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EN BANC

[G.R. No. 127325. June 10, 1997.]

MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ALEXANDER PADILLA, and MARIA


ISABEL ONGPIN , petitioners, vs . COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS,
JESUS S. 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 FILIPINO
(LABAN), petitioners-intervenors.

Roco Bunag Kapunan & Migallos for movant Raul S. Roco.


Atty. Pete Quirino Quadra for respondents Spouses Alberto & Carmen Pedrosa.

SYLLABUS

DAVIDE, JR ., J., separate opinion:

1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT; JUDICIAL POWER; SECTION


1, ARTICLE VIII OF THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT PURPORT TO ENCOMPASS
TOTALITY OF JUDICIAL POWER, IT MERELY STATES WHAT THE CONCEPT INCLUDES.
Without a doubt, these two issues call for the exercise of judicial power which,
unfortunately, the OSG seeks to unduly restrict by its miscomprehension of the second
paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. Said paragraph does not purport
to encompass the totality of judicial power; it merely states what the concept includes.
The paragraph reads; 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
Government. SECIcT

2. ID.; DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWER; LAW WHICH PURPORTS TO


DELEGATE A DELEGABLE LEGISLATIVE POWER MAY BE DECLARED
UNCONSTITUTIONAL OR INVALID IF IT FAILS TO COMPLY WITH COMPLETENESS AND
"SUFFICIENT STANDARD" TESTS; ONLY COURTS IN THE EXERCISE OF ITS JUDICIAL
AUTHORITY CAN DETERMINE IF A STATUTE HAS MET THESE TESTS. Contrary to the
claim of the Pedrosas, these two issues do, in fact, raise the issue of the
constitutionality of R.A. No. 6735. At its core lays the principle of non-delegation of
legislative power and the exceptions thereto, both of which are xed and invariable
subjects of constitutional law (Enrique M. Fernando, The Constitution of the Philippines,
second ed. [1977], 161-166; Joaquin Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of
the Philippines, A Commentary, 1996 ed., 610-618; Thomas M. Cooley, A Treatise on
the Constitutional Limitations, Vol. 1, Eight Ed. [1927], 224-247). It has been aptly said
that "[t]he problem of delegation of legislative powers like that of separation of
legislative powers involves constitutional law rather than statutory construction"
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(Sutherland on Statutory Construction, Vol. 1, Third Ed. [1943], Sec. 301, p. 54). Since a
law may be declared unconstitutional where it delegates non-delegable legislative
authority, or that any attempt to do so would be tainted by unconstitutionality
(Fernando, op. cit., 161), then a law which purports to delegate a delegable legislative
power may also be declared unconstitutional or invalid if it fails to comply with the
completeness and "su cient standard " tests. Only courts, in the exercise of its judicial
authority, can determine if a statute has met these tests. (Pelaez v. Auditor General, 122
Phil. 965 [1965]; Edu v. Ericta , 35 SCRA 481 [1970]). By arguing that "the delegation of
power to the COMELEC hurdles both the completeness and su cient standard tests
prescribed in Pelaez vs. Auditor General . . .," the Pedrosas admit that a constitutional
issue is, indeed, involved. Thus, their assertion to the contrary in their motion for
reconsideration is incomprehensible.
3. ID.; ID.; THEORY THAT COMELEC IS VESTED WITH PRIMARY JURISDICTION
TO DECLARE INCOMPLETENESS OR INADEQUACY OF R.A. NO. 6735 AND PRIVATE
RESPONDENT'S REPORT TO "POLITICAL QUESTION" THEORY ARE OUTLANDISH. We
do not then hesitate to state that the stand of the Pedrosas on this point and, we may
add, the overbearing conclusion of intervenor Roco that our ruling on the insu ciency
of R.A. 6735 "created a third specie of invalid laws, a mongrel type of constitutional but
inadequate and, therefore invalid laws," only betray an inability to fully grasp the
workings of the principle of non-delegation of legislative powers and exceptions
thereto. Only this inability, coupled with the incapacity to fully understand the
signi cance and import of our statement in the Decision 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 . . . could sire what intervenor
Roco baptizes as "third specie of invalid laws" or "mongrel." From the foregoing, the
conclusion is inevitable that the theory of the OSG that COMELEC is vested with the
primary jurisdiction to declare the incompleteness or inadequacy of R.A. No. 6735, and
the Pedrosas' belated resort to the "political question" theory, are outlandish.
4. ID.; ID.; VALIDITY AND ENFORCEABILITY OF A DELEGATION OF RULE-MAKING
POWER HINGES UPON COMPLIANCE WITH "COMPLETENESS" AND "SUFFICIENT
STANDARD" TESTS. Ground V of the OSG's motion and grounds 5 and 6 of the
Pedrosas' motion are likewise unfounded. We never held that Congress was guilty of
unlawful delegation of legislative power; in fact, we even conceded that "[e]mpowering
the COMELEC, an administrative body exercising quasi-judicial functions, to promulgate
rules and regulations is a [permissible] form of delegation of legislative authority under
No. 5 above." What we said, in plain and simple language, was that R.A. No. 6735 failed
to comply with the "completeness" and "su cient standard" tests, hence Section 20 of
R.A. No. 6735 authorizing the COMELEC to promulgate implementing rules could not
cure the in rmity. It is settled that the validity and enforceability of a delegation of rule-
making power hinges upon compliance with the aforementioned tests. SaDICE

5. ID.; ID.; COURT CANNOT READ INTO STATUTE NON-EXISTENT PROVISIONS IN


ORDER TO MAKE IT COMPLETE AND SET FORTH THEREIN A SUFFICIENT STANDARD
THUS VALIDATING DELEGATION OF POWER TO PROMULGATE IMPLEMENTING
RULES TO THE COMELEC. Neither may we succumb to the arguments raised in
ground 4 of the Pedrosas' motion. Although we recognized that "R.A. No. 6735 was, as
its history reveals, intended to cover initiative to propose amendments to the
Constitution," we cannot otherwise read into the statute non-existent provisions in
order to make it complete and set forth therein a su cient standard, and thus validate
the delegation of the power to promulgate implementing rules to the COMELEC. To do
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so would constitute unabashed judicial legislation, an act offensive to the doctrine of
separation of powers.
6. ID.; ID.; ISSUE OF DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE POWERS IS PROPERLY A
SUBJECT OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND NOT STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION. We
stated earlier that the issue of delegation of legislative powers is properly a subject of
constitutional law, and not statutory construction. In short, our primary task was merely
to determine if R.A. No. 6735 "hurdled," to use a word used by the Pedrosas, the
"completeness and su cient standard tests" in the investiture of rule-making powers
to the COMELEC relative to initiative on constitutional amendments. When we then
declared it to be inadequate or insu cient in that respect, we simply meant that it
failed to "hurdle" the tests. Put differently, the terms incomplete, inadequate and
wanting in essential details in our challenged Decision have reference to the
"completeness and su cient standard tests," and to none other. The intent then of the
law, which is the concern of statutory construction, is not a su cient guidepost. This
puts to naught for being clearly misplaced, if not irrelevant, the plea that we should give
full life to the intent of the law to include initiative on constitutional amendments, as
well as the warning that to suppress the intent of the law would be tantamount to
determining the wisdom, reasonableness, adequacy or su ciency of the law, a role
exclusively pertaining to the legislature.
7. ID.; AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS TO THE CONSTITUTION; SYSTEM OF
INITIATIVE ON CONSTITUTION UNDER SECTION 2, ARTICLE XVII OF CONSTITUTION,
NOT SELF-EXECUTORY; EXERCISE OF RIGHT THEREUNDER IS DEPENDENT UPON A
VALID IMPLEMENTING LAW. As to ground no. 7 of the Pedrosas' motion, we need
only stress that the system of initiative on the Constitution under Section 2, Article XVII
of the Constitution is not self-executory. The exercise of the right thereunder is
dependent upon a valid implementing law. It follows then that any gathering of
signatures for initiative on Constitutional amendments would, at this time, be an idle
ceremony, an exercise in futility. However, the Pedrosas are not prevented from
engaging in that endeavor if they so wish; precisely, we lifted the temporary restraining
order as against them.
FRANCISCO , J., separate opinion:

1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; CONSTITUTION; AMENDMENT AND REVISION;


DISSIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE TWO, EXPLAINED. Amendment and revision signify
change in the constitutional text. They, nonetheless, have distinct dissimilarities, thus; ".
. . An amendment envisages an alteration of one or a few speci c provisions of the
constitution, and its guiding original intention is to improve speci c parts or to add new
provisions or to suppress existing ones according as addition or subtraction might be
demanded by existing conditions. In revision, however, the guiding intention and plan
must contemplate a re-examination of the entire document to determine how and to
what extent it should be altered. Whether the end result of the originally intended
revision is in fact a total change of the constitution or merely an alteration of key
provisions, the end product would still be a revision."
2. ID.; ID.; ID., PRIVATE RESPONDENT'S PROPOSAL IN CASE AT BAR, A MERE
AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION. In the case at bench, I nd private
respondents' proposal as a mere "amendment" and not a "revision" of the constitution.
A cursory reading of private respondents' petition and its attached petition for initiative
in the 1987 Constitution led with the Commission on Elections envisages the
alteration of some speci c provisions of the constitution all relating to a single subject,
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i.e., the lifting of the limitation on the term of o ce of elected government o cials. As
it appears, the guiding original intention of private respondents is merely to improve on
provisions by adding new ones and suppressing some existing parts thereof. There is
nothing from the records to indicate that private respondents intended to re-examine
the entire 1987 Constitution and determine to what extent should the same be altered.
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; INTENTION AND PLAN OF PRIME MOVERS OF INITIATIVE ON
CONSTITUTION IS THE ALTERATION ON TERM OF OFFICE OF ELECTIVE OFFICIALS
THUS CONSTITUTING AN AMENDMENT. The foregoing is unequivocal. The guiding
intention and plan of the prime movers of the initiative on the constitution is not the re-
examination of the entire constitution so as to fall within the ambit of revision, but an
alteration on the term of o ce of elective o cials. Hence, the same pertains to a mere
amendment. CADHcI

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; PROPOSED AMENDMENT APPEARS TO BE AN INNOCUOUS


ALTERATION. Moreover, the proposed amendment appears to be an innocuous
alteration. In the case at bench, the petition for initiative on the constitution simply
deals with the term of o ce of public o cials. This alteration surely is not as intricate
and as drastic as what was done with the 1973 Constitution.
HERMOSISIMA , J., concurring and dissenting:

1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; CONSTITUTION; AMENDMENT AND REVISION;


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 REGISTERED VOTERS THEREIN
REQUIRED FOR A PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE TO AMEND CONSTITUTION There is no
mincing words when it comes to a constitutional prerequisite to the exercise of a right;
the Constitution is plain and unequivocal as to what triggers the proceedings for a
people's initiative to amend the Constitution only "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." Whether
the Del n petition is "a mere request for administrative assistance" or itself already the
"Petition for Initiative to Amend the Constitution," it is undisputedly, by praying for the
setting of time and dates for the signing of the petition by the required percentage of
the registered voters all over the country and for the publication of the "Petition for
Initiative on the Constitution," the petition that sets off the mechanism of a people's
initiative to amend the Constitution. As the petition that triggers the people's initiative
to amend the Constitution, the Del n petition must be signed by the required
percentage of registered voters, or at the least, must contain the names of at least 12%
of all the registered voters in the country and then signed by at least one registered
voter in behalf of all the signatories, as mandated by the Constitution. We cannot and
will never sanction any avoidance of this categorical mandate of the fundamental law of
the land.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; DELFIN PETITION IN CASE AT BAR, A MERE SCRAP OF PAPER
AS IT FAILED TO COMPLY WITH CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENT OF VOTER
PERCENTAGE. The Del n petition having prayed for the setting of the time and dates
for the signing of the Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution and for the
publication thereof for public consumption, it is the initiatory pleading for purposes of
starting the proceedings for a people's initiative to amend the Constitution, which
initiatory pleading as such should have contained the names and/or signatures of at
least 12% of all the registered voters in the country. As the Del n petition utterly failed
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to comply with the constitutional requirement of voter percentage, it is nothing more
than a mere scrap of paper that the Commission on Elections should have, at rst
glance, in whatever capacity, ignored as surplusage.
3. ID.; ID.; ID; SECTIONS 3(F) AND 5(B) OF R.A. 6735, A SUFFICIENT STANDARD
ON THE BASIS OF WHICH THE COMELEC MAY PROCEED TO FORMULATE THE MORE
DETAILED REQUIREMENTS OF A PETITION TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION THROUGH
INITIATIVE PROCEEDINGS. It is signi cant to note, however, that while the majority
declared R.A. No. 6735 to be so inadequate as to bar the exercise by the people of their
right to amend the Constitution through initiative proceedings, the majority decries the
omission by Congress of only one provision an enumeration of the contents of a
petition for initiative on the Constitution. It bears repeating, however, that Sections 3 (f)
and 5 (b) of R.A. No. 6735, read together, provide that a petition for initiative on the
Constitution must contain the proposition and the required number of signatories,
which is at least 12% of the total number of registered voters in the country, of which
every legislative district should be represented by at least 3% of the voters thereof.
Undoubtedly, such constitutes, by any measure, a su cient standard on the basis of
which the Commission on Elections may proceed to formulate the more detailed
requirements, if any, of a petition to amend the Constitution through initiative
proceedings.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; FACT THAT R.A. 6735 DOES NOT CONTAIN A SUBTITLE TREATING
SOLELY OF THE MATTER OF AN INITIATIVE ON THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT MAKE
A GOOD CASE IN SUPPORT OF MAJORITY'S POSTULATION THAT R.A. 6735 IS
INSUFFICIENT FOR SAID PURPOSE. The majority also pointed out that R.A. No. 6735
does not contain a subtitle treating solely of the matter of an initiative on the
Constitution, but certainly the mere literal absence of such a subtitle without explicit
mention of what particular provisions should be contained under that subtitle, i.e., what
"essential terms and conditions" are referred to by the majority as indispensable to
make R.A. No. 6735 adequate for purposes of a people's initiative on the Constitution,
does not make a good case in support of the majority's postulation that R.A. No. 6735
is insufficient for said purposes.
5. ID.; ID.; ID.; R.A. 6735 SUFFICIENTLY LAID DOWN THE NECESSARY MINIMUM
STANDARDS FOR A VALID AND COMPLETE STATUTE NECESSARY TO AMEND THE
CONSTITUTION. More importantly, I humbly submit that R.A. No. 6735 does not have
to contain every detail conceivable in the matter of initiative proceeding for the
amendment of the Constitution and that as it provides for the minimum voter
percentage requirement, the essential requisites in the initiatory petition, the ve year
time limit on the exercise of the right of initiative on the Constitution, the special
registration day prior to the plebiscite, and the conduct of signature veri cation as to
the initiatory petition, R.A. No. 6735 su ciently laid down the necessary minimum
standards for a valid and complete statute treating of the matter of, among others, the
initiative proceedings to amend the Constitution.
PUNO , J., dissenting:

1. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS TO THE


CONSTITUTION; SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM; INTENT OF HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATE IN APPROVING R.A. NO, 6735 IS TO IMPLEMENT
PROVISIONS OF CONSTITUTION GIVING PEOPLE THE POWER TO INITIATE AND
APPROVE AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION. The first overriding concern is the
need to recognize the clear intent of Congress in enacting R.A. No. 6735. In my
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concurring and dissenting opinion, I quoted extensively the deliberations of the
members of the House of Representatives on H.B. No. 21505 to stress that their intent
was to implement the provisions of the 1987 Constitution giving the people the power
to amend our fundamental law thru people's initiative. Petitioner-intervenor, Roco, one
of the principal authors of H.B. No. 21505, con rmed this intent in all his pleadings in
the case at bar. The Conference Committee Report on Senate Bill No. 17/House Bill No.
21505 was unanimously approved by the Senate then led by Senator Jovito Salonga as
its President. It cannot be doubted that the intent of the Senate in approving RA No.
6735 is to implement the provisions of the Constitution giving the people the power to
initiate and approve amendments to the Constitution. Nor can it be doubted that the
Senate installed in RA No. 6735 the procedure to implement this legislative intent. The
Senate that approved RA No. 6735 carried the names of some of our more brilliant
legal minds, and some of our most experienced hand in bill drafting. It is di cult to
believe that these distinguished senators allowed R.A. No. 6735 to be approved when it
is so littered with ambiguities as to become incomprehensible, nay, unenforceable.
2. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; WHEN A LAW ADMITS OF TWO
INTERPRETATIONS, ONE THAT WILL SUSTAIN IT AND ANOTHER THAT WILL
INVALIDATE IT, THE INTERPRETATION THAT WILL SAVE THE LAW SHOULD BE
ADOPTED. The second overriding concern is the need to comply with our traditional
duty to interpret R.A. No. 6735 to effectuate its intent. R.A. No. 6735 represents the
wisdom and the will of two co-equal branches of government the Legislative and the
Executive. Due respect to these two branches of government demands that we utilize
all rules of statutory construction to effectuate R.A. No. 6735. It has been the teaching
of this Court for ages that when a law admits of two interpretations, one that will
sustain it and another that will invalidate it, the interpretation that will save the law
should be adopted.
3. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS TO THE
CONSTITUTION; SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM; R.A. NO. 6735; MINORITY
VIEW THAT R.A. NO. 6735 IS COMPREHENSIBLE ENOUGH TO BE ENFORCEABLE
CANNOT BE DISMISSED AS TOTALLY UNFOUNDED, UNREASONABLE, AND
UNREALISTIC. The minority view that R.A. No. 6735 is comprehensible enough to be
enforceable cannot be dismissed as totally unfounded, unreasonable, and unrealistic. In
truth, the minority view is shared by others whose honesty of motive cannot be
assailed. It is shared by the lawmakers who enacted R.A. No. 6735 in compliance with
their constitutional duty to the people. It is shared by former President Corazon C.
Aquino who signed R.A. No. 6735 into law. And most important, the COMELEC has
never wavered in its position that R.A. No. 6735 is not incomprehensible, insu cient or
inadequate. AHECcT

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; COMELEC MOST AUTHORITATIVE TO DETERMINE WHETHER


R.A. NO 6735 IS CLEAR AND ENFORCEABLE. The COMELEC, under the stewardship
of then Acting Chairperson Haydee Yorac , understood R.A. No. 6735 without any
difficulty. Indeed, the COMELEC promulgated Resolution No. 2300 prescribing the rules
and regulations on the conduct of people's initiative to amend the Constitution. It was
ready then and it is ready now to implement R.A. No. 6735. More than any department,
instrumentality or agency of government, the COMELEC is the most authoritative to
determine whether R.A. No. 6735 is clear and enforceable. Article IX (c) (2) of the
Constitution gave the COMELEC the exclusive power to "enforce and administer all laws
and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum,
and recall." Its long experience and expertise in enforcing our election laws cannot be
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doubted and its interpretation of R.A. No. 6735 carries a considerable weight.
5. STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION; INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES;
ESTABLISHED RULE THEREIN IS FOR COURTS TO SEEK LEGISLATIVE INTENTION AND
GIVE IT EFFECT; INADEQUACY OF A STATUTE IS NOT A GROUND FOR INVALIDATING
IT. No reason has been advanced why these provisions cannot be construed to apply
to proposed constitutional amendments. No reason has been shown for restrictively
and literally construing these provisions as applicable to ordinary legislation only. On
the other hand, the established rule in the interpretation of statutes is for courts to seek
the legislative intention and give it effect. The inadequacy of a statute is not a ground
for invalidating it. Given the lawfulness of the legislative purpose to implement the
constitutional provision on initiative to amend the Constitution, it is not for this Court to
say how well the statute succeeds in attaining that purpose. "With the wisdom of the
policy adopted, with the adequacy or practicality of the law enacted to forward it, the
courts are both incompetent and unauthorized to deal."
6. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; CONGRESS' LAW-
MAKING POWER; PLENARY IN NATURE. The third overriding concern is the need to
avoid the danger of over-checking the power of Congress to make laws which will put
in peril the fundamental principle of separation of powers. The Constitution vested in
Congress the power to make laws. The power of Congress to make laws is plenary in
nature. The legislature is accorded the widest latitude in lawmaking to meet the
uctuating problems of our people. It cannot be gainsaid that our legislators are more
keenly aware of these problems for they are in closer contact with our people. They
have better access to facts to solve these problems. They are also expected to
respond adequately to our people's problems for they have to account to the people
come election day. A more chastened recognition of the policy-making role of
Congress should compel this Court to exercise extreme care and caution before
imposing any new limitation on its power to make laws.
7. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW; JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT; JUDICIAL POWER; COURTS
HAVE AUTHORITY TO FINALLY DETERMINE WHAT ARE THE RESPECTIVE POWERS OF
THE DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS OF GOVERNMENT. From time immemorial, courts
have only invalidated was I that offend the Constitution. The limits of the judicial power
to invalidate laws are no longer open to doubt and debate. In this jurisdiction, as early
as 1927 in the seminal case of Government v. Springer , Mr. Justice Johnson's
concurring opinion authoritatively laid down its metes and bounds, thus: ". . . "It is
conceded by all of the eminent authorities upon constitutional law that the courts have
authority to nally determine what are the respective powers of the different
departments of government. The question of the validity of every statute is rst
determined by the legislative department of the Government, and the courts will resolve
every presumption in favor of its validity. Courts are not justi ed in adjudging a statute
invalid in the face of the conclusions of the legislature, when the question of its validity
is at all doubtful. The courts will assume that the validity of a statute was fully
considered by the legislature when adopted. Courts will not presume a statute invalid
unless it clearly appears that it falls within some of the inhibitions of the fundamental
laws of the state. The wisdom or advisability of a particular statute is not a question for
the courts to determine. If a particular statute is within the constitutional power of the
legislature to enact, it should be sustained whether the courts agree or not in the
wisdom of its enactment. If the statute covers subjects not authorized by the
fundamental laws of the land, or by the constitution, then the courts are not only
authorized but are justi ed in pronouncing the same illegal and void, no matter how
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wise or bene cient such legislation may seem to be. Courts are not justi ed in
measuring their opinions with the opinion of the legislative department of the
government, as expressed in statutes, upon questions of the wisdom, justice and
advisability of a particular law. In exercising the high authority conferred upon the
courts to pronounce valid or invalid a particular statute, they are only the administrators
of the public will, as expressed in the fundamental law of the land. If an act of the
legislature is to be held illegal, it is not because the judges have any control over the
legislative power, but because the act is forbidden by the fundamental law of the land
and because the will of the people, as declared in such fundamental law, is paramount
and must be obeyed, even by the legislature. In pronouncing a statute illegal, the courts
are simply interpreting the meaning, force, and application of the fundamental law of
the state." (Case vs. Board of Health and Heiser, 24 Phil. 250, 251.)
8. ID.; AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS TO THE CONSTITUTION; SYSTEM OF
INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM; R.A. N0. 6735; WITHIN THE COMPASS OF THE POWER
OF CONGRESS TO LEGISLATE. In the case at bar, R.A. No. 6735 is not assailed by the
majority as unconstitutional for failure of Congress to follow the substantive
requirements of lawmaking. It even concedes that Congress enacted the law in
compliance with its duty to implement the provision of the Constitution granting the
people the right to amend our fundamental law thru people's initiative. It goes without
saying that the subject matter of R.A. No. 6735 is within the compass of the power of
Congress to legislate. Nor does the majority strike down R.A. No. 6735 on the ground
that Congress breached any of the formal procedural steps in enacting a law. Since it is
uncontested that Congress did not violate any of the substantive or formal
requirements of lawmaking in enacting R.A. No. 6735, this Court has no option but to
effectuate the same. This is our consistent stance in the past. There is no reason to be
inconsistent now.
9. ID.; LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT; CONGRESS' LAW-MAKING POWER; SCOPE
AND PURPOSE THEREOF, EXPLAINED. In letting loose this " mongrel" type of invalid
laws, the Court has over-extended its checking power against Congress. This mongrel
endangers the principle of separation of powers, a touchstone of our Constitution. The
power of Congress to make laws includes the power how to write laws. The court has
the power to review the constitutionality of laws but it has no authority to act as if it is
the committee on style of Congress. The Court has the power to interpret laws but the
principal purpose in exercising this power is to discover and enforce legislative intent.
We should heed the warning of Crawford that if courts ignore the intent of the
legislative, they would invade the legislative sphere and violate the tripartite theory of
government. The balance of power among the executive, legislative and judicial
branches of our government was xed with pinpoint precision by the framers of our
fundamental law. The Constitution did not give the Court the power to alter this balance
especially to alter it in its favor. Unless allowed by the Constitution, a non-elected court
cannot assume powers which will make it more than the equal of an elected legislature
or an elected executive.
10. ID.; CONSTITUTION; ESSENTIAL PARTS OF A GOOD WRITTEN
CONSTITUTION. The fourth overriding concern is the need to enforce the new
provision of the Constitution giving our people a direct, participatory role in its
amendment. It is almost trite to state that a good written Constitution has three
essential part. The rst provides the framework of government; the second de nes and
protects the rights of the people against government intrusion; and the third prescribes
the procedure of its amendment.
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11. ID.; AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS TO THE CONSTITUTION; R.A. NO. 6735
SHOULD BE INTERPRETED LIBERALLY. The importance of our constitutional
provision on amendment cannot be overemphasized. Apropos is the reminder of Mr.
Justice Frankfurter that a constitution is an enduring framework of government for a
dynamic society and not a code of lifeless forms. For a constitution to be a living law, it
ought to be exible in order to meet the variegated needs of the people as time and
circumstance dictate. A constitution cannot be beyond the touch of change for the
vision of its framers cannot always pierce the veil of the future. To be unremittingly
relevant, every constitution provides a procedure on how it can be amended. The
amendatory provision of our Constitution is thus its safety valve for change without
confrontation, for progress without violence. It is our duty to be liberal in interpreting
this amendatory provision, for if our Constitution fails to take care of the troubles of
tomorrow it will become the sarcophagus of our people's aspirations . The same liberal
spirit should guide us in interpreting R.A. No. 6735 for its purpose is to allow our people
to initiate amendments to our Constitution to meet their changing needs. CSaITD

12. ID.; ID.; NO PROPOSITION BEFORE THE COURT LIFTING ANY TERM LIMIT OF
OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. Petitioners and other intervenors also assail the
proposition lifting the term limits of our elected o cials as an un t subject of a
people's initiative to amend the Constitution. They contend that the proposition will
involve a revision of the constitution and not merely its amendment. There is no
necessity to resolve this particular issue. The Court has unanimously ordered the
COMELEC to dismiss the Del n petition. Thus, there is no proposition before the Court
lifting any term limit of our elected o cials. Any ruling on the issue will be no more than
an advisory opinion which cannot be rendered by this Court.

