay down the details of the plebiscite for the
ratification of any amendment the Convention may deem proper to propose is within the authority of the Convention
as a necessary consequence and part of its power to propose amendments and that this power includes that of
submitting such amendments either individually or jointly at such time and manner as the Convention may direct in
discretion. The Court's delicate task now is to decide which of these two poses is really in accord with the letter and
spirit of the Constitution.
As a preliminary and prejudicial matter, the intervenors raise the question of jurisdiction. They contend that the issue
before Us is a political question and that the Convention being legislative body of the highest order is sovereign, and
as such, its acts impugned by petitioner are beyond the control of the Congress and the courts. In this connection, it
is to be noted that none of the respondent has joined intervenors in this posture. In fact, respondents Chief
Accountant and Auditor of the convention expressly concede the jurisdiction of this Court in their answer
acknowledging that the issue herein is a justifiable one.
Strangely, intervenors cite in support of this contention portions of the decision of this Court in the case of Gonzales
v. Comelec, 21 SCRA 774, wherein the members of the Court, despite their being divided in their opinions as to the
other matters therein involved, were precisely unanimous in upholding its jurisdiction. Obviously, distinguished
counsel have either failed to grasp the full impact of the portions of Our decision they have quoted or would
misapply them by taking them out of context.

There should be no more doubt as to the position of this Court regarding its jurisdiction vis-a-vis the constitutionality
of the acts of the Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, and, for that matter, those of a constitutional
convention called for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution, which concededly is at par with the
former. A simple reading of Our ruling in that very case of Gonzales relied upon by intervenors should dispel any
lingering misgivings as regards that point. Succinctly but comprehensively, Chief Justice Concepcion held for the
Court thus: .
As early as Angara vs. Electoral Commission (63 Phil. 139, 157), this Court speaking through one
of the leading members of the Constitutional Convention and a respected professor of Constitutional
Law, Dr. Jose P. Laurel declared that "the judicial department is the only constitutional organ
which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of powers between the several
departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof."
It is true that in Mabanag v. Lopez Vito (supra), this Court characterizing the issue submitted thereto
as a political one declined to pass upon the question whether or not a given number of votes cast in
Congress in favor of a proposed amendment to the Constitution which was being submitted to the
people for ratification satisfied the three-fourths vote requirement of the fundamental law. The
force of this precedent has been weakened, however, by Suanes v. Chief Accountant of the Senate
(81 Phil. 818), Avelino v. Cuenco, (L-2851, March 4 & 14, 1949), Taada v. Cuenco, (L-10520, Feb.
28, 1957) and Macias v. Commission on Elections, (L-18684, Sept. 14, 1961). In the first we held
that the officers and employees of the Senate Electoral Tribunal are under its supervision and
control, not of that of the Senate President, as claimed by the latter; in the second, this Court
proceeded to determine the number of Senators necessary for quorum in the Senate; in the third, we
nullified the election, by Senators belonging to the party having the largest number of votes in said
chamber, purporting to act, on behalf of the party having the second largest number of votes therein
of two (2) Senators belonging to the first party, as members, for the second party, of the Senate
Electoral Tribunal; and in the fourth, we declared unconstitutional an act of Congress purporting to
apportion the representatives districts for the House of Representatives, upon the ground that the
apportionment had not been made as may be possible according to the number of inhabitants of
each province. Thus we rejected the theory, advanced in these four (4) cases that the issues therein
raised were political questions the determination of which is beyond judicial review.
Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose amendments thereto is not included in
the general grant of legislative powers to Congress (Section 1, Art. VI, Constitution of the
Philippines). It is part of the inherent powers of the people as the repository sovereignty in a
republican state, such as ours (Section 1, Art. 11, Constitution of the Philippines) to make, and,
hence, to amend their own Fundamental Law. Congress may propose amendments to the
Constitution merely because the same explicitly grants such power. (Section 1, Art. XV, Constitution
of the Philippines) Hence, when exercising the same, it is said that Senators and members of the
House of Representatives act, not as members of Congress, but as component elements of
a constituent assembly. When acting as such, the members of Congress derive their authority from
the Constitution, unlike the people, when performing the same function, (Of amending the
Constitution) for their authority does not emanate from the Constitution they are the very
source of all powers of government including the Constitution itself.
Since, when proposing, as a constituent assembly, amendments to the Constitution, the members of
Congress derive their authority from the Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily, that they do not
have the final say on whether or not their acts are within or beyond constitutional limits. Otherwise,
they could brush aside and set the same at naught, contrary to the basic tenet that ours is a
government of laws, not of men, and to the rigid nature of our Constitution. Such rigidity is stressed
by the fact that the Constitution expressly confers upon the Supreme Court, (And, inferentially, to
lower courts.) the power to declare a treaty unconstitutional. (Sec. 2(1), Art. VIII of the Constitution),
despite the eminently political character of treaty-making power.
In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress acting as a constituent assembly
violates the Constitution is essentially justiciable not political, and, hence, subject to judicial review,
and, to the extent that this view may be inconsistent with the stand taken in Mabanag v. Lopez Vito,
(supra) the latter should be deemed modified accordingly. The Members of the Court are unanimous
on this point.
No one can rightly claim that within the domain of its legitimate authority, the Convention is not supreme. Nowhere
in his petition and in his oral argument and memoranda does petitioner point otherwise. Actually, what respondents
and intervenors are seemingly reluctant to admit is that the Constitutional Convention of 1971, as any other
convention of the same nature, owes its existence and derives all its authority and power from the existing
Constitution of the Philippines. This Convention has not been called by the people directly as in the case of a
revolutionary convention which drafts the first Constitution of an entirely new government born of either a war of
liberation from a mother country or of a revolution against an existing government or of a bloodless seizure of
power a la coup d'etat. As to such kind of conventions, it is absolutely true that the convention is completely without
restrain and omnipotent all wise, and it is as to such conventions that the remarks of Delegate Manuel Roxas of the
Constitutional Convention of 1934 quoted by Senator Pelaez refer. No amount of rationalization can belie the fact

that the current convention came into being only because it was called by a resolution of a joint session of Congress
acting as a constituent assembly by authority of Section 1, Article XV of the present Constitution which provides:
ARTICLE XV AMENDMENTS
SECTION 1. The Congress in joint session assembled, by a vote of three-fourths of all the Members
of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately, may propose amendments to
this Constitution or call a convention for the purpose. Such amendments shall be valid as part of this
Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments
are submitted to the people for their ratification.
True it is that once convened, this Convention became endowed with extra ordinary powers generally beyond the
control of any department of the existing government, but the compass of such powers can be co-extensive only
with the purpose for which the convention was called and as it may propose cannot have any effect as part of the
Constitution until the same are duly ratified by the people, it necessarily follows that the acts of convention, its
officers and members are not immune from attack on constitutional grounds. The present Constitution is in full force
and effect in its entirety and in everyone of its parts the existence of the Convention notwithstanding, and operates
even within the walls of that assembly. While it is indubitable that in its internal operation and the performance of its
task to propose amendments to the Constitution it is not subject to any degree of restraint or control by any other
authority than itself, it is equally beyond cavil that neither the Convention nor any of its officers or members can
rightfully deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, deny to anyone in this country the
equal protection of the laws or the freedom of speech and of the press in disregard of the Bill of Rights of the
existing Constitution. Nor, for that matter, can such Convention validly pass any resolution providing for the taking of
private property without just compensation or for the imposition or exacting of any tax, impost or assessment, or
declare war or call the Congress to a special session, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, pardon a
convict or render judgment in a controversy between private individuals or between such individuals and the state, in
violation of the distribution of powers in the Constitution.
It being manifest that there are powers which the Convention may not and cannot validly assert, much less exercise,
in the light of the existing Constitution, the simple question arises, should an act of the Convention be assailed by a
citizen as being among those not granted to or inherent in it, according to the existing Constitution, who can decide
whether such a contention is correct or not? It is of the very essence of the rule of law that somehow somewhere the
Power and duty to resolve such a grave constitutional question must be lodged on some authority, or we would have
to confess that the integrated system of government established by our founding fathers contains a wide vacuum no
intelligent man could ignore, which is naturally unworthy of their learning, experience and craftsmanship in
constitution-making.
We need not go far in search for the answer to the query We have posed. The very decision of Chief Justice
Concepcion in Gonzales, so much invoked by intervenors, reiterates and reinforces the irrefutable logic and wealth
of principle in the opinion written for a unanimous Court by Justice Laurel in Angara vs. Electoral Commission, 63
Phil., 134, reading:
... (I)n the main, the Constitution has blocked out with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of
power to the executive, the legislative and the judicial departments of the government. The
overlapping and interlacing of functions and duties between the several departments, however,
sometimes makes it hard to say where the one leaves off and the other begins. In times of social
disquietude or political excitement, the great landmark of the Constitution are apt to be forgotten or
marred, if not entirely obliterated. In cases of conflict, the judicial department is the only
constitutional organ which can be called upon to determine the proper allocation of powers between
the several departments and among the integral or constituent units thereof.
As any human production our Constitution is of course lacking perfection and perfectibility, but as
much as it was within the power of our people, acting through their delegates to so provide, that
instrument which is the expression of their sovereignty however limited, has established a republican
government intended to operate and function as a harmonious whole, under a system of check and
balances and subject to specific limitations and restrictions provided in the said instrument. The
Constitution sets forth in no uncertain language the restrictions and limitations upon governmental
powers and agencies. If these restrictions and limitations are transcended it would be inconceivable
if the Constitution had not provided for a mechanism by which to direct the course of government
along constitutional channels, for then the distribution of powers would be mere verbiage, the bill of
rights mere expressions of sentiment and the principles of good government mere political
apothegms. Certainly the limitations and restrictions embodied in our Constitution are real as they
should be in any living Constitution. In the United States where no express constitutional grant is
found in their constitution, the possession of this moderating power of the courts, not to speak of its
historical origin and development there, has been set at rest by popular acquiescence for a period of
more than one and half centuries. In our case, this moderating power is granted, if not expressly, by
clear implication from section 2 of Article VIII of our Constitution.
The Constitution is a definition of the powers or government. Who is to determine the nature, scope
and extent of such powers? The Constitution itself has provided for the instrumentality of the

judiciary as the rational way. And when the judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it
does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate
an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the
Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for
the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.
This is in truth all that is involved in what is termed "judicial supremacy" which properly is the power
of judicial review under the Constitution. Even then, this power of judicial review is limited to actual
cases and controversies to be exercised after full opportunity of argument by the parties, and limited
further to the constitutional question raised or the very lis mota presented. Any attempt at abstraction
could only lead to dialectics and barren legal questions and to strike conclusions unrelated to
actualities. Narrowed as its functions is in this manner the judiciary does not pass upon questions of
wisdom, justice or expediency of legislation. More than that, courts accord the presumption of
constitutionality to legislative enactments, not only because the legislature is presumed to abide by
the Constitution but also because the judiciary in the determination of actual cases and
controversies must reflect the wisdom and justice of the people as expressed through their
representatives in the executive and legislative departments of the government.
But much as we might postulate on the internal checks of power provided in our Constitution, it
ought not the less to be remembered that, in the language of James Madison, the system itself is not
"the chief palladium of constitutional liberty ... the people who are authors of this blessing must also
be its guardians ... their eyes must be ever ready to mark, their voices to pronounce ... aggression
on the authority of their Constitution." In the last and ultimate analysis then, must the success of our
government in the unfolding years to come be tested in the crucible of Filipino minds and hearts than
in consultation rooms and court chambers.
In the case at bar, the National Assembly has by resolution (No. 8) of December 3, 1935, confirmed
the election of the herein petitioner to the said body. On the other hand, the Electoral Commission
has by resolution adopted on December 9, 1935, fixed said date as the last day for the filing of
protests against the election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly;
notwithstanding the previous confirmations made by the National Assembly as aforesaid. If, as
contended by the petitioner, the resolution of the National Assembly has the effect of cutting off the
power of the Electoral Commission to entertain protests against the election, returns and
qualifications of members of the National Assembly, submitted after December 3, 1935 then the
resolution of the Electoral Commission of December 9, 1935, is mere surplusage and had no effect.
But, if, as contended by the respondents, the Electoral Commission has the sole power of regulating
its proceedings to the exclusion of the National Assembly, then the resolution of December 9, 1935,
by which the Electoral Commission fixed said date as the last day for filing protests against the
election, returns and qualifications of members of the National Assembly, should be upheld.
Here is then presented an actual controversy involving as it does a conflict of a grave constitutional
nature between the National Assembly on the one hand and the Electoral Commission on the other.
From the very nature of the republican government established in our country in the light of
American experience and of our own, upon the judicial department is thrown the solemn and
inescapable obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries. The
Electoral Commission as we shall have occasion to refer hereafter, is a constitutional organ, created
for a specific purpose, namely, to determine all contests relating to the election, returns and
qualifications of the members of the National Assembly. Although the Electoral Commission may not
be interfered with, when and while acting within the limits of its authority, it does not follow that it is
beyond the reach of the constitutional mechanism adopted by the people and that it is not subject to
constitutional restriction. The Electoral Commission is not a separate department of the government,
and even if it were, conflicting claims of authority under the fundamental law between departmental
powers and agencies of the government are necessarily determined by the judiciary in justiciable
and appropriate cases. Discarding the English type and other European types of constitutional
government, the framers of our Constitution adopted the American type where the written
constitution is interpreted and given effect by the judicial department. In some countries which have
declined to follow the American example, provisions have been inserted in their constitutions
prohibiting the courts from exercising the power to interpret the fundamental law. This is taken as a
recognition of what otherwise would be the rule that in the absence of direct prohibition, courts are
bound to assume what is logically their function. For instance, the Constitution of Poland of 1921
expressly provides that courts shall have no power to examine the validity of statutes (art. 81, Chap.
IV). The former Austrian Constitution contained a similar declaration. In countries whose constitution
are silent in this respect, courts have assumed this power. This is true in Norway, Greece, Australia
and South Africa. Whereas, in Czechoslovakia (arts. 2 and 3, Preliminary Law to Constitutional
Charter of the Czechoslavak, Republic, February 29, 1920) and Spain (arts. 121-123, Title IX,
Constitution of the Republic of 1931) especial constitutional courts are established to pass upon the
validity of ordinary laws. In our case, the nature of the present controversy shows the necessity of a
final constitutional arbiter to determine the conflict of authority between two agencies created by the
Constitution. Were we to decline to take cognizance of the controversy, who will determine the
conflict? And if the conflict were left undecided and undetermined, would not a void be thus created
in our constitutional system which may in the long run prove destructive of the entire framework? To
ask these questions is to answer them. Natura vacuum abhorret, so must we avoid exhaustion in our

constitutional system. Upon principle, reason, and authority, we are clearly of the opinion that upon
the admitted facts of the present case, this court has jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and
the subject matter of the present controversy for the purpose of determining the character, scope
and extent of the constitutional grant to the Electoral Commission as "the sole judge of all contests
relating to the election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly." .
As the Chief Justice has made it clear in Gonzales, like Justice Laurel did in Angara, these postulates just quoted do
not apply only to conflicts of authority between the three existing regular departments of the government but to all
such conflicts between and among these departments, or, between any of them, on the one hand, and any other
constitutionally created independent body, like the electoral tribunals in Congress, the Comelec and the Constituent
assemblies constituted by the House of Congress, on the other. We see no reason of logic or principle whatsoever,
and none has been convincingly shown to Us by any of the respondents and intervenors, why the same ruling
should not apply to the present Convention, even if it is an assembly of delegate elected directly by the people,
since at best, as already demonstrated, it has been convened by authority of and under the terms of the present
Constitution..
Accordingly, We are left with no alternative but to uphold the jurisdiction of the Court over the present case. It goes
without saying that We do this not because the Court is superior to the Convention or that the Convention is subject
to the control of the Court, but simply because both the Convention and the Court are subject to the Constitution and
the rule of law, and "upon principle, reason and authority," per Justice Laurel, supra, it is within the power as it is the
solemn duty of the Court, under the existing Constitution to resolve the issues in which petitioner, respondents and
intervenors have joined in this case.
II
The issue of jurisdiction thus resolved, We come to the crux of the petition. Is it within the powers of the
Constitutional Convention of 1971 to order, on its own fiat, the holding of a plebiscite for the ratification of the
proposed amendment reducing to eighteen years the age for the exercise of suffrage under Section 1 of Article V of
the Constitution proposed in the Convention's Organic Resolution No. 1 in the manner and form provided for in said
resolution and the subsequent implementing acts and resolution of the Convention?
At the threshold, the environmental circumstances of this case demand the most accurate and unequivocal
statement of the real issue which the Court is called upon to resolve. Petitioner has very clearly stated that he is not
against the constitutional extension of the right of suffrage to the eighteen-year-olds, as a matter of fact, he has
advocated or sponsored in Congress such a proposal, and that, in truth, the herein petition is not intended by him to
prevent that the proposed amendment here involved be submitted to the people for ratification, his only purpose in
filing the petition being to comply with his sworn duty to prevent, Whenever he can, any violation of the Constitution
of the Philippines even if it is committed in the course of or in connection with the most laudable undertaking.
Indeed, as the Court sees it, the specific question raised in this case is limited solely and only to the point of whether
or not it is within the power of the Convention to call for a plebiscite for the ratification by the people of the
constitutional amendment proposed in the abovequoted Organic Resolution No. 1, in the manner and form provided
in said resolution as well as in the subject question implementing actions and resolution of the Convention and its
officers, at this juncture of its proceedings, when as it is a matter of common knowledge and judicial notice, it is not
set to adjourn sine die, and is, in fact, still in the preliminary stages of considering other reforms or amendments
affecting other parts of the existing Constitution; and, indeed, Organic Resolution No. 1 itself expressly provides,
that the amendment therein proposed "shall be without prejudice to other amendments that will be proposed in the
future by the 1971 Constitutional Convention on other portions of the amended section or on other portions of the
entire Constitution." In other words, nothing that the Court may say or do, in this case should be understood as
reflecting, in any degree or means the individual or collective stand of the members of the Court on the fundamental
issue of whether or not the eighteen-year-olds should be allowed to vote, simply because that issue is not before Us
now. There should be no doubt in the mind of anyone that, once the Court finds it constitutionally permissible, it will
not hesitate to do its part so that the said proposed amendment may be presented to the people for their approval or
rejection.
Withal, the Court rests securely in the conviction that the fire and enthusiasm of the youth have not blinded them to
the absolute necessity, under the fundamental principles of democracy to which the Filipino people is committed, of
adhering always to the rule of law. Surely, their idealism, sincerity and purity of purpose cannot permit any other line
of conduct or approach in respect of the problem before Us. The Constitutional Convention of 1971 itself was born,
in a great measure, because of the pressure brought to bear upon the Congress of the Philippines by various
elements of the people, the youth in particular, in their incessant search for a peaceful and orderly means of bringing
about meaningful changes in the structure and bases of the existing social and governmental institutions, including
the provisions of the fundamental law related to the well-being and economic security of the underprivileged classes
of our people as well as those concerning the preservation and protection of our natural resources and the national
patrimony, as an alternative to violent and chaotic ways of achieving such lofty ideals. In brief, leaving aside the
excesses of enthusiasm which at times have justifiably or unjustifiably marred the demonstrations in the streets,
plazas and campuses, the youth of the Philippines, in general, like the rest of the people, do not want confusion and
disorder, anarchy and violence; what they really want are law and order, peace and orderliness, even in the pursuit
of what they strongly and urgently feel must be done to change the present order of things in this Republic of ours. It
would be tragic and contrary to the plain compulsion of these perspectives, if the Court were to allow itself in
deciding this case to be carried astray by considerations other than the imperatives of the rule of law and of the

applicable provisions of the Constitution. Needless to say, in a larger measure than when it binds other departments
of the government or any other official or entity, the Constitution imposes upon the Court the sacred duty to give
meaning and vigor to the Constitution, by interpreting and construing its provisions in appropriate cases with the
proper parties, and by striking down any act violative thereof. Here, as in all other cases, We are resolved to
discharge that duty.
During these twice when most anyone feels very strongly the urgent need for constitutional reforms, to the point of
being convinced that meaningful change is the only alternative to a violent revolution, this Court would be the last to
put any obstruction or impediment to the work of the Constitutional Convention. If there are respectable sectors
opining that it has not been called to supplant the existing Constitution in its entirety, since its enabling provision,
Article XV, from which the Convention itself draws life expressly speaks only of amendments which shall form part of
it, which opinion is not without persuasive force both in principle and in logic, the seemingly prevailing view is that
only the collective judgment of its members as to what is warranted by the present condition of things, as they see it,
can limit the extent of the constitutional innovations the Convention may propose, hence the complete substitution of
the existing constitution is not beyond the ambit of the Convention's authority. Desirable as it may be to resolve, this
grave divergence of views, the Court does not consider this case to be properly the one in which it should discharge
its constitutional duty in such premises. The issues raised by petitioner, even those among them in which
respondents and intervenors have joined in an apparent wish to have them squarely passed upon by the Court do
not necessarily impose upon Us the imperative obligation to express Our views thereon. The Court considers it to be
of the utmost importance that the Convention should be untrammelled and unrestrained in the performance of its
constitutionally as signed mission in the manner and form it may conceive best, and so the Court may step in to
clear up doubts as to the boundaries set down by the Constitution only when and to the specific extent only that it
would be necessary to do so to avoid a constitutional crisis or a clearly demonstrable violation of the existing
Charter. Withal, it is a very familiar principle of constitutional law that constitutional questions are to be resolved by
the Supreme Court only when there is no alternative but to do it, and this rule is founded precisely on the principle of
respect that the Court must accord to the acts of the other coordinate departments of the government, and certainly,
the Constitutional Convention stands almost in a unique footing in that regard.
In our discussion of the issue of jurisdiction, We have already made it clear that the Convention came into being by
a call of a joint session of Congress pursuant to Section I of Article XV of the Constitution, already quoted earlier in
this opinion. We reiterate also that as to matters not related to its internal operation and the performance of its
assigned mission to propose amendments to the Constitution, the Convention and its officers and members are all
subject to all the provisions of the existing Constitution. Now We hold that even as to its latter task of proposing
amendments to the Constitution, it is subject to the provisions of Section I of Article XV. This must be so, because it
is plain to Us that the framers of the Constitution took care that the process of amending the same should not be
undertaken with the same ease and facility in changing an ordinary legislation. Constitution making is the most
valued power, second to none, of the people in a constitutional democracy such as the one our founding fathers
have chosen for this nation, and which we of the succeeding generations generally cherish. And because the
Constitution affects the lives, fortunes, future and every other conceivable aspect of the lives of all the people within
the country and those subject to its sovereignty, every degree of care is taken in preparing and drafting it. A
constitution worthy of the people for which it is intended must not be prepared in haste without adequate deliberation
and study. It is obvious that correspondingly, any amendment of the Constitution is of no less importance than the
whole Constitution itself, and perforce must be conceived and prepared with as much care and deliberation. From
the very nature of things, the drafters of an original constitution, as already observed earlier, operate without any
limitations, restraints or inhibitions save those that they may impose upon themselves. This is not necessarily true of
subsequent conventions called to amend the original constitution. Generally, the framers of the latter see to it that
their handiwork is not lightly treated and as easily mutilated or changed, not only for reasons purely personal but
more importantly, because written constitutions are supposed to be designed so as to last for some time, if not for
ages, or for, at least, as long as they can be adopted to the needs and exigencies of the people, hence, they must
be insulated against precipitate and hasty actions motivated by more or less passing political moods or fancies.
Thus, as a rule, the original constitutions carry with them limitations and conditions, more or less stringent, made so
by the people themselves, in regard to the process of their amendment. And when such limitations or conditions are
so incorporated in the original constitution, it does not lie in the delegates of any subsequent convention to claim
that they may ignore and disregard such conditions because they are as powerful and omnipotent as their original
counterparts.
Nothing of what is here said is to be understood as curtailing in any degree the number and nature and the scope
and extent of the amendments the Convention may deem proper to propose. Nor does the Court propose to pass on
the issue extensively and brilliantly discussed by the parties as to whether or not the power or duty to call a
plebiscite for the ratification of the amendments to be proposed by the Convention is exclusively legislative and as
such may be exercised only by the Congress or whether the said power can be exercised concurrently by the
Convention with the Congress. In the view the Court takes of present case, it does not perceive absolute necessity
to resolve that question, grave and important as it may be. Truth to tell, the lack of unanimity or even of a consensus
among the members of the Court in respect to this issue creates the need for more study and deliberation, and as
time is of the essence in this case, for obvious reasons, November 8, 1971, the date set by the Convention for the
plebiscite it is calling, being nigh, We will refrain from making any pronouncement or expressing Our views on this
question until a more appropriate case comes to Us. After all, the basis of this decision is as important and decisive
as any can be.