RESOLUTION

The Court En Banc considered the motions for reconsideration of its Decision of
19 March 1997, separately led by the O ce of the Solicitor General for public
respondent Commission on Elections, private respondents Alberto and Carmen
Pedrosa and private respondent Jesus Del n, et al., in relation to the oppositions
thereto led by the petitioners and intervenors Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol Ang
Konstitusyon (DIK) and Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and
Nationalism, Inc. (MABINI), Raul Roco, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LABAN), and
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Two Members of the Court did not take part in
the deliberations: Padilla, J., who is on sick leave and who, in any case, had from the
outset inhibited himself from taking part in the cases at bar on account of his personal
relationship with the attorney of one of the parties; and Torres, J., who inhibited himself
from participation in the deliberations for the reasons set forth in his separate Opinion
hereto attached.
The remaining Justices actually present thereafter voted on the issue of whether
the motions for reconsideration should be granted or not, with the following results:
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, and Kapunan, JJ., voted to DENY
said motions for lack of merit; and Melo, Puno, Mendoza, Francisco, Hermosisima and
Panganiban, JJ, voted to GRANT the same. Vitug, J., maintained his opinion that the
matter was not ripe for judicial adjudication. DcTSHa

Thirteen (13) Members having taken part in the deliberations, and only six (6)
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having voted to grant the motions for reconsideration, said motions should be as they
are hereby DENIED WITH FINALITY, the arguments therein set forth not being su cient
cogency to persuade the requisite majority of the Court to modify or reverse the
Decision of 19 March 1997.
The separate opinions of Davide, Puno, Francisco and Hermosisima, JJ., are also
hereto attached.

Separate Opinions
DAVIDE, JR., J., separate opinion:

This treats of the motions for the reconsideration of our decision of 19 March
1997 led separately by the private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa, the
O ce of the Solicitor General for the public respondent COMELEC and by private
respondent Jesus Delfin.
The Pedrosas raised the following "jurisdictional and constitutional grounds" in
support of their motion:
1. THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF R.A. 6735 NOT HAVING BEEN DRAWN
INTO ISSUE IN THIS CASE. THE HONORABLE COURT OVERSTEPPED
CONSTITUTIONAL BOUNDARIES WHEN IT PROCEEDED TO EXERCISE
THE POWER OF JUDICIAL REVIEW.
2. THE HONORABLE COURT VIOLATED THE DOCTRINE OF SEPARATION OF
POWERS WHEN IT CONDEMNED R.A. NO. 6735 AS FATALLY FLAWED
ON GROUNDS OTHER THAN CONSTITUTIONAL INFIRMITY.
3. THE ADEQUACY OR SUFFICIENCY OF R.A. NO. 6735 AS A LEGISLATIVE
MEASURE TO IMPLEMENT SECTION 2, ARTICLE XVII OF THE
CONSTITUTION IS A POLITICAL QUESTION NOT REVIEWABLE BY
THIS HONORABLE COURT.
4. HAVING OPENLY RECOGNIZED THE LEGISLATIVE INTENT OF R.A. NO.
6735 AS EMBRACING THE PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE TO AMEND THE
CONSTITUTION, THE HONORABLE COURT HAS THE
CONSTITUTIONAL DUTY TO EFFECTUATE, AND NOT TO DEFEAT,
SUCH LEGISLATIVE INTENT.
5. SECTION 20 OF R.A. 6735 EMPOWERING THE COMMISSION ON
ELECTIONS TO "PROMULGATE SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS AS
MAY BE NECESSARY TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES OF THIS ACT"
DOES NOT CONSTITUTE UNDUE DELEGATION OF LEGISLATIVE
POWER.
6. MOREOVER, THE PROVISIONS OF COMELEC RESOLUTION 2300 MERELY
REPRODUCE THE PROCEDURES OF INITIATIVE ON THE
CONSTITUTION ALREADY DEFINED UNDER R.A. 6735. THE
PROCEDURES WERE NOT LEGISLATED BY COMELEC RESOLUTION
2300. R.A. 6735 INSTALLED THE PROVISIONS.
7. THE RIGHT OF PRIVATE RESPONDENTS ALBERTO AND CARMEN
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PEDROSA TO CONDUCT A SIGNATURE DRIVE FOR PEOPLE'S
INITIATIVE IS A RIGHT GRANTED BY THE CONSTITUTION AND
CANNOT THEREFORE BE ENJOINED.
The OSG, on its part, argued in this wise:
I. REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6735 CAN NOT BE DECLARED INEFFECTIVE BECAUSE
OF THE COURT'S PERCEPTION THAT IT IS INCOMPLETE,
INADEQUATE OR WANTING IN ESSENTIAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS.
II. ASSUMING REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6735 CAN BE DECLARED INEFFECTIVE
ON THE GROUND THAT IT IS INCOMPLETE, INADEQUATE OR IT
LACKS ESSENTIAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS, IT IS THE
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS THAT SHOULD DO SO UNDER THE
DOCTRINE OF PRIMARY JURISDICTION.
III. THE DECISION UNDULY RESTRICTED THE SCOPE OF SECTION 2,
ARTICLE XVII OF THE CONSTITUTION WHEN IT HELD THAT THE
IMPLEMENTING LAW MUST CONTAIN "DETAILS FOR CARRYING OUT
INITIATIVE ON THE CONSTITUTION."
IV. REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6735 IS SUFFICIENT AND ADEQUATE TO
IMPLEMENT SECTION 2, ARTICLE XVII OF THE CONSTITUTION.
V CONGRESS IS NOT GUILTY OF UNLAWFUL DELEGATION OF POWER.
Respondent Jesus Del n, who thought it imperative to le his motion to open
"the door to where the weight of the Dissenting Opinions may yet move the Honorable
Justices in the Majority, to reconsider their stand against the adequacy of R.A. No.
6735, especially," limited the grounds of his motion to the following:
I. THAT, COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300 CANNOT BE VOIDED UNDER
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE.
II. THAT, R.A. NO. 6735, AS INTENDED TO INCLUDE THE SYSTEM OF
INITIATIVE ON AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION,
ADEQUATELY COVERS THE SYSTEM.
III. THAT, COMELEC DID NOT ACT WITHOUT OR IN EXCESS OF ITS
AUTHORITY. DHcSIT

In the Resolution of 22 April 1997, we required petitioners and intervenors to le


their separate consolidated comments to these motions for reconsideration.
In their consolidated comments, petitioners urge us to deny the motions for
reconsideration, contending:
I
Respondents' motion for reconsideration do not raise new issues and should be
dismissed for being pro forma
II
A people's initiative to lift term limits is not an amendment, but a revision of the
entire Constitution
III
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This Honorable Court's ruling on the inadequacy of Republic Act No. 6735 to
cover a Constitutional Initiative is a valid exercise of the Power of Judicial Review and is
not a political question
IV
Republic Act No. 6735 is not the enabling act referred to by the Constitution to
Implement a Constitutional Initiative since it contradicts major provisions of the
Constitution on a Constitutional initiative
V
The assumption of jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of this petition despite a
pending petition in the Commission on Elections is valid
VI
Comelec Resolution No. 2300 is void for being an undue delegation of legislative
powers.
In their consolidated comment led on 9 May 1997, intervenors Demokrasya-
Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon (DIK) and Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood
Integrity and Nationalism (MABINI) tendered but "one response" to the ve grounds
enumerated by the O ce of the Solicitor General, viz., "the law is inadequate and the
delegation was insu cient;" and "to say that the law is inadequate is just another way
of saying that no su cient standards of delegation were set by the fallible lawmaker
and courts cannot supply that lack," thus this Court properly declared the law
incomplete. They further contended that since the law provided no su cient standards
for a valid delegation of power, COMELEC could not remedy the de ciency; neither did
it have the authority to legislate the procedure for the people's initiative on
Constitutional amendments. Finally they claimed that "the complex proposal of lifting
term limits overhauls a basic philosophy of the Constitution, effecting the policy of no
re-election, and possibly, the synchronization of elections, and the proscription of
dynasties and increasing one's pay while in public-o ce . . . which can only be threshed
out in a deliberative constituent assembly or convention, not in a popular initiative."
In his consolidated comment likewise led on 9 May 1997, intervenor Raul S.
Roco characterized our directive that COMELEC dismiss the Del n Petition as
upholding the Rule of Law "in its full majesty," and deemed our "decisive pronouncement
on the jurisdictional issue" as an a rmance of "the correct state of law." However, he
disagreed with our ruling that R.A. No. 6735 was inadequate and ineffective, and urged
us to re-examine the same because it is "restrictive and all too-sweeping." He submitted
that the law "merely repeated, as it was in implementation of the Constitution;" that the
consensus in the CONCOM that the initiative process be made "more rigorous and
di cult" pertained only to the signature requirements; that Congress was justi ed in
delegating the rule-making powers to the COMELEC, especially as the latter's law-
making powers were derived from the Constitution itself, as recognized in Gallardo v.
Tabamo (218 SCRA 252 [1993]); and that "in refusing to effectuate R.A. No. 6735
because of its perceived insu ciency or incompleteness," we have "created a third
specie of invalid laws, a mongrel type of constitutional but inadequate and, therefore,
invalid law."
In its consolidated comment; intervenor Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino
(LABAN) enumerated grounds in support of its opposition to the motions for
reconsideration:
I
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UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE 1973 CONSTITUTION THE HONORABLE
SUPREME COURT VALIDLY EXERCISED ITS JURISDICTION IN TAKING COGNIZANCE
OF THE SUBJECT PETITIONS FOR PROHIBITION AND EXERCISING PRIMARY
JURISDICTION OVER THE SAME DcCIAa

II
THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT'S RULING THAT RA 6735 IS INSUFFICIENT
AND DEFECTIVE AND THEREFORE CANNOT BE THE VALID SOURCE OF SUBORDINATE
LEGISLATION NOR A VALID BASIS FOR A PETITION FOR A PEOPLE'S INITIATIVE TO
AMEND THE CONSTITUTION IS INADEQUATELY JUSTIFIED BY THE RIGOROUS
REQUIREMENTS FOR AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION, AS MANDATED BY THE
1987 CONSTITUTION ITSELF.
III
THE PETITION FILED BY PRIVATE RESPONDENT DELFIN IS DEVOID OF ANY
CAUSE OF ACTION NOT HAVING COMPLIED WITH THE SPECIFIC 12% SIGNATORY
REQUIREMENTS LAID DOWN IN SECTION 2 OF ARTICLE XVII OF THE 1987
CONSTITUTION, THUS THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT WAS CORRECT IN
PROHIBITING COMELEC FROM TAKING COGNIZANCE OF HIS PETITION.
Finally, in its consolidated comment, intervenor Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) moved for the denial of the motions for reconsideration, contending that the
arguments in support thereof were but a mere rehash of those already raised and no
compelling argument had been presented to justify a reversal of the 19 March 1997
decision; that the Court's judicial power, encompassing as it does the power to declare
laws unconstitutional, likewise includes the power to declare a statute incomplete; and
that Section 8 of R.A. No. 6735, in setting the initiative or referendum at not earlier than
45 days but not later than 90 days from the determination by the COMELEC of the
su ciency of the petition, contradicts the mandatory period of not earlier than 60 days
nor later than 90 days as set forth in Section 4 of Article XVII of the Constitution.
Before coming to grips with the arguments raised in the motions for
reconsideration, certain observations must initially be made on petitioners' insistence in
their consolidated comment that the Del n proposals cannot be the subject of initiative
since they would involve revision, of not mere amendments to the Constitution; and on
intervenor Roco's plea that we re-examine our ruling that insofar as initiative on
Constitutional amendments is concerned, R.A. No. 6735 is inadequate and, therefore,
ineffective. Our 19 March 1997 decision considered premature any discussion on and
resolution of the issue of whether or not lifting term limits constituted a revision of or
mere amendment to the Constitution considering our holding that R.A. No. 6735 was
inadequate or insu cient and therefore, ineffective; and that COMELEC Resolution No.
2300 was void insofar as its provisions on initiative on Constitutional amendments
were concerned. The latter ruling simply meant that the Del n Petition led with the
COMELEC was devoid of legal basis. A resolution then on whether the proposals for
initiative contained therein, i.e., the lifting of term limits for certain elective o cials,
would involve revision of or merely amendments to the Constitution would be for the
nonce an exercise in futility or a rendition of a declaratory judgment. We rule on that
issue at an appropriate time.
In any event, these grievances of petitioners and intervenor Roco could have been
the subject of a motion for reconsideration. Unfortunately, since none of them sought
reconsideration within the reglementary period, the decision of 19 March 1997 had
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long become nal as to them. They cannot be heard on said grievances nor permitted
to obtain a partial reconsideration of the decision by way of the motions for
reconsideration filed by the adverse parties.
We now take up the grounds in the motions for reconsideration.
I
The arguments in support of grounds III and IV of the OSG's motion; grounds 5
and 6 of the Pedrosa's motion; and grounds I, II and III of Del n's motion, are not new.
Except for the apparent attempt to recast their arguments in a different light and
language, said arguments are mere reiterations of those previously raised.
II
Grounds I and II of the OSG's motion; and grounds 1, 2 and 3 of the Pedrosa's
motion, admittedly, present novel theories. However, movants conveniently overlooked
that during the 23 January 1997 hearing of this case, they acceded, unquali edly, to a
discussion on the first two issues in this case, viz.:
1. Whether R.A. No. 6735, entitled An Act Providing for the 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 speci c provisions on the
conduct of such initiative.
Thereafter, they vigorously argued their case within the parameters of these issues,
expounding thereon with all the spirit and vigor that their knowledge of constitutional
law and mastery of language could summon. cTADCH

Without a doubt, these two issues call for the exercise of judicial power, which,
unfortunately, the OSG seeks to unduly restrict by its miscomprehension of the second
paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. Said paragraph does not purport
to encompass the totality of judicial power; it merely states what the concept includes.
The paragraph reads:
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.