The ultimate question, therefore boils down to this: Is there any limitation or condition in Section 1 of Article XV of
the Constitution which is violated by the act of the Convention of calling for a plebiscite on the sole amendment
contained in Organic Resolution No. 1? The Court holds that there is, and it is the condition and limitation that all the
amendments to be proposed by the same Convention must be submitted to the people in a single "election" or
plebiscite. It being indisputable that the amendment now proposed to be submitted to a plebiscite is only the first
amendment the Convention propose We hold that the plebiscite being called for the purpose of submitting the same
for ratification of the people on November 8, 1971 is not authorized by Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution,
hence all acts of the Convention and the respondent Comelec in that direction are null and void.
We have arrived at this conclusion for the following reasons:
1. The language of the constitutional provision aforequoted is sufficiently clear. lt says distinctly that either Congress
sitting as a constituent assembly or a convention called for the purpose "may propose amendments to this
Constitution," thus placing no limit as to the number of amendments that Congress or the Convention may propose.
The same provision also as definitely provides that "such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution
when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people
for their ratification," thus leaving no room for doubt as to how many "elections" or plebiscites may be held to ratify
any amendment or amendments proposed by the same constituent assembly of Congress or convention, and the
provision unequivocably says "an election" which means only one.
(2) Very little reflection is needed for anyone to realize the wisdom and appropriateness of this provision. As already
stated, amending the Constitution is as serious and important an undertaking as constitution making itself. Indeed,
any amendment of the Constitution is as important as the whole of it if only because the Constitution has to be an
integrated and harmonious instrument, if it is to be viable as the framework of the government it establishes, on the
one hand, and adequately formidable and reliable as the succinct but comprehensive articulation of the rights,
liberties, ideology, social ideals, and national and nationalistic policies and aspirations of the people, on the other. lt
is inconceivable how a constitution worthy of any country or people can have any part which is out of tune with its
other parts..
A constitution is the work of the people thru its drafters assembled by them for the purpose. Once the original
constitution is approved, the part that the people play in its amendment becomes harder, for when a whole
constitution is submitted to them, more or less they can assumed its harmony as an integrated whole, and they can
either accept or reject it in its entirety. At the very least, they can examine it before casting their vote and determine
for themselves from a study of the whole document the merits and demerits of all or any of its parts and of the
document as a whole. And so also, when an amendment is submitted to them that is to form part of the existing
constitution, in like fashion they can study with deliberation the proposed amendment in relation to the whole
existing constitution and or any of its parts and thereby arrive at an intelligent judgment as to its acceptability.
This cannot happen in the case of the amendment in question. Prescinding already from the fact that under Section
3 of the questioned resolution, it is evident that no fixed frame of reference is provided the voter, as to what finally
will be concomitant qualifications that will be required by the final draft of the constitution to be formulated by the
Convention of a voter to be able to enjoy the right of suffrage, there are other considerations which make it
impossible to vote intelligently on the proposed amendment, although it may already be observed that under Section
3, if a voter would favor the reduction of the voting age to eighteen under conditions he feels are needed under the
circumstances, and he does not see those conditions in the ballot nor is there any possible indication whether they
will ever be or not, because Congress has reserved those for future action, what kind of judgment can he render on
the proposal?
But the situation actually before Us is even worse. No one knows what changes in the fundamental principles of the
constitution the Convention will be minded to approve. To be more specific, we do not have any means of
foreseeing whether the right to vote would be of any significant value at all. Who can say whether or not later on the
Convention may decide to provide for varying types of voters for each level of the political units it may divide the
country into. The root of the difficulty in other words, lies in that the Convention is precisely on the verge of
introducing substantial changes, if not radical ones, in almost every part and aspect of the existing social and
political order enshrined in the present Constitution. How can a voter in the proposed plebiscite intelligently
determine the effect of the reduction of the voting age upon the different institutions which the Convention may
establish and of which presently he is not given any idea?
We are certain no one can deny that in order that a plebiscite for the ratification of an amendment to the Constitution
may be validly held, it must provide the voter not only sufficient time but ample basis for an intelligent appraisal of
the nature of the amendment per se as well as its relation to the other parts of the Constitution with which it has to
form a harmonious whole. In the context of the present state of things, where the Convention has hardly started
considering the merits of hundreds, if not thousands, of proposals to amend the existing Constitution, to present to
the people any single proposal or a few of them cannot comply with this requirement. We are of the opinion that the
present Constitution does not contemplate in Section 1 of Article XV a plebiscite or "election" wherein the people are
in the dark as to frame of reference they can base their judgment on. We reject the rationalization that the present
Constitution is a possible frame of reference, for the simple reason that intervenors themselves are stating that the
sole purpose of the proposed amendment is to enable the eighteen year olds to take part in the election for the
ratification of the Constitution to be drafted by the Convention. In brief, under the proposed plebiscite, there can be,

in the language of Justice Sanchez, speaking for the six members of the Court in Gonzales, supra, "no proper
submission".
III
The Court has no desire at all to hamper and hamstring the noble work of the Constitutional Convention. Much less
does the Court want to pass judgment on the merits of the proposal to allow these eighteen years old to vote. But
like the Convention, the Court has its own duties to the people under the Constitution which is to decide in
appropriate cases with appropriate parties Whether or not the mandates of the fundamental law are being complied
with. In the best light God has given Us, we are of the conviction that in providing for the questioned plebiscite
before it has finished, and separately from, the whole draft of the constitution it has been called to formulate, the
Convention's Organic Resolution No. 1 and all subsequent acts of the Convention implementing the same violate
the condition in Section 1, Article XV that there should only be one "election" or plebiscite for the ratification of all the
amendments the Convention may propose. We are not denying any right of the people to vote on the proposed
amendment; We are only holding that under Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution, the same should be submitted
to them not separately from but together with all the other amendments to be proposed by this present Convention.
IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition herein is granted. Organic Resolution No. 1 of the Constitutional
Convention of 1971 and the implementing acts and resolutions of the Convention, insofar as they provide for the
holding of a plebiscite on November 8, 1971, as well as the resolution of the respondent Comelec complying
therewith (RR Resolution No. 695) are hereby declared null and void. The respondents Comelec, Disbursing Officer,
Chief Accountant and Auditor of the Constitutional Convention are hereby enjoined from taking any action in
compliance with the said organic resolution. In view of the peculiar circumstances of this case, the Court declares
this decision immediately executory. No costs.
Concepcion, C.J., Teehankee, Villamor and Makasiar, JJ., concur.

G.R. No. L-44640 October 12, 1976


PABLO C. SANIDAD and PABLITO V. SANIDAD, petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS and HONORABLE NATIONAL TREASURER, respondents.
G.R. No. L-44684. October 12,1976
VICENTE M. GUZMAN, petitioner,
vs.
COMMISSION ELECTIONS, respondent.
G.R. No. L-44714. October 12,1976
RAUL M. GONZALES, RAUL T. GONZALES, JR., and ALFREDO SALAPANTAN, petitioners,
vs.
HONORABLE COMMISSION ON SELECTIONS and HONORABLE NATIONAL TREASURER, respondents.
MARTIN, J,:
The capital question raised in these prohibition suits with preliminary injunction relates to the power of the incumbent
President of the Philippines to propose amendments to the present Constitution in the absence of the interim
National Assembly which has not been convened.
On September 2, 1976, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 991 calling for a national
referendum on October 16, 1976 for the Citizens Assemblies ("barangays") to resolve, among other things, the
issues of martial law, the I . assembly, its replacement, the powers of such replacement, the period of its existence,
the length of the period for tile exercise by the President of his present powers.1
Twenty days after or on September 22, 1976, the President issued another related decree, Presidential Decree No.
1031, amending the previous Presidential Decree No. 991, by declaring the provisions of presidential Decree No.
229 providing for the manner of voting and canvass of votes in "barangays" (Citizens Assemblies) applicable to the
national referendum-plebiscite of October 16, 1976. Quite relevantly, Presidential Decree No. 1031 repealed Section
4, of Presidential Decree No. 991, the full text of which (Section 4) is quoted in the footnote below. 2
On the same date of September 22, 1976, the President issued Presidential Decree No. 1033, stating the questions
to be submitted to the people in the referendum-plebiscite on October 16, 1976. The Decree recites in its "whereas"
clauses that the people's continued opposition to the convening of the National Assembly evinces their desire to
have such body abolished and replaced thru a constitutional amendment, providing for a legislative body, which will
be submitted directly to the people in the referendum-plebiscite of October 16.
The questions ask, to wit:
(1) Do you want martial law to be continued?
(2) Whether or not you want martial law to be continued, do you approve the following amendments to the
Constitution? For the purpose of the second question, the referendum shall have the effect of a plebiscite within the
contemplation of Section 2 of Article XVI of the Constitution.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS:
1. There shall be, in lieu of the interim National Assembly, an interim Batasang Pambansa. Members of the interim
Batasang Pambansa which shall not be more than 120, unless otherwise provided by law, shall include the
incumbent President of the Philippines, representatives elected from the different regions of the nation, those who
shall not be less than eighteen years of age elected by their respective sectors, and those chosen by the incumbent
President from the members of the Cabinet. Regional representatives shall be apportioned among the regions in
accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio while
the sectors shall be determined by law. The number of representatives from each region or sector and the, manner
of their election shall be prescribed and regulated by law.
2. The interim Batasang Pambansa shall have the same powers and its members shall have the same functions,
responsibilities, rights, privileges, and disqualifications as the interim National Assembly and the regular National
Assembly and the members thereof. However, it shall not exercise the power provided in Article VIII, Section 14(l) of
the Constitution.
3. The incumbent President of the Philippines shall, within 30 days from the election and selection of the members,
convene the interim Batasang Pambansa and preside over its sessions until the Speaker shall have been elected.
The incumbent President of the Philippines shall be the Prime Minister and he shall continue to exercise all his

powers even after the interim Batasang Pambansa is organized and ready to discharge its functions and likewise he
shall continue to exercise his powers and prerogatives under the nineteen hundred and thirty five. Constitution and
the powers vested in the President and the Prime Minister under this Constitution.
4. The President (Prime Minister) and his Cabinet shall exercise all the powers and functions, and discharge the
responsibilities of the regular President (Prime Minister) and his Cabinet, and shall be subject only to such
disqualifications as the President (Prime Minister) may prescribe. The President (Prime Minister) if he so desires
may appoint a Deputy Prime Minister or as many Deputy Prime Ministers as he may deem necessary.
5. The incumbent President shall continue to exercise legislative powers until martial law shall have been lifted.
6. Whenever in the judgment of the President (Prime Minister), there exists a grave emergency or a threat or
imminence thereof, or whenever the interim Batasang Pambansa or the regular National Assembly fails or is unable
to act adequately on any matter for any reason that in his judgment requires immediate action, he may, in order to
meet the exigency, issue the necessary decrees, orders or letters of instructions, which shall form part of the law of
the land.
7. The barangays and sanggunians shall continue as presently constituted but their functions, powers, and
composition may be altered by law.
Referenda conducted thru the barangays and under the Supervision of the Commission on Elections may be called
at any time the government deems it necessary to ascertain the will of the people regarding any important matter
whether of national or local interest.
8. All provisions of this Constitution not inconsistent with any of these amendments shall continue in full force and
effect.
9. These amendments shall take effect after the incumbent President shall have proclaimed that they have been
ratified by I majority of the votes cast in the referendum-plebiscite."
The Commission on Elections was vested with the exclusive supervision and control of the October 1976 National
Referendum-Plebiscite.
On September 27, 1976, PABLO C. SANIDAD and PABLITO V. SANIDAD, father and son, commenced L-44640 for
Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction seeking to enjoin the Commission on Elections from holding and conducting
the Referendum Plebiscite on October 16; to declare without force and effect Presidential Decree Nos. 991 and
1033, insofar as they propose amendments to the Constitution, as well as Presidential Decree No. 1031, insofar as
it directs the Commission on Elections to supervise, control, hold, and conduct the Referendum-Plebiscite
scheduled on October 16, 1976.
Petitioners contend that under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions there is no grant to the incumbent President to
exercise the constituent power to propose amendments to the new Constitution. As a consequence, the
Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16 has no constitutional or legal basis.
On October 5, 1976, the Solicitor General filed the comment for respondent Commission on Elections, The Solicitor
General principally maintains that petitioners have no standing to sue; the issue raised is political in nature, beyond
judicial cognizance of this Court; at this state of the transition period, only the incumbent President has the authority
to exercise constituent power; the referendum-plebiscite is a step towards normalization.
On September 30, 1976, another action for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction, docketed as L-44684, was
instituted by VICENTE M. GUZMAN, a delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, asserting that the power to
propose amendments to, or revision of the Constitution during the transition period is expressly conferred on the
interim National Assembly under Section 16, Article XVII of the Constitution.3
Still another petition for Prohibition with Preliminary Injunction was filed on October 5, 1976 by RAUL M.
GONZALES, his son RAUL, JR., and ALFREDO SALAPANTAN, docketed as L- 44714, to restrain the
implementation of Presidential Decrees relative to the forthcoming Referendum-Plebiscite of October 16.
These last petitioners argue that even granting him legislative powers under Martial Law, the incumbent President
cannot act as a constituent assembly to propose amendments to the Constitution; a referendum-plebiscite is
untenable under the Constitutions of 1935 and 1973; the submission of the proposed amendments in such a short
period of time for deliberation renders the plebiscite a nullity; to lift Martial Law, the President need not consult the
people via referendum; and allowing 15-.year olds to vote would amount to an amendment of the Constitution, which
confines the right of suffrage to those citizens of the Philippines 18 years of age and above.
We find the petitions in the three entitled cases to be devoid of merit.
I

Justiciability of question raised.


1. As a preliminary resolution, We rule that the petitioners in L-44640 (Pablo C. Sanidad and Pablito V. Sanidad)
possess locus standi to challenge the constitutional premise of Presidential Decree Nos. 991, 1031, and 1033. It is
now an ancient rule that the valid source of a stature Presidential Decrees are of such nature-may be contested by
one who will sustain a direct injuries as a in result of its enforcement. At the instance of taxpayers, laws providing for
the disbursement of public funds may be enjoined, upon the theory that the expenditure of public funds by an officer
of the State for the purpose of executing an unconstitutional act constitutes a misapplication of such funds. 4 The
breadth of Presidential Decree No. 991 carries all appropriation of Five Million Pesos for the effective
implementation of its purposes. 5 Presidential Decree No. 1031 appropriates the sum of Eight Million Pesos to carry
out its provisions. 6 The interest of the aforenamed petitioners as taxpayers in the lawful expenditure of these
amounts of public money sufficiently clothes them with that personality to litigate the validity of the Decrees
appropriating said funds. Moreover, as regards taxpayer's suits, this Court enjoys that open discretion to entertain
the same or not. 7 For the present case, We deem it sound to exercise that discretion affirmatively so that the
authority upon which the disputed Decrees are predicated may be inquired into.
2. The Solicitor General would consider the question at bar as a pure political one, lying outside the domain of
judicial review. We disagree. The amending process both as to proposal and ratification, raises a judicial question.
8 This is especially true in cases where the power of the Presidency to initiate the of normally exercised by the legislature, is seriously doubted. Under the terms of
the 1973 Constitution, the power to propose amendments o the constitution resides in the interim National Assembly in the period of transition (See. 15, Transitory
provisions). After that period, and the regular National Assembly in its active session, the power to propose amendments becomes ipso facto the prerogative of the
regular National Assembly (Sec. 1, pars. 1 and 2 of Art. XVI, 1973 constitution). The normal course has not been followed. Rather than calling the National
Assembly to constitute itself into a constituent assembly the incumbent President undertook the proposal of amendments and submitted the proposed
amendments thru Presidential Decree 1033 to the people in a Referendum-Plebiscite on October 16. Unavoidably, the regularity regularity of the procedure for
amendments, written in lambent words in the very Constitution sought to be amended, raises a contestable issue. The implementing Presidential Decree Nos. 991,
1031, and 1033, which commonly purport to have the force and effect of legislation are assailed as invalid, thus the issue of the validity of said Decrees is plainly a
justiciable one, within the competence of this Court to pass upon. Section 2 (2), Article X of the new Constitution provides: "All cases involving the constitutionality
of a treaty, executive agreement, or law may shall be heard and decided by the Supreme Court en banc and no treaty, executive agreement, or law may be
declared unconstitutional without the concurrence of at least ten Members. ..." The Supreme Court has the last word in the construction not only of treaties and
statutes, but also of the Constitution itself The amending, like all other powers organized in the Constitution, is in form a delegated and hence a limited power, so
that the Supreme Court is vested with that authorities to determine whether that power has been discharged within its limits.

Political questions are neatly associated with the wisdom, of the legality of a particular act. Where the vortex of the
controversy refers to the legality or validity of the contested act, that matter is definitely justiciable or non-political.
What is in the heels of the Court is not the wisdom of the act of the incumbent President in proposing amendments
to the Constitution, but his constitutional authority to perform such act or to assume the power of a constituent
assembly. Whether the amending process confers on the President that power to propose amendments is therefore
a downright justiciable question. Should the contrary be found, the actuation of the President would merely be
a brutum fulmen. If the Constitution provides how it may be amended, the judiciary as the interpreter of that
Constitution, can declare whether the procedure followed or the authority assumed was valid or not. 10
We cannot accept the view of the Solicitor General, in pursuing his theory of non-justiciability, that the question of
the President's authority to propose amendments and the regularity of the procedure adopted for submission of the
proposal to the people ultimately lie in the judgment of the A clear Descartes fallacy of vicious circle. Is it not that the
people themselves, by their sovereign act, provided for the authority and procedure for the amending process when
they ratified the present Constitution in 1973? Whether, therefore, the constitutional provision has been followed or
not is the proper subject of inquiry, not by the people themselves of course who exercise no power of judicial but by
the Supreme Court in whom the people themselves vested that power, a power which includes the competence to
determine whether the constitutional norms for amendments have been observed or not. And, this inquiry must be
done a prior not a posterior i.e., before the submission to and ratification by the people.
Indeed, the precedents evolved by the Court or, prior constitutional cases underline the preference of the Court's
majority to treat such issue of Presidential role in the amending process as one of non-political impression. In the
Plebiscite Cases, 11 the contention of the Solicitor General that the issue on the legality of Presidential Decree No. 73
"submitting to the Pilipino people (on January 15, 1973) for ratification or rejection the Constitution of the Republic of the
Philippines proposed by the 1971 Constitutional Convention and appropriating fund s therefore "is a political one, was
rejected and the Court unanimously considered the issue as justiciable in nature. Subsequently in the Ratification
Cases 12involving the issue of whether or not the validity of Presidential Proclamation No. 1102. announcing the
Ratification by the Filipino people of the constitution proposed by the 1971 Constitutional Convention," partakes of the
nature of a political question, the affirmative stand of' the Solicitor General was dismissed, the Court ruled that the
question raised is justiciable. Chief Justice Concepcion, expressing the majority view, said, Thus, in the aforementioned
plebiscite cases, We rejected the theory of the respondents therein that the question whether Presidential Decree No. 73
calling a plebiscite to be held on January 15, 1973, for the ratification or rejection of the proposed new Constitution, was
valid or not, was not a proper subject of judicial inquiry because, they claimed, it partook of a political nature, and We
unanimously declared that the issue was a justiciable one. With Identical unanimity. We overruled the respondent's
contention in the 1971 habeas corpus cases, questioning Our authority to determine the constitutional sufficiency of the
factual bases of the Presidential proclamation suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus on August 21, 1971,
despite the opposite view taken by this Court in Barcelon vs. Baker and Montenegro vs. Castaneda, insofar as it adhered
to the former case, which view We, accordingly, abandoned and refused to apply. For the same reason, We did not apply
and expressly modified, in Gonzales vs. Commission on Elections, the political-question theory adopted in Mabanag vs.
Lopez Vito." 13 The return to Barcelon vs. Baker and Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito, urged by the Solicitor General, was
decisively refused by the Court. Chief Justice Concepcion continued: "The reasons adduced in support thereof are,
however, substantially the same as those given in support on the political question theory advanced in said habeas
corpus and plebiscite cases, which were carefully considered by this Court and found by it to be legally unsound and

constitutionally untenable. As a consequence. Our decisions in the aforementioned habeas corpus cases partakes of the
nature and effect of a stare decisis which gained added weight by its virtual reiteration."

II
The amending process as laid out
in the new Constitution.
1. Article XVI of the 1973 Constitution on Amendments ordains:
SECTION 1. (1) Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by the
National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members, or by a constitutional convention.
(2) The National Assembly may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional
convention or, by a majority vote of all its Members, submit the question of calling such a convention
to the electorate in an election.
SECTION 2. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution shall be valid when ratified by a
majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not later than three months after the
approval of such amendment or revision.
In the present period of transition, the interim National Assembly instituted in the Transitory Provisions is conferred
with that amending power. Section 15 of the Transitory Provisions reads:
SECTION 15. The interim National Assembly, upon special call by the interim Prime Minister, may,
by a majority vote of all its Members, propose amendments to this Constitution. Such amendments
shall take effect when ratified in accordance with Article Sixteen hereof.
There are, therefore, two periods contemplated in the constitutional life of the nation, i.e., period of normalcy and
period of transition. In times of normally, the amending process may be initiated by the proposals of the (1) regular
National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or (2) by a Constitutional Convention called by a
vote of two-thirds of all the Members of the National Assembly. However the calling of a Constitutional Convention
may be submitted to the electorate in an election voted upon by a majority vote of all the members of the National
Assembly. In times of transition, amendments may be proposed by a majority vote of all the Members of the
National Assembly upon special call by the interim Prime Minister,.
2. This Court in Aquino v. COMELEC," had already settled that the incumbent President is vested with that
prerogative of discretion as to when he shall initially convene the interim National Assembly. Speaking for the
majority opinion in that case, Justice Makasiar said: "The Constitutional Convention intended to leave to the
President the determination of the time when he shall initially convene the interim National Assembly, consistent
with the prevailing conditions of peace and order in the country." Concurring, Justice Fernandez, himself a member
of that Constitutional Convention, revealed: "(W)hen the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention voted on the
Transitory Provisions, they were aware of the fact that under the same, the incumbent President was given the
discretion as to when he could convene the interim National Assembly; it was so stated plainly by the sponsor,
Delegate Yaneza; as a matter of fact, the proposal that it be convened 'immediately', made by Delegate Pimentel
(V) was rejected. The President's decision to defer the convening of the interim National Assembly soon found
support from the people themselves. In the plebiscite of January 10-15, 1973, at which the ratification of the 1973
Constitution was submitted, the people voted against the convening of the interim National Assembly. In the
referendum of July 24, 1973, the Citizens Assemblies ("bagangays") reiterated their sovereign will to withhold the
convening of the interim National Assembly. Again, in the referendum of February 27, 1975, the proposed question
of whether the interim National Assembly shall be initially convened was eliminated, because some of the members
of Congress and delegates of the Constitutional Convention, who were deemed automatically members of the I
interim National Assembly, were against its inclusion since in that referendum of January, 1973, the people had
already resolved against it.
3. In sensu strictiore, when the legislative arm of the state undertakes the proposals of amendment to a Constitution,
that body is not in the usual function of lawmaking. lt is not legislating when engaged in the amending process.16
Rather, it is exercising a peculiar power bestowed upon it by the fundamental charter itself. In the Philippines, that
power is provided for in Article XVI of the 1973 Constitution (for the regular National Assembly) or in Section 15 of
the Transitory Provisions (for the National Assembly). While ordinarily it is the business of the legislating body to
legislate for the nation by virtue of constitutional conferment amending of the Constitution is not legislative in
character. In political science a distinction is made between constitutional content of an organic character and that of
a legislative character'. The distinction, however, is one of policy, not of law. 17 Such being the case, approval of the
President of any proposed amendment is a misnomer 18 The prerogative of the President to approve or disapprove
applies only to the ordinary cases of legislation. The President has nothing to do with proposition or adoption of
amendments to the Constitution. 19

III

Concentration of Powers
in the President during
crisis government.
1. In general, the governmental powers in crisis government the Philippines is a crisis government today are more or
less concentrated in the President. 20 According to Rossiter, "(t)he concentration of government power in a democracy
faced by an emergency is a corrective to the crisis inefficiencies inherent in the doctrine of the separation of powers. In
most free states it has generally been regarded as imperative that the total power of the government be parceled out
among three mutually independent branches executive, legislature, and judiciary. It is believed to be destructive of
constitutionalism if any one branch should exercise any two or more types of power, and certainly a total disregard of the
separation of powers is, as Madison wrote in the Federalist, No. 47, 'the very definition of tyranny.' In normal times the
separation of powers forms a distinct obstruction to arbitrary governmental action. By this same token, in abnormal times
it may form an insurmountable barrier to a decisive emergency action in behalf of the state and its independent existence.
There are moments in the life of any government when all powers must work together in unanimity of purpose and action,
even if this means the temporary union of executive, legislative, and judicial power in the hands of one man. The more
complete the separation of powers in a constitutional system, the more difficult and yet the more necessary will be their
fusion in time of crisis. This is evident in a comparison of the crisis potentialities of the cabinet and presidential systems of
government. In the former the all-important harmony of legislature and executive is taken for granted; in the latter it is
neither guaranteed nor to be to confidently expected. As a result, cabinet is more easily established and more trustworthy
than presidential dictatorship. The power of the state in crisis must not only be concentrated and expanded; it must also
be freed from the normal system of constitutional and legal limitations. 21 John Locke, on the other hand, claims for the
executive in its own right a broad discretion capable even of setting aside the ordinary laws in the meeting of special
exigencies for which the legislative power had not provided. 22 The rationale behind such broad emergency powers of the
Executive is the release of the government from "the paralysis of constitutional restrains" so that the crisis may be ended
and normal times restored.

2. The presidential exercise of legislative powers in time of martial law is now a conceded valid at. That sun clear
authority of the President is saddled on Section 3 (pars. 1 and 2) of the Transitory Provisions, thus: 23
The incumbent President of the Philippines shall initially convene the interim National Assembly and
shall preside over its sessions until the interim Speaker shall have been elected. He shall continue to
exercise his powers and prerogatives under the nineteen hundred and thirty-five Constitution and the
powers vested in the President and the Prime Minister under this Constitution until the calls upon the
interim National Assembly to elect the interim President and the interim Prime Minister, who shall
then exercise their respective powers vested by this Constitution.
All proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, and acts promulgated, issued, or done by the
incumbent President shall be part of the law of the land, and shall remain valid, binding, and
effective even after lifting of martial law or the ratification of this Constitution, unless modified,
revoked, or superseded by subsequent proclamations, orders, decrees, instructions, or other acts of
the incumbent President, or unless expressly and explicitly modified or repealed by the regular
National Assembly.
"It is unthinkable," said Justice Fernandez, a 1971 Constitutional Convention delegate, "that the Constitutional
Convention, while giving to the President the discretion when to call the interim National Assembly to session, and
knowing that it may not be convened soon, would create a vacuum in the exercise of legislative powers. Otherwise,
with no one to exercise the lawmaking powers, there would be paralyzation of the entire governmental
machinery."24 Paraphrasing Rossiter, this is an extremely important factor in any constitutional dictatorship which extends
over a period of time. The separation of executive and legislature ordained in the Constitution presents a distinct
obstruction to efficient crisis government. The steady increase in executive power is not too much a cause for as the
steady increase in the magnitude and complexity of the problems the President has been called upon by the Filipino
people to solve in their behalf, which involve rebellion, subversion, secession, recession, inflation, and economic crisis-a
crisis greater than war. In short, while conventional constitutional law just confines the President's power as Commanderin-Chief to the direction of the operation of the national forces, yet the facts of our political, social, and economic
disturbances had convincingly shown that in meeting the same, indefinite power should be attributed to tile President to
take emergency measures 25

IV
Authority of the incumbent
President t to propose
amendments to the Constitution.
1. As earlier pointed out, the power to legislate is constitutionally consigned to the interim National Assembly during
the transition period. However, the initial convening of that Assembly is a matter fully addressed to the judgment of
the incumbent President. And, in the exercise of that judgment, the President opted to defer convening of that body

in utter recognition of the people's preference. Likewise, in the period of transition, the power to propose
amendments to the Constitution lies in the interim National Assembly upon special call by the President (See. 15 of
the Transitory Provisions). Again, harking to the dictates of the sovereign will, the President decided not to call the
interim National Assembly. Would it then be within the bounds of the Constitution and of law for the President to
assume that constituent power of the interim Assembly vis-a-vis his assumption of that body's legislative functions?
The answer is yes. If the President has been legitimately discharging the legislative functions of the interim
Assembly, there is no reason why he cannot validly discharge the function of that Assembly to propose
amendments to the Constitution, which is but adjunct, although peculiar, to its gross legislative power. This, of
course, is not to say that the President has converted his office into a constituent assembly of that nature normally
constituted by the legislature. Rather, with the interim National Assembly not convened and only the Presidency and
the Supreme Court in operation, the urges of absolute necessity render it imperative upon the President to act as
agent for and in behalf of the people to propose amendments to the Constitution. Parenthetically, by its very
constitution, the Supreme Court possesses no capacity to propose amendments without constitutional infractions.
For the President to shy away from that actuality and decline to undertake the amending process would leave the
governmental machineries at a stalemate or create in the powers of the State a destructive vacuum, thereby
impeding the objective of a crisis government "to end the crisis and restore normal times." In these parlous times,
that Presidential initiative to reduce into concrete forms the constant voices of the people reigns supreme. After all,
constituent assemblies or constitutional conventions, like the President now, are mere agents of the people .26
2. The President's action is not a unilateral move. As early as the referendums of January 1973 and February 1975,
the people had already rejected the calling of the interim National Assembly. The Lupong Tagapagpaganap of the
Katipunan ng mga Sanggunian, the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Barangay, and the Pambansang Katipunan ng
mga Barangay, representing 42,000 barangays, about the same number of Kabataang Barangay organizations,
Sanggunians in 1,458 municipalities, 72 provinces, 3 sub-provinces, and 60 cities had informed the President that
the prevailing sentiment of the people is for the abolition of the interim National Assembly. Other issues concerned
the lifting of martial law and amendments to the Constitution .27 The national organizations of Sangguniang Bayan presently proposed to
settle the issues of martial law, the interim Assembly, its replacement, the period of its existence, the length of the period for the exercise by the President of its
28
present powers in a referendum to be held on October 16 . The Batasang Bayan (legislative council) created under Presidential

Decree 995 of September 10, 1976, composed of 19 cabinet members, 9 officials with cabinet rank, 91 members of the
Lupong Tagapagpaganap (executive committee) of the Katipunan ng mga Sangguniang Bayan voted in session to submit
directly to the people in a plebiscite on October 16, the previously quoted proposed amendments to the Constitution,
including the issue of martial law .29 Similarly, the "barangays" and the "sanggunians" endorsed to the President the submission of the proposed
amendments to the people on October 16. All the foregoing led the President to initiate the proposal of amendments to the Constitution and the subsequent
issuance of Presidential Decree No, 1033 on September 22, 1976 submitting the questions (proposed amendments) to the people in the National ReferendumPlebiscite on October 16.