Contrary to the claim of the Pedrosas, these two issues do, in fact, raise the issue
of the constitutionality of R.A. No. 6735. At its core lays the principle of non-delegation
of legislative power and the exceptions thereto, both of which are xed and invariable
subjects of constitutional law (Enrique M. Fernando, The Constitution of the Philippines,
second ed. [1977], 161-166; Joaquin Bernas, The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of
the Philippines. A Commentary, 1996 ed., 610-618; Thomas M. Cooley. A Treatise on
the Constitutional Limitations, Vol. 1, Eight Ed. [1927], 224-247). It has been aptly said
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that "[t]he problem of delegation of legislative powers like that of separation of powers
involves constitutional law rather than statutory construction" ( Sutherland on Statutory
Construction, Vol. 1 Third Ed. [1943], Sec. 301, p. 54).
Since a law may be declared unconstitutional where it delegates non-delegable
legislative authority, or that any attempt to do so would be tainted by
unconstitutionality (Fernando, op. cit., 161), then a law which purports to delegate a
delegable legislative power may also be declared unconstitutional or invalid if it fails to
comply with the completeness and "su cient standard" tests. Only courts, in the
exercise of its judicial authority, can determine if a statute has met these tests. ( Pelaez
v. Auditor General, 122 Phil. 965 [1965]; Edu v. Ericta, 35 SCRA 481 [1970]). By arguing
that "the delegation of power to the COMELEC hurdles both the completeness and
su cient standard tests prescribed in Pelaez vs. Auditor General . . . ," the Pedrosas
admit that a constitutional issue is, indeed, involved. Thus, their assertion to the
contrary in their motion for reconsideration is incomprehensible. We do not then
hesitate to state that the stand of the Pedrosas on this point and, we may add, the
overbearing conclusion of intervenor Roco that our ruling on the insu ciency of R.A.
No. 6735 "created a third specie of invalid laws, a mongrel type of constitutional but
inadequate and, therefore invalid laws," only betray an inability to fully grasp the
workings of the principle of non-delegation of legislative powers and exceptions
thereto. Only this inability, coupled with the incapacity to fully understand the
significance and import of our statement in the Decision 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. .
..

could sire what intervenor Roco baptizes as "third specie of invalid laws" or "mongrel."
From the foregoing, the conclusion is inevitable that the theory of the OSG that
COMELEC is vested with the primary jurisdiction to declare the incompleteness or
inadequacy of R.A. No. 6735, and the Pedrosas' belated resort to the "political question"
theory, are outlandish.
III
Ground V of the OSG's motion and grounds 5 and 6 of the Pedrosas' motion are
likewise unfounded. We never held that Congress was guilty of unlawful delegation of
legislative power; in fact we even conceded that "[e]mpowering the COMELEC, an
administrative body exercising quasi-judicial functions, to promulgate rules and
regulations is a [permissible] form of delegation of legislative authority under No. 5
above." What we said, in plain and simple language, was that R.A. No. 6735 failed to
comply with the "completeness" and "su cient standard" tests, hence Section 20 of
R.A. No. 6735 authorizing the COMELEC to promulgate implementing rules could not
cure the in rmity. It is settled that the validity and enforceability of a delegation of rule-
making power hinges upon compliance with the aforementioned tests.
IV
Neither may we succumb to the arguments raised in ground 4 of the Pedrosas'
motion. Although we recognized that "R.A. No. 6735 was, as its history reveals, intended
to cover initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution," we cannot otherwise
read into the statute non-existent provisions in order to make it complete and set forth
therein a su cient standard, and thus validate the delegation of the power to
promulgate implementing rules to the COMELEC. To do so would constitute unabashed
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judicial legislation, an act offensive to the doctrine of separation of powers.
We stated earlier that the issue of delegation of legislative powers is properly a
subject of constitutional law, and not statutory construction. In short, our primary task
was merely to determine if R.A. No. 6735 "hurdled," to use a word used by the Pedrosas,
the "completeness and su cient standard tests" in the investiture of rule-making
powers to the COMELEC relative to initiative on constitutional amendments. When we
then declared it to be inadequate or insu cient in that respect, we simply meant that it
failed to "hurdle" the tests. Put differently, the terms incomplete, inadequate and
wanting in essential details in our challenged Decision have reference to the
"completeness and su cient standard tests," and to none other. The intent then of the
law, which is the concern of statutory construction, is not a su cient guidepost. This
puts to naught for being clearly misplaced, if not irrelevant, the plea that we should give
full life to the intent of the law to include initiative on constitutional amendments, as
well as the warning that to suppress the intent of the law would be tantamount to
determining the wisdom, reasonableness, adequacy or su ciency of the law, a role
exclusively pertaining to the legislature. Accordingly, Nebbia v. New York (291 U.S. 507,
537, 78 L. Ed. 940, 957 [1934]) and Government v. Springer, (50 Phil. 259 [1927]), cited
by Mr. Justice Reynato S. Puno in his Separate Opinion, are inapplicable. Nebbia
involved a New York law establishing a Milk Control Board with the power, among other
things, to " x minimum and maximum retail prices to be charged by stores to
consumers for consumption off the premises where sold," and was challenged under
the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution. While as regards
Springer, simply, it did not involve non-delegation of legislative powers and the tests for
permissible exceptions thereto.
The plea then that we hearken to the intent of R.A. No. 6735 in dealing with
initiative on constitutional amendments, or that we apply a liberal construction to give
life to an intent not so expressed in the statute as passed, is but a ploy to tempt us to
engage in judicial legislation.
The vociferous claim of the sponsor of the bicameral conference committee
report that the consolidated bill covers the initiative on constitutional amendments
would likewise prove unavailing. Such only proved that the intent was present at the
outset, however, it did not answer the question of whether the bill, as passed, was
complete and contained a su cient standard for a valid exercise of subordinate
legislation by the COMELEC. Whether it did could best be resolved by the provisions of
the bill which became R.A. No. 6735. Res ipsa loquitur. If by its provisions the bill or law
is inadequate or insu cient with regard to initiative on constitutional amendments
because it failed to comply with the "completeness and su cient standard tests" one
thousand or more seraphs and cherubs heralding otherwise would be for naught. cIDHSC

V
As to ground no. 7 of the Pedrosas' motion, we need only stress that the system
of initiative on the Constitution under Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution is not
self-executory. The exercise of the right thereunder is dependent upon a valid
implementing law. It follows then that any gathering of signatures for initiative on
Constitutional amendments would, at this time, be an idle ceremony, an exercise in
futility. However, the Pedrosas are not prevented from engaging in that endeavor if they
so wish; precisely, we lifted the temporary restraining order as against them.
Finally, to refute the charge of the OSG in the prefatory statement of its motion,
and that of the Pedrosas in their discussion on ground no. 4, that we committed a
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"terrible volte-face" or "complete turnabout," respectively, from our unanimous decision
in Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority v. COMELEC, et al. (G.R. No. 125416, 26 September
1996), it must be pointed out that said case did not involve initiative on amendments to
the Constitution and, logically, did not rule as it could not, for obvious reasons on
the su ciency of R.A. No. 6735 insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution
is concerned. The charge then is palpably groundless.
I vote then to DENY for utter want of merit, the motions for reconsideration led
by the O ce of the Solicitor General, private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa
and private respondent Jesus Delfin. This denial is FINAL.
PUNO, J., separate opinion:

For resolution are the motions for reconsideration of our Decision dated March
19, 1997 led by the respondents COMELEC, the spouses Pedrosa and Jesus Del n.
The dispositive portion of our Decision states:
"WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered:

a. Granting the instant petition;


b. Declaring RA No. 6735 inadequate to cover the system of initiative on
amendments to the Constitution, and to have failed to provide the su cient
standard for subordinate legislation;

c. Declaring void those parts of Resolution No. 2300 of the COMELEC prescribing
rules and regulations on the conduct of initiative or amendments to the
Constitution; and

d. Ordering the COMELEC to forthwith dismiss the Delfin petition.

The Temporary Restraining Order issued on 18 December 1996 is made


permanent as against the COMMISSION but is lifted as against private
respondents."

T h e respondent COMELEC, thru the Solicitor General, invoked the following


grounds for reconsideration:
"1. Republic Act No. 6735 cannot be declared ineffective because of the Court's
perception that it is incomplete, inadequate or wanting in essential terms and
conditions;

2. Assuming Republic Act No. 6735 can be declared ineffective on the ground that
it is incomplete, inadequate or it lacks essential terms and conditions, it is the
COMELEC that should do so under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction.

3. The Decision unduly restricted the scope of Section 2, Article XVII of the
Constitution when it held that the implementing law must contain details for
carrying out initiative on the Constitution.
4. Republic Act No. 6735 is su cient and adequate to implement Section 2,
Article XVII of the Constitution.

5. Congress is not guilty of unlawful delegation of power."

T h e spouses Pedrosa advanced the following arguments in support of their


motion for reconsideration:
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"1. The constitutionality of R.A. No. 6735 not having been drawn into issue in this
case, the Honorable Court overstepped constitutional boundaries when it
proceeded to exercise the power of judicial review.

2. The Honorable Court violated the doctrine of separation of powers when it


condemned R.A. No. 6735 as fatally awed on ground other than constitutional
infirmity.
3. The adequacy or su ciency of R.A. No. 6735 as a legislative measure to
implement Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution is a political question not
reviewable by this Honorable Court.

4. Having openly recognized the legislative intent of R.A. No. 6735 as embracing
the people's initiative to amend the Constitution, the Honorable Court has the
constitutional duty to effectuate, and not defeat such legislative intent.

5. Section 20 of R.A. 6735 empowering the COMELEC to `promulgate such rules


and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act' does
not constitute undue delegation of legislative power.
6. Moreover, the provisions of COMELEC Resolution 2300 merely reproduce the
procedures of initiative on the Constitution already de ned under R.A. 6735. The
procedures were not legislated by COMELEC Resolution 2300. R.A. 6735 installed
the provisions.
7. The right of private respondents Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa to conduct a
signature drive for people's initiative is a right granted by the Constitution and
cannot therefore be enjoined." DEIHSa

Respondent Del n submitted the following arguments in his motion for


reconsideration:
"1. That, COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 cannot be voided under circumstances of
this case.

2. That, R.A. No. 6735, as intended to include the system of initiative on


amendments to the Constitution, adequately covers the system.
3. That, COMELEC did not act without or in excess of its authority."

On April 22, 1997, the Court required the petitioners and the petitioners-
intervenors to file their consolidated comments on the motions for reconsideration.
Petitioners Santiago, Padilla and Ongpin prayed for the denial of the motions for
reconsideration on the following grounds:
"1. Respondents' motions for reconsideration do not raise new issues and should
be dismissed for being pro-forma.

2. A people's initiative to lift term limits is not an amendment, but a revision of the
entire Constitution.
3. The Honorable Court's ruling on the inadequacy of Republic Act No. 6735 to
cover a constitutional initiative is a valid exercise of the power of judicial review
and is not a political question.
4. Republic Act No. 6735 is not the enabling law referred to by the Constitution to
implement the constitutional initiative since it contradicts major provisions of the
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Constitution on a constitutional initiative.

5. The assumption of jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on this petition despite a


pending petition in the COMELEC is valid.

6. COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is void for being an undue delegation of


legislative powers.

7. The exercise of the right to a people's initiative to amend the Constitution


should be prospective and cannot be used to extend term limits of incumbent
public officials."

Petitioners-intervenors, Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon (DIK) and


Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism (MABINI) also
opposed the motions for reconsideration. They maintained that R.A. No. 6735 is
inadequate and its delegation of power to COMELEC to promulgate rules is insu cient.
They defended the power of this Court to resolve the case at bar without deferring to
the primary jurisdiction of the COMELEC in view of the importance of the issues posed
by the parties. They reiterated their stand that the proposition lifting the term limits of
our elected officials requires a revision of the Constitution.
Petitioner-intervenor, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LABAN) , likewise, moved
for the denial of the motions for reconsideration, They contended:
"1. Under the provisions of the 1973 Constitution the Honorable Supreme Court
validly exercised its jurisdiction in taking cognizance of the subject petitions for
prohibition and exercising primary jurisdiction over the same.

2. The Honorable Supreme Court's ruling that R.A. 6735 is insu cient and
defective and therefore cannot be the valid source of subordinate legislation nor a
valid basis for a petition for a people's initiative to amend the Constitution is
adequately justi ed by the rigorous requirements for amendments to the
Constitution, as mandated by the 1987 Constitution itself.

3. The petition led by private respondent Del n is devoid of any cause of action
not having complied with the speci c 12% signatory requirements laid down in
Section 2 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution. Thus, the Honorable Supreme
Court was correct in prohibiting COMELEC from taking cognizance of his
petition."