V
The People is Sovereign
1. Unlike in a federal state, the location of sovereignty in a unitary state is easily seen. In the Philippines, a
republican and unitary state, sovereignty "resides in the people and all government authority emanates from
them.30 In its fourth meaning, Savigny would treat people as "that particular organized assembly of individuals in which, according to the Constitution, the
31

This is the concept of popular sovereignty. It means that the constitutional legislator, namely the
people, is sovereign 32 In consequence, the people may thus write into the Constitution their convictions on any subject
they choose in the absence of express constitutional prohibition. 33 This is because, as Holmes said, the Constitution "is
an experiment, as all life is all experiment." 34 "The necessities of orderly government," wrote Rottschaefer, "do not require
that one generation should be permitted to permanently fetter all future generations." A constitution is based, therefore,
upon a self-limiting decision of the people when they adopt it. 35
highest power exists."

2. The October 16 referendum-plebiscite is a resounding call to the people to exercise their sovereign power as
constitutional legislator. The proposed amendments, as earlier discussed, proceed not from the thinking of a single
man. Rather, they are the collated thoughts of the sovereign will reduced only into enabling forms by the authority
who can presently exercise the powers of the government. In equal vein, the submission of those proposed
amendments and the question of martial law in a referendum-plebiscite expresses but the option of the people
themselves implemented only by the authority of the President. Indeed, it may well be said that the amending
process is a sovereign act, although the authority to initiate the same and the procedure to be followed reside
somehow in a particular body.
VI
Referendum-Plebiscite not
rendered nugatory by the
participation of the 15-year olds.
1. October 16 is in parts a referendum and a plebiscite. The question - (1) Do you want martial law to be continued?
- is a referendum question, wherein the 15-year olds may participate. This was prompted by the desire of the
Government to reach the larger mas of the people so that their true pulse may be felt to guide the President in
pursuing his program for a New Order. For the succeeding question on the proposed amendments, only those of

voting age of 18 years may participate. This is the plebiscite aspect, as contemplated in Section 2, Article XVI of the
new Constitution. 36 On this second question, it would only be the votes of those 18 years old and above which will have
valid bearing on the results. The fact that the voting populace are simultaneously asked to answer the referendum
question and the plebiscite question does not infirm the referendum-plebiscite. There is nothing objectionable in
consulting the people on a given issue, which is of current one and submitting to them for ratification of proposed
constitutional amendments. The fear of commingled votes (15-year olds and 18-year olds above) is readily dispelled by
the provision of two ballot boxes for every barangay center, one containing the ballots of voters fifteen years of age and
under eighteen, and another containing the ballots of voters eighteen years of age and above. 37 The ballots in the ballot
box for voters fifteen years of age and under eighteen shall be counted ahead of the ballots of voters eighteen years and
above contained in another ballot box. And, the results of the referendum-plebiscite shall be separately prepared for the
age groupings, i.e., ballots contained in each of the two boxes. 38

2. It is apt to distinguish here between a "referendum" and a "plebiscite." A "referendum" is merely consultative in
character. It is simply a means of assessing public reaction to the given issues submitted to the people foe their
consideration, the calling of which is derived from or within the totality of the executive power of the President. 39 It is
participated in by all citizens from the age of fifteen, regardless of whether or not they are illiterates, feeble-minded, or exconvicts . 40 A "plebiscite," on the other hand, involves the constituent act of those "citizens of the Philippines not otherwise
disqualified by law, who are eighteen years of age or over, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one
year and in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months preceding the election Literacy, property or any
other substantive requirement is not imposed. It is generally associated with the amending process of the Constitution,
more particularly, the ratification aspect.

VII
1. There appeals to be no valid basis for the claim that the regime of martial law stultifies in main the freedom to
dissent. That speaks of a bygone fear. The martial law regime which, in the observation of Justice Fernando, 41 is
impressed with a mild character recorded no State imposition for a muffled voice. To be sure, there are restraints of the
individual liberty, but on certain grounds no total suppression of that liberty is aimed at. The for the referendum-plebiscite
on October 16 recognizes all the embracing freedoms of expression and assembly The President himself had announced
that he would not countenance any suppression of dissenting views on the issues, as he is not interested in winning a
"yes" or "no" vote, but on the genuine sentiment of the people on the issues at hand. 42 Thus, the dissenters soon found
their way to the public forums, voicing out loud and clear their adverse views on the proposed amendments and even (in
the valid ratification of the 1973 Constitution, which is already a settled matter. 43 Even government employees have been
held by the Civil Service Commission free to participate in public discussion and even campaign for their stand on the
referendum-plebiscite issues. 44

VIII
Time for deliberation
is not short.
1. The period from September 21 to October 16 or a period of 3 weeks is not too short for free debates or
discussions on the referendum-plebiscite issues. The questions are not new. They are the issues of the day. The
people have been living with them since the proclamation of martial law four years ago. The referendums of 1973
and 1975 carried the same issue of martial law. That notwithstanding, the contested brief period for discussion is not
without counterparts in previous plebiscites for constitutional amendments. Justice Makasiar, in the Referendum
Case, recalls: "Under the old Society, 15 days were allotted for the publication in three consecutive issues of the
Official Gazette of the women's suffrage amendment to the Constitution before the scheduled plebiscite on April 30,
1937 (Com. Act No. 34). The constitutional amendment to append as ordinance the complicated TydingsKocialskowski was published in only three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette for 10 days prior to the
scheduled plebiscite (Com. Act 492). For the 1940 Constitutional amendments providing for the bicameral
Congress, the reelection of the President and Vice President, and the creation of the Commission on Elections, 20
days of publication in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette was fixed (Com Act No. 517). And the Parity
Amendment, an involved constitutional amendment affecting the economy as well as the independence of the
Republic was publicized in three consecutive issues of the Official Gazette for 20 days prior to the plebiscite (Rep.
Act No. 73)." 45
2. It is worthy to note that Article XVI of the Constitution makes no provision as to the specific date when the
plebiscite shall be held, but simply states that it "shall be held not later than three months after the approval of such
amendment or revision." In Coleman v. Miller, 46 the United States Supreme court held that this matter of submission
involves "an appraisal of a great variety of relevant conditions, political, social and economic," which "are essentially
political and not justiciable." The constituent body or in the instant cases, the President, may fix the time within which the
people may act. This is because proposal and ratification are not treated as unrelated acts, but as succeeding steps in a
single endeavor, the natural inference being that they are not to be widely separated in time; second, it is only when there
is deemed to be a necessity therefor that amendments are to be proposed, the reasonable implication being that when
proposed, they are to be considered and disposed of presently, and third, ratification is but the expression of the
approbation of the people, hence, it must be done contemporaneously. 47 In the words of Jameson, "(a)n alteration of the
Constitution proposed today has relation to the sentiment and the felt needs of today, and that, if not ratified early while
that sentiment may fairly be supposed to exist. it ought to be regarded as waived, and not again to be voted upon, unless
a second time proposed by proper body

IN RESUME
The three issues are
1. Is the question of the constitutionality of Presidential Decrees Nos. 991, 1031 and 1033 political or justiciable?
2. During the present stage of the transition period, and under, the environmental circumstances now obtaining,
does the President possess power to propose amendments to the Constitution as well as set up the required
machinery and prescribe the procedure for the ratification of his proposals by the people?
3. Is the submission to the people of the proposed amendments within the time frame allowed therefor a sufficient
and proper submission?
Upon the first issue, Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro and Associate Justices Enrique M. Fernando, Claudio
Teehankee, Antonio P. Barredo, Cecilia Munoz Palma, Hermogenes Concepcion Jr. and Ruperto G. Martin are of
the view that the question posed is justiciable, while Associate Justices Felix V. Makasiar, Felix Q. Antonio and
Ramon C. Aquino hold the view that the question is political.
Upon the second issue, Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Aquino,
Concepcion Jr. and Martin voted in the affirmative, while Associate Justices Teehankee and Munoz Palma voted in
the negative. Associate Justice Fernando, conformably to his concurring and dissenting opinion in Aquino vs. Enrile
(59 SCRA 183), specifically dissents from the proposition that there is concentration of powers in the Executive
during periods of crisis, thus raising serious doubts as to the power of the President to propose amendments.
Upon the third issue, Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices Barredo, Makasiar, Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and
Martin are of the view that there is a sufficient and proper submission of the proposed amendments for ratification by
the people. Associate Justices Barredo and Makasiar expressed the hope, however that the period of time may be
extended. Associate Justices Fernando, Makasiar and Antonio are of the view that the question is political and
therefore beyond the competence and cognizance of this Court, Associate Justice Fernando adheres to his
concurrence in the opinion of Chief Justice Concepcion in Gonzales vs. COMELEC (21 SCRA 774).Associate
Justices Teehankee and MUNOZ Palma hold that prescinding from the President's lack of authority to exercise the
constituent power to propose the amendments, etc., as above stated, there is no fair and proper submission with
sufficient information and time to assure intelligent consent or rejection under the standards set by this Court in the
controlling cases of Gonzales, supra, and Tolentino vs. COMELEC (41 SCRA 702).
Chief Justice Castro and Associate Justices Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Aquino, Concepcion Jr. and Martin voted
to dismiss the three petitions at bar. For reasons as expressed in his separate opinion, Associate Justice Fernando
concurs in the result. Associate Justices Teehankee and Munoz Palma voted to grant the petitions.
ACCORDINGLY, the vote being 8 to 2 to dismiss, the said petitions are hereby dismissed. This decision is
immediately executory.
SO ORDERED.
Aquino, J, in the result.

G.R. No. L-56350 April 2, 1981


SAMUEL C. OCCENA, petitioner,
vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, THE COMMISSION ON AUDIT, THE NATIONAL TREASURER, THE
DIRECTOR OF PRINTING, respondents.

G.R. No. L-56404 April 2, 1981


RAMON A. GONZALES, MANUEL B. IMBONG, JO AUREA MARCOS-IMBONG, RAY ALLAN T. DRILON,
NELSON B. MALANA and GIL M. TABIOS, petitioners,
vs.
THE NATIONAL TREASURER and the COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondents.

FERNANDO, C.J.:
The challenge in these two prohibition proceedings against the validity of three Batasang Pambansa
Resolutions 1proposing constitutional amendments, goes further than merely assailing their alleged constitutional
infirmity. Petitioners Samuel Occena and Ramon A. Gonzales, both members of the Philippine Bar and former delegates
to the 1971 Constitutional Convention that framed the present Constitution, are suing as taxpayers. The rather unorthodox
aspect of these petitions is the assertion that the 1973 Constitution is not the fundamental law, the Javellana 2 ruling to the
contrary notwithstanding. To put it at its mildest, such an approach has the arresting charm of novelty but nothing else. It
is in fact self defeating, for if such were indeed the case, petitioners have come to the wrong forum. We sit as a Court
duty-bound to uphold and apply that Constitution. To contend otherwise as was done here would be, quite clearly, an
exercise in futility. Nor are the arguments of petitioners cast in the traditional form of constitutional litigation any more
persuasive. For reasons to be set forth, we dismiss the petitions.

The suits for prohibition were filed respectively on March 6 3 and March 12, 1981. 4 On March 10 and 13 respectively,
respondents were required to answer each within ten days from notice. 5 There was a comment on the part of the
respondents. Thereafter, both cases were set for hearing and were duly argued on March 26 by petitioners and Solicitor
General Estelito P. Mendoza for respondents. With the submission of pertinent data in amplification of the oral argument,
the cases were deemed submitted for decision.

It is the ruling of the Court, as set forth at the outset, that the petitions must be dismissed.
1. It is much too late in the day to deny the force and applicability of the 1973 Constitution. In the dispositive portion
of Javellana v. The Executive Secretary, 6 dismissing petitions for prohibition and mandamus to declare invalid its
ratification, this Court stated that it did so by a vote of six 7 to four. 8 It then concluded: "This being the vote of the majority,
there is no further judicial obstacle to the new Constitution being considered in force and effect." 9 Such a statement
served a useful purpose. It could even be said that there was a need for it. It served to clear the atmosphere. It made
manifest that, as of January 17, 1973, the present Constitution came into force and effect. With such a pronouncement by
the Supreme Court and with the recognition of the cardinal postulate that what the Supreme Court says is not only entitled
to respect but must also be obeyed, a factor for instability was removed. Thereafter, as a matter of law, all doubts were
resolved. The 1973 Constitution is the fundamental law. It is as simple as that. What cannot be too strongly stressed is
that the function of judicial review has both a positive and a negative aspect. As was so convincingly demonstrated by
Professors Black 10 and Murphy, 11 the Supreme Court can check as well as legitimate. In declaring what the law is, it may
not only nullify the acts of coordinate branches but may also sustain their validity. In the latter case, there is an affirmation
that what was done cannot be stigmatized as constitutionally deficient. The mere dismissal of a suit of this character
suffices. That is the meaning of the concluding statement in Javellana. Since then, this Court has invariably applied the
present Constitution. The latest case in point is People v. Sola, 12 promulgated barely two weeks ago. During the first year
alone of the effectivity of the present Constitution, at least ten cases may be cited. 13

2. We come to the crucial issue, the power of the Interim Batasang Pambansa to propose amendments and how it
may be exercised. More specifically as to the latter, the extent of the changes that may be introduced, the number of
votes necessary for the validity of a proposal, and the standard required for a proper submission. As was stated
earlier, petitioners were unable to demonstrate that the challenged resolutions are tainted by unconstitutionality.
(1) The existence of the power of the Interim Batasang Pambansa is indubitable. The applicable provision in the
1976 Amendments is quite explicit. Insofar as pertinent it reads thus: "The Interim Batasang Pambansa shall have
the same powers and its Members shall have the same functions, responsibilities, rights, privileges, and
disqualifications as the interim National Assembly and the regular National Assembly and the Members
thereof." 14One of such powers is precisely that of proposing amendments. The 1973 Constitution in its Transitory
Provisions vested theInterim National Assembly with the power to propose amendments upon special call by the Prime
Minister by a vote of the majority of its members to be ratified in accordance with the Article on Amendments. 15 When,
therefore, the InterimBatasang Pambansa, upon the call of the President and Prime Minister Ferdinand E. Marcos, met as
a constituent body it acted by virtue Of such impotence Its authority to do so is clearly beyond doubt. It could and did
propose the amendments embodied in the resolutions now being assailed. It may be observed parenthetically that as far

as petitioner Occena is Concerned, the question of the authority of the Interim Batasang Pambansa to propose
amendments is not new. In Occena v. Commission on Elections, 16 filed by the same petitioner, decided on January 28,
1980, such a question was involved although not directly passed upon. To quote from the opinion of the Court penned by
Justice Antonio in that case: "Considering that the proposed amendment of Section 7 of Article X of the Constitution
extending the retirement of members of the Supreme Court and judges of inferior courts from sixty-five (65) to seventy
(70) years is but a restoration of the age of retirement provided in the 1935 Constitution and has been intensively and
extensively discussed at the Interim Batasang Pambansa, as well as through the mass media, it cannot, therefore, be said
that our people are unaware of the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed amendment." 17

(2) Petitioners would urge upon us the proposition that the amendments proposed are so extensive in character that
they go far beyond the limits of the authority conferred on the Interim Batasang Pambansa as Successor of
the Interim National Assembly. For them, what was done was to revise and not to amend. It suffices to quote from
the opinion of Justice Makasiar, speaking for the Court, in Del Rosario v. Commission on Elections 18 to dispose of
this contention. Thus: "3. And whether the Constitutional Convention will only propose amendments to the Constitution or
entirely overhaul the present Constitution and propose an entirely new Constitution based on an Ideology foreign to the
democratic system, is of no moment; because the same will be submitted to the people for ratification. Once ratified by the
sovereign people, there can be no debate about the validity of the new Constitution. 4. The fact that the present
Constitution may be revised and replaced with a new one ... is no argument against the validity of the law because
'amendment' includes the 'revision' or total overhaul of the entire Constitution. At any rate, whether the Constitution is
merely amended in part or revised or totally changed would become immaterial the moment the same is ratified by the
sovereign people." 19 There is here the adoption of the principle so well-known in American decisions as well as legal texts
that a constituent body can propose anything but conclude nothing. 20 We are not disposed to deviate from such a
principle not only sound in theory but also advantageous in practice.

(3) That leaves only the questions of the vote necessary to propose amendments as well as the standard for proper
submission. Again, petitioners have not made out a case that calls for a judgment in their favor. The language of the
Constitution supplies the answer to the above questions. The Interim Batasang Pambansa, sitting as a constituent
body, can propose amendments. In that capacity, only a majority vote is needed. It would be an indefensible
proposition to assert that the three-fourth votes required when it sits as a legislative body applies as well when it has
been convened as the agency through which amendments could be proposed. That is not a requirement as far as a
constitutional convention is concerned. It is not a requirement either when, as in this case, the Interim Batasang
Pambansa exercises its constituent power to propose amendments. Moreover, even on the assumption that the
requirement of three- fourth votes applies, such extraordinary majority was obtained. It is not disputed that
Resolution No. 1 proposing an amendment allowing a natural-born citizen of the Philippines naturalized in a foreign
country to own a limited area of land for residential purposes was approved by the vote of 122 to 5; Resolution No. 2
dealing with the Presidency, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, and the National Assembly by a vote of 147 to 5
with 1 abstention; and Resolution No. 3 on the amendment to the Article on the Commission on Elections by a vote
of 148 to 2 with 1 abstention. Where then is the alleged infirmity? As to the requisite standard for a proper
submission, the question may be viewed not only from the standpoint of the period that must elapse before the
holding of the plebiscite but also from the standpoint of such amendments having been called to the attention of the
people so that it could not plausibly be maintained that they were properly informed as to the proposed changes. As
to the period, the Constitution indicates the way the matter should be resolved. There is no ambiguity to the
applicable provision: "Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution shall be valid when ratified by a majority of
the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not later than three months after the approval of such amendment
or revision." 21 The three resolutions were approved by the InterimBatasang Pambansa sitting as a constituent assembly
on February 5 and 27, 1981. In the Batasang Pambansa Blg. 22, the date of the plebiscite is set for April 7, 1981. It is thus
within the 90-day period provided by the Constitution. Thus any argument to the contrary is unavailing. As for the people
being adequately informed, it cannot be denied that this time, as in the cited 1980 Occena opinion of Justice Antonio,
where the amendment restored to seventy the retirement age of members of the judiciary, the proposed amendments
have "been intensively and extensively discussed at the Interim Batasang Pambansa, as well as through the mass media,
[ so that ] it cannot, therefore, be said that our people are unaware of the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed
amendment [ s ]." 22

WHEREFORE, the petitions are dismissed for lack of merit. No costs.


Barredo, Makasiar, Aquino Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez, Guerrero, De Castro and Melencio-Herrera, JJ., concur.
Abad Santos, J., is on leave.

G.R. No. 127325 March 19, 1997


MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ALEXANDER PADILLA, and MARIA ISABEL ONGPIN, petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JESUS DELFIN, ALBERTO PEDROSA & CARMEN PEDROSA, in their
capacities as founding members of the People's Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action
(PIRMA), respondents.
SENATOR RAUL S. ROCO, DEMOKRASYA-IPAGTANGGOL ANG KONSTITUSYON (DIK), MOVEMENT OF
ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC. (MABINI), INTEGRATED BAR OF
THE PHILIPPINES (IBP), and LABAN NG DEMOKRATIKONG PILIPINO (LABAN), petitioners-intervenors.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


The heart of this controversy brought to us by way of a petition for prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is
the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative under
Section 2 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution. Undoubtedly, this demands special attention, as this system of
initiative was unknown to the people of this country, except perhaps to a few scholars, before the drafting of the
1987 Constitution. The 1986 Constitutional Commission itself, through the original proponent 1 and the main
sponsor 2 of the proposed Article on Amendments or Revision of the Constitution, characterized this system as
"innovative".3 Indeed it is, for both under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, only two methods of proposing amendments to,
or revision of, the Constitution were recognized, viz., (1) by Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members and
(2) by a constitutional convention. 4 For this and the other reasons hereafter discussed, we resolved to give due course to
this petition.

On 6 December 1996, private respondent Atty. Jesus S. Delfin filed with public respondent Commission on
Elections (hereafter, COMELEC) a "Petition to Amend the Constitution, to Lift Term Limits of Elective Officials, by
People's Initiative" (hereafter, Delfin Petition) 5 wherein Delfin asked the COMELEC for an order
1. Fixing the time and dates for signature gathering all over the country;
2. Causing the necessary publications of said Order and the attached "Petition for Initiative on the
1987 Constitution, in newspapers of general and local circulation;
3. Instructing Municipal Election Registrars in all Regions of the Philippines, to assist Petitioners and
volunteers, in establishing signing stations at the time and on the dates designated for the purpose.
Delfin alleged in his petition that he is a founding member of the Movement for People's Initiative, 6 a group of citizens
desirous to avail of the system intended to institutionalize people power; that he and the members of the Movement and
other volunteers intend to exercise the power to directly propose amendments to the Constitution granted under Section
2, Article XVII of the Constitution; that the exercise of that power shall be conducted in proceedings under the control and
supervision of the COMELEC; that, as required in COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, signature stations shall be established
all over the country, with the assistance of municipal election registrars, who shall verify the signatures affixed by
individual signatories; that before the Movement and other volunteers can gather signatures, it is necessary that the time
and dates to be designated for the purpose be first fixed in an order to be issued by the COMELEC; and that to
adequately inform the people of the electoral process involved, it is likewise necessary that the said order, as well as the
Petition on which the signatures shall be affixed, be published in newspapers of general and local circulation, under the
control and supervision of the COMELEC.

The Delfin Petition further alleged that the provisions sought to be amended are Sections 4 and 7 of Article
VI, 7Section 4 of Article VII, 8 and Section 8 of Article X 9 of the Constitution. Attached to the petition is a copy of a "Petition
for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution" 10 embodying the proposed amendments which consist in the deletion from the
aforecited sections of the provisions concerning term limits, and with the following proposition:

DO YOU APPROVE OF LIFTING THE TERM LIMITS OF ALL ELECTIVE GOVERNMENT


OFFICIALS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE SECTIONS 4 AND 7 OF ARTICLE VI, SECTION 4
OF ARTICLE VII, AND SECTION 8 OF ARTICLE X OF THE 1987 PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION?
According to Delfin, the said Petition for Initiative will first be submitted to the people, and after it is signed by at least
twelve per cent of the total number of registered voters in the country it will be formally filed with the COMELEC.
Upon the filing of the Delfin Petition, which was forthwith given the number UND 96-037 (INITIATIVE), the
COMELEC, through its Chairman, issued an Order 11 (a) directing Delfin "to cause the publication of the petition,
together with the attached Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution (including the proposal, proposed constitutional
amendment, and the signature form), and the notice of hearing in three (3) daily newspapers of general circulation at his
own expense" not later than 9 December 1996; and (b) setting the case for hearing on 12 December 1996 at 10:00 a.m.

At the hearing of the Delfin Petition on 12 December 1996, the following appeared: Delfin and Atty. Pete Q. Quadra;
representatives of the People's Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action (PIRMA); intervenor-oppositor
Senator Raul S. Roco, together with his two other lawyers, and representatives of, or counsel for, the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP), Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon (DIK), Public Interest Law Center, and Laban ng
Demokratikong Pilipino (LABAN). 12 Senator Roco, on that same day, filed a Motion to Dismiss the Delfin Petition on the
ground that it is not the initiatory petition properly cognizable by the COMELEC.

After hearing their arguments, the COMELEC directed Delfin and the oppositors to file their "memoranda and/or
oppositions/memoranda" within five days. 13
On 18 December 1996, the petitioners herein Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alexander Padilla, and Maria
Isabel Ongpin filed this special civil action for prohibition raising the following arguments:
(1) The constitutional provision on people's initiative to amend the Constitution can only be
implemented by law to be passed by Congress. No such law has been passed; in fact, Senate Bill
No. 1290 entitled An Act Prescribing and Regulating Constitution Amendments by People's Initiative,
which petitioner Senator Santiago filed on 24 November 1995, is still pending before the Senate
Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
(2) It is true that R.A. No. 6735 provides for three systems of initiative, namely, initiative on the
Constitution, on statutes, and on local legislation. However, it failed to provide any subtitle on
initiative on the Constitution, unlike in the other modes of initiative, which are specifically provided for
in Subtitle II and Subtitle III. This deliberate omission indicates that the matter of people's initiative to
amend the Constitution was left to some future law. Former Senator Arturo Tolentino stressed this
deficiency in the law in his privilege speech delivered before the Senate in 1994: "There is not a
single word in that law which can be considered as implementing [the provision on constitutional
initiative]. Such implementing provisions have been obviously left to a separate law.
(3) Republic Act No. 6735 provides for the effectivity of the law after publication in print media. This
indicates that the Act covers only laws and not constitutional amendments because the latter take
effect only upon ratification and not after publication.
(4) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, adopted on 16 January 1991 to govern "the conduct of initiative
on the Constitution and initiative and referendum on national and local laws, is ultra vires insofar
asinitiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned, since the COMELEC has no power to
provide rules and regulations for the exercise of the right of initiative to amend the Constitution. Only
Congress is authorized by the Constitution to pass the implementing law.
(5) The people's initiative is limited to amendments to the Constitution, not to revision thereof.
Extending or lifting of term limits constitutes a revision and is, therefore, outside the power of the
people's initiative.
(6) Finally, Congress has not yet appropriated funds for people's initiative; neither the COMELEC nor
any other government department, agency, or office has realigned funds for the purpose.
To justify their recourse to us via the special civil action for prohibition, the petitioners allege that in the event the
COMELEC grants the Delfin Petition, the people's initiative spearheaded by PIRMA would entail expenses to the
national treasury for general re-registration of voters amounting to at least P180 million, not to mention the millions
of additional pesos in expenses which would be incurred in the conduct of the initiative itself. Hence, the
transcendental importance to the public and the nation of the issues raised demands that this petition for prohibition
be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside technicalities of procedure and calling for the admission of a
taxpayer's and legislator's suit. 14 Besides, there is no other plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course
of law.

On 19 December 1996, this Court (a) required the respondents to comment on the petition within a non-extendible
period of ten days from notice; and (b) issued a temporary restraining order, effective immediately and continuing
until further orders, enjoining public respondent COMELEC from proceeding with the Delfin Petition, and private
respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa from conducting a signature drive for people's initiative to amend the
Constitution.
On 2 January 1997, private respondents, through Atty Quadra, filed their Comment 15 on the petition. They argue
therein that:

1. IT IS NOT TRUE THAT "IT WOULD ENTAIL EXPENSES TO THE NATIONAL TREASURY FOR
GENERAL REGISTRATION OF VOTERS AMOUNTING TO AT LEAST PESOS: ONE HUNDRED
EIGHTY MILLION (P180,000,000.00)" IF THE "COMELEC GRANTS THE PETITION FILED BY
RESPONDENT DELFIN BEFORE THE COMELEC.

2. NOT A SINGLE CENTAVO WOULD BE SPENT BY THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT IF THE


COMELEC GRANTS THE PETITION OF RESPONDENT DELFIN. ALL EXPENSES IN THE
SIGNATURE GATHERING ARE ALL FOR THE ACCOUNT OF RESPONDENT DELFIN AND HIS
VOLUNTEERS PER THEIR PROGRAM OF ACTIVITIES AND EXPENDITURES SUBMITTED TO
THE COMELEC. THE ESTIMATED COST OF THE DAILY PER DIEM OF THE SUPERVISING
SCHOOL TEACHERS IN THE SIGNATURE GATHERING TO BE DEPOSITED and TO BE PAID
BY DELFIN AND HIS VOLUNTEERS IS P2,571,200.00;
3. THE PENDING PETITION BEFORE THE COMELEC IS ONLY ON THE SIGNATURE
GATHERING WHICH BY LAW COMELEC IS DUTY BOUND "TO SUPERVISE CLOSELY"
PURSUANT TO ITS "INITIATORY JURISDICTION" UPHELD BY THE HONORABLE COURT IN
ITS RECENT SEPTEMBER 26, 1996 DECISION IN THE CASE OF SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN
AUTHORITY VS. COMELEC, ET AL. G.R. NO. 125416;
4. REP. ACT NO. 6735 APPROVED ON AUGUST 4, 1989 IS THE ENABLING LAW
IMPLEMENTING THE POWER OF PEOPLE INITIATIVE TO PROPOSE AMENDMENTS TO THE
CONSTITUTION. SENATOR DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO'S SENATE BILL NO. 1290 IS A
DUPLICATION OF WHAT ARE ALREADY PROVIDED FOR IN REP. ACT NO. 6735;
5. COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300 PROMULGATED ON JANUARY 16, 1991 PURSUANT TO
REP. ACT 6735 WAS UPHELD BY THE HONORABLE COURT IN THE RECENT SEPTEMBER 26,
1996 DECISION IN THE CASE OF SUBIC BAY METROPOLITAN AUTHORITY VS. COMELEC, ET
AL. G.R. NO. 125416 WHERE THE HONORABLE COURT SAID: "THE COMMISSION ON
ELECTIONS CAN DO NO LESS BY SEASONABLY AND JUDICIOUSLY PROMULGATING
GUIDELINES AND RULES FOR BOTH NATIONAL AND LOCAL USE, IN IMPLEMENTING OF
THESE LAWS."
6. EVEN SENATOR DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO'S SENATE BILL NO. 1290 CONTAINS A PROVISION
DELEGATING TO THE COMELEC THE POWER TO "PROMULGATE SUCH RULES AND
REGULATIONS AS MAY BE NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES OF THIS ACT."
(SEC. 12, S.B. NO. 1290, ENCLOSED AS ANNEX E, PETITION);
7. THE LIFTING OF THE LIMITATION ON THE TERM OF OFFICE OF ELECTIVE OFFICIALS
PROVIDED UNDER THE 1987 CONSTITUTION IS NOT A "REVISION" OF THE CONSTITUTION.
IT IS ONLY AN AMENDMENT. "AMENDMENT ENVISAGES AN ALTERATION OF ONE OR A FEW
SPECIFIC PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION. REVISION CONTEMPLATES A REEXAMINATION OF THE ENTIRE DOCUMENT TO DETERMINE HOW AND TO WHAT EXTENT IT
SHOULD BE ALTERED." (PP. 412-413, 2ND. ED. 1992, 1097 PHIL. CONSTITUTION, BY
JOAQUIN G. BERNAS, S.J.).
Also on 2 January 1997, private respondent Delfin filed in his own behalf a Comment 16 which starts off with an
assertion that the instant petition is a "knee-jerk reaction to a draft 'Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution'. . . which
is not formally filed yet." What he filed on 6 December 1996 was an "Initiatory Pleading" or "Initiatory Petition," which was
legally necessary to start the signature campaign to amend the Constitution or to put the movement to gather signatures
under COMELEC power and function. On the substantive allegations of the petitioners, Delfin maintains as follows:

(1) Contrary to the claim of the petitioners, there is a law, R.A. No. 6735, which governs the conduct
of initiative to amend the Constitution. The absence therein of a subtitle for such initiative is not fatal,
since subtitles are not requirements for the validity or sufficiency of laws.
(2) Section 9(b) of R.A. No. 6735 specifically provides that the proposition in an initiative to amend
the Constitution approved by the majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as
of the day of the plebiscite.
(3) The claim that COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is ultra vires is contradicted by (a) Section 2,
Article IX-C of the Constitution, which grants the COMELEC the power to enforce and administer all
laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and
recall; and (b) Section 20 of R.A. 6735, which empowers the COMELEC to promulgate such rules
and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of the Act.
(4) The proposed initiative does not involve a revision of, but mere amendment to, the Constitution
because it seeks to alter only a few specific provisions of the Constitution, or more specifically, only
those which lay term limits. It does not seek to reexamine or overhaul the entire document.
As to the public expenditures for registration of voters, Delfin considers petitioners' estimate of P180 million as
unreliable, for only the COMELEC can give the exact figure. Besides, if there will be a plebiscite it will be
simultaneous with the 1997 Barangay Elections. In any event, fund requirements for initiative will be a priority
government expense because it will be for the exercise of the sovereign power of the people.

In the Comment 17 for the public respondent COMELEC, filed also on 2 January 1997, the Office of the Solicitor General
contends that:

(1) R.A. No. 6735 deals with, inter alia, people's initiative to amend the Constitution. Its Section 2 on
Statement of Policy explicitly affirms, recognizes, and guarantees that power; and its Section 3,
which enumerates the three systems of initiative, includes initiative on the Constitution and defines
the same as the power to propose amendments to the Constitution. Likewise, its Section 5
repeatedly mentionsinitiative on the Constitution.
(2) A separate subtitle on initiative on the Constitution is not necessary in R.A. No. 6735 because,
being national in scope, that system of initiative is deemed included in the subtitle on National
Initiative and Referendum; and Senator Tolentino simply overlooked pertinent provisions of the law
when he claimed that nothing therein was provided for initiative on the Constitution.
(3) Senate Bill No. 1290 is neither a competent nor a material proof that R.A. No. 6735 does not deal
with initiative on the Constitution.
(4) Extension of term limits of elected officials constitutes a mere amendment to the Constitution, not
a revision thereof.
(5) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 was validly issued under Section 20 of R.A. No. 6735 and under
the Omnibus Election Code. The rule-making power of the COMELEC to implement the provisions of
R.A. No. 6735 was in fact upheld by this Court in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority vs. COMELEC.
On 14 January 1997, this Court (a) confirmed nunc pro tunc the temporary restraining order; (b) noted the
aforementioned Comments and the Motion to Lift Temporary Restraining Order filed by private respondents through
Atty. Quadra, as well as the latter's Manifestation stating that he is the counsel for private respondents Alberto and
Carmen Pedrosa only and the Comment he filed was for the Pedrosas; and (c) granted the Motion for Intervention
filed on 6 January 1997 by Senator Raul Roco and allowed him to file his Petition in Intervention not later than 20
January 1997; and (d) set the case for hearing on 23 January 1997 at 9:30 a.m.
On 17 January 1997, the Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon (DIK) and the Movement of Attorneys for
Brotherhood Integrity and Nationalism, Inc. (MABINI), filed a Motion for Intervention. Attached to the motion was
their Petition in Intervention, which was later replaced by an Amended Petition in Intervention wherein they contend
that:
(1) The Delfin proposal does not involve a mere amendment to, but a revision of, the Constitution
because, in the words of Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., 18 it would involve a change from a political
philosophy that rejects unlimited tenure to one that accepts unlimited tenure; and although the change
might appear to be an isolated one, it can affect other provisions, such as, on synchronization of elections
and on the State policy of guaranteeing equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibiting
political dynasties. 19 Arevision cannot be done by initiative which, by express provision of Section 2 of
Article XVII of the Constitution, is limited to amendments.

(2) The prohibition against reelection of the President and the limits provided for all other national
and local elective officials are based on the philosophy of governance, "to open up the political arena
to as many as there are Filipinos qualified to handle the demands of leadership, to break the
concentration of political and economic powers in the hands of a few, and to promote effective
proper empowerment for participation in policy and decision-making for the common good"; hence,
to remove the term limits is to negate and nullify the noble vision of the 1987 Constitution.
(3) The Delfin proposal runs counter to the purpose of initiative, particularly in a conflict-of-interest
situation. Initiative is intended as a fallback position that may be availed of by the people only if they
are dissatisfied with the performance of their elective officials, but not as a premium for good
performance. 20
(4) R.A. No. 6735 is deficient and inadequate in itself to be called the enabling law that implements the
people's initiative on amendments to the Constitution. It fails to state (a) the proper parties who may file
the petition, (b) the appropriate agency before whom the petition is to be filed, (c) the contents of the
petition, (d) the publication of the same, (e) the ways and means of gathering the signatures of the voters
nationwide and 3% per legislative district, (f) the proper parties who may oppose or question the veracity
of the signatures, (g) the role of the COMELEC in the verification of the signatures and the sufficiency of
the petition, (h) the appeal from any decision of the COMELEC, (I) the holding of a plebiscite, and (g) the
appropriation of funds for such people's initiative. Accordingly, there being no enabling law, the
COMELEC has no jurisdiction to hear Delfin's petition.

(5) The deficiency of R.A. No. 6735 cannot be rectified or remedied by COMELEC Resolution No.
2300, since the COMELEC is without authority to legislate the procedure for a
people's initiative under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution. That function exclusively

pertains to Congress. Section 20 of R.A. No. 6735 does not constitute a legal basis for the
Resolution, as the former does not set a sufficient standard for a valid delegation of power.
On 20 January 1997, Senator Raul Roco filed his Petition in
Intervention. 21 He avers that R.A. No. 6735 is the enabling law that implements the people's right to initiate constitutional
amendments. This law is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. 21505; he co-authored the House Bill
and even delivered a sponsorship speech thereon. He likewise submits that the COMELEC was empowered under
Section 20 of that law to promulgate COMELEC Resolution No. 2300. Nevertheless, he contends that the respondent
Commission is without jurisdiction to take cognizance of the Delfin Petition and to order its publication because the said
petition is not the initiatory pleading contemplated under the Constitution, Republic Act No. 6735, and COMELEC
Resolution No. 2300. What vests jurisdiction upon the COMELEC in an initiative on the Constitution is the filing of a
petition for initiative which is signedby the required number of registered voters. He also submits that the proponents of a
constitutional amendment cannot avail of the authority and resources of the COMELEC to assist them is securing the
required number of signatures, as the COMELEC's role in an initiative on the Constitution is limited to the determination of
the sufficiency of the initiative petition and the call and supervision of a plebiscite, if warranted.

On 20 January 1997, LABAN filed a Motion for Leave to Intervene.


The following day, the IBP filed a Motion for Intervention to which it attached a Petition in Intervention raising the
following arguments:
(1) Congress has failed to enact an enabling law mandated under Section 2, Article XVII of the 1987
Constitution.
(2) COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 cannot substitute for the required implementing law on the
initiative to amend the Constitution.
(3) The Petition for Initiative suffers from a fatal defect in that it does not have the required number of
signatures.
(4) The petition seeks, in effect a revision of the Constitution, which can be proposed only by
Congress or a constitutional convention. 22
On 21 January 1997, we promulgated a Resolution (a) granting the Motions for Intervention filed by the DIK and
MABINI and by the IBP, as well as the Motion for Leave to Intervene filed by LABAN; (b) admitting the Amended
Petition in Intervention of DIK and MABINI, and the Petitions in Intervention of Senator Roco and of the IBP; (c)
requiring the respondents to file within a nonextendible period of five days their Consolidated Comments on the
aforesaid Petitions in Intervention; and (d) requiring LABAN to file its Petition in Intervention within a nonextendible
period of three days from notice, and the respondents to comment thereon within a nonextendible period of five
days from receipt of the said Petition in Intervention.
At the hearing of the case on 23 January 1997, the parties argued on the following pivotal issues, which the Court
formulated in light of the allegations and arguments raised in the pleadings so far filed:
1. Whether R.A. No. 6735, entitled An Act Providing for a System of Initiative and Referendum and
Appropriating Funds Therefor, was intended to include or cover initiative on amendments to the
Constitution; and if so, whether the Act, as worded, adequately covers such initiative.
2. Whether that portion of COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 (In re: Rules and Regulations Governing
the Conduct of Initiative on the Constitution, and Initiative and Referendum on National and Local
Laws) regarding the conduct of initiative on amendments to the Constitution is valid, considering the
absence in the law of specific provisions on the conduct of such initiative.
3. Whether the lifting of term limits of elective national and local officials, as proposed in the draft
"Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution," would constitute a revision of, or an amendment to,
the Constitution.
4. Whether the COMELEC can take cognizance of, or has jurisdiction over, a petition solely intended
to obtain an order (a) fixing the time and dates for signature gathering; (b) instructing municipal
election officers to assist Delfin's movement and volunteers in establishing signature stations; and
(c) directing or causing the publication of, inter alia, the unsigned proposed Petition for Initiative on
the 1987 Constitution.
5. Whether it is proper for the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the petition when there is a
pending case before the COMELEC.
After hearing them on the issues, we required the parties to submit simultaneously their respective memoranda
within twenty days and requested intervenor Senator Roco to submit copies of the deliberations on House Bill No.
21505.

On 27 January 1997, LABAN filed its Petition in Intervention wherein it adopts the allegations and arguments in the
main Petition. It further submits that the COMELEC should have dismissed the Delfin Petition for failure to state a
sufficient cause of action and that the Commission's failure or refusal to do so constituted grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
On 28 January 1997, Senator Roco submitted copies of portions of both the Journal and the Record of the House of
Representatives relating to the deliberations of House Bill No. 21505, as well as the transcripts of stenographic
notes on the proceedings of the Bicameral Conference Committee, Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms,
of 6 June 1989 on House Bill No. 21505 and Senate Bill No. 17.
Private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa filed their Consolidated Comments on the Petitions in Intervention
of Senator Roco, DIK and MABINI, and IBP. 23 The parties thereafter filed, in due time, their separate memoranda. 24
As we stated in the beginning, we resolved to give due course to this special civil action.
For a more logical discussion of the formulated issues, we shall first take up the fifth issue which appears to pose a
prejudicial procedural question.
I
THE INSTANT PETITION IS VIABLE DESPITE THE PENDENCY IN THE COMELEC OF THE DELFIN
PETITION.
Except for the petitioners and intervenor Roco, the parties paid no serious attention to the fifth issue, i.e., whether it
is proper for this Court to take cognizance of this special civil action when there is a pending case before the
COMELEC. The petitioners provide an affirmative answer. Thus:
28. The Comelec has no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the petition filed by private respondent
Delfin. This being so, it becomes imperative to stop the Comelec from proceeding any further, and
under the Rules of Court, Rule 65, Section 2, a petition for prohibition is the proper remedy.
29. The writ of prohibition is an extraordinary judicial writ issuing out of a court of superior jurisdiction
and directed to an inferior court, for the purpose of preventing the inferior tribunal from usurping a
jurisdiction with which it is not legally vested. (People v. Vera, supra., p. 84). In this case the writ is
an urgent necessity, in view of the highly divisive and adverse environmental consequences on the
body politic of the questioned Comelec order. The consequent climate of legal confusion and
political instability begs for judicial statesmanship.
30. In the final analysis, when the system of constitutional law is threatened by the political ambitions
of man, only the Supreme Court
can save a nation in peril and uphold the paramount majesty of the Constitution. 25
It must be recalled that intervenor Roco filed with the COMELEC a motion to dismiss the Delfin Petition on the
ground that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction or authority to entertain the petition. 26 The COMELEC made no ruling
thereon evidently because after having heard the arguments of Delfin and the oppositors at the hearing on 12 December
1996, it required them to submit within five days their memoranda or oppositions/memoranda. 27 Earlier, or specifically on
6 December 1996, it practically gave due course to the Delfin Petition by ordering Delfin to cause the publication of the
petition, together with the attached Petition for Initiative, the signature form, and the notice of hearing; and by setting the
case for hearing. The COMELEC's failure to act on Roco's motion to dismiss and its insistence to hold on to the petition
rendered ripe and viable the instant petition under Section 2 of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which provides:

Sec. 2. Petition for prohibition. Where the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, or
person, whether exercising functions judicial or ministerial, are without or in excess of its or his
jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion, and there is no appeal or any other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law, a person aggrieved thereby may file a verified
petition in the proper court alleging the facts with certainty and praying that judgment be rendered
commanding the defendant to desist from further proceedings in the action or matter specified
therein.
It must also be noted that intervenor Roco claims that the COMELEC has no jurisdiction over the Delfin Petition
because the said petition is not supported by the required minimum number of signatures of registered voters.
LABAN also asserts that the COMELEC gravely abused its discretion in refusing to dismiss the Delfin Petition,
which does not contain the required number of signatures. In light of these claims, the instant case may likewise be
treated as a special civil action for certiorari under Section I of Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.
In any event, as correctly pointed out by intervenor Roco in his Memorandum, this Court may brush aside
technicalities of procedure in
cases of transcendental importance. As we stated in Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Guingona, Jr. 28

A party's standing before this Court is a procedural technicality which it may, in the exercise of its
discretion, set aside in view of the importance of issues raised. In the landmark Emergency Powers
Cases, this Court brushed aside this technicality because the transcendental importance to the
public of these cases demands that they be settled promptly and definitely, brushing aside, if we
must, technicalities of procedure.
II
R.A. NO. 6735 INTENDED TO INCLUDE THE SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE ON AMENDMENTS TO THE
CONSTITUTION, BUT IS, UNFORTUNATELY, INADEQUATE TO COVER THAT SYSTEM.
Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution provides:
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. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the
ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.
The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
This provision is not self-executory. In his book, 29 Joaquin Bernas, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission,
stated:

Without implementing legislation Section 2 cannot operate. Thus, although this mode of amending
the Constitution is a mode of amendment which bypasses congressional action, in the last analysis it
still is dependent on congressional action.
Bluntly stated, the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system
of initiative would remain entombed in the cold niche of the Constitution until Congress provides for its
implementation. Stated otherwise, while the Constitution has recognized or granted that right, the people
cannot exercise it if Congress, for whatever reason, does not provide for its implementation.
This system of initiative was originally included in Section 1 of the draft Article on Amendment or Revision proposed
by the Committee on Amendments and Transitory Provisions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission in its
Committee Report No. 7 (Proposed Resolution No. 332). 30 That section reads as follows:
Sec. 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed:
(a) by the National Assembly upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or
(b) by a constitutional convention; or
(c) directly by the people themselves thru initiative as provided for in Article___ Section ___of the
Constitution. 31
After several interpellations, but before the period of amendments, the Committee submitted a new
formulation of the concept of initiative which it denominated as Section 2; thus:
MR. SUAREZ. Thank you, Madam President. May we respectfully call 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. 32
The interpellations on Section 2 showed that the details for carrying out Section 2 are left to the legislature. Thus:
FR. BERNAS. Madam President, just two simple, clarificatory questions.

First, on Section 1 on the matter of initiative upon petition of at least 10 percent, there
are no details in the provision on how to carry this out. Do we understand, therefore,
that we are leaving this matter to the legislature?
MR. SUAREZ. That is right, Madam President.
FR. BERNAS. And do we also understand, therefore, that for as long as the
legislature does not pass the necessary implementing law on this, this will not
operate?
MR. SUAREZ. That matter was also taken up during the committee hearing,
especially with respect to the budget appropriations which would have to be
legislated so that the plebiscite could be called. We deemed it best that this matter
be left to the legislature. The Gentleman is right. In any event, as envisioned, no
amendment through the power of initiative can be called until after five years from the
date of the ratification of this Constitution. Therefore, the first amendment that could
be proposed through the exercise of this initiative power would be after five years. It
is reasonably expected that within that five-year period, the National Assembly can
come up with the appropriate rules governing the exercise of this power.
FR. BERNAS. Since the matter is left to the legislature the details on how this is to
be carried out is it possible that, in effect, what will be presented to the people for
ratification is the work of the legislature rather than of the people? Does this provision
exclude that possibility?
MR. SUAREZ. No, it does not exclude that possibility because even the legislature
itself as a body could propose that amendment, maybe individually or collectively, if it
fails to muster the three-fourths vote in order to constitute itself as a constituent
assembly and submit that proposal to the people for ratification through the process
of an initiative.
xxx xxx xxx
MS. AQUINO. Do I understand from the sponsor that the intention in the proposal is
to vest constituent power in the people to amend the Constitution?
MR. SUAREZ. That is absolutely correct, Madam President.
MS. AQUINO. I fully concur with the underlying precept of the proposal in terms of
institutionalizing popular participation in the drafting of the Constitution or in the
amendment thereof, but I would have a lot of difficulties in terms of accepting the
draft of Section 2, as written. Would the sponsor agree with me that in the hierarchy
of legal mandate, constituent power has primacy over all other legal mandates?
MR. SUAREZ. The Commissioner is right, Madam President.
MS. AQUINO. And would the sponsor agree with me that in the hierarchy of legal
values, the Constitution is source of all legal mandates and that therefore we require
a great deal of circumspection in the drafting and in the amendments of the
Constitution?
MR. SUAREZ. That proposition is nondebatable.
MS. AQUINO. Such that in order to underscore the primacy of constituent power we
have a separate article in the constitution that would specifically cover the process
and the modes of amending the Constitution?
MR. SUAREZ. That is right, Madam President.
MS. AQUINO. Therefore, is the sponsor inclined, as the provisions are drafted
now, to again concede to the legislature the process or the requirement of
determining the mechanics of amending the Constitution by people's initiative?
MR. SUAREZ. The matter of implementing this could very well be placed in the
hands of the National Assembly, not unless we can incorporate into this provision the
mechanics that would adequately cover all the conceivable situations. 33

It was made clear during the interpellations that the aforementioned Section 2 is limited to proposals to AMEND
not to REVISE the Constitution; thus:
MR. SUAREZ. . . . 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 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. 34
xxx xxx xxx

MS. AQUINO. In which case, 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. We 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. In 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. That is right. Those were the terms envisioned in the Committee. 35
Amendments to the proposed Section 2 were thereafter introduced by then Commissioner Hilario G. Davide, Jr.,
which the Committee accepted. Thus:
MR. DAVIDE. Thank you Madam President. I propose to substitute the entire Section
2 with the following:
MR. DAVIDE. Madam President, I have modified the proposed amendment after
taking into account the modifications submitted by the sponsor himself and the
honorable Commissioners Guingona, Monsod, Rama, Ople, de los Reyes and
Romulo. The modified amendment in substitution of the proposed Section 2 will now
read as follows: "SECTION 2. AMENDMENTS TO THIS CONSTITUTION MAY
LIKEWISE BE DIRECTLY PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE
UPON A PETITION OF AT LEAST TWELVE PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER
Of REGISTERED VOTERS, OF WHICH EVERY LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT MUST
BE REPRESENTED BY AT LEAST THREE PERCENT OF THE REGISTERED
VOTERS THEREOF. NO AMENDMENT UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BE
AUTHORIZED WITHIN FIVE YEARS FOLLOWING THE RATIFICATION OF THIS
CONSTITUTION NOR OFTENER THAN ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS
THEREAFTER.
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHALL BY LAW PROVIDE FOR THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EXERCISE OF THIS RIGHT.
MR. SUAREZ. Madam President, considering that the proposed amendment is
reflective of the sense contained in Section 2 of our completed Committee Report
No. 7, we accept the proposed amendment. 36
The interpellations which ensued on the proposed modified amendment to Section 2 clearly showed that it was a
legislative act which must implement the exercise of the right. Thus:
MR. ROMULO. Under Commissioner Davide's amendment, is it possible for the
legislature to set forth certain procedures to carry out the initiative. . .?
MR. DAVIDE. It can.
xxx xxx xxx
MR. ROMULO. But the Commissioner's amendment does not prevent the legislature
from asking another body to set the proposition in proper form.