Petitioner-intervenor Roco partly joined the petitioners and the other intervenors.
Roco opined that the Court correctly ordered the dismissal of the Del n petition for
failure to comply with the requirements of R.A. No. 6735. Roco, however, urged the
majority to reexamine its ". . . restrictive and all too sweeping judgment that R.A. No.
6735, which was intended to cover initiative or the Constitution, is `inadequate' and,
therefore, ineffective."
Petitioner-intervenor Integrated Bar of the Philippines moved for the denial of the
motions for reconsideration. It claimed that the motions raised no new facts and no
new issues.
The case at bar bristles with constitutional signi cance. At its core is the proper
interpretation of R.A. No. 6735, enacted by the rst Congress after the EDSA revolution,
to implement the provisions of our Constitution empowering the people with the new
right to directly amend the Constitution thru people's initiative. The sharply divided vote
of the Court mirrors its difficulty when it first resolved the case at bar.
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The motions for reconsideration have rekindled the embers of debate on charter
change within and without the Court. The motions are not pro forma for the movants
have raised new and vital issues. For one, the movants have challenged the jurisdiction
of this Court to resolve what they perceive as a political question. For another, the
movants joined by intervenor Roco, contend that the Court cannot refuse to effectuate
laws if they do not violate the Constitution. In effect, they contend that the majority has
expanded the limits of the Court's power of judicial review. It has also allegedly altered
the traditional line separating legislative and judicial powers and has tilted our delicate
system of check and balance too much in favor of the judiciary. They call the Court's
attention to the danger of "judicial dictatorship." In ne, the correct interpretation of the
meaning and nuances of R.A. No. 6735 carries high impact effects on the sovereign
right of our people, the fundamental principle of separation of powers and the capacity
of our Constitution to be a living law. The seriousness and signi cance of these
contentions induced the Court to give the motions for reconsideration what a jurist has
dubbed as the "sobering second thought."
Consistent with my prior stand, I vote to partially grant the motions for
reconsideration that seek a modi cation of our decision holding that "R.A. No. 6735 is
incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative
on amendments to the Constitution in concerned" and "declaring void those parts of
Resolution No. 2300 of the COMELEC prescribing rules and regulations on the conduct
of the initiative or amendment to the Constitution." IAcDET

With due respect to all, I proffer the following catalogue of concerns:


I
The rst overriding concern is the need to recognize the clear intent of Congress
in enacting R.A. No. 6735. In my concurring and dissenting opinion, I quoted extensively
the deliberations of the members of the House of Representatives on H.B. No. 21505
to stress that their intent was to implement the provisions of the 1987 Constitution
giving the people the power to amend our fundamental law thru people's initiative.
Petitioner-intervenor, Roco, one of the principal authors of H.B. No. 21505, con rmed
this intent in all his pleadings in the case at bar. 1 To complete our perspective of the
legislative intent behind R.A. No. 6735, 1 now quote the deliberations of the Senate on
June 8, 1989: 2
"OPENING OF THE SESSION
At 10:23 a.m., the Honorable Jovito R. Salonga, President of the Senate, called the
session to order.

The President. Binubuksan ang pulong ng Senado.


xxx xxx xxx
ROLL CALL

The President. Babasahin ng Kalihim ang talaan ng mga Senador.


The Secretary.
Senator Heherson T. Alvares Present

Senator Edgardo J. Angara Present


Senator Agapito A. Aquino Present
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Senator Juan Ponce Enrile Present

Senator Joseph Ejercito Estrada Present*

Senator Neptali A. Gonzales Present


Senator Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. Present

Senator Ernesto F. Herrera Present


Senator Sotero H. Laurel **

Senator Jose D. Lina, Jr. Absent

Senator Ernesto M. Maceda Present


Senator Orlando S. Mercado Present

Senator John H. Osmea Present


Senator Vicente T. Paterno Present

Senator Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Present*

Senator Santanina T. Rasul Present

Senator Alberto G. Romulo Present


Senator Rene A.V. Saguisag Present**

Senator Leticia Ramos Shahani

Senator Mamintal Abdul J. Tamano Present*

Senator Wigberto E. Taada Present


Senator Victor S. Ziga Present

The President Present


The President. Labimpito ang mga Senador na dumalo sa ating pagpupulong.
Mayroon tayong korum.
xxx xxx xxx

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT


ON SENATE BILL NO. 17/HOUSE BILL NO. 21505

(System of Initiative and Referendum)


Senador Mercado. Madam President, I move for the consideration of the
Conference Committee Report on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 17,
entitled
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND THE
EXCEPTIONS THEREFROM, WHEREBY THE PEOPLE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
UNITS CAN DIRECTLY PROPOSE AND ENACT RESOLUTIONS AND ORDINANCES
OR APPROVE OR REJECT ANY ORDINANCES OR RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE
LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY
and House Bill No. 21505, entitled
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AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND
APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR.
I ask that we recognize Senator Gonzales.

The Presiding Officer [Senator Rasul]. Senator Gonzales is recognized.


SPONSORSHIP SPEECH OF SENATOR GONZALES
(System of Initiative and Referendum)

Senator Gonzales. Mrs. President, under Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution, it
is provided that the Congress shall, as early as possible, provide for a system of
initiative and referendum and the exceptions therefrom whereby the people can
directly propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof
passed by the Congress or local legislative body after the registration of a petition
therefor signed by, at least, ten 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 thereof. EcTaSC

To implement this constitutional provision, one of the early bills led before the
Senate was Senate Bill No. 17, entitled

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND THE


EXCEPTIONS THEREFROM, WHEREBY THE PEOPLE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
UNITS CAN DIRECTLY PROPOSE AND ENACT RESOLUTIONS AND ORDINANCES
OR APPROVE OR REJECT ANY ORDINANCE OR RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE
LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY.

The initiatives and referendum are new tools of democracy; therefore, we have
decided to be cautious in our approach. Hence, 1) we limited initiative and
referendum to the local government units; 2) that initiative can only be exercised
if the local legislative assemblies refuse or fail to act on a proposed ordinance or
resolution; and 3) that initiative cannot be exercised more frequently than once
every year.

Now, this was approved by the Senate. And it is one of the earliest bills approved
by the Senate during the rst regular session. However, it took the House of
Representatives two regular sessions before they could come up with their own
bill implementing the system of initiatives and referendum as called for in the
Constitution. The result is House Bill No. 21505, entitled

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND


APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR.
This, however, is broader than the system of initiative and referendum that is
embodied in Senate Bill No. 17, because it covers the whole range of. 1) the
Constitution; 2) statutes passed by national laws; 3) the enactments of local
legislative bodies. So, because of the variance between the two bills, a Conference
Committee was created. The Conference Committee, after meeting, came to an
agreement to submit a Conference Committee Report, copies of which have been
furnished every Member of this Body.

The result, Madam President, is a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 17 and House
Bill No. 21505. Understandably, the title of House Bill No. 21505 has been
adopted as the title for the consolidated bill. It is An Act Providing for a System of
Initiative and Referendum and Appropriating Funds Therefor.
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Now, under this consolidated bill, Madam President, there are three kinds or
systems of initiative: (1) initiative on the Constitution itself which refers to a
petition proposing amendments to the Constitution. This is expressly provided for
in the system of amendment and revision of the Constitution; (2) initiative on
statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact a national legislation; and
(3) initiative on local legislation which refers to a petition proposing to enact a
regional, provincial, city, municipal or barangay law, resolution or ordinance, as
the case may be.
There are two kinds of referendum under this consolidated bill: (1) referendum on
statutes which refers to a petition to approve or reject an act or law, or part
thereof, passed by Congress; and (2) referendum on local laws.
The provisions of the consolidated bill referring to the initiative on the
Constitution and initiative on statutes, which are national in character, as well as
the provisions on referendum regarding a national legislation, are largely provided
for in House Bill No. 21505. On the other hand, beginning from Section 13 on
page 6 up to Section 23 on page 10 of this Report, this is basically the Senate Bill
No. 17, with the exception of the provision on appropriation. Because, we have to
adopt the provision of the House bill on appropriation.
And so, this has been signed by all the conferees on the part of the Senate and a
majority of the conferees on the part of the House of Representatives. This
morning, Madam President, I was informed that this Conference Committee
Report had already been approved by the House of Representatives.
Therefore, we most respectfully submit this Conference Committee Report and
strongly recommend its approval.
The Presiding Officer [Senator Rasul]. Are there any questions?
The Majority Floor Leader is recognized.
APPROVAL OF CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT ON SENATE BILL NO.
17/HOUSE BILL NO. 21505
Senator Mercado. Madam President, I reiterate my motion for the approval of the
Conference Committee Report.

The Presiding O cer [Senator Rasul]. Are there any objections? [Silence] Hearing
none, the Conference Committee Report is approved.

The following is the full text of the Conference Committee Report on Senate Bill
No. 17/House Bill No. 21505:
CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT
The Conference Committee on the disagreeing provisions of Senate Bill No. 17
entitled

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND THE


EXCEPTIONS THEREFROM, WHEREBY THE PEOPLE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
UNITS CAN DIRECTLY PROPOSE AND ENACT RESOLUTIONS AND ORDINANCES
OR APPROVE OR REJECT ANY ORDINANCE OR RESOLUTION PASSED BY THE
LOCAL LEGISLATIVE BODY

and House Bill No. 21505 entitled

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AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND
APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFROM (sic),

having met, after full and free conference, have agreed to recommend as they do
hereby recommend to their respective Houses the approval of the attached bill in
consolidation of Senate Bill 17 and House Bill 21505 entitled
AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND
APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR
CONFEREES ON THE PART OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
(Sgd.) RAUL S. ROCO

(Sgd.) MAGDALENO M. PALACOL


JOAQUIN M. CHIPECO, JR.
JOSE MA. R. ZUBIRI, JR.

(Sgd.) SALVADOR H. ESCUDERO III


CONFEREES ON THE PART
OF THE SENATE
(Sgd.) NEPTALI A. GONZALES
(Sgd.) AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR.
(Sgd.) AGAPITO A. AQUINO
(Sgd.) JOHN H. OSMEA

(Sgd.) JUAN PONCE ENRILE


AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM, AND
APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR.
I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

SECTION 1. TITLE. This act shall be known as `The Initiative and Referendum
Act.'
SEC. 2. Statement of 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 requirement of this Act is hereby a rmed,
recognized and guaranteed.
SEC. 3. De nition of Terms. For purposes of this Act, the following terms shall
mean:
(a) `Initiative' is the power of the people to propose and enact legislations through
an election called for the purpose. SacTAC

There are three (3) systems of initiative, namely:

a.l Initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing


amendments to the Constitution.
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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.
(b) `Indirect Initiative' is exercise of initiative by the people through a proposition
sent to Congress or the local legislative body for action.
(c) 'Referendum' is the power of the electorate to approve or reject a legislation
through an election called for the purpose. It may be of two classes, namely:

c.1 Referendum on statutes which refers to a petition to approve or reject


an act or law, or part hereof, passed by Congress; and

c.2 Referendum on local law which refers to a petition to approve or reject


a law, resolution or ordinance enacted by regional assemblies and
local legislative bodies.
(d) 'Proposition' is the measure proposed by the voters.
(e) 'Plebiscite' is the electoral process by which an initiative on the Constitution is
approved or rejected by the people.
(f) 'Petition' is the written instrument containing the proposition and the required
number of signatories. It shall be in a form to be determined by and submitted to
the Commission on Elections, hereinafter referred to as Commission.

(g) `Local government units' refers to provinces, cities, municipalities and


barangays.
(h) 'Local legislative bodies' refers to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan,
Sangguniang Panglungsod, Sangguniang Bayan, and Sangguniang Nayon.
(i) 'Local executives' refers to the provincial Governors, City or Municipal Mayors
and Punong Barangay as the case may be.
SEC. 4. Who May Exercise. The power of initiative referendum may be exercised
by all registered voters of the country, autonomous regions, provinces, cities,
municipalities and barangays.

SEC. 5. Requirements. (a) To exercise the power of initiative or referendum, at


least ten per centum (10 percent) of the total number of the registered voters, of
which every legislative district represented by at least three per centum (3 percent)
of the registered voters thereof, shall sign a petition for the purpose and register
the same with the Commission.

(b) A petition for an initiative on the 1987 Constitution must have at least twelve
per centum (12 percent) of the total number of registered voters as signatories, of
which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum (3
percent) of the registered voters therein. Initiative on the Constitution may be
exercised only after ve (5) years from the rati cation of the 1987 Constitution
and only once every five (5) years thereafter.

(c) The petition shall state the following:


c.l contents or text of the proposed law sought to be enacted, approved or
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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 herein;


c.5 signatures of the petitioners or registered voters; and
c.6 an abstract or summary proposition in not more than one hundred
(100) words which shall be legibly written or printed at the top of
every page of the petition.