MR. DAVIDE. The Commissioner is correct. In other words, the implementation of


this particular right would be subject to legislation, provided the legislature cannot
determine anymore the percentage of the requirement.
MR. ROMULO. But the procedures, including the determination of the proper form for
submission to the people, may be subject to legislation.
MR. DAVIDE. As long as it will not destroy the substantive right to initiate. In other
words, none of the procedures to be proposed by the legislative body must diminish
or impair the right conceded here.
MR. ROMULO. In that provision of the Constitution can the procedures which I have
discussed be legislated?
MR. DAVIDE. Yes. 37
Commissioner Davide also reaffirmed that his modified amendment strictly confines initiative to AMENDMENTS to
NOT REVISION of the Constitution. Thus:
MR. DAVIDE. With pleasure, Madam President.
MR. MAAMBONG. My first question: Commissioner Davide's proposed amendment
on line 1 refers to "amendment." 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. No, 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." 38
Commissioner Davide further emphasized that the process of proposing amendments through initiative must be
more rigorous and difficult than the initiative on legislation. Thus:
MR. DAVIDE. A distinction has to be made that under this proposal, what is involved
is an amendment to the Constitution. To amend a Constitution would ordinarily
require a proposal by the National Assembly by a vote of three-fourths; and to call a
constitutional convention would require a higher number. Moreover, just to submit the
issue of calling a constitutional convention, a majority of the National Assembly is
required, the import being that the process of amendment must be made more
rigorous and difficult than probably initiating an ordinary legislation or putting an end
to a law proposed by the National Assembly by way of a referendum. I cannot agree
to reducing the requirement approved by the Committee on the Legislative because it
would require another voting by the Committee, and the voting as precisely based on
a requirement of 10 percent. Perhaps, I might present such a proposal, by way of an
amendment, when the Commission shall take up the Article on the Legislative or on
the National Assembly on plenary sessions. 39
The Davide modified amendments to Section 2 were subjected to amendments, and the final version, which the
Commission approved by a vote of 31 in favor and 3 against, reads as follows:
MR. DAVIDE. Thank you Madam President. Section 2, as amended, reads as
follows: "AMENDMENT TO THIS CONSTITUTION MAY LIKEWISE BE DIRECTLY
PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE UPON A PETITION OF AT
LEAST TWELVE PERCENT OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF REGISTERED
VOTERS, OF WHICH EVERY LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT MUST BE REPRESENTED
BY AT LEAST THREE PERCENT OF THE REGISTERED VOTERS THEREOF. NO
AMENDMENT UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BE AUTHORIZED WITHIN FIVE
YEARS FOLLOWING THE RATIFICATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION NOR
OFTENER THAN ONCE EVERY FIVE YEARS THEREAFTER.
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY SHALL BY LAW PROVIDE
FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EXERCISE OF THIS RIGHT. 40
The entire proposed Article on Amendments or Revisions was approved on second reading on 9 July
1986.41 Thereafter, upon his motion for reconsideration, Commissioner Gascon was allowed to introduce an
amendment to Section 2 which, nevertheless, was withdrawn. In view thereof, the Article was again approved on
Second and Third Readings on 1 August 1986. 42

However, the Committee on Style recommended that the approved Section 2 be amended by changing "percent"
to "per centum" and "thereof" to "therein" and deleting the phrase "by law" in the second paragraph so that said
paragraph reads: The Congress 43 shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right. 44 This amendment
was approved and is the text of the present second paragraph of Section 2.

The conclusion then is inevitable that, indeed, the system of initiative on the Constitution under Section 2 of Article
XVII of the Constitution is not self-executory.
Has Congress "provided" for the implementation of the exercise of this right? Those who answer the question in the
affirmative, like the private respondents and intervenor Senator Roco, point to us R.A. No. 6735.
There is, of course, no other better way for Congress to implement the exercise of the right than through the
passage of a statute or legislative act. This is the essence or rationale of the last minute amendment by the
Constitutional Commission to substitute the last paragraph of Section 2 of Article XVII then reading:
The Congress 45 shall by law provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
with
The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
This substitute amendment was an investiture on Congress of a power to provide for the rules implementing
the exercise of the right. The "rules" means "the details on how [the right] is to be carried out." 46
We agree that R.A. No. 6735 was, as its history reveals, intended to cover initiative to propose amendments to the
Constitution. The Act is a consolidation of House Bill No. 21505 and Senate Bill No. 17. The former was prepared by
the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms of the House of Representatives on the basis of two House Bills
referred to it, viz., (a) House Bill No. 497, 47 which dealt with the initiative and referendum mentioned
in Sections 1 and 32 of Article VI of the Constitution; and (b) House Bill No. 988, 48 which dealt with the subject matter of
House Bill No. 497, as well as with initiative and referendum under Section 3 of Article X (Local Government) and initiative
provided for in Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution. Senate Bill No. 17 49 solely dealt with initiative and referendum
concerning ordinances or resolutions of local government units. The Bicameral Conference Committee consolidated
Senate Bill No. 17 and House Bill No. 21505 into a draft bill, which was subsequently approved on 8 June 1989 by the
Senate 50 and by the House of Representatives. 51 This approved bill is now R.A. No. 6735.

But is R.A. No. 6735 a full compliance with the power and duty of Congress to "provide for the implementation of the
exercise of the right?"
A careful scrutiny of the Act yields a negative answer.
First. Contrary to the assertion of public respondent COMELEC, Section 2 of the Act does not suggest an initiative
on amendments to the Constitution. The said section reads:
Sec. 2. Statement and Policy. The power of the people under a system of initiative and
referendum to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws,
ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative body upon compliance with the requirements of
this Act is hereby affirmed, recognized and guaranteed. (Emphasis supplied).
The inclusion of the word "Constitution" therein was a delayed afterthought. That word is neither germane
nor relevant to said section, which exclusively relates to initiative and referendum on national laws and local
laws, ordinances, and resolutions. That section is silent as to amendments on the Constitution. As pointed
out earlier, initiative on the Constitution is confined only to proposals to AMEND. The people are not
accorded the power to "directly propose, enact, approve, or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution"
through the system of initiative. They can only do so with respect to "laws, ordinances, or resolutions."
The foregoing conclusion is further buttressed by the fact that this section was lifted from Section 1 of Senate Bill
No. 17, which solely referred to a statement of policy on local initiative and referendum and appropriately used the
phrases "propose and enact," "approve or reject" and "in whole or in part." 52
Second. It is true that Section 3 (Definition of Terms) of the Act defines initiative on amendments to the Constitution
and mentions it as one of the three systems of initiative, and that Section 5 (Requirements) restates the
constitutional requirements as to the percentage of the registered voters who must submit the proposal. But unlike in
the case of the other systems of initiative, the Act does not provide for the contents of a petition forinitiative on the
Constitution. Section 5, paragraph (c) requires, among other things, statement of the proposed law sought to be
enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed, as the case may be. It does not include, as among the
contents of the petition, the provisions of the Constitution sought to be amended, in the case of initiative on the
Constitution. Said paragraph (c) reads in full as follows:
(c) The petition shall state the following:

c.1 contents or text of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or
repealed, as the case may be;
c.2 the proposition;
c.3 the reason or reasons therefor;
c.4 that it is not one of the exceptions provided therein;
c.5 signatures of the petitioners or registered voters; and
c.6 an abstract or summary proposition is not more than one hundred (100) words which shall be
legibly written or printed at the top of every page of the petition. (Emphasis supplied).
The use of the clause "proposed laws sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed"
only strengthens the conclusion that Section 2, quoted earlier, excludes initiative on amendments to the
Constitution.
Third. While the Act provides subtitles for National Initiative and Referendum (Subtitle II) and for Local Initiative and
Referendum (Subtitle III), no subtitle is provided for initiative on the Constitution. This conspicuous silence as to the
latter simply means that the main thrust of the Act is initiative and referendum on national and local laws. If
Congress intended R.A. No. 6735 to fully provide for the implementation of the initiative on amendments to the
Constitution, it could have provided for a subtitle therefor, considering that in the order of things, the primacy of
interest, or hierarchy of values, the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution is far
more important than the initiative on national and local laws.
We cannot accept the argument that the initiative on amendments to the Constitution is subsumed under the subtitle
on National Initiative and Referendum because it is national in scope. Our reading of Subtitle II (National Initiative
and Referendum) and Subtitle III (Local Initiative and Referendum) leaves no room for doubt that the classification is
not based on the scope of the initiative involved, but on its nature and character. It is "national initiative," if what is
proposed to be adopted or enacted is a national law, or a law which only Congress can pass. It is "local initiative" if
what is proposed to be adopted or enacted is a law, ordinance, or resolution which only the legislative bodies of the
governments of the autonomous regions, provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays can pass. This
classification of initiative into national and local is actually based on Section 3 of the Act, which we quote for
emphasis and clearer understanding:
Sec. 3. Definition of terms
xxx xxx xxx
There are three (3) systems of initiative, namely:
a.1 Initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing amendments to the Constitution;
a.2 Initiative on Statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact a national legislation; and
a.3 Initiative on local legislation which refers to a petition proposing to enact a regional, provincial,
city, municipal, or barangay law, resolution or ordinance. (Emphasis supplied).
Hence, to complete the classification under subtitles there should have been a subtitle on initiative on amendments
to the Constitution. 53
A further examination of the Act even reveals that the subtitling is not accurate. Provisions not germane to the
subtitle on National Initiative and Referendum are placed therein, like (1) paragraphs (b) and (c) of Section 9, which
reads:
(b) The proposition in an initiative on the Constitution approved by the majority of the votes cast in
the plebiscite shall become effective as to the day of the plebiscite.
(c) A national or local initiative proposition approved by majority of the votes cast in an election
called for the purpose shall become effective fifteen (15) days after certification and proclamation of
the Commission. (Emphasis supplied).
(2) that portion of Section 11 (Indirect Initiative) referring to indirect initiative with the legislative bodies of local
governments; thus:
Sec. 11. Indirect Initiative. Any duly accredited people's organization, as defined by law, may file a
petition for indirect initiative with the House of Representatives, and other legislative bodies. . . .

and (3) Section 12 on Appeal, since it applies to decisions of the COMELEC on the findings of sufficiency or
insufficiency of the petition for initiative or referendum, which could be petitions for both national and
localinitiative and referendum.
Upon the other hand, Section 18 on "Authority of Courts" under subtitle III on Local Initiative and Referendum is
misplaced, 54 since the provision therein applies to both national and local initiative and referendum. It reads:
Sec. 18. Authority of Courts. Nothing in this Act shall prevent or preclude the proper courts from
declaring null and void any proposition approved pursuant to this Act for violation of the Constitution
or want of capacity of the local legislative body to enact the said measure.
Curiously, too, while R.A. No. 6735 exerted utmost diligence and care in providing for the details in the
implementation of initiative and referendum on national and local legislation thereby giving them special attention, it
failed, rather intentionally, to do so on the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution. Anent the initiative
on national legislation, the Act provides for the following:
(a) The required percentage of registered voters to sign the petition and the contents of the petition;
(b) The conduct and date of the initiative;
(c) The submission to the electorate of the proposition and the required number of votes for its approval;
(d) The certification by the COMELEC of the approval of the proposition;
(e) The publication of the approved proposition in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the
Philippines; and
(f) The effects of the approval or rejection of the proposition. 55
As regards local initiative, the Act provides for the following:
(a) The preliminary requirement as to the number of signatures of registered voters for the petition;
(b) The submission of the petition to the local legislative body concerned;
(c) The effect of the legislative body's failure to favorably act thereon, and the invocation of the power of initiative as
a consequence thereof;
(d) The formulation of the proposition;
(e) The period within which to gather the signatures;
(f) The persons before whom the petition shall be signed;
(g) The issuance of a certification by the COMELEC through its official in the local government unit concerned as to
whether the required number of signatures have been obtained;
(h) The setting of a date by the COMELEC for the submission of the proposition to the registered voters for their
approval, which must be within the period specified therein;
(i) The issuance of a certification of the result;
(j) The date of effectivity of the approved proposition;
(k) The limitations on local initiative; and
(l) The limitations upon local legislative bodies. 56
Upon the other hand, as to initiative on amendments to the Constitution, R.A. No. 6735, in all of its twenty-three
sections, merely (a) mentions, the word "Constitution" in Section 2; (b) defines "initiative on the Constitution" and
includes it in the enumeration of the three systems of initiative in Section 3; (c) speaks of "plebiscite" as the process
by which the proposition in an initiative on the Constitution may be approved or rejected by the people; (d) reiterates
the constitutional requirements as to the number of voters who should sign the petition; and (e) provides for the date
of effectivity of the approved proposition.

There was, therefore, an obvious downgrading of the more important or the paramount system of initiative. RA. No.
6735 thus delivered a humiliating blow to the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution by merely
paying it a reluctant lip service. 57
The foregoing brings us to the conclusion that R.A. No. 6735 is incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in essential
terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned. Its lacunae on this
substantive matter are fatal and cannot be cured by "empowering" the COMELEC "to promulgate such rules and
regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of [the] Act. 58
The rule is that what has been delegated, cannot be delegated or as expressed in a Latin maxim: potestas delegata
non delegari potest. 59 The recognized exceptions to the rule are as follows:
(1) Delegation of tariff powers to the President under Section 28(2) of Article VI of the Constitution;
(2) Delegation of emergency powers to the President under Section 23(2) of Article VI of the Constitution;
(3) Delegation to the people at large;
(4) Delegation to local governments; and
(5) Delegation to administrative bodies. 60
Empowering the COMELEC, an administrative body exercising quasi-judicial functions, to promulgate rules and
regulations is a form of delegation of legislative authority under no. 5 above. However, in every case of permissible
delegation, there must be a showing that the delegation itself is valid. It is valid only if the law (a) is complete in
itself, setting forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out, or implemented by the delegate; and (b) fixes a
standard the limits of which are sufficiently determinate and determinable to which the delegate must conform
in the performance of his functions. 61 A sufficient standard is one which defines legislative policy, marks its limits, maps
out its boundaries and specifies the public agency to apply it. It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative
command is to be effected. 62

Insofar as initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution is concerned, R.A. No. 6735 miserably failed to
satisfy both requirements in subordinate legislation. The delegation of the power to the COMELEC is then invalid.
III
COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300, INSOFAR AS IT PRESCRIBES RULES AND REGULATIONS ON
THE CONDUCT OF INITIATIVE ON AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION, IS VOID.
It logically follows that the COMELEC cannot validly promulgate rules and regulations to implement the exercise of
the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative. It does
not have that power under R.A. No. 6735. Reliance on the COMELEC's power under Section 2(1) of Article IX-C of
the Constitution is misplaced, for the laws and regulations referred to therein are those promulgated by the
COMELEC under (a) Section 3 of Article IX-C of the Constitution, or (b) a law where subordinate legislation is
authorized and which satisfies the "completeness" and the "sufficient standard" tests.
IV
COMELEC ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION OR WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN
ENTERTAINING THE DELFIN PETITION.
Even if it be conceded ex gratia that R.A. No. 6735 is a full compliance with the power of Congress to implement the
right to initiate constitutional amendments, or that it has validly vested upon the COMELEC the power of subordinate
legislation and that COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is valid, the COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave
abuse of discretion in entertaining the Delfin Petition.
Under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 6735, a petition for initiative on the
Constitution must be signed by at least 12% of the total number of registered voters of which every legislative district
is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein. The Delfin Petition does not contain signatures of the
required number of voters. Delfin himself admits that he has not yet gathered signatures and that the purpose of his
petition is primarily to obtain assistance in his drive to gather signatures. Without the required signatures, the
petition cannot be deemed validly initiated.
The COMELEC acquires jurisdiction over a petition for initiative only after its filing. The petition then is the initiatory
pleading. Nothing before its filing is cognizable by the COMELEC, sitting en banc. The only participation of the
COMELEC or its personnel before the filing of such petition are (1) to prescribe the form of the petition; 63 (2) to issue
through its Election Records and Statistics Office a certificate on the total number of registered voters in each legislative
district; 64 (3) to assist, through its election registrars, in the establishment of signature stations; 65 and (4) to verify,

through its election registrars, the signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters' affidavits, and voters'
identification cards used in the immediately preceding election. 66

Since the Delfin Petition is not the initiatory petition under R.A. No. 6735 and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, it
cannot be entertained or given cognizance of by the COMELEC. The respondent Commission must have known
that the petition does not fall under any of the actions or proceedings under the COMELEC Rules of Procedure or
under Resolution No. 2300, for which reason it did not assign to the petition a docket number. Hence, the said
petition was merely entered as UND, meaning, undocketed. That petition was nothing more than a mere scrap of
paper, which should not have been dignified by the Order of 6 December 1996, the hearing on 12 December 1996,
and the order directing Delfin and the oppositors to file their memoranda or oppositions. In so dignifying it, the
COMELEC acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion and merely wasted its time, energy, and
resources.
The foregoing considered, further discussion on the issue of whether the proposal to lift the term limits of elective
national and local officials is an amendment to, and not a revision of, the Constitution is rendered unnecessary, if
not academic.
CONCLUSION
This petition must then be granted, and the COMELEC should be permanently enjoined from entertaining or taking
cognizance of any petition for initiative on amendments to the Constitution until a sufficient law shall have been
validly enacted to provide for the implementation of the system.
We feel, however, that the system of initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution should no longer be kept
in the cold; it should be given flesh and blood, energy and strength. Congress should not tarry any longer in
complying with the constitutional mandate to provide for the implementation of the right of the people under that
system.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered
a) GRANTING the instant petition;
b) DECLARING R.A. No. 6735 inadequate to cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution, and
to have failed to provide sufficient standard for subordinate legislation;
c) DECLARING void those parts of Resolution No. 2300 of the Commission on Elections prescribing rules and
regulations on the conduct of initiative or amendments to the Constitution; and
d) ORDERING the Commission on Elections to forthwith DISMISS the DELFIN petition (UND-96-037).
The Temporary Restraining Order issued on 18 December 1996 is made permanent as against the Commission on
Elections, but is LIFTED as against private respondents.
Resolution on the matter of contempt is hereby reserved.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Kapunan, Hermosisima, Jr. and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.
Padilla, J., took no part.

G.R. No. 174153

October 25, 2006

RAUL L. LAMBINO and ERICO B. AUMENTADO, TOGETHER WITH 6,327,952 REGISTERED


VOTERS,Petitioners,
vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, Respondent.
x--------------------------------------------------------x
ALTERNATIVE LAW GROUPS, INC., Intervenor.
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., Intervenors.
x------------------------------------------------------ x
ATTY. PETE QUIRINO QUADRA, Intervenor.
x--------------------------------------------------------x
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
WOMEN'S PARTY represented by Sec. Gen. Cristina Palabay, ANAKBAYAN represented by Chairperson
Eleanor de Guzman, LEAGUE OF FILIPINO STUDENTS represented by Chair Vencer Crisostomo Palabay,
JOJO PINEDA of the League of Concerned Professionals and Businessmen, DR. DARBY SANTIAGO of the
Solidarity of Health Against Charter Change, DR. REGINALD PAMUGAS of Health Action for Human
Rights, Intervenors.
x--------------------------------------------------------x
LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES, MARIO JOYO AGUJA, and ANA THERESA HONTIVEROSBARAQUEL,Intervenors.
x--------------------------------------------------------x
ARTURO M. DE CASTRO, Intervenor.
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
TRADE UNION CONGRESS OF THE PHILIPPINES, Intervenor.
x---------------------------------------------------------x
LUWALHATI RICASA ANTONINO, Intervenor.
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION (PHILCONSA), CONRADO F. ESTRELLA, TOMAS C. TOLEDO,
MARIANO M. TAJON, FROILAN M. BACUNGAN, JOAQUIN T. VENUS, JR., FORTUNATO P. AGUAS, and
AMADO GAT INCIONG, Intervenors.
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
RONALD L. ADAMAT, ROLANDO MANUEL RIVERA, and RUELO BAYA, Intervenors.
x -------------------------------------------------------- x
PHILIPPINE TRANSPORT AND GENERAL WORKERS ORGANIZATION (PTGWO) and MR. VICTORINO F.
BALAIS, Intervenors.
x -------------------------------------------------------- x

SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by its President, MANUEL VILLAR, JR., Intervenor.
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
SULONG BAYAN MOVEMENT FOUNDATION, INC., Intervenor.
x ------------------------------------------------------- x
JOSE ANSELMO I. CADIZ, BYRON D. BOCAR, MA. TANYA KARINA A. LAT, ANTONIO L. SALVADOR, and
RANDALL TABAYOYONG, Intervenors.
x -------------------------------------------------------- x
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES, CEBU CITY AND CEBU PROVINCE CHAPTERS, Intervenors.
x --------------------------------------------------------x
SENATE MINORITY LEADER AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR. and SENATORS SERGIO R. OSMENA III, JAMBY
MADRIGAL, JINGGOY ESTRADA, ALFREDO S. LIM and PANFILO LACSON, Intervenors.
x -----------------------------------------------------x
JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA and PWERSA NG MASANG PILIPINO, Intervenors.
x -----------------------------------------------------x
G.R. No. 174299

October 25, 2006

MAR-LEN ABIGAIL BINAY, SOFRONIO UNTALAN, JR., and RENE A.V. SAGUISAG, Petitioners,
vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, represented by Chairman BENJAMIN S. ABALOS, SR., and Commissioners
RESURRECCION Z. BORRA, FLORENTINO A. TUASON, JR., ROMEO A. BRAWNER, RENE V. SARMIENTO,
NICODEMO T. FERRER, and John Doe and Peter Doe,, Respondent.

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:
The Case
These are consolidated petitions on the Resolution dated 31 August 2006 of the Commission on Elections
("COMELEC") denying due course to an initiative petition to amend the 1987 Constitution.
Antecedent Facts
On 15 February 2006, petitioners in G.R. No. 174153, namely Raul L. Lambino and Erico B. Aumentado ("Lambino
Group"), with other groups1 and individuals, commenced gathering signatures for an initiative petition to change the
1987 Constitution. On 25 August 2006, the Lambino Group filed a petition with the COMELEC to hold a plebiscite
that will ratify their initiative petition under Section 5(b) and (c)2 and Section 73 of Republic Act No. 6735 or the
Initiative and Referendum Act ("RA 6735").
The Lambino Group alleged that their petition had the support of 6,327,952 individuals constituting at least
twelveper 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 Group's initiative petition changes the 1987 Constitution by modifying Sections 1-7 of Article VI
(Legislative Department)4 and Sections 1-4 of Article VII (Executive Department)5 and by adding Article XVIII entitled
"Transitory Provisions."6 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?
On 30 August 2006, the Lambino Group filed an Amended Petition with the COMELEC indicating modifications in
the proposed Article XVIII (Transitory Provisions) of their initiative.7
The Ruling of the COMELEC
On 31 August 2006, the COMELEC issued its Resolution denying due course to the Lambino Group's petition for
lack of an enabling law governing initiative petitions to amend the Constitution. The COMELEC invoked this Court's
ruling in Santiago v. Commission on Elections8 declaring RA 6735 inadequate to implement the initiative clause on
proposals to amend the Constitution.9
In 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 petition since Santiago is not a binding precedent. Alternatively, the Lambino Group claims
that Santiago binds only the parties to that case, and their petition deserves cognizance as an expression of the
"will of the sovereign people."
In G.R. No. 174299, petitioners ("Binay Group") pray that the Court require respondent COMELEC Commissioners
to show cause why they should not be cited in contempt for the COMELEC's verification of signatures and for
"entertaining" the Lambino Group's petition despite the permanent injunction in Santiago. The Court treated the
Binay Group's petition as an opposition-in-intervention.
In 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 Santiago ruling. The Solicitor General proposed that the Court treat RA 6735
and its implementing rules "as temporary devises to implement the system of initiative."
Various groups and individuals sought intervention, filing pleadings supporting or opposing the Lambino Group's
petition. The supporting intervenors10 uniformly hold the view that the COMELEC committed grave abuse of
discretion in relying on Santiago. On the other hand, the opposing intervenors11 hold the contrary view and maintain
that Santiago is a binding precedent. The opposing intervenors also challenged (1) the Lambino Group's standing
to file the petition; (2) the validity of the signature gathering and verification process; (3) the Lambino Group's
compliance with the minimum requirement for the percentage of voters supporting an initiative petition under Section
2, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution;12 (4) the nature of the proposed changes as revisions and not mere
amendments as provided under Section 2, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution; and (5) the Lambino Group's
compliance with the requirement in Section 10(a) of RA 6735 limiting initiative petitions to only one subject.
The Court heard the parties and intervenors in oral arguments on 26 September 2006. After receiving the parties'
memoranda, the Court considered the case submitted for resolution.
The Issues
The petitions raise the following issues:
1. Whether the Lambino Group's initiative petition complies with Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution on
amendments to the Constitution through a people's initiative;
2. Whether this Court should revisit its ruling in Santiago declaring RA 6735 "incomplete, inadequate or wanting in
essential terms and conditions" to implement the initiative clause on proposals to amend the Constitution; and
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 Santiago, as the present petition warrants dismissal based
alone on the Lambino Group's glaring failure to comply with the basic requirements of the Constitution. For following
the Court's ruling in Santiago, no grave abuse of discretion is attributable to the Commision on Elections.
1. The Initiative Petition Does Not Comply with Section 2, Article XVII of the 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)
The 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: Let 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: That can be reasonably assumed, Madam President.
MR. RODRIGO: What does the sponsor mean? The draft is ready and shown to them before they sign.
Now, who prepares the draft?
MR. SUAREZ: The people themselves, Madam President.
MR. RODRIGO: No, 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: As it is envisioned, any Filipino can prepare that proposal and pass it around for
signature.13 (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 thatthe
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.
The framers of the Constitution directly borrowed14 the concept of people's initiative from the United States where
various State constitutions incorporate an initiative clause. In almost all States15 which allow initiative petitions, the
unbending requirement is that the people must first see the full text of the proposed amendments before
they sign to signify their assent, and that the people must sign on an initiative petition that contains the full
text of the proposed amendments.16
The rationale for this requirement has been repeatedly explained in several decisions of various courts. Thus,
inCapezzuto v. State Ballot Commission, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, affirmed by the First Circuit
Court of Appeals, declared:
[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.17 (Boldfacing and underscoring supplied)

Likewise, in Kerr v. Bradbury,18 the Court of Appeals of Oregon explained:


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 full text requirement is to provide sufficient information so
that registered voters can intelligently evaluate whether to sign the initiative petition."); 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.19
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 sheet20 after the oral
arguments of 26 September 2006 when they filed their Memorandum on 11 October 2006. The signature sheet with
this Court during the oral arguments was the signature sheet attached21 to the opposition in intervention filed on 7
September 2006 by intervenor Atty. Pete Quirino-Quadra.
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:
Province:
City/Municipality:
Legislative District: Barangay:

No. of
Verified
Signatures:

PROPOSITION: "DO YOU APPROVE OF THE AMENDMENT OF ARTICLES VI AND VII OF THE 1987
CONSTITUTION, CHANGING THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT FROM THE PRESENT BICAMERALPRESIDENTIAL 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.
Precinct
Number

Name
Last Name, First
Name, M.I.