(d) A referendum or initiative affecting a law, resolution or ordinance passed by


the legislative assembly of an autonomous region, province or city is doomed
(sic) validly initiated if the petition therefor is signed by at least ten per centum
(10 percent) of the registered voters in the province or city, of which every
legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum (3 percent) of
the registered voters therein: Provided, however, That if the province or city is
composed only of one legislative district, then at least each municipality in a
province or each barangay in a city should be represented by at least three per
centum (3 percent) of the registered voters therein.
(e) A referendum or initiative on an ordinance passed in a municipality shall be
deemed validly initiated if the petition therefore is signed by at least ten per
centum (10 percent) of the registered voters in the municipality, of which every
barangay is represented by at least three per centum (3 percent) of the registered
voters therein.
(f) A referendum or initiative on a barangay resolution or ordinance is deemed
validly initiated if signed by at least ten per centum (10 percent) of the registered
voters in said barangay.

SEC. 6. Special Registration. The Commission on Elections shall set a special


registration day at least three (3) weeks before a scheduled initiative or
referendum. DCATHS

SEC. 7 Veri cation of Signatures. The Election Registrar shall verify the
signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters' a davit and voters'
identification cards used in the immediately preceding election.
I. NATIONAL INITIATIVE REFERENDUM
SEC. 8. Conduct and Date of Initiative or Referendum. The Commission shall
call and supervise the conduct of initiative or referendum.
Within a period of thirty (30) days from receipt of the petition, the Commission
shall, upon determining the sufficiency of the petition, publish the same in Filipino
and English at least twice in newspapers of general and local circulation and set
the date of the initiative or referendum which shall not be earlier than forty- ve
(45) days but not later than ninety (90) days from the determination by the
Commission of the sufficiency of the petition.
SEC. 9 Effectivity of Initiative or Referendum Proposition.

(a) The proposition of the enactment, approval, amendment or rejection of a


national law shall be submitted to and approved by a majority of the votes cast
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by all the registered voters of the Philippines.
If, as certi ed to by the Commission, the proposition is approved by a majority of
the votes cast, the national law proposed for enactment, approval, or amendment
shall become effective fteen (15) days following completion of its publication in
the O cial Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. If,
as certi ed by the Commission, the proposition to reject a national law is
approved by a majority of the votes cast, the said national law shall be deemed
repealed and the repeal shall become effective fteen (15) days following the
completion of publication of the proposition and the certi cation by the
Commission in the O cial Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation in the
Philippines.
However, if the majority voter (sic) is not obtained, the national law sought to be
rejected or amended shall remain in full force and effect.
(b) The proposition in an initiative on the Constitution approved by a 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 fteen (15) days after
certification and proclamation by the Constitution.

SEC. 10. Prohibited Measures. The following cannot be the subject of an


initiative or referendum petition:
(a) No petition embracing more than one subject shall be submitted to the
electorate; and
(b) Statutes involving emergency measures, the enactment of which are
speci cally vested in Congress by the Constitution, cannot be subject to
referendum until ninety (90) days after its effectivity.
SEC. 11. Indirect Initiative. Any duly accredited people's organization, as
de ned by law, may le a petition for indirect initiative with the House of
Representatives, and other legislative bodies. The petition shall contain a
summary of the chief purposes and contents of the bill that the organization
proposes to be enacted into law by the legislature.
The procedure to be followed on the initiative bill shall be the same as the
enactment of any legislative measure before the House of Representatives except
that the said initiative bill shall have precedence over other pending legislative
measures on the committee.
SEC. 12. Appeal. The decision of the Commission on the ndings of the
su ciency or insu ciency of the petition for initiative or referendum may be
appealed to the Supreme Court within thirty (30) days from notice thereof.

II. LOCAL INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM


SEC. 13. Procedure in local Initiative. (a) Not less than two thousand (2000)
registered voters in case of autonomous regions, one thousand (1000) in case of
provinces and cities, one hundred (100) in case of municipalities, and fty (50) in
case of barangays, may le a petition with the Regional Assembly or local
legislative body, respectively, proposing the adoption, enactment, repeal, or
amendment, of any law, ordinance or resolution.
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(b) If no favorable action thereon is made by local legislative body within thirty
(30) days from its presentation, the proponents through their duly authorized and
registered representative may invoke their power of Initiative, giving notice thereof
to the local legislative body concerned.
(c) The proposition shall be numbered serially starting from one (1). The
Secretary of Local Government or his designated representative shall extend
assistance in the formulation of the proposition. ESCacI

(d) Two or more propositions may be submitted in an initiative.


(e) Proponents shall have one hundred twenty (120) days in case of autonomous
regions, ninety (90) days in case of provinces and cities, sixty (60) days in case of
municipalities (sic), and thirty (30) days in case of barangays, from notice
mentioned in subsection (b) hereof to collect the required number of signatures.
(f) The petition shall be signed before the Election Registrar, or his designated
representatives, in the presence of a representative of the proponent, and a
representative of the regional assemblies and local legislative bodies concerned
in a public place in the autonomous region or local government unit, as the case
may be. Signature stations maybe established in as many places as may be
warranted.
(g) Upon the lapse of the period herein provided, the Commission on Elections,
through its o ce in the local government unit concerned shall certify as to
whether or not the required number of signatures has been obtained. Failure to
obtain the required number is a defeat of the proposition.
(h) If the required number of signatures is obtained, the Commission shall then
set a date for the initiative at which the proposition shall be submitted to the
registered voters in the local government unit concerned for their approval within
ninety (90) days from the date of certi cation by the Commission, as provided in
subsection (g) hereof, in case of autonomous regions, sixty (60) days in case of
municipalities, and thirty (30) days in case of barangays. The initiative shall then
be held on the date set, after which the results thereof shall be certi ed and
proclaimed by the Commission on Elections.
SEC. 14. Effectivity of Local Propositions. If the proposition is approved by a
majority of the votes cast, it shall take effect fteen (15) days after certi cation
by the Commission as if a rmative action thereon had been made by the local
legislative body and local executive concerned. If it fails to obtain said number of
votes, the proposition is considered defeated.
SEC. 15. Limitations on Local Initiatives. (a) The power of local initiative shall
not be exercised more than once a year.
(b) Initiative shall extend only to subjects or matters which are within the legal
powers of the local legislative bodies to enact.
(c) If at any time before the initiative is held, the local legislative body shall adopt
in toto the proposition presented, the initiative shall be canceled. However, those
against such action may, if they so desire, apply for initiative in the manner herein
provided.
SEC. 16. Limitations Upon Local Legislative Bodies. Any proposition on
ordinance or resolution approved through the system of initiative and referendum
as herein provided shall not be repealed, modi ed or amended, by the local
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legislative body concerned within six (6) months from the date therefrom, and
may be amended, modi ed or repealed by the local legislative body within three
(3) years thereafter by a vote of three-fourths (3/4) of all its members: Provided,
however, that in case of barangays the period shall be one (1) year after the
expiration of the first six (6) months.

SEC. 17. Local Referendum. Notwithstanding the provision of Sec. 4 hereof, any
local legislative body may submit to the registered voters of autonomous region,
provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays for the approval or rejection, any
ordinance or resolution duly enacted or approved.

Said referendum shall be held under the control and direction of the Commission
within sixty (60) days in case of provinces and cities, forty- ve (45) days in case
of municipalities and thirty (30) days in case of barangays.

The Commission shall certify and proclaim the results of the said referendum.
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 of enact the said measure.
IV. FINAL PROVISIONS
SEC. 19. Applicability of the Omnibus Election Code. The Commission is hereby
empowered to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to
carry out the purpose of this Act.

SEC. 20. Rules and Regulations. The Commission is hereby empowered to


promulgate such rules and regulations as maybe necessary to carry out the
purposes of this Act.

SEC. 21. Appropriations. The amount necessary to defray the cost of the initial
implementation of this Act shall be charged against the Contingent Fund in the
General Appropriations Act of the current year. Thereafter, such sums as may be
necessary for the full implementation of this Act shall be included in the annual
General Appropriations Act.
SEC. 22. Separability Clause. If any part or provision of this Act is held invalid
or unconstitutional, the other parts or provisions thereof shall remain valid and
effective.
SEC. 23. Effectivity. This Act shall take effect fteen (15) days after its
publication in a newspaper of general circulation.
Approved."

The Conference Committee Report on Senate Bill No. 17/House Bill No. 21505 was
unanimously approved by the Senate then led by Senator Jovito Salonga as its
President. It cannot be doubted that the intent of the Senate in approving R.A. No. 6735
is to implement the provisions of the Constitution giving the people the power to
initiate and approve amendments to the Constitution. Nor can it be doubted that the
Senate installed in R.A. No. 6735 the procedure to implement this legislative intent. The
Senate that approved R.A. No. 6735 carried the names of some of our more brilliant
legal minds, and some of our most experienced hands in bill drafting. It is di cult to
believe that these distinguished senators allowed R.A. No. 6735 to be approved when it
is so littered with ambiguities as to become incomprehensible, nay, unenforceable.
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II
The second overriding concern is the need to comply with our traditional duty to
interpret R.A. No. 6735 to effectuate its intent. R.A. No. 6735 represents the wisdom
and the will of two co-equal branches of government the Legislative and the
Executive. Due respect to these two branches of government demands that we utilize
all rules of statutory construction to effectuate R.A. No. 6735. It has been the teaching
of this Court for ages that when a law admits of two interpretations, one that will
sustain it and another that will invalidate it, the interpretation that will save the law
should be adopted. cdtai

The simple yet decisive question is whether there is a way to interpret R.A. No.
6735 to save it. Stated otherwise, is the law so badly written that the Court has no
choice but to strike it down as inadequate? Even the gurus of grammar will not suggest
the indefensible idea that our distinguished senators and congressmen who cobbled
R.A. No. 6735 into law were so lacking in draftmanship skills that they wrote a
completely incomprehensible piece of legislation. The running argument between the
majority and minority members of this Court may not have clearly settled the issue of
whether the language of R.A. No. 6735 has adequately expressed the intent of our
lawmakers. At the very least, however, the sparks of the spirited debate show that there
is a way to interpret R.A. No. 6735 in order to save it. The minority view that R.A. No.
6735 is comprehensible enough to be enforceable cannot be dismissed as totally
unfounded, unreasonable, and unrealistic. In truth, the minority view is shared by others
whose honesty of motive cannot be assailed. It is shared by the lawmakers who
enacted R.A. No. 6735 in compliance with their constitutional duty to the people. It is
shared by former President Corazon C. Aquino who signed R.A. No. 6735 into law. And
most important, the COMELEC has never wavered in its position that R.A. No. 6735 is
not incomprehensible, insu cient or inadequate. The COMELEC, under the stewardship
of then Acting Chairperson Haydee Yorac, understood R.A. No. 6735 without any
difficulty. Indeed, the COMELEC promulgated Resolution No. 2300 prescribing the rules
and regulations on the conduct of people's initiative to amend the Constitution. It was
ready then and it is ready now to implement R.A. No. 6735. More than any department,
instrumentality or agency of government, the COMELEC is the most authoritative to
determine whether R.A. No. 6735 is clear and enforceable. Article IX (c) (2) of the
Constitution gave the COMELEC the exclusive power to "enforce and administer all laws
and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum,
and recall." Its long experience and expertise in enforcing our election laws cannot be
doubted and its interpretation of R.A. No. 6735 carries a considerable weight.
To stress once more, there is no question that the intent of R.A. No. 6735 is to
implement the right of the people through initiative to propose amendments to the
Constitution. Its validity is questioned, however, on the ground that its key provisions
relating to what a petition should contain fails to mention constitutional amendments
and appears to be limited to ordinary legislation proposed for enactment; approval or
rejection. (E.g., Sec. 5(c) and subtitle II).
No reason has been advanced why these provisions cannot be construed to
apply to proposed constitutional amendments. No reason has been shown for
restrictively and literally construing these provisions as applicable to ordinary
legislation only. On the other hand, the established rule in the interpretation of statutes
is for courts to seek the legislative intention and give it effect. The inadequacy of a
statute is not a ground for invalidating it. Given the lawfulness of the legislative purpose
to implement the constitutional provision on initiative to amend the Constitution, it is
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not for this Court to say how well the statute succeeds in attaining that purpose. "With
the wisdom of the policy adopted, with the adequacy or practicality of the law enacted
to forward it, the courts are both incompetent and unauthorized to deal." 3
III
The third overriding concern is the need to avoid the danger of over-checking the
power of Congress to make laws which will put in peril the fundamental principle of
separation of powers. The Constitution vested in Congress the power to make laws. 4
The power of Congress to make laws is plenary in nature. The legislature is accorded
the widest latitude in lawmaking to meet the uctuating problems of our people. It
cannot be gainsaid that our legislators are more keenly aware of these problems for
they are in closer contact with our people. They have better access to facts to solve
these problems. They are also expected to respond adequately to our people's
problems for they have to account to the people come election day. A more chastened
recognition of the policy-making role of Congress should compel this Court to exercise
extreme care and caution before imposing any new limitation on its power to make
laws.
From time immemorial, courts have only invalidated laws that offend the
Constitution. The limits of the judicial power to invalidate laws are no longer open to
doubt and debate. In this jurisdiction, as early as 1927 in the seminal case of
Government v. Springer, 5 Mr. Justice Johnson's concurring opinion authoritatively laid
down its metes and bounds, thus:
xxx xxx xxx