1
2
3
4
5
6
7

Address

Birthdate
MM/DD/YY

Signature

Verification

8
9
10
_________________
Barangay Official
(Print Name and Sign)

_________________
Witness
(Print Name and Sign)

__________________
Witness
(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 26 September 2006.
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 25 August 2006 with the COMELEC. When asked if his group also circulated the draft of
their amended petition filed on 30 August 2006 with the COMELEC, Atty. Lambino initially replied that they
circulated both. However, Atty. Lambino changed his answer and stated that what his group circulated was the draft
of the 30 August 2006 amended petition, not the draft of the 25 August 2006 petition.
The Lambino Group would have this Court believe that they prepared the draft of the 30 August 2006 amended
petition almost seven months earlier in February 2006 when they started gathering signatures. Petitioner Erico B.
Aumentado's "Verification/Certification" of the 25 August 2006 petition, as well as of the 30 August 2006 amended
petition, filed with the COMELEC, states as follows:
I have caused the preparation of the foregoing [Amended] Petition in my personal capacity as a registered
voter, for and on behalf of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, as shown by ULAP
Resolution No. 2006-02 hereto attached, and as representative of the mass of signatories hereto.
(Emphasis supplied)
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 Philippines"22 has posted the full text of Resolution No.
2006-02, which provides:
RESOLUTION NO. 2006-02
RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE PROPOSALS OF THE PEOPLE'S CONSULTATIVE COMMISSION
ON CHARTER CHANGE THROUGH PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM AS A MODE OF
AMENDING THE 1987 CONSTITUTION
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 14 January 2006 at the Century
Park Hotel, Manila.23 (Underscoring supplied)
ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02 does not authorize petitioner Aumentado to prepare the 25 August 2006 petition, or
the 30 August 2006 amended petition, filed with the COMELEC. ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02 "support(s) the
porposals (sic) of the Consulatative (sic) Commission on Charter Change through people's initiative and
referendum as a mode of amending the 1987 Constitution." The proposals of the Consultative
Commission24 arevastly different from the proposed changes of the Lambino Group in the 25 August 2006 petition
or 30 August 2006 amended petition filed with the COMELEC.
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.
The ULAP adopted Resolution No. 2006-02 on 14 January 2006 or more than six months before the filing of the 25
August 2006 petition or the 30 August 2006 amended petition with the COMELEC. However, ULAP Resolution No.
2006-02 does not establish that ULAP or the Lambino Group caused the circulation of the draft petition, together
with the signature sheets, six months before the filing with the COMELEC. On the contrary, ULAP Resolution No.
2006-02 casts grave doubt on the Lambino Group's claim that they circulated the draft petition together with
the signature sheets. ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02 does not refer at all to the draft petition or to the
Lambino Group's proposed changes.
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 signature-gathering. Instead, the Lambino Group
alleged that the petition of 25 August 2006 "inaccurately stated and failed to correctly reflect their proposed
amendments."
The Lambino Group never alleged in the 25 August 2006 petition or the 30 August 2006 amended petition with the
COMELEC that they circulated printed copies of the draft petition together with the signature sheets. Likewise, the
Lambino Group did not allege in their present petition before this Court that they circulated printed copies of the
draft petition together with the signature sheets. The signature sheets do not also contain any indication that the
draft petition is attached to, or circulated with, the signature sheets.
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:
[T]here 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. Mo. State v. Sullivan, 224, S.W. 327,
283 Mo. 546.] Thus, the registered voters who signed the signature sheets circulated together with
the petition for initiative filed with the COMELEC below, are presumed to have understood the
proposition contained in the petition. (Emphasis supplied)
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 Philippines (Cebu City
Chapter and Cebu Province Chapters) and Atty. Quadra had pointed out that the signature sheets did not contain
the text of the proposed changes. In their Consolidated Reply, the Lambino Group alleged that they circulated "the
petition for initiative" but failed to mention the amended petition. This contradicts what Atty. Lambino finally
stated during the oral arguments that what they circulated was the draft of the amended petition of 30 August
2006.
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
changeattached 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."25 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 noncompliance 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;26
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; 27
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.28
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.
Section 4(4) is a subject matter totally unrelated to the shift from the Bicameral-Presidential to the UnicameralParliamentary 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,29 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 x The 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,30 the Supreme Court of Alaska
warned against "inadvertence, stealth and fraud" in logrolling:
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 30 August 2006. The
proposed Section 4(3) of the Transitory Provisions states:
Section 4(3). Senators whose term of office ends in 2010 shall be members of Parliament until noon of the
thirtieth day of June 2010.
After 30 June 2010, not one of the present Senators will remain as member of Parliament if the interim Parliament
does not schedule elections for the regular Parliament by 30 June 2010. However, there is no counterpart provision
for the present members of the House of Representatives even if their term of office will all end on 30 June 2007,
three years earlier than that of half of the present Senators. Thus, all the present members of the House will remain
members of the interim Parliament after 30 June 2010.
The term of the incumbent President ends on 30 June 2010. Thereafter, the Prime Minister exercises all the powers
of the President. If the interim Parliament does not schedule elections for the regular Parliament by 30 June 2010,
the Prime Minister will come only from the present members of the House of Representatives to theexclusion of the
present Senators.
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.
An 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 behidden from
the people under a general or special power of attorney to unnamed, faceless, and unelected individuals.
The 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.
In 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:
ARTICLE XVII
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)
Article 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.
Section 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: Thank 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
xxxx
MS. AQUINO: [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: We 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: In 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: That is right. Those were the terms envisioned in the Committee.
MS. AQUINO: I thank the sponsor; and thank you, Madam President.
xxxx
MR. MAAMBONG: My 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: No, 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: Thank you.31 (Emphasis supplied)
There 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 in the United States. Thus, in McFadden v.
Jordan,32the Supreme Court of California ruled:
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 x It 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:33
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.
While differing from that document in material respects, the measure sponsored by the plaintiffs is,
nevertheless, a thorough overhauling of the present constitution 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.
xxxx
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. 364:34
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 x "While 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.
Courts 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.35 (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.
In California where the initiative clause allows amendments but not revisions to the constitution just like in our
Constitution, courts have developed a two-part test: the quantitative test and the qualitative test. The quantitative
test asks whether the proposed change is "so extensive in its provisions as to change directly the 'substantial
entirety' of the constitution by the deletion or alteration of numerous existing provisions."36 The court examines only
the number of provisions affected and does not consider the degree of the change.
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."37 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."38 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."39
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.40Qualitatively, the proposed changes alter substantially the basic plan of government, from presidential
to parliamentary, and from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature.
A 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 a Bicameral-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.41 (Emphasis supplied)
In Adams v. Gunter,42 an initiative petition proposed the amendment of the Florida State constitution to shift from a
bicameral to a unicameral legislature. The issue turned on whether the initiative "was defective and unauthorized
where [the] proposed amendment would x x x affect several other provisions of [the] Constitution." The Supreme
Court of Florida, striking down the initiative as outside the scope of the initiative clause, ruled as follows:
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.

xxxx
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
43
we were to hold that it could be amended in the manner proposed in the initiative petition here. (Emphasis
supplied)

The rationale of the Adams decision applies with greater force to the present petition. The Lambino Group's
initiative not only seeks a shift from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature, it also seeks to merge the executive and
legislative departments. The initiative in Adams did not even touch the executive department.
In Adams, the Supreme Court of Florida enumerated 18 sections of the Florida Constitution that would be affected
by the shift from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature. In the Lambino Group's present initiative, no less than 105
provisions of the Constitution would be affected based on the count of Associate Justice Romeo J. Callejo,
Sr.44 There is no doubt that the Lambino Group's present initiative seeks far more radical changes in the structure of
government than the initiative in Adams.
The 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 fulltime 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:
99. 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 expected to 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.
100. 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)
The 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.
The 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.45 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,46 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.
Plaintiffs 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 of Oregon constitutional law," the
trial court correctly held that it violated Article XVII, section 2, and cannot appear on the ballot without the prior
approval of the legislature.
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.
Where 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 years47 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.48 Also, a change requiring a college degree as an additional qualification for election to the Presidency is
an amendment and not a revision.49
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.
However, 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 II50 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)

The 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.
Realizing 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 New Zealand models, which are among the few countries
withunicameral parliaments? The proposed changes could not possibly refer to the traditional and well-known
parliamentary forms of government the British, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Canadian, Australian, or
Malaysian models, which have all bicameral parliaments. Did the people who signed the signature sheets realize
that they were adopting the Bangladeshi, Singaporean, Israeli, or New Zealand parliamentary form of government?
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."
3. A Revisit of Santiago v. COMELEC is Not Necessary
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 Santiago declaring RA 6735 "incomplete, inadequate or wanting in essential terms and
conditions" to cover the system of initiative to amend the Constitution. An affirmation or reversal of Santiago will not
change the outcome of the present petition. Thus, this Court must decline to revisit Santiago which effectively ruled
that RA 6735 does not comply with the requirements of the Constitution to implement the initiative clause on
amendments to the Constitution.
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.51
Nevertheless, 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 25 August 2006 or the amended petition of 30 August 2006
filed with the COMELEC. Only Atty. Lambino, Atty. Demosthenes B. Donato, and Atty. Alberto C. Agra signed
the petition and amended petition as counsels for "Raul L. Lambino and Erico B. Aumentado, Petitioners."
In the COMELEC, the Lambino Group, claiming to act "together with" the 6.3 million signatories, merely attached the
signature sheets to the petition and amended petition. Thus, the petition and amended petition filed with the
COMELEC did not even comply with the basic requirement of RA 6735 that the Lambino Group claims as valid.

The 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
inSantiago and People's Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action (PIRMA) v. COMELEC.52 For following
this Court's ruling, no grave abuse of discretion is attributable to the COMELEC. On this ground alone, the present
petition warrants outright dismissal. Thus, this Court should reiterate its unanimous ruling in PIRMA:
The Court ruled, first, by a unanimous vote, 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 it only
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.
5. Conclusion
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 cast53 approved our
Constitution in a national plebiscite held on 11 February 1987. That approval is the unmistakable voice of the
people, the full expression of the people's sovereign will. That approval included the prescribed modes for
amending or revising the Constitution.
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 "people's" 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.
SO ORDERED.
Panganiban, C.J., Puno, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio
Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, Garcia, and Velasco, Jr., JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 122156 February 3, 1997


MANILA PRINCE HOTEL petitioner,
vs.
GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA HOTEL CORPORATION, COMMITTEE ON
PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL, respondents.

BELLOSILLO, J.:
The FiIipino First Policy enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, i.e., in the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions
covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos, 1 is in oked by
petitioner in its bid to acquire 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation (MHC) which owns the historic Manila
Hotel. Opposing, respondents maintain that the provision is not self-executing but requires an implementing legislation for
its enforcement. Corollarily, they ask whether the 51% shares form part of the national economy and patrimony covered
by the protective mantle of the Constitution.

The controversy arose when respondent Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), pursuant to the
privatization program of the Philippine Government under Proclamation No. 50 dated 8 December 1986, decided to
sell through public bidding 30% to 51% of the issued and outstanding shares of respondent MHC. The winning
bidder, or the eventual "strategic partner," is to provide management expertise and/or an international
marketing/reservation system, and financial support to strengthen the profitability and performance of the Manila
Hotel. 2 In a close bidding held on 18 September 1995 only two (2) bidders participated: petitioner Manila Prince Hotel
Corporation, a Filipino corporation, which offered to buy 51% of the MHC or 15,300,000 shares at P41.58 per share, and
Renong Berhad, a Malaysian firm, with ITT-Sheraton as its hotel operator, which bid for the same number of shares at
P44.00 per share, or P2.42 more than the bid of petitioner.

Pertinent provisions of the bidding rules prepared by respondent GSIS state


I. EXECUTION OF THE NECESSARY CONTRACTS WITH GSIS/MHC
1. The Highest Bidder must comply with the conditions set forth below by October 23, 1995 (reset to
November 3, 1995) or the Highest Bidder will lose the right to purchase the Block of Shares and
GSIS will instead offer the Block of Shares to the other Qualified Bidders:
a. The Highest Bidder must negotiate and execute with the GSIS/MHC the
Management Contract, International Marketing/Reservation System Contract or other
type of contract specified by the Highest Bidder in its strategic plan for the Manila
Hotel. . . .
b. The Highest Bidder must execute the Stock Purchase and Sale Agreement with
GSIS . . . .
K. DECLARATION OF THE WINNING BIDDER/STRATEGIC PARTNER
The Highest Bidder will be declared the Winning Bidder/Strategic Partner after the following
conditions are met:
a. Execution of the necessary contracts with GSIS/MHC not later than October 23,
1995 (reset to November 3, 1995); and
b. Requisite approvals from the GSIS/MHC and COP (Committee on
Privatization)/OGCC (Office of the Government Corporate Counsel) are obtained. 3
Pending the declaration of Renong Berhad as the winning bidder/strategic partner and the execution of the
necessary contracts, petitioner in a letter to respondent GSIS dated 28 September 1995 matched the bid price of
P44.00 per share tendered by Renong Berhad. 4 In a subsequent letter dated 10 October 1995 petitioner sent a
manager's check issued by Philtrust Bank for Thirty-three Million Pesos (P33.000.000.00) as Bid Security to match the bid
of the Malaysian Group, Messrs. Renong Berhad . . . 5 which respondent GSIS refused to accept.

On 17 October 1995, perhaps apprehensive that respondent GSIS has disregarded the tender of the matching bid
and that the sale of 51% of the MHC may be hastened by respondent GSIS and consummated with Renong
Berhad, petitioner came to this Court on prohibition and mandamus. On 18 October 1995 the Court issued a
temporary restraining order enjoining respondents from perfecting and consummating the sale to the Malaysian firm.
On 10 September 1996 the instant case was accepted by the Court En Banc after it was referred to it by the First
Division. The case was then set for oral arguments with former Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando and Fr. Joaquin
G. Bernas, S.J., as amici curiae.

In the main, petitioner invokes Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution and submits that the Manila
Hotel has been identified with the Filipino nation and has practically become a historical monument which reflects
the vibrancy of Philippine heritage and culture. It is a proud legacy of an earlier generation of Filipinos who believed
in the nobility and sacredness of independence and its power and capacity to release the full potential of the Filipino
people. To all intents and purposes, it has become a part of the national patrimony. 6 Petitioner also argues that since
51% of the shares of the MHC carries with it the ownership of the business of the hotel which is owned by respondent
GSIS, a government-owned and controlled corporation, the hotel business of respondent GSIS being a part of the tourism
industry is unquestionably a part of the national economy. Thus, any transaction involving 51% of the shares of stock of
the MHC is clearly covered by the term national economy, to which Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, 1987 Constitution,
applies. 7

It is also the thesis of petitioner that since Manila Hotel is part of the national patrimony and its business also
unquestionably part of the national economy petitioner should be preferred after it has matched the bid offer of the
Malaysian firm. For the bidding rules mandate that if for any reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the
Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to the other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that
these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per share. 8
Respondents except. They maintain that: First, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution is merely a
statement of principle and policy since it is not a self-executing provision and requires implementing legislation(s) . .
. Thus, for the said provision to Operate, there must be existing laws "to lay down conditions under which business
may be done." 9
Second, granting that this provision is self-executing, Manila Hotel does not fall under the term national patrimony
which only refers to lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of
potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna and all marine wealth in its territorial sea, and
exclusive marine zone as cited in the first and second paragraphs of Sec. 2, Art. XII, 1987 Constitution. According to
respondents, while petitioner speaks of the guests who have slept in the hotel and the events that have transpired
therein which make the hotel historic, these alone do not make the hotel fall under the patrimonyof the nation. What
is more, the mandate of the Constitution is addressed to the State, not to respondent GSIS which possesses a
personality of its own separate and distinct from the Philippines as a State.
Third, granting that the Manila Hotel forms part of the national patrimony, the constitutional provision invoked is still
inapplicable since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding shares of the corporation, not the hotel building
nor the land upon which the building stands. Certainly, 51% of the equity of the MHC cannot be considered part of
the national patrimony. Moreover, if the disposition of the shares of the MHC is really contrary to the Constitution,
petitioner should have questioned it right from the beginning and not after it had lost in the bidding.
Fourth, the reliance by petitioner on par. V., subpar. J. 1., of the bidding rules which provides that if for any reason,
the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to the other Qualified Bidders that
have validly submitted bids provided that these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of
price per share, is misplaced. Respondents postulate that the privilege of submitting a matching bid has not yet
arisen since it only takes place if for any reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares. Thus
the submission by petitioner of a matching bid is premature since Renong Berhad could still very well be awarded
the block of shares and the condition giving rise to the exercise of the privilege to submit a matching bid had not yet
taken place.
Finally, the prayer for prohibition grounded on grave abuse of discretion should fail since respondent GSIS did not
exercise its discretion in a capricious, whimsical manner, and if ever it did abuse its discretion it was not so patent
and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law.
Similarly, the petition for mandamus should fail as petitioner has no clear legal right to what it demands and
respondents do not have an imperative duty to perform the act required of them by petitioner.
We now resolve. A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation. It
is supreme, imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates. It has been defined
as the fundamental and paramount law of the nation. 10 It prescribes the permanent framework of a system of
government, assigns to the different departments their respective powers and duties, and establishes certain fixed
principles on which government is founded. The fundamental conception in other words is that it is a supreme law to
which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all public
authority administered.11 Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the
constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by
private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the
fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.

Admittedly, some constitutions are merely declarations of policies and principles. Their provisions command the
legislature to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who merely establish an outline of government
providing for the different departments of the governmental machinery and securing certain fundamental and
inalienable rights of citizens. 12 A provision which lays down a general principle, such as those found in Art. II of the 1987
Constitution, is usually not self-executing. But a provision which is complete in itself and becomes operative without the
aid of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which supplies sufficient rule by means of which the right it grants
may be enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus a constitutional provision is self-executing if the nature and extent of
the right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution itself, so that they can be determined by an

examination and construction of its terms, and there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the legislature
for action. 13

As against constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon a different principle and
have often become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate directly upon the people in a manner
similar to that of statutory enactments, and the function of constitutional conventions has evolved into one more like
that of a legislative body. Hence, unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a
constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing If the
constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the legislature would have the
power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law. 14 This can be cataclysmic. That is why the
prevailing view is, as it has always been, that

. . . in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing rather than non-selfexecuting . . . . Unless the contrary is clearly intended, the provisions of the Constitution should be
considered self-executing, as a contrary rule would give the legislature discretion to determine when,
or whether, they shall be effective. These provisions would be subordinated to the will of the
lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless by simply refusing to pass the
needed implementing statute. 15
Respondents argue that Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution is clearly not self-executing, as they
quote from discussions on the floor of the 1986 Constitutional Commission
MR. RODRIGO. Madam President, I am asking this question as the Chairman of the Committee on Style. If
the wording of "PREFERENCE" is given to QUALIFIED FILIPINOS," can it be understood as a preference to
qualified Filipinos vis-a-vis Filipinos who are not qualified. So, why do we not make it clear? To qualified
Filipinos as against aliens?
THE PRESIDENT. What is the question of Commissioner Rodrigo? Is it to remove the word "QUALIFIED?".
MR. RODRIGO. No, no, but say definitely "TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS" as against whom? As against aliens
or over aliens?
MR. NOLLEDO. Madam President, I think that is understood. We use the word "QUALIFIED" because
the existing laws or prospective laws will always lay down conditions under which business may be
done. For example, qualifications on the setting up of other financial structures, et cetera (emphasis supplied
by respondents)
MR. RODRIGO. It is just a matter of style.
MR. NOLLEDO Yes, 16
Quite apparently, Sec. 10, second par., of Art XII is couched in such a way as not to make it appear that it is nonself-executing but simply for purposes of style. But, certainly, the legislature is not precluded from enacting other
further laws to enforce the constitutional provision so long as the contemplated statute squares with the Constitution.
Minor details may be left to the legislature without impairing the self-executing nature of constitutional provisions.
In self-executing constitutional provisions, the legislature may still enact legislation to facilitate the exercise of
powers directly granted by the constitution, further the operation of such a provision, prescribe a practice to be used
for its enforcement, provide a convenient remedy for the protection of the rights secured or the determination
thereof, or place reasonable safeguards around the exercise of the right. The mere fact that legislation may
supplement and add to or prescribe a penalty for the violation of a self-executing constitutional provision does not
render such a provision ineffective in the absence of such legislation. The omission from a constitution of any
express provision for a remedy for enforcing a right or liability is not necessarily an indication that it was not intended
to be self-executing. The rule is that a self-executing provision of the constitution does not necessarily exhaust
legislative power on the subject, but any legislation must be in harmony with the constitution, further the exercise of
constitutional right and make it more available. 17 Subsequent legislation however does not necessarily mean that the
subject constitutional provision is not, by itself, fully enforceable.

Respondents also argue that the non-self-executing nature of Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is implied from the
tenor of the first and third paragraphs of the same section which undoubtedly are not self-executing. 18 The argument
is flawed. If the first and third paragraphs are not self-executing because Congress is still to enact measures to encourage
the formation and operation of enterprises fully owned by Filipinos, as in the first paragraph, and the State still needs
legislation to regulate and exercise authority over foreign investments within its national jurisdiction, as in the third
paragraph, then a fortiori, by the same logic, the second paragraph can only be self-executing as it does not by its
language require any legislation in order to give preference to qualified Filipinos in the grant of rights, privileges and
concessions covering the national economy and patrimony. A constitutional provision may be self-executing in one part
and non-self-executing in another. 19

Even the cases cited by respondents holding that certain constitutional provisions are merely statements of
principles and policies, which are basically not self-executing and only placed in the Constitution as moral incentives

to legislation, not as judicially enforceable rights are simply not in point. Basco v. Philippine Amusements and
Gaming Corporation 20 speaks of constitutional provisions on personal dignity, 21 the sanctity of family life, 22 the vital role
of the youth in nation-building 23 the promotion of social justice, 24 and the values of education. 25Tolentino v. Secretary of
Finance 26 refers to the constitutional provisions on social justice and human rights 27 and on
education. 28 Lastly, Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato 29 cites provisions on the promotion of general welfare, 30 the sanctity of
family life, 31 the vital role of the youth in nation-building 32 and the promotion of total human liberation and
development. 33A reading of these provisions indeed clearly shows that they are not judicially enforceable constitutional
rights but merely guidelines for legislation. The very terms of the provisions manifest that they are only principles upon
which the legislations must be based. Res ipsa loquitur.

On the other hand, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII of the of the 1987 Constitution is a mandatory, positive command
which is complete in itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws or rules for its enforcement.
From its very words the provision does not require any legislation to put it in operation. It is per se judicially
enforceable When our Constitution mandates that [i]n the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering
national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos, it means just that qualified
Filipinos shall be preferred. And when our Constitution declares that a right exists in certain specified circumstances
an action may be maintained to enforce such right notwithstanding the absence of any legislation on the subject;
consequently, if there is no statute especially enacted to enforce such constitutional right, such right enforces itself
by its own inherent potency and puissance, and from which all legislations must take their bearings. Where there is
a right there is a remedy. Ubi jus ibi remedium.
As regards our national patrimony, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission 34 explains
The patrimony of the Nation that should be conserved and developed refers not only to out rich
natural resources but also to the cultural heritage of out race. It also refers to our intelligence in arts,
sciences and letters. Therefore, we should develop not only our lands, forests, mines and other
natural resources but also the mental ability or faculty of our people.
We agree. In its plain and ordinary meaning, the term patrimony pertains to heritage. 35 When the Constitution speaks
of national patrimony, it refers not only to the natural resources of the Philippines, as the Constitution could have very well
used the term natural resources, but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos.

Manila Hotel has become a landmark a living testimonial of Philippine heritage. While it was restrictively an
American hotel when it first opened in 1912, it immediately evolved to be truly Filipino, Formerly a concourse for the
elite, it has since then become the venue of various significant events which have shaped Philippine history. It was
called the Cultural Center of the 1930's. It was the site of the festivities during the inauguration of the Philippine
Commonwealth. Dubbed as the Official Guest House of the Philippine Government. it plays host to dignitaries and
official visitors who are accorded the traditional Philippine hospitality. 36
The history of the hotel has been chronicled in the book The Manila Hotel: The Heart and Memory of a City. 37During
World War II the hotel was converted by the Japanese Military Administration into a military headquarters. When the
American forces returned to recapture Manila the hotel was selected by the Japanese together with Intramuros as the two
(2) places fro their final stand. Thereafter, in the 1950's and 1960's, the hotel became the center of political activities,
playing host to almost every political convention. In 1970 the hotel reopened after a renovation and reaped numerous
international recognitions, an acknowledgment of the Filipino talent and ingenuity. In 1986 the hotel was the site of a
failed coup d' etatwhere an aspirant for vice-president was "proclaimed" President of the Philippine Republic.

For more than eight (8) decades Manila Hotel has bore mute witness to the triumphs and failures, loves and
frustrations of the Filipinos; its existence is impressed with public interest; its own historicity associated with our
struggle for sovereignty, independence and nationhood. Verily, Manila Hotel has become part of our national
economy and patrimony. For sure, 51% of the equity of the MHC comes within the purview of the constitutional
shelter for it comprises the majority and controlling stock, so that anyone who acquires or owns the 51% will have
actual control and management of the hotel. In this instance, 51% of the MHC cannot be disassociated from the
hotel and the land on which the hotel edifice stands. Consequently, we cannot sustain respondents' claim that
theFilipino First Policy provision is not applicable since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding shares of
the corporation, not the Hotel building nor the land upon which the building stands. 38
The argument is pure sophistry. The term qualified Filipinos as used in Our Constitution also includes corporations
at least 60% of which is owned by Filipinos. This is very clear from the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional
Commission
THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Davide is recognized.
MR. DAVIDE. I would like to introduce an amendment to the Nolledo amendment. And the amendment
would consist in substituting the words "QUALIFIED FILIPINOS" with the following: "CITIZENS OF THE
PHILIPPINES OR CORPORATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS WHOSE CAPITAL OR CONTROLLING STOCK
IS WHOLLY OWNED BY SUCH CITIZENS.
xxx xxx xxx

MR. MONSOD. Madam President, apparently the proponent is agreeable, but we have to raise a question.
Suppose it is a corporation that is 80-percent Filipino, do we not give it preference?
MR. DAVIDE. The Nolledo amendment would refer to an individual Filipino. What about a corporation wholly
owned by Filipino citizens?
MR. MONSOD. At least 60 percent, Madam President.
MR. DAVIDE. Is that the intention?
MR. MONSOD. Yes, because, in fact, we would be limiting it if we say that the preference should only be
100-percent Filipino.
MR: DAVIDE. I want to get that meaning clear because "QUALIFIED FILIPINOS" may refer only to
individuals and not to juridical personalities or entities.
MR. MONSOD. We agree, Madam President. 39
xxx xxx xxx

MR. RODRIGO. Before we vote, may I request that the amendment be read again.
MR. NOLLEDO. The amendment will read: "IN THE GRANT OF RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND
CONCESSIONS COVERING THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY, THE STATE SHALL GIVE
PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS." And the word "Filipinos" here, as intended by the proponents,
will include not only individual Filipinos but also Filipino-controlled entities or entities fully-controlled by
Filipinos. 40
The phrase preference to qualified Filipinos was explained thus
MR. FOZ. Madam President, I would like to request Commissioner Nolledo to please restate his amendment
so that I can ask a question.
MR. NOLLEDO. "IN THE GRANT OF RIGHTS, PRIVILEGES AND CONCESSIONS COVERING THE
NATIONAL ECONOMY AND PATRIMONY, THE STATE SHALL GIVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED
FILIPINOS."
MR FOZ. In connection with that amendment, if a foreign enterprise is qualified and a Filipino enterprise is
also qualified, will the Filipino enterprise still be given a preference?
MR. NOLLEDO. Obviously.
MR. FOZ. If the foreigner is more qualified in some aspects than the Filipino enterprise, will the Filipino still
be preferred?
MR. NOLLEDO. The answer is "yes."
MR. FOZ. Thank you, 41
Expounding further on the Filipino First Policy provision Commissioner Nolledo continues
MR. NOLLEDO. Yes, Madam President. Instead of "MUST," it will be "SHALL THE STATE
SHALL GlVE PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS. This embodies the so-called "Filipino
First" policy. That means that Filipinos should be given preference in the grant of concessions,
privileges and rights covering the national patrimony. 42
The exchange of views in the sessions of the Constitutional Commission regarding the subject provision was still
further clarified by Commissioner Nolledo 43
Paragraph 2 of Section 10 explicitly mandates the "Pro-Filipino" bias in all economic concerns. It is
better known as the FILIPINO FIRST Policy . . . This provision was never found in previous
Constitutions . . . .
The term "qualified Filipinos" simply means that preference shall be given to those citizens who can
make a viable contribution to the common good, because of credible competence and efficiency. It
certainly does NOT mandate the pampering and preferential treatment to Filipino citizens or
organizations that are incompetent or inefficient, since such an indiscriminate preference would be
counter productive and inimical to the common good.

In the granting of economic rights, privileges, and concessions, when a choice has to be made
between a "qualified foreigner" end a "qualified Filipino," the latter shall be chosen over the former."
Lastly, the word qualified is also determinable. Petitioner was so considered by respondent GSIS and selected as
one of the qualified bidders. It was pre-qualified by respondent GSIS in accordance with its own guidelines so that
the sole inference here is that petitioner has been found to be possessed of proven management expertise in the
hotel industry, or it has significant equity ownership in another hotel company, or it has an overall management and
marketing proficiency to successfully operate the Manila Hotel. 44
The penchant to try to whittle away the mandate of the Constitution by arguing that the subject provision is not selfexecutory and requires implementing legislation is quite disturbing. The attempt to violate a clear constitutional
provision by the government itself is only too distressing. To adopt such a line of reasoning is to renounce the
duty to ensure faithfulness to the Constitution. For, even some of the provisions of the Constitution which evidently
need implementing legislation have juridical life of their own and can be the source of a judicial remedy. We cannot
simply afford the government a defense that arises out of the failure to enact further enabling, implementing or
guiding legislation. In fine, the discourse of Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., on constitutional government is apt
The executive department has a constitutional duty to implement laws, including the Constitution,
even before Congress acts provided that there are discoverable legal standards for executive
action. When the executive acts, it must be guided by its own understanding of the constitutional
command and of applicable laws. The responsibility for reading and understanding the Constitution
and the laws is not the sole prerogative of Congress. If it were, the executive would have to ask
Congress, or perhaps the Court, for an interpretation every time the executive is confronted by a
constitutional command. That is not how constitutional government operates. 45
Respondents further argue that the constitutional provision is addressed to the State, not to respondent GSIS which
by itself possesses a separate and distinct personality. This argument again is at best specious. It is undisputed that
the sale of 51% of the MHC could only be carried out with the prior approval of the State acting through respondent
Committee on Privatization. As correctly pointed out by Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., this fact alone makes the sale
of the assets of respondents GSIS and MHC a "state action." In constitutional jurisprudence, the acts of persons
distinct from the government are considered "state action" covered by the Constitution (1) when the activity it
engages in is a "public function;" (2) when the government is so significantly involved with the private actor as to
make the government responsible for his action; and, (3) when the government has approved or authorized the
action. It is evident that the act of respondent GSIS in selling 51% of its share in respondent MHC comes under the
second and third categories of "state action." Without doubt therefore the transaction. although entered into by
respondent GSIS, is in fact a transaction of the State and therefore subject to the constitutional command. 46
When the Constitution addresses the State it refers not only to the people but also to the government as elements of
the State. After all, government is composed of three (3) divisions of power legislative, executive and judicial.
Accordingly, a constitutional mandate directed to the State is correspondingly directed to the three(3) branches of
government. It is undeniable that in this case the subject constitutional injunction is addressed among others to the
Executive Department and respondent GSIS, a government instrumentality deriving its authority from the State.
It should be stressed that while the Malaysian firm offered the higher bid it is not yet the winning bidder. The bidding
rules expressly provide that the highest bidder shall only be declared the winning bidder after it has negotiated and
executed the necessary contracts, and secured the requisite approvals. Since the "Filipino First Policy provision of
the Constitution bestows preference on qualified Filipinos the mere tending of the highest bid is not an assurance
that the highest bidder will be declared the winning bidder. Resultantly, respondents are not bound to make the
award yet, nor are they under obligation to enter into one with the highest bidder. For in choosing the awardee
respondents are mandated to abide by the dictates of the 1987 Constitution the provisions of which are presumed to
be known to all the bidders and other interested parties.
Adhering to the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, the subject constitutional provision is, as it should be, impliedly
written in the bidding rules issued by respondent GSIS, lest the bidding rules be nullified for being violative of the
Constitution. It is a basic principle in constitutional law that all laws and contracts must conform with the fundamental
law of the land. Those which violate the Constitution lose their reason for being.
Paragraph V. J. 1 of the bidding rules provides that [if] for any reason the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the
Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that these
Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per
share. 47 Certainly, the constitutional mandate itself is reason enough not to award the block of shares immediately to the
foreign bidder notwithstanding its submission of a higher, or even the highest, bid. In fact, we cannot conceive of a
stronger reason than the constitutional injunction itself.

In the instant case, where a foreign firm submits the highest bid in a public bidding concerning the grant of rights,
privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, thereby exceeding the bid of a Filipino,
there is no question that the Filipino will have to be allowed to match the bid of the foreign entity. And if the Filipino
matches the bid of a foreign firm the award should go to the Filipino. It must be so if we are to give life and meaning
to the Filipino First Policy provision of the 1987 Constitution. For, while this may neither be expressly stated nor

contemplated in the bidding rules, the constitutional fiat is, omnipresent to be simply disregarded. To ignore it would
be to sanction a perilous skirting of the basic law.
This Court does not discount the apprehension that this policy may discourage foreign investors. But the
Constitution and laws of the Philippines are understood to be always open to public scrutiny. These are given
factors which investors must consider when venturing into business in a foreign jurisdiction. Any person therefore
desiring to do business in the Philippines or with any of its agencies or instrumentalities is presumed to know his
rights and obligations under the Constitution and the laws of the forum.
The argument of respondents that petitioner is now estopped from questioning the sale to Renong Berhad since
petitioner was well aware from the beginning that a foreigner could participate in the bidding is meritless.
Undoubtedly, Filipinos and foreigners alike were invited to the bidding. But foreigners may be awarded the sale only
if no Filipino qualifies, or if the qualified Filipino fails to match the highest bid tendered by the foreign entity. In the
case before us, while petitioner was already preferred at the inception of the bidding because of the constitutional
mandate, petitioner had not yet matched the bid offered by Renong Berhad. Thus it did not have the right or
personality then to compel respondent GSIS to accept its earlier bid. Rightly, only after it had matched the bid of the
foreign firm and the apparent disregard by respondent GSIS of petitioner's matching bid did the latter have a cause
of action.
Besides, there is no time frame for invoking the constitutional safeguard unless perhaps the award has been finally
made. To insist on selling the Manila Hotel to foreigners when there is a Filipino group willing to match the bid of the
foreign group is to insist that government be treated as any other ordinary market player, and bound by its mistakes
or gross errors of judgment, regardless of the consequences to the Filipino people. The miscomprehension of the
Constitution is regrettable. Thus we would rather remedy the indiscretion while there is still an opportunity to do so
than let the government develop the habit of forgetting that the Constitution lays down the basic conditions and
parameters for its actions.
Since petitioner has already matched the bid price tendered by Renong Berhad pursuant to the bidding rules,
respondent GSIS is left with no alternative but to award to petitioner the block of shares of MHC and to execute the
necessary agreements and documents to effect the sale in accordance not only with the bidding guidelines and
procedures but with the Constitution as well. The refusal of respondent GSIS to execute the corresponding
documents with petitioner as provided in the bidding rules after the latter has matched the bid of the Malaysian firm
clearly constitutes grave abuse of discretion.
The Filipino First Policy is a product of Philippine nationalism. It is embodied in the 1987 Constitution not merely to
be used as a guideline for future legislation but primarily to be enforced; so must it be enforced. This Court as the
ultimate guardian of the Constitution will never shun, under any reasonable circumstance, the duty of upholding the
majesty of the Constitution which it is tasked to defend. It is worth emphasizing that it is not the intention of this
Court to impede and diminish, much less undermine, the influx of foreign investments. Far from it, the Court
encourages and welcomes more business opportunities but avowedly sanctions the preference for Filipinos
whenever such preference is ordained by the Constitution. The position of the Court on this matter could have not
been more appropriately articulated by Chief Justice Narvasa
As scrupulously as it has tried to observe that it is not its function to substitute its judgment for that of
the legislature or the executive about the wisdom and feasibility of legislation economic in nature, the
Supreme Court has not been spared criticism for decisions perceived as obstacles to economic
progress and development . . . in connection with a temporary injunction issued by the Court's First
Division against the sale of the Manila Hotel to a Malaysian Firm and its partner, certain statements
were published in a major daily to the effect that injunction "again demonstrates that the Philippine
legal system can be a major obstacle to doing business here.
Let it be stated for the record once again that while it is no business of the Court to intervene in
contracts of the kind referred to or set itself up as the judge of whether they are viable or attainable,
it is its bounden duty to make sure that they do not violate the Constitution or the laws, or are not
adopted or implemented with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It
will never shirk that duty, no matter how buffeted by winds of unfair and ill-informed criticism. 48
Privatization of a business asset for purposes of enhancing its business viability and preventing further losses,
regardless of the character of the asset, should not take precedence over non-material values. A commercial, nay
even a budgetary, objective should not be pursued at the expense of national pride and dignity. For the Constitution
enshrines higher and nobler non-material values. Indeed, the Court will always defer to the Constitution in the
proper governance of a free society; after all, there is nothing so sacrosanct in any economic policy as to draw itself
beyond judicial review when the Constitution is involved. 49
Nationalism is inherent, in the very concept of the Philippines being a democratic and republican state, with
sovereignty residing in the Filipino people and from whom all government authority emanates. In nationalism, the
happiness and welfare of the people must be the goal. The nation-state can have no higher purpose. Any
interpretation of any constitutional provision must adhere to such basic concept. Protection of foreign investments,
while laudible, is merely a policy. It cannot override the demands of nationalism. 50

The Manila Hotel or, for that matter, 51% of the MHC, is not just any commodity to be sold to the highest bidder
solely for the sake of privatization. We are not talking about an ordinary piece of property in a commercial district.
We are talking about a historic relic that has hosted many of the most important events in the short history of the
Philippines as a nation. We are talking about a hotel where heads of states would prefer to be housed as a strong
manifestation of their desire to cloak the dignity of the highest state function to their official visits to the Philippines.
Thus the Manila Hotel has played and continues to play a significant role as an authentic repository of twentieth
century Philippine history and culture. In this sense, it has become truly a reflection of the Filipino soul a place
with a history of grandeur; a most historical setting that has played a part in the shaping of a country. 51
This Court cannot extract rhyme nor reason from the determined efforts of respondents to sell the historical
landmark this Grand Old Dame of hotels in Asia to a total stranger. For, indeed, the conveyance of this epic
exponent of the Filipino psyche to alien hands cannot be less than mephistophelian for it is, in whatever manner
viewed, a veritable alienation of a nation's soul for some pieces of foreign silver. And so we ask: What advantage,
which cannot be equally drawn from a qualified Filipino, can be gained by the Filipinos Manila Hotel and all that it
stands for is sold to a non-Filipino? How much of national pride will vanish if the nation's cultural heritage is
entrusted to a foreign entity? On the other hand, how much dignity will be preserved and realized if the national
patrimony is safekept in the hands of a qualified, zealous and well-meaning Filipino? This is the plain and simple
meaning of the Filipino First Policy provision of the Philippine Constitution. And this Court, heeding the clarion call of
the Constitution and accepting the duty of being the elderly watchman of the nation, will continue to respect and
protect the sanctity of the Constitution.
WHEREFORE, respondents GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA HOTEL CORPORATION,
COMMITTEE ON PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL are directed to
CEASE and DESIST from selling 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation to RENONG BERHAD, and to
ACCEPT the matching bid of petitioner MANILA PRINCE HOTEL CORPORATION to purchase the subject 51% of
the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation at P44.00 per share and thereafter to execute the necessary clearances
and to do such other acts and deeds as may be necessary for purpose.
SO ORDERED.
Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Kapunan, Francisco and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.

G.R. No. 101083 July 30, 1993


JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all surnamed OPOSA, minors, and represented by
their parents ANTONIO and RIZALINA OPOSA, ROBERTA NICOLE SADIUA, minor, represented by her
parents CALVIN and ROBERTA SADIUA, CARLO, AMANDA SALUD and PATRISHA, all surnamed FLORES,
minors and represented by their parents ENRICO and NIDA FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN, minor,
represented by her parents SIGRID and DOLORES FORTUN, GEORGE II and MA. CONCEPCION, all
surnamed MISA, minors and represented by their parents GEORGE and MYRA MISA, BENJAMIN ALAN V.
PESIGAN, minor, represented by his parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO, minor,
represented by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA ALFARO, MARIA CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor,
represented by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO, JOHANNA DESAMPARADO,
minor, represented by her parents JOSE and ANGELA DESAMPRADO, CARLO JOAQUIN T. NARVASA,
minor, represented by his parents GREGORIO II and CRISTINE CHARITY NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA,
JESUS IGNACIO, MA. ANGELA and MARIE GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, minors, represented by their
parents ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ, KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, MAY, GOLDA MARTHE and DAVID IAN,
all surnamed KING, minors, represented by their parents MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO
and THERESE VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by their parents BALTAZAR and
TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA. and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by their
parents ANTONIO and MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN, MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed CARDAMA,
minors, represented by their parents MARIO and LINA CARDAMA, CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and
IMEE LYN, all surnamed OPOSA, minors and represented by their parents RICARDO and MARISSA OPOSA,
PHILIP JOSEPH, STEPHEN JOHN and ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, minors, represented by their
parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO, CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all
surnamed BIBAL, minors, represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR. and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE
PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL NETWORK, INC., petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his capacity as the Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources, and THE HONORABLE ERIBERTO U. ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of
the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents.
Oposa Law Office for petitioners.
The Solicitor General for respondents.

DAVIDE, JR., J.:


In a broader sense, this petition bears upon the right of Filipinos to a balanced and healthful ecology which the
petitioners dramatically associate with the twin concepts of "inter-generational responsibility" and "inter-generational
justice." Specifically, it touches on the issue of whether the said petitioners have a cause of action to "prevent the
misappropriation or impairment" of Philippine rainforests and "arrest the unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital
life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth."
The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was filed before Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila) of
the Regional Trial Court (RTC), National Capital Judicial Region. The principal plaintiffs therein, now the principal
petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional
plaintiff is the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock and non-profit corporation organized
for the purpose of, inter alia, engaging in concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and natural
resources. The original defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then Secretary of the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). His substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the Honorable
Angel C. Alcala, was subsequently ordered upon proper motion by the petitioners. 1 The complaint 2was instituted as a
taxpayers' class suit 3 and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of the Republic of the Philippines, taxpayers, and
entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of the natural resource treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests."
The same was filed for themselves and others who are equally concerned about the preservation of said resource but are
"so numerous that it is impracticable to bring them all before the Court." The minors further asseverate that they
"represent their generation as well as generations yet unborn." 4 Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment be rendered:

. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting in his behalf to
(1) Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country;
(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber
license agreements.
and granting the plaintiffs ". . . such other reliefs just and equitable under the premises." 5
The complaint starts off with the general averments that the Philippine archipelago of 7,100 islands has a land area
of thirty million (30,000,000) hectares and is endowed with rich, lush and verdant rainforests in which varied, rare

and unique species of flora and fauna may be found; these rainforests contain a genetic, biological and chemical
pool which is irreplaceable; they are also the habitat of indigenous Philippine cultures which have existed, endured
and flourished since time immemorial; scientific evidence reveals that in order to maintain a balanced and healthful
ecology, the country's land area should be utilized on the basis of a ratio of fifty-four per cent (54%) for forest cover
and forty-six per cent (46%) for agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and other uses; the distortion and
disturbance of this balance as a consequence of deforestation have resulted in a host of environmental tragedies,
such as (a) water shortages resulting from drying up of the water table, otherwise known as the "aquifer," as well as
of rivers, brooks and streams, (b) salinization of the water table as a result of the intrusion therein of salt water,
incontrovertible examples of which may be found in the island of Cebu and the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, (c)
massive erosion and the consequential loss of soil fertility and agricultural productivity, with the volume of soil
eroded estimated at one billion (1,000,000,000) cubic meters per annum approximately the size of the entire
island of Catanduanes, (d) the endangering and extinction of the country's unique, rare and varied flora and fauna,
(e) the disturbance and dislocation of cultural communities, including the disappearance of the Filipino's indigenous
cultures, (f) the siltation of rivers and seabeds and consequential destruction of corals and other aquatic life leading
to a critical reduction in marine resource productivity, (g) recurrent spells of drought as is presently experienced by
the entire country, (h) increasing velocity of typhoon winds which result from the absence of windbreakers, (i) the
floodings of lowlands and agricultural plains arising from the absence of the absorbent mechanism of forests, (j) the
siltation and shortening of the lifespan of multi-billion peso dams constructed and operated for the purpose of
supplying water for domestic uses, irrigation and the generation of electric power, and (k) the reduction of the earth's
capacity to process carbon dioxide gases which has led to perplexing and catastrophic climatic changes such as the
phenomenon of global warming, otherwise known as the "greenhouse effect."
Plaintiffs further assert that the adverse and detrimental consequences of continued and deforestation are so
capable of unquestionable demonstration that the same may be submitted as a matter of judicial notice. This
notwithstanding, they expressed their intention to present expert witnesses as well as documentary, photographic
and film evidence in the course of the trial.
As their cause of action, they specifically allege that:
CAUSE OF ACTION
7. Plaintiffs replead by reference the foregoing allegations.
8. Twenty-five (25) years ago, the Philippines had some sixteen (16) million hectares of rainforests constituting
roughly 53% of the country's land mass.
9. Satellite images taken in 1987 reveal that there remained no more than 1.2 million hectares of said rainforests
or four per cent (4.0%) of the country's land area.
10. More recent surveys reveal that a mere 850,000 hectares of virgin old-growth rainforests are left, barely 2.8%
of the entire land mass of the Philippine archipelago and about 3.0 million hectares of immature and
uneconomical secondary growth forests.
11. Public records reveal that the defendant's, predecessors have granted timber license agreements ('TLA's') to
various corporations to cut the aggregate area of 3.89 million hectares for commercial logging purposes.
A copy of the TLA holders and the corresponding areas covered is hereto attached as Annex "A".
12. At the present rate of deforestation, i.e. about 200,000 hectares per annum or 25 hectares per hour
nighttime, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays included the Philippines will be bereft of forest resources after the
end of this ensuing decade, if not earlier.
13. The adverse effects, disastrous consequences, serious injury and irreparable damage of this continued trend
of deforestation to the plaintiff minor's generation and to generations yet unborn are evident and incontrovertible.
As a matter of fact, the environmental damages enumerated in paragraph 6 hereof are already being felt,
experienced and suffered by the generation of plaintiff adults.
14. The continued allowance by defendant of TLA holders to cut and deforest the remaining forest stands will
work great damage and irreparable injury to plaintiffs especially plaintiff minors and their successors who
may never see, use, benefit from and enjoy this rare and unique natural resource treasure.
This act of defendant constitutes a misappropriation and/or impairment of the natural resource property he holds
in trust for the benefit of plaintiff minors and succeeding generations.
15. Plaintiffs have a clear and constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology and are entitled to
protection by the State in its capacity as the parens patriae.
16. Plaintiff have exhausted all administrative remedies with the defendant's office. On March 2, 1990, plaintiffs
served upon defendant a final demand to cancel all logging permits in the country.

A copy of the plaintiffs' letter dated March 1, 1990 is hereto attached as Annex "B".
17. Defendant, however, fails and refuses to cancel the existing TLA's to the continuing serious damage and
extreme prejudice of plaintiffs.
18. The continued failure and refusal by defendant to cancel the TLA's is an act violative of the rights of plaintiffs,
especially plaintiff minors who may be left with a country that is desertified (sic), bare, barren and devoid of the
wonderful flora, fauna and indigenous cultures which the Philippines had been abundantly blessed with.
19. Defendant's refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is manifestly contrary to the public policy enunciated
in the Philippine Environmental Policy which, in pertinent part, states that it is the policy of the State
(a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man and nature can thrive in productive and
enjoyable harmony with each other;
(b) to fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos and;
(c) to ensure the attainment of an environmental quality that is conductive to a life of dignity and well-being. (P.D.
1151, 6 June 1977)
20. Furthermore, defendant's continued refusal to cancel the aforementioned TLA's is contradictory to the
Constitutional policy of the State to
a. effect "a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income and wealth" and "make full and efficient use of
natural resources (sic)." (Section 1, Article XII of the Constitution);
b. "protect the nation's marine wealth." (Section 2, ibid);
c. "conserve and promote the nation's cultural heritage and resources (sic)" (Section 14, Article XIV,id.);
d. "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and
harmony of nature." (Section 16, Article II, id.)
21. Finally, defendant's act is contrary to the highest law of humankind the natural law and violative of
plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation.
22. There is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in law other than the instant action to arrest the
6
unabated hemorrhage of the country's vital life support systems and continued rape of Mother Earth.

On 22 June 1990, the original defendant, Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint based on
two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs have no cause of action against him and (2) the issue raised by the
plaintiffs is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or executive branches of Government. In
their 12 July 1990 Opposition to the Motion, the petitioners maintain that (1) the complaint shows a clear and
unmistakable cause of action, (2) the motion is dilatory and (3) the action presents a justiciable question as it
involves the defendant's abuse of discretion.
On 18 July 1991, respondent Judge issued an order granting the aforementioned motion to dismiss. 7 In the said
order, not only was the defendant's claim that the complaint states no cause of action against him and that it raises a
political question sustained, the respondent Judge further ruled that the granting of the relief prayed for would result in
the impairment of contracts which is prohibited by the fundamental law of the land.

Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court and ask
this Court to rescind and set aside the dismissal order on the ground that the respondent Judge gravely abused his
discretion in dismissing the action. Again, the parents of the plaintiffs-minors not only represent their children, but
have also joined the latter in this case. 8
On 14 May 1992, We resolved to give due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective
Memoranda after the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed a Comment in behalf of the respondents and the
petitioners filed a reply thereto.
Petitioners contend that the complaint clearly and unmistakably states a cause of action as it contains sufficient
allegations concerning their right to a sound environment based on Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Civil Code (Human
Relations), Section 4 of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 192 creating the DENR, Section 3 of Presidential Decree (P.D.)
No. 1151 (Philippine Environmental Policy), Section 16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the
people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the concept of generational genocide in Criminal Law and the concept
of man's inalienable right to self-preservation and self-perpetuation embodied in natural law. Petitioners likewise rely
on the respondent's correlative obligation per Section 4 of E.O. No. 192, to safeguard the people's right to a
healthful environment.

It is further claimed that the issue of the respondent Secretary's alleged grave abuse of discretion in granting Timber
License Agreements (TLAs) to cover more areas for logging than what is available involves a judicial question.
Anent the invocation by the respondent Judge of the Constitution's non-impairment clause, petitioners maintain that
the same does not apply in this case because TLAs are not contracts. They likewise submit that even if TLAs may
be considered protected by the said clause, it is well settled that they may still be revoked by the State when the
public interest so requires.
On the other hand, the respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their complaint a specific legal right
violated by the respondent Secretary for which any relief is provided by law. They see nothing in the complaint but
vague and nebulous allegations concerning an "environmental right" which supposedly entitles the petitioners to the
"protection by the state in its capacity as parens patriae." Such allegations, according to them, do not reveal a valid
cause of action. They then reiterate the theory that the question of whether logging should be permitted in the
country is a political question which should be properly addressed to the executive or legislative branches of
Government. They therefore assert that the petitioners' resources is not to file an action to court, but to lobby before
Congress for the passage of a bill that would ban logging totally.
As to the matter of the cancellation of the TLAs, respondents submit that the same cannot be done by the State
without due process of law. Once issued, a TLA remains effective for a certain period of time usually for twentyfive (25) years. During its effectivity, the same can neither be revised nor cancelled unless the holder has been
found, after due notice and hearing, to have violated the terms of the agreement or other forestry laws and
regulations. Petitioners' proposition to have all the TLAs indiscriminately cancelled without the requisite hearing
would be violative of the requirements of due process.
Before going any further, We must first focus on some procedural matters. Petitioners instituted Civil Case No. 90777 as a class suit. The original defendant and the present respondents did not take issue with this matter.
Nevertheless, We hereby rule that the said civil case is indeed a class suit. The subject matter of the complaint is of
common and general interest not just to several, but to all citizens of the Philippines. Consequently, since the parties
are so numerous, it, becomes impracticable, if not totally impossible, to bring all of them before the court. We
likewise declare that the plaintiffs therein are numerous and representative enough to ensure the full protection of all
concerned interests. Hence, all the requisites for the filing of a valid class suit under Section 12, Rule 3 of the
Revised Rules of Court are present both in the said civil case and in the instant petition, the latter being but an
incident to the former.
This case, however, has a special and novel element. Petitioners minors assert that they represent their generation
as well as generations yet unborn. We find no difficulty in ruling that they can, for themselves, for others of their
generation and for the succeeding generations, file a class suit. Their personality to sue in behalf of the succeeding
generations can only be based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility insofar as the right to a balanced
and healthful ecology is concerned. Such a right, as hereinafter expounded, considers
the "rhythm and harmony of nature." Nature means the created world in its entirety. 9 Such rhythm and harmony
indispensably include, inter alia, the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and conservation of the
country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other natural resources to the end that their
exploration, development and utilization be equitably accessible to the present as well as future generations. 10 Needless
to say, every generation has a responsibility to the next to preserve that rhythm and harmony for the full enjoyment of a
balanced and healthful ecology. Put a little differently, the minors' assertion of their right to a sound environment
constitutes, at the same time, the performance of their obligation to ensure the protection of that right for the generations
to come.

The locus standi of the petitioners having thus been addressed, We shall now proceed to the merits of the petition.
After a careful perusal of the complaint in question and a meticulous consideration and evaluation of the issues
raised and arguments adduced by the parties, We do not hesitate to find for the petitioners and rule against the
respondent Judge's challenged order for having been issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of
jurisdiction. The pertinent portions of the said order reads as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
After a careful and circumspect evaluation of the Complaint, the Court cannot help but agree with the
defendant. For although we believe that plaintiffs have but the noblest of all intentions, it (sic) fell
short of alleging, with sufficient definiteness, a specific legal right they are seeking to enforce and
protect, or a specific legal wrong they are seeking to prevent and redress (Sec. 1, Rule 2, RRC).
Furthermore, the Court notes that the Complaint is replete with vague assumptions and vague
conclusions based on unverified data. In fine, plaintiffs fail to state a cause of action in its Complaint
against the herein defendant.
Furthermore, the Court firmly believes that the matter before it, being impressed with political color
and involving a matter of public policy, may not be taken cognizance of by this Court without doing
violence to the sacred principle of "Separation of Powers" of the three (3) co-equal branches of the
Government.

The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant
the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the
country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new
timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored
(sic) by the fundamental law. 11
We do not agree with the trial court's conclusions that the plaintiffs failed to allege with sufficient definiteness a
specific legal right involved or a specific legal wrong committed, and that the complaint is replete with vague
assumptions and conclusions based on unverified data. A reading of the complaint itself belies these conclusions.
The complaint focuses on one specific fundamental legal right the right to a balanced and healthful ecology
which, for the first time in our nation's constitutional history, is solemnly incorporated in the fundamental law. Section
16, Article II of the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides:
Sec. 16. The State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
This right unites with the right to health which is provided for in the preceding section of the same
article:
Sec. 15. The State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health
consciousness among them.
While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State
Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and political
rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it concerns
nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation aptly and fittingly stressed by the petitioners the
advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter of fact, these
basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the inception of
humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well-founded fear of
its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as state policies by
the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the state a solemn
obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far when all else would
be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come generations which stand to inherit nothing
but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.
The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it the correlative duty to refrain from impairing the
environment. During the debates on this right in one of the plenary sessions of the 1986 Constitutional Commission,
the following exchange transpired between Commissioner Wilfrido Villacorta and Commissioner Adolfo Azcuna who
sponsored the section in question:
MR. VILLACORTA:
Does this section mandate the State to provide sanctions against all forms of pollution air, water and
noise pollution?
MR. AZCUNA:
Yes, Madam President. The right to healthful (sic) environment necessarily carries with it the correlative duty
of not impairing the same and, therefore, sanctions may be provided for impairment of environmental
balance. 12
The said right implies, among many other things, the judicious management and conservation of the country's
forests.
Without such forests, the ecological or environmental balance would be irreversiby disrupted.
Conformably with the enunciated right to a balanced and healthful ecology and the right to health, as well as the
other related provisions of the Constitution concerning the conservation, development and utilization of the country's
natural resources, 13 then President Corazon C. Aquino promulgated on 10 June 1987 E.O. No. 192, 14 Section 4 of
which expressly mandates that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources "shall be the primary government
agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the country's environment and
natural resources, specifically forest and grazing lands, mineral, resources, including those in reservation and watershed
areas, and lands of the public domain, as well as the licensing and regulation of all natural resources as may be provided
for by law in order to ensure equitable sharing of the benefits derived therefrom for the welfare of the present and future
generations of Filipinos." Section 3 thereof makes the following statement of policy:

Sec. 3. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared the policy of the State to ensure the sustainable use,
development, management, renewal, and conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, off-shore areas

and other natural resources, including the protection and enhancement of the quality of the environment,
and equitable access of the different segments of the population to the development and the use of the
country's natural resources, not only for the present generation but for future generations as well. It is also
the policy of the state to recognize and apply a true value system including social and environmental cost
implications relative to their utilization, development and conservation of our natural resources.
This policy declaration is substantially re-stated it Title XIV, Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987, 15specifically
in Section 1 thereof which reads:

Sec. 1. Declaration of Policy. (1) The State shall ensure, for the benefit of the Filipino people, the full
exploration and development as well as the judicious disposition, utilization, management, renewal and
conservation of the country's forest, mineral, land, waters, fisheries, wildlife, off-shore areas and other
natural resources, consistent with the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting
and enhancing the quality of the environment and the objective of making the exploration, development and
utilization of such natural resources equitably accessible to the different segments of the present as well as
future generations.
(2) The State shall likewise recognize and apply a true value system that takes into account social and
environmental cost implications relative to the utilization, development and conservation of our natural
resources.
The above provision stresses "the necessity of maintaining a sound ecological balance and protecting and
enhancing the quality of the environment." Section 2 of the same Title, on the other hand, specifically speaks of the
mandate of the DENR; however, it makes particular reference to the fact of the agency's being subject to law and
higher authority. Said section provides:
Sec. 2. Mandate. (1) The Department of Environment and Natural Resources shall be primarily
responsible for the implementation of the foregoing policy.
(2) It shall, subject to law and higher authority, be in charge of carrying out the State's constitutional
mandate to control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization, and conservation of the
country's natural resources.
Both E.O. NO. 192 and the Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as the bases for
policy formulation, and have defined the powers and functions of the DENR.
It may, however, be recalled that even before the ratification of the 1987 Constitution, specific statutes already paid
special attention to the "environmental right" of the present and future generations. On 6 June 1977, P.D. No. 1151
(Philippine Environmental Policy) and P.D. No. 1152 (Philippine Environment Code) were issued. The former
"declared a continuing policy of the State (a) to create, develop, maintain and improve conditions under which man
and nature can thrive in productive and enjoyable harmony with each other, (b) to fulfill the social, economic and
other requirements of present and future generations of Filipinos, and (c) to insure the attainment of an
environmental quality that is conducive to a life of dignity and well-being." 16 As its goal, it speaks of the
"responsibilities of each generation as trustee and guardian of the environment for succeeding generations."
statute, on the other hand, gave flesh to the said policy.

17

The latter

Thus, the right of the petitioners (and all those they represent) to a balanced and healthful ecology is as clear as the
DENR's duty under its mandate and by virtue of its powers and functions under E.O. No. 192 and the
Administrative Code of 1987 to protect and advance the said right.
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the corelative duty or obligation to respect or protect the same
gives rise to a cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLAs, which they claim was done with
grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to a balanced and healthful ecology; hence, the full protection thereof
requires that no further TLAs should be renewed or granted.
A cause of action is defined as:
. . . an act or omission of one party in violation of the legal right or rights of the other; and its
essential elements are legal right of the plaintiff, correlative obligation of the defendant, and act or
omission of the defendant in violation of said legal right. 18
It is settled in this jurisdiction that in a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the complaint fails to state a
cause of action, 19 the question submitted to the court for resolution involves the sufficiency of the facts alleged in the
complaint itself. No other matter should be considered; furthermore, the truth of falsity of the said allegations is beside the
point for the truth thereof is deemed hypothetically admitted. The only issue to be resolved in such a case is: admitting
such alleged facts to be true, may the court render a valid judgment in accordance with the prayer in the
complaint? 20 In Militante vs. Edrosolano, 21 this Court laid down the rule that the judiciary should "exercise the utmost care
and circumspection in passing upon a motion to dismiss on the ground of the absence thereof [cause of action] lest, by its

failure to manifest a correct appreciation of the facts alleged and deemed hypothetically admitted, what the law grants or
recognizes is effectively nullified. If that happens, there is a blot on the legal order. The law itself stands in disrepute."

After careful examination of the petitioners' complaint, We find the statements under the introductory affirmative
allegations, as well as the specific averments under the sub-heading CAUSE OF ACTION, to be adequate enough
to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights. On the basis thereof, they may thus be granted, wholly or
partly, the reliefs prayed for. It bears stressing, however, that insofar as the cancellation of the TLAs is concerned,
there is the need to implead, as party defendants, the grantees thereof for they are indispensable parties.
The foregoing considered, Civil Case No. 90-777 be said to raise a political question. Policy formulation or
determination by the executive or legislative branches of Government is not squarely put in issue. What is principally
involved is the enforcement of a right vis-a-vis policies already formulated and expressed in legislation. It must,
nonetheless, be emphasized that the political question doctrine is no longer, the insurmountable obstacle to the
exercise of judicial power or the impenetrable shield that protects executive and legislative actions from judicial
inquiry or review. The second paragraph of section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution states that:
Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights
which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the Government.
Commenting on this provision in his book, Philippine Political Law, 22 Mr. Justice Isagani A. Cruz, a distinguished
member of this Court, says:

The first part of the authority represents the traditional concept of judicial power, involving the
settlement of conflicting rights as conferred as law. The second part of the authority represents a
broadening of judicial power to enable the courts of justice to review what was before forbidden
territory, to wit, the discretion of the political departments of the government.
As worded, the new provision vests in the judiciary, and particularly the Supreme Court, the power to
rule upon even the wisdom of the decisions of the executive and the legislature and to declare their
acts invalid for lack or excess of jurisdiction because tainted with grave abuse of discretion. The
catch, of course, is the meaning of "grave abuse of discretion," which is a very elastic phrase that
can expand or contract according to the disposition of the judiciary.
In Daza vs. Singson, 23 Mr. Justice Cruz, now speaking for this Court, noted:
In the case now before us, the jurisdictional objection becomes even less tenable and decisive. The
reason is that, even if we were to assume that the issue presented before us was political in nature,
we would still not be precluded from revolving it under the expanded jurisdiction conferred upon us
that now covers, in proper cases, even the political question. Article VII, Section 1, of the
Constitution clearly provides: . . .
The last ground invoked by the trial court in dismissing the complaint is the non-impairment of contracts clause
found in the Constitution. The court a quo declared that:
The Court is likewise of the impression that it cannot, no matter how we stretch our jurisdiction, grant
the reliefs prayed for by the plaintiffs, i.e., to cancel all existing timber license agreements in the
country and to cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new
timber license agreements. For to do otherwise would amount to "impairment of contracts" abhored
(sic) by the fundamental law. 24
We are not persuaded at all; on the contrary, We are amazed, if not shocked, by such a sweeping pronouncement.
In the first place, the respondent Secretary did not, for obvious reasons, even invoke in his motion to dismiss the
non-impairment clause. If he had done so, he would have acted with utmost infidelity to the Government by
providing undue and unwarranted benefits and advantages to the timber license holders because he would have
forever bound the Government to strictly respect the said licenses according to their terms and conditions
regardless of changes in policy and the demands of public interest and welfare. He was aware that as correctly
pointed out by the petitioners, into every timber license must be read Section 20 of the Forestry Reform Code (P.D.
No. 705) which provides:
. . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President may amend, modify, replace or
rescind any contract, concession, permit, licenses or any other form of privilege granted herein . . .
Needless to say, all licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is not a contract, property
25
or a property right protested by the due process clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director of Forestry, this
Court held:

. . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest
resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the purview of the
due process clause; it is only a license or privilege, which can be validly withdrawn whenever dictated by public
interest or public welfare as in this case.
A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would be unlawful, and is not a contract between the
authority, federal, state, or municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is it property or a
property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it taxation (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the
granting of license does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property rights (People vs. Ong Tin,
54 O.G. 7576).

We reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co., Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary: 26
. . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments by which the State regulates
the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be
gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the
latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products therein. They may
be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so require.
Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3(ee) and
20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983,
125 SCRA 302].

Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which reads:
Sec. 10. No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed. 27
cannot be invoked.
In the second place, even if it is to be assumed that the same are contracts, the instant case does not involve a law
or even an executive issuance declaring the cancellation or modification of existing timber licenses. Hence, the nonimpairment clause cannot as yet be invoked. Nevertheless, granting further that a law has actually been passed
mandating cancellations or modifications, the same cannot still be stigmatized as a violation of the non-impairment
clause. This is because by its very nature and purpose, such as law could have only been passed in the exercise of
the police power of the state for the purpose of advancing the right of the people to a balanced and healthful
ecology, promoting their health and enhancing the general welfare. In Abe vs. Foster Wheeler
Corp. 28 this Court stated:
The freedom of contract, under our system of government, is not meant to be absolute. The same is understood
to be subject to reasonable legislative regulation aimed at the promotion of public health, moral, safety and
welfare. In other words, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of obligations of contract is limited by the
exercise of the police power of the State, in the interest of public health, safety, moral and general welfare.

The reason for this is emphatically set forth in Nebia vs. New York, 29 quoted in Philippine American Life Insurance Co.
vs. Auditor General, 30 to wit:
Under our form of government the use of property and the making of contracts are normally matters of private and
not of public concern. The general rule is that both shall be free of governmental interference. But neither property
rights nor contract rights are absolute; for government cannot exist if the citizen may at will use his property to the
detriment of his fellows, or exercise his freedom of contract to work them harm. Equally fundamental with the
private right is that of the public to regulate it in the common interest.

In short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the state. 31
Finally, it is difficult to imagine, as the trial court did, how the non-impairment clause could apply with respect to the
prayer to enjoin the respondent Secretary from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or approving new timber
licenses for, save in cases of renewal, no contract would have as of yet existed in the other instances. Moreover,
with respect to renewal, the holder is not entitled to it as a matter of right.
WHEREFORE, being impressed with merit, the instant Petition is hereby GRANTED, and the challenged Order of
respondent Judge of 18 July 1991 dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is hereby set aside. The petitioners may
therefore amend their complaint to implead as defendants the holders or grantees of the questioned timber license
agreements.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ., concur.
Narvasa, C.J., Puno and Vitug, JJ., took no part.

G.R. No. 161872

April 13, 2004

REV. ELLY CHAVEZ PAMATONG, ESQUIRE, petitioner,


vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, respondent.
RESOLUTION
TINGA, J.:
Petitioner Rev. Elly Velez Pamatong filed his Certificate of Candidacy for President on December 17, 2003.
Respondent Commission on Elections (COMELEC) refused to give due course to petitioners Certificate of
Candidacy in its Resolution No. 6558 dated January 17, 2004. The decision, however, was not unanimous since
Commissioners Luzviminda G. Tancangco and Mehol K. Sadain voted to include petitioner as they believed he had
parties or movements to back up his candidacy.
On January 15, 2004, petitioner moved for reconsideration of Resolution No. 6558. Petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration was docketed as SPP (MP) No. 04-001. The COMELEC, acting on petitioners Motion for
Reconsideration and on similar motions filed by other aspirants for national elective positions, denied the same
under the aegis of Omnibus Resolution No. 6604 dated February 11, 2004. The COMELEC declared petitioner and
thirty-five (35) others nuisance candidates who could not wage a nationwide campaign and/or are not nominated by
a political party or are not supported by a registered political party with a national constituency. Commissioner
Sadain maintained his vote for petitioner. By then, Commissioner Tancangco had retired.
In this Petition For Writ of Certiorari, petitioner seeks to reverse the resolutions which were allegedly rendered in
violation of his right to "equal access to opportunities for public service" under Section 26, Article II of the 1987
Constitution,1 by limiting the number of qualified candidates only to those who can afford to wage a nationwide
campaign and/or are nominated by political parties. In so doing, petitioner argues that the COMELEC indirectly
amended the constitutional provisions on the electoral process and limited the power of the sovereign people to
choose their leaders. The COMELEC supposedly erred in disqualifying him since he is the most qualified among all
the presidential candidates, i.e., he possesses all the constitutional and legal qualifications for the office of the
president, he is capable of waging a national campaign since he has numerous national organizations under his
leadership, he also has the capacity to wage an international campaign since he has practiced law in other
countries, and he has a platform of government. Petitioner likewise attacks the validity of the form for theCertificate
of Candidacy prepared by the COMELEC. Petitioner claims that the form does not provide clear and reasonable
guidelines for determining the qualifications of candidates since it does not ask for the candidates bio-data and his
program of government.
First, the constitutional and legal dimensions involved.
Implicit in the petitioners invocation of the constitutional provision ensuring "equal access to opportunities for public
office" is the claim that there is a constitutional right to run for or hold public office and, particularly in his case, to
seek the presidency. There is none. What is recognized is merely a privilege subject to limitations imposed by law.
Section 26, Article II of the Constitution neither bestows such a right nor elevates the privilege to the level of an
enforceable right. There is nothing in the plain language of the provision which suggests such a thrust or justifies an
interpretation of the sort.
The "equal access" provision is a subsumed part of Article II of the Constitution, entitled "Declaration of Principles
and State Policies." The provisions under the Article are generally considered not self-executing,2 and there is no
plausible reason for according a different treatment to the "equal access" provision. Like the rest of the policies
enumerated in Article II, the provision does not contain any judicially enforceable constitutional right but merely
specifies a guideline for legislative or executive action.3 The disregard of the provision does not give rise to any
cause of action before the courts.4
An inquiry into the intent of the framers5 produces the same determination that the provision is not self-executory.
The original wording of the present Section 26, Article II had read, "The State shall broaden opportunities to public
office and prohibit public dynasties."6 Commissioner (now Chief Justice) Hilario Davide, Jr. successfully brought
forth an amendment that changed the word "broaden" to the phrase "ensure equal access," and the substitution of
the word "office" to "service." He explained his proposal in this wise:
I changed the word "broaden" to "ENSURE EQUAL ACCESS TO" because what is important would be
equal access to the opportunity. If you broaden, it would necessarily mean that the government would
be mandated to create as many offices as are possible to accommodate as many people as are also
possible. That is the meaning of broadening opportunities to public service. So, in order that we should
not mandate the State to make the government the number one employer and to limit offices only to
what may be necessary and expedient yet offering equal opportunities to access to it, I change the
word "broaden."7 (emphasis supplied)

Obviously, the provision is not intended to compel the State to enact positive measures that would accommodate as
many people as possible into public office. The approval of the "Davide amendment" indicates the design of the
framers to cast the provision as simply enunciatory of a desired policy objective and not reflective of the imposition
of a clear State burden.
Moreover, the provision as written leaves much to be desired if it is to be regarded as the source of positive rights. It
is difficult to interpret the clause as operative in the absence of legislation since its effective means and reach are
not properly defined. Broadly written, the myriad of claims that can be subsumed under this rubric appear to be
entirely open-ended.8 Words and phrases such as "equal access," "opportunities," and "public service" are
susceptible to countless interpretations owing to their inherent impreciseness. Certainly, it was not the intention of
the framers to inflict on the people an operative but amorphous foundation from which innately unenforceable rights
may be sourced.
As earlier noted, the privilege of equal access to opportunities to public office may be subjected to limitations. Some
valid limitations specifically on the privilege to seek elective office are found in the provisions9 of the Omnibus
Election Code on "Nuisance Candidates" and COMELEC Resolution No. 645210 dated December 10, 2002 outlining
the instances wherein the COMELEC may motu proprio refuse to give due course to or cancel aCertificate of
Candidacy.
As long as the limitations apply to everybody equally without discrimination, however, the equal access clause is not
violated. Equality is not sacrificed as long as the burdens engendered by the limitations are meant to be borne by
any one who is minded to file a certificate of candidacy. In the case at bar, there is no showing that any person is
exempt from the limitations or the burdens which they create.
Significantly, petitioner does not challenge the constitutionality or validity of Section 69 of the Omnibus Election
Code and COMELEC Resolution No. 6452 dated 10 December 2003. Thus, their presumed validity stands and has
to be accorded due weight.
Clearly, therefore, petitioners reliance on the equal access clause in Section 26, Article II of the Constitution is
misplaced.
The rationale behind the prohibition against nuisance candidates and the disqualification of candidates who have
not evinced a bona fide intention to run for office is easy to divine. The State has a compelling interest to ensure that
its electoral exercises are rational, objective, and orderly. Towards this end, the State takes into account the
practical considerations in conducting elections. Inevitably, the greater the number of candidates, the greater the
opportunities for logistical confusion, not to mention the increased allocation of time and resources in preparation for
the election. These practical difficulties should, of course, never exempt the State from the conduct of a mandated
electoral exercise. At the same time, remedial actions should be available to alleviate these logistical hardships,
whenever necessary and proper. Ultimately, a disorderly election is not merely a textbook example of inefficiency,
but a rot that erodes faith in our democratic institutions. As the United States Supreme Court held:
[T]here is surely an important state interest in requiring some preliminary showing of a significant modicum
of support before printing the name of a political organization and its candidates on the ballot the interest,
if no other, in avoiding confusion, deception and even frustration of the democratic [process].11
The COMELEC itself recognized these practical considerations when it promulgated Resolution No. 6558 on 17
January 2004, adopting the study Memorandum of its Law Department dated 11 January 2004. As observed in the
COMELECs Comment:
There is a need to limit the number of candidates especially in the case of candidates for national positions
because the election process becomes a mockery even if those who cannot clearly wage a national
campaign are allowed to run. Their names would have to be printed in the Certified List of Candidates,
Voters Information Sheet and the Official Ballots. These would entail additional costs to the government. For
the official ballots in automated counting and canvassing of votes, an additional page would amount to more
or less FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY MILLION PESOS (P450,000,000.00).
xxx[I]t serves no practical purpose to allow those candidates to continue if they cannot wage a decent
campaign enough to project the prospect of winning, no matter how slim.12
The preparation of ballots is but one aspect that would be affected by allowance of "nuisance candidates" to run in
the elections. Our election laws provide various entitlements for candidates for public office, such as watchers in
every polling place,13 watchers in the board of canvassers,14 or even the receipt of electoral
contributions.15Moreover, there are election rules and regulations the formulations of which are dependent on the
number of candidates in a given election.
Given these considerations, the ignominious nature of a nuisance candidacy becomes even more galling. The
organization of an election with bona fide candidates standing is onerous enough. To add into the mix candidates
with no serious intentions or capabilities to run a viable campaign would actually impair the electoral process. This is
not to mention the candidacies which are palpably ridiculous so as to constitute a one-note joke. The poll body

would be bogged by irrelevant minutiae covering every step of the electoral process, most probably posed at the
instance of these nuisance candidates. It would be a senseless sacrifice on the part of the State.
Owing to the superior interest in ensuring a credible and orderly election, the State could exclude nuisance
candidates and need not indulge in, as the song goes, "their trips to the moon on gossamer wings."
The Omnibus Election Code and COMELEC Resolution No. 6452 are cognizant of the compelling State interest to
ensure orderly and credible elections by excising impediments thereto, such as nuisance candidacies that distract
and detract from the larger purpose. The COMELEC is mandated by the Constitution with the administration of
elections16 and endowed with considerable latitude in adopting means and methods that will ensure the promotion of
free, orderly and honest elections.17 Moreover, the Constitution guarantees that only bona fide candidates for public
office shall be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.18 The determination of bona fidecandidates is
governed by the statutes, and the concept, to our mind is, satisfactorily defined in the Omnibus Election Code.
Now, the needed factual premises.
However valid the law and the COMELEC issuance involved are, their proper application in the case of the
petitioner cannot be tested and reviewed by this Court on the basis of what is now before it. The assailed resolutions
of the COMELEC do not direct the Court to the evidence which it considered in determining that petitioner was a
nuisance candidate. This precludes the Court from reviewing at this instance whether the COMELEC committed
grave abuse of discretion in disqualifying petitioner, since such a review would necessarily take into account the
matters which the COMELEC considered in arriving at its decisions.
Petitioner has submitted to this Court mere photocopies of various documents purportedly evincing his credentials
as an eligible candidate for the presidency. Yet this Court, not being a trier of facts, can not properly pass upon the
reproductions as evidence at this level. Neither the COMELEC nor the Solicitor General appended any document to
their respective Comments.
The question of whether a candidate is a nuisance candidate or not is both legal and factual. The basis of the factual
determination is not before this Court. Thus, the remand of this case for the reception of further evidence is in order.
A word of caution is in order. What is at stake is petitioners aspiration and offer to serve in the government. It
deserves not a cursory treatment but a hearing which conforms to the requirements of due process.
As to petitioners attacks on the validity of the form for the certificate of candidacy, suffice it to say that the form
strictly complies with Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code. This provision specifically enumerates what a
certificate of candidacy should contain, with the required information tending to show that the candidate possesses
the minimum qualifications for the position aspired for as established by the Constitution and other election laws.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, COMELEC Case No. SPP (MP) No. 04-001 is hereby remanded to the COMELEC
for the reception of further evidence, to determine the question on whether petitioner Elly Velez Lao Pamatong is a
nuisance candidate as contemplated in Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code.
The COMELEC is directed to hold and complete the reception of evidence and report its findings to this Court with
deliberate dispatch.
SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., Puno, Vitug*, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez,
Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.