"It is conceded by all of the eminent authorities upon constitutional law that the
courts have authority to nally determine what are the respective powers of the
different departments of government.
"The question of the validity of every statute is rst determined by the legislative
department of the Government, and the courts will resolve every presumption in
favor of its validity. Courts are not justi ed in adjudging a statute invalid in the
face of the conclusions of the legislature, when the question of its validity is at all
doubtful. The courts will assume that the validity of a statute was fully
considered by the legislature when adopted. Court will not presume a statute
invalid unless it clearly appears that it falls within some of the inhibitions of the
fundamental laws of the state. The wisdom or advisability of a particular statute
is not a question for the courts to determine. If a particular statute is within the
constitutional power of the legislature to enact, it should be sustained whether the
courts agree or not in the wisdom of its enactment. If the statute covers subjects
not authorized by the fundamental laws of the land, or by the constitution, then
the courts are not only authorized but are justi ed in pronouncing the same illegal
and void, no matter how wise or bene cent such legislation may seem to be.
Courts are not justi ed in measuring their opinions with the opinion of the
legislative department of the government, as expressed in statutes, upon
questions of the wisdom, justice and advisability of a particular law. In exercising
the high authority conferred upon the courts to pronounce valid or invalid a
particular statute, they are only the administrators of the public will, as expressed
in the fundamental law of the land. If an act of the legislature is to be held illegal,
it is not because the judges have any control over the legislative power, but
because the act is forbidden by the fundamental law of the land and because the
will of the people, as declared in such fundamental law, is paramount and must
be obeyed, even by the legislature. In pronouncing a statute illegal, the courts are
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simply interpreting the meaning, force, and application of the fundamental law of
the state." (Case vs. Board of Health and Heiser, 24 Phil. 250, 251.)
DIESHT

The judicial department of the Government may examine every law enacted by
the legislative branch of the Government when the question is properly presented
for the purpose of ascertaining:
(a) Whether or not such law came within the subject matter upon which the
legislative branch of the Government might legislate; and

(b) Whether the provisions of such law were in harmony with the authority given
the legislature.
If the judicial branch of the Government nds (a) that the legislative or executive
branches of the Government had authority to act upon the particular subject, and
(b) that the particular law contained no provisions in excess of the power of such
department and the acts of the executive were within his powers, then that
investigation, or that conclusion, conclusively terminates the investigation by the
judicial department of the Government."
Former Chief Justice Enrique Fernando similarly posits the view that a law can be
invalidated o nly if Congress exceeds the substantive or formal limitations of its
legislative power as spelled out in the Constitution, viz: 6
"The legislative power, while comprehensive, is not unlimited. It cannot be where
constitutionalism prevails. Such limitations may be substantive or formal. They
belong to the former category when they refer to the subject matter of legislation.
They may be either implied or express. Implied substantive limitations are
embodied in such doctrines as the prohibition against the passage of irrepealable
laws, and the prohibition of the delegation of legislative power. The Bill of Rights
embodies such express limitation. Then too there may be other provisions that
limit speci c powers of the National Assembly. An example is the requirement of
uniformity for taxing statutes. Formal limitations refer to the procedural
requirements in the enactment of legislation. Thus, no bill shall become a law
unless it passed three readings on separate days and printed copies thereof in its
nal form have been distributed to the members of the National Assembly three
days before its passage except when the Prime Minister certi es to the necessity
of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency."

In the case at bar, R.A. No. 6735 is not assailed by the majority as
unconstitutional for failure of Congress to follow the substantive requirements of
lawmaking. It even concedes that Congress enacted the law in compliance with its duty
to implement the provision of the Constitution granting the people the right to amend
our fundamental law thru people's initiative. It goes without saying that the subject
matter of R.A. No. 6735 is within the compass of the power of Congress to legislate.
Nor does the majority strike down R.A. No. 6735 on the ground that Congress breached
any of the formal procedural steps in enacting a law. Since it is uncontested that
Congress did not violate any of the substantive or formal requirements of lawmaking in
enacting R.A. No. 6735, this Court has no option but to effectuate the same. This is our
consistent stance in the past. There is no reason to be inconsistent now.
The majority has broken all precedents when it did not nd R.A. No. 6735 as
unconstitutional yet refused to validate it. It relies on a reason unrecognized by existing
jurisprudence, i.e., that Congress inadequately expressed its intent in drafting R.A. No.
6735. In so doing, intervenor Roco observed that this Court "has created a third specie
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of invalid laws, a mongrel type of constitutional but inadequate and, therefore, invalid
law." 7
The Roco observation should raise our antennas. In letting loose this "mongrel"
type of invalid law, the Court has overextended its checking power against Congress.
This mongrel endangers the principle of separation of powers, a touchstone of our
Constitution. The power of Congress to make laws includes the power how to write
laws. The court has the power to review the constitutionality of laws but it has no
authority to act as if it is the committee on style of Congress. The Court has the power
to interpret laws but the principal purpose in exercising this power is to discover and
enforce legislative intent. We should heed the warning of Crawford that if courts ignore
the intent of the legislative, they would invade the legislative sphere and violate the
tripartite theory of government. 8 The balance of power among the executive, legislative
and judicial branches of our government was xed with pinpoint precision by the
framers of our fundamental law. The Constitution did not give the Court the power to
alter this balance especially to alter it in its favor. Unless allowed by the Constitution, a
non-elected court cannot assume powers which will make it more than the equal of an
elected legislature or an elected executive.
IV
The fourth overriding concern is the need to enforce the new provision of the
provision of the Constitution giving our people a direct, participatory role in its
amendment. It is almost trite to state that a good written Constitution has three
essential part. The rst provides the framework of government; the second de nes and
protects the rights of the people against government intrusion; and the third prescribes
the procedure of its amendment. 9
The importance of our constitutional provision on amendment cannot be
overemphasized. Apropos is the reminder of Mr. Justice Frankfurter that a constitution
is an enduring framework of government for a dynamic society and not a code of
lifeless forms. 1 0 For a constitution to be a living law, it ought to be exible in order to
meet the variegated needs of the people as time and circumstance dictate. A
constitution cannot be beyond the touch of change for the vision of its framers cannot
always pierce the veil of the future. To be unremittingly relevant, every constitution
provides a procedure on how it can be amended. The amendatory provision of our
Constitution is thus its safety valve for change without confrontation, for progress
without violence. It is our duty to be liberal in interpreting this amendatory provision, for
if our Constitution fails to take care of the troubles of tomorrow it will become the
sarcophagus of our people's aspirations. The same liberal spirit should guide us in
interpreting R.A. No. 6735 for its purpose is to allow our people to initiate amendments
to our Constitution to meet their changing needs.

V
Petitioners and other intervenors also assail the proposition lifting the term
limits of our elected o cials as an un t subject of a people's initiative to amend the
Constitution. They contend that the proposition will involve a revision of the
constitution and not merely its amendment. There is no necessity to resolve this
particular issue. 1 1 The Court has unanimously ordered the COMELEC to dismiss the
Del n petition. Thus, there is no proposition before the Court lifting any term limit of our
elected officials. Any ruling on the issue will be no more than an advisory opinion which
cannot be rendered by this Court. CIAHDT

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VI
A nal concern. The core issue in this case has been obscured mostly by non-
legal arguments. The plain issue is whether the people should be-given the opportunity
to speak and decide on the need to amend our Constitution. The view that R.A. No.
6735 is not an inadequate law gives them this rare opportunity. There is now a greater
need to know the will of the people considering the con icting claims of many that they
are the vocal chords of the people. The voice of the people should be heard directly and
a deaf ear should be given even to those who will dictate their will on the people on the
erroneous belief that they hold an exclusive franchise on righteousness. It should be
underscored in scarlet that the Court is not pushing for any amendment to the
Constitution. There is yet no telling whether the Constitution will be amended thru
people's initiative. Those who will start a people's initiative have still to hurdle a lot of
legal and extra-legal di culties. They have to comply strictly with the procedure set by
the Constitution, R.A. No. 6735 and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300. They have to
convince the people of the merit of their proposition thru a democratic dialogue. It is
worth noting that acts challenged as subverting the procedural safeguards set to
ascertain the true people's will in recall, referendum, and initiative cases have been
given the strictest scrutiny by this Court. In Garcia vs. COMELEC, 1 2 we voided the rst
recall resolution against the then Governor Enrique Garcia of Bataan for lack of notice
to some members of the Preparatory Recall Assembly. In Angobung vs. COMELEC, et
al., 1 3 we also struck down a recall petition led by less than 25% of the total number of
votes in Tumauini, Isabela. In the case at bar, we unanimously threw out the Del n
petition for failure to follow the procedure set by R.A. No. 6735. More important, the
result of the recent recall election of the mayor of Caloocan city provides us with the
emerging evidence that the people can no longer be manipulated by the unscrupulous
while exercising their sovereign power. The framers of our fundamental law rightly
trusted our people when they gave them the new right to start an initiative to amend the
Constitution. We can do no less.
FRANCISCO, J., separate opinion:

I retain the view I have already expressed in my previous Dissenting and


Concurring Opinion in this case. As to the issue on whether PIRMA's proposals
constitute an amendment or revision of the constitution, here is my view on the matter.
Amendment and revision signify change in the constitutional text. They,
nonetheless, have distinct dissimilarities, thus:
". . . An amendment envisages an alteration of one or a few speci c provisions of
the constitution, and its guiding original intention is to improve speci c parts or to
add new provisions or to suppress existing ones according as addition, or
subtraction might be demanded by existing conditions. In revision, however, the
guiding intention and plan must contemplate a re-examination of the entire
document to determine how and to what extent it should be altered. Whether the
end result of the originally intended revision is in fact a total change of the
constitution or merely an alteration of key provisions, the end product would still
be a revision." 1

In the case at bench, I nd private respondents' proposal as a mere "amendment" and


not a "revision" of the constitution. A cursory reading of private respondents' petition
and its attached petition for initiative in the 1987 Constitution led with the
Commission on Elections envisages the alteration of some speci c provisions of the
constitution all relating to a single subject, i.e., the lifting of the limitation on the term of
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o ce of elected government o cials. As it appears, the guiding original intention of
private respondents is merely to improve on provisions by adding new ones and
suppressing some existing parts thereof. There is nothing from the records to indicate
that private respondents intended to re-examine the entire 1987 Constitution and
determine to what extent should the same be altered. In fact, extant in the records is
the following passage from petitioners' own pleading. Thus:
"12. On several occasions, particularly during the Senate hearing on the people's
initiative conducted jointly by the Committees on Constitutional Amendments,
Revision of Codes and Laws, and Finance on 10 December 1986, private
respondent Pedrosa admitted:
"SEN. ENRILE: Can you state into the record in brief why you are proposing
the amendment of the Constitution and speci cally to effect an
amendment to lift term limits of elective officials of the country?
"MR. PEDROSA: Yes, sir. The PIRMA is up to obtain signatures needed that
we present to a citizen to each district and for all, with a view to holding a
plebiscite and in that plebiscite the question will be put to the people about
lifting term limits on elective officials."

"SEN. FERNAN: One of the reasons behind this amendment, is for you to
see President Ramos run for reelection?

"MR. PEDROSA: Yes, sir. I will admit that that is in fact the . . .
"SEN. FERNAN: You are interested in seeing him continue as President?
"MR. PEDROSA: Yes, in the affirmative." 2

The foregoing is unequivocal. The guiding intention and plan of the prime movers of the
initiative on the constitution is not the re-examination of the entire constitution so as to
fall within the ambit of revision, but an alteration on the term of o ce of elective
officials. Hence, the same pertains to a mere amendment. ISCTcH

Moreover, the proposed amendment appears to be an innocuous alteration.


Indeed, the 1935 Constitution has also undergone a similar alteration when the term of
o ce of the President and Vice-President was changed from six to four years with
allowance for reelection for the President provided the total number of years he served
in o ce did not exceed eight consecutive years. 3 The 1973 Constitution likewise
underwent changes. In 1976, for instance, the following were made: an Interim
Batasang Pambansa was created; the then incumbent president was included as a
member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa; the president was also instituted as the
prime minister; and the president was granted legislative powers through Amendment
No. 6. These drastic innovations in the 1973 Constitution, declared rati ed and in full
force on October 27, 1976, are nothing but amendments. In fact, the Court in Legaspi v.
Minister of Finance 4 a referred to Amendment No. 6 as what itself expresses, i.e., a
mere amendment. In the case at bench, the petition for initiative on the constitution
simply deals with the term of o ce of public o cials. This alteration surely is not as
intricate and as drastic as what was done with the 1973 Constitution.
HERMOSISIMA, JR., J., concurring and dissenting:

"It is one thing to utter a happy phrase from a protected cloister; another to think
under re to think for action upon which great interests depend." So said Justice
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Oliver Wendell Holmes, and so am I guided as I reconsider my concurrence to the
holding of the majority that "R.A. No. 6735 is inadequate to cover the system of
initiative on amendments to the Constitution and to have failed to provide su cient
standard for subordinate legislation" 1 and now interpose my dissent thereto.
At the outset, however, I reiterate my adherence to the position of the majority
that the Del n petition should be dismissed on the ground that, failing to contain names
and/or signatures 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," 2 the Del n petition is fatally defective, being in
violation of Section 2 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution.
In the Motion for Reconsideration led by private respondent Jesus S. Del n,
there was an attempt to befuddle this blatant non-compliance with the constitutional
requirement that the petition to amend the Constitution through a people's initiative
bear the names and/or signatures of at least 12% of all the registered voters in the
country. Private respondent Del n distortedly postulated that the COMELEC, as an
administrative agency, has no judicial authority to cognize any petition to amend the
Constitution through a people's initiative, and that thus, the Del n petition need not
contain the names and/or signatures of at least 12% of all the registered voters, the
same being merely a "request for administrative assistance" which was never intended
to "trigger the inception of jurisdiction to act on a Petition for Initiative to Amend the
Constitution, which certainly it should not . . . because COMELEC does not have such
kind of judicial jurisdiction in matters relating to initiative [and] . . . because the matters
sought for in the pleading . . . are only petty preliminaries which can be done by
COMELEC even before the filing of a Petition for Initiative requiring signatures." 3
Private respondent's contentions, however, border on childish quibbling. There is
no mincing words when it comes to a constitutional prerequisite to the exercise of a
right; the Constitution is plain and unequivocal as to what triggers the proceedings for a
people's initiative to amend the Constitution only "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." Whether
the Del n petition is "a mere request for administrative assistance" or itself already the
"Petition for Initiative to Amend the Constitution," it is undisputedly, by praying for the
setting of time and dates for the signing of the petition by the required percentage of
the registered voters all over the country and for the publication of the "Petition for
Initiative on the Constitution," the petition that sets off the mechanism of a people's
initiative to amend the Constitution. As the petition that triggers the people's initiative
to amend the Constitution, the Del n petition must be signed by the required
percentage of registered voters, or at the least, must contain the names of at least 12%
of all the registered voters in the country and then signed by at least one registered
voter in behalf of all the signatories, as mandated by the Constitution. We cannot and
will never sanction any avoidance of this categorical mandate of the fundamental law of
the land.
There is simply no going around this requirement that the initiatory petition for a
people's initiative to amend the Constitution should contain the names and/or
signatures of at least 12% of all the registered voters in the country. The attempt to do
so, however, is not new to us, it being only recently that we had stricken down a similar
attempt by a losing candidate in a mayoralty election to initiate recall proceedings on
the strength of a petition for recall containing only the name and signature of said
losing candidate, which petition as such is utterly violative of the statutory requirement
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that recall proceedings be initiated by a petition of at least 25% of the total number of
registered voters in the local government unit concerned. This was the case of Mayor
Ricardo M. Angobung v. Commission on Elections En Banc and Atty. Aurora S. de Alban.
4 There we ruled:

"Section 69 (d) of the Local Government Code of 1991 expressly provides that
`recall of any elective . . . municipal . . . o cial may also be validly initiated upon
petition of at least twenty- ve percent (25%) of the total number of registered
voters in the local government unit concerned during the election in which the
local o cial sought to be recalled was elected.' The law is plain and unequivocal
as to what initiates recall proceedings: only a petition of at least 25% of the total
number of registered voters, may validly initiate recall proceedings. We take
careful note of the phrase, `petition of at least twenty- ve percent (25%)' and
point out that the law does not state that the petition must be signed by at least
25% of the registered voters; rather, the petition must be 'of' or by, at least 25% the
registered voters, i.e., the petition must be led, not by one person only; but by at
least 25% of the total number of registered voters. . . . Hence, while the initiatory
recall petition may not yet contain the signatures of at least 25% of the total
number of registered voters, the petition must contain the names of at least 25%
of the total number of registered voters in whose behalf only one person may sign
the petition in the meantime.
We cannot sanction the procedure of the ling of the recall petition by a number
of people less than the foregoing 25% statutory requirement, much less, the ling
thereof by just one person, as in the instant case, since this is indubitably violative
of clear and categorical provisions of subsisting law.

. . . While recall was intended to be an effective and speedy remedy to remove an


o cial who is not giving satisfaction to the electorate . . . it is a power granted to
the people who, in concert, desire to change their leaders for reasons only they, as
a collective, can justify. In other words, recall must be pursued by the people, not
just by one disgruntled loser in the elections or a small percentage of
disenchanted electors. Otherwise, its purposes as a direct remedy of the people
shall be defeated by the ill motives of a few among them whose sel sh resort to
recall would destabilize the community and seriously disrupt the running of
government. DCTSEA

xxx xxx xxx

In the instant case, this court is confronted with a procedure that is unabashedly
repugnant to the applicable law and no less such to the spirit underlying that law.
Private respondent who is a lawyer, knows that Section 69 (d) of the Local
Government Code plainly provides that recall is validly initiated by a petition of
25% of the total number of registered voters. Notwithstanding such awareness,
private respondent proceeded to le the petition for recall with only herself as the
ler and initiator. She claims in her petition that she has, together with many
others in Tumauini, Isabela, lost con dence in the leadership of petitioner. But the
petition does not bear the names of all these other citizens of Tumauini who have
reportedly also become anxious to oust petitioner from the post of mayor. . . .
While the people are vested with the power to recall their elected o cials, the
same power is accompanied by the concomitant responsibility to see through all
the consequences of the exercise of such power, including rising above
anonymity, confronting the o cial sought to be recalled . . . and seeing the recall
election to its ultimate end. The procedure of allowing just one person to le the
initiatory recall petition and then setting a date for the signing of the petition,
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which amounts to inviting and courting the public which may have not, in the rst
place, even entertained any displeasure in the performance of the o cial sought
to be recalled, is not only violative of statutory law but also tainted with an
attempt to go around the law. We can not and must not, under any and all
circumstances, countenance a circumvention of the explicit 25% minimum voter
requirement in the initiation of the recall process." 5

The Del n petition was led and signed by private respondent Del n only. The
Del n petition having prayed for the setting of the time and dates for the signing of the
Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution and for the publication thereof for public
consumption, it is the initiatory pleading for purposes of starting the proceedings for a
people's initiative to amend the Constitution, which initiatory pleading as such should
have contained the names and/or signatures of at least 12% of all the registered voters
in the country. As the Del n petition utterly failed to comply with the constitutional
requirement of voter percentage, it is nothing more than a mere scrap of paper that the
Commission on Elections should have, at rst glance, in whatever capacity, ignored as
surplusage.
Having rejected private respondents' asseverations on the validity of the Del n
petition, I, nonetheless, with as much conviction, realize now that the majority ruling on
the inadequacy of R.A. No. 6735 should be reconsidered.
While I hold in esteem my brother Justice Hilario Davide whose ponencia
established a detailed foundation in support of the interpretation that R.A. No. 6735
does not adequately cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution,
hence my earlier concurrence thereto, I see now that there is an equally compelling and
valid rationale which builds and sustains the interpretation that R.A. No. 6735 is a
substantial compliance on the part of Congress with its constitutional duty and power
to "provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right." 6
The underlying policy of R.A. No. 6735 is the realization of 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, [and] laws, ordinances, or resolution
passed by any legislative body," 7 The subject matter of R.A. No. 6735 clearly includes a
people's initiative to amend the Constitution. Illustrative of this are (1) the de nition of
"initiative" in the said Act as "the power of the people to propose amendments to the
Constitution or to propose and enact legislations through an election called for the
purpose," 8 (2) the enumeration in the same Act of the three (3) systems of initiative
which includes the "initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing
amendments to the Constitution," 9 and (3) the de nition of "plebiscite" as "the electoral
process by which an initiative on the Constitution is approved or rejected by the
people." 1 0
Under the second paragraph of Section 2 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution,
one of the duties and powers of the legislature is to enact a statute that "shall provide
for the implementation of the exercise of [the] right [to amend the Constitution through
a people's initiative]." In pursuance of this constitutional mandate, Congress provided in
R.A. No. 6735 that "a 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,
of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum
(3%) of the registered voters therein." 1 1 Directed by the Constitution to spell out the
limits and parameters, if need there be, as to the exercise of the people's right to
amend the Constitution through initiative proceedings, Congress further provided that
"initiative on the Constitution may be exercised only after ve (5) years from the
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ratification of the 1987 Constitution and only once every five (5) years thereafter." 1 2
Having already laid out the required voter percentage and the limitation as to the
time for the proper exercise of the right to amend the Constitution through a people's
initiative, and having categorically provided that the initiatory petition for a people's
initiative should contain "the proposition and the required number of signatories," 1 3 R.A.
No. 6735 proceeds thus to delegate to the Commission on Elections the power to
determine the form of this initiatory petition. 1 4
R.A. No. 6735 also provides for procedures for the process of verifying the
signatures in the initiatory petition 1 5 and for the conduct of a special registration 1 6
before the scheduled initiative, all apparently in compliance by Congress with its
constitutional duty to provide for the implementation of the exercise of the people's
right to amend the Constitution through initiative proceedings. DEaCSA

The thrust of the majority opinion is that in providing the above policies,
concepts and procedures, Congress nonetheless failed to lay down the su cient
standards by which the Commission on Elections may be validly and effectively guided
in "promulgat[ing] such rules and regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of
[R.A. No. 6735]" 1 7 in the sense that R.A. No. 6735 is inadequate or wanting in the
essential terms and conditions pertinent to the implementation of the people's right to
amend the Constitution through initiative proceedings. Said Act, thus, cannot be
deemed complete and containing su cient standards to serve as valid basis for
subordinate legislation in the form of Comelec Resolution No. 2300.
It is signi cant to note, however, that while the majority declared R.A. No. 6735 to
be so inadequate as to bar the exercise by the people of their right to amend the
Constitution through initiative proceedings, the majority decries the omission by
Congress of only one provision an enumeration of the contents of a petition for
initiative on the Constitution. It bears repeating, however, that Sections 3 (f) and 5 (b) of
R.A. No. 6735, read together, provide that a petition for initiative on the Constitution
must contain the proposition and the required number of signatories, which is at least
12% of the total number of registered voters in the country, of which every legislative
district should be represented by at least 3% of the voters thereof. Undoubtedly, such
constitutes, by any measure, a su cient standard on the basis of which the
Commission on Elections may proceed to formulate the more detailed requirements, if
any, of a petition to amend the Constitution through initiative proceedings.
The majority also pointed out that R.A. No. 6735 does not contain a subtitle
treating solely of the matter of an initiative on the Constitution, but certainly the mere
literal absence of such a subtitle without an explicit mention of what particular
provision should be contained under that subtitle, i.e., what "essential terms and
conditions" are referred to by the majority as indispensable to make R.A. No. 6735
adequate for purposes of a people's initiative on the Constitution, does not make a
good case in support of the majority's postulation that R.A. No. 6735 is insu cient for
said purposes.
More importantly, I humbly submit that R.A. No. 6735 does not have to contain
every detail conceivable in the matter of initiative proceedings for the amendment of
the Constitution and that as it provides for the minimum voter percentage requirement,
the essential requisites in the initiatory petition, the ve-year time limit on the exercise
of the right of initiative on the Constitution, the special registration day prior to the
plebiscite, and the conduct of signature veri cation as to the initiatory petition, R.A. No.
6735 su ciently laid down the necessary minimum standards for a valid and complete
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statute treating of the matter of, among others, the initiative proceedings to amend the
Constitution. R.A. No. 6735 having provided for the basic and indispensable who's,
what's, where's, when's and why's in the matter of the initiative proceedings to amend
the Constitution, the details as to how such proceedings are to be step-by-step
undertaken, are properly left to the Commission on Elections to promulgate in the form
of subordinate legislation. Said commission, after all, is empowered by the Constitution
to "enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of . . .
initiative . . ." 1 8 and by R.A. No. 6735 to "promulgate such rules and regulations as may
be necessary to carry out the purposes of [said] Act." 1 9
Finally, having established that there exists no legal impediment to the reliance
on R.A. No. 6735 to validate an exercise by the people of their right to amend the
Constitution through initiative proceedings, I may as well add, with extreme hesitation,
that while the passionate call for the championing of the people's rights to control their
political destiny, demands a favorable response from this Court, it being the ultimate
defender of the sovereignty of the people, this Court cannot be ultrapopulist as to
indiscriminately stamp its imprimatur to each and every form of "people power"
activism albeit wanting in legal underpinnings. Neither may this court, however,
straitjacket a people's momentum to charter their own political destiny by imposing its
personal additional ingredients as to what makes a perfect statutory mixture, albeit the
finished formulation of a simple, basic concoction that is R.A. No. 6735.
WHEREFORE, I vote to dismiss the Delfin petition.
I vote, however, to declare R.A. No. 6735 as adequately providing the legal basis
for the exercise by the people of their right to amend the Constitution through initiative
proceedings and to uphold the validity of Comelec Resolution No. 2300 insofar as it
does not sanction the ling of the initiatory petition for initiative proceedings to amend
the Constitution without the required names and/or signatures of at least 12% of all the
registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least 3%
of their registered voters therein.
Torres, J., inhibition:

With due respect to my esteemed brethren in the Court, I have spent a


considerable length of time reading the Motions for Reconsideration 1 led by
respondents, in relation to the decision of this Court dated March 19, 1997 in the
above-entitled case. The Motions for Reconsideration aforesaid contains substantial
matters which if considered cannot be taken. lightly by this Court. The challenged
ponencia of Mr. Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. is equally founded on unassailable legal
and jurisprudential premises which singly or collectively, can stand the test of logic and
reasoned judgment.
Petitioners and respondents, however, cross-cross on the lead issue of whether
there is an implementing law which would allow amendments to the Constitution to be
"directly proposed by the people through initiative." Republic Act 6735 is allegedly
"incomplete, inadequate, or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as
initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned."
I will not attempt to scrutinize the merits or demerits of the positions of the
majority and/or minority of this celebrated case at bar. I have, however, noted the
arguments of the movants in support of their positions. ETIDaH

As the parties pay fealty and homage to the Constitution as the nal expression
of the will of the sovereign people, I nd myself not wholly free to participate in the
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resolution of the issues in clear conscience. Probitas verus honor honesty is true
honor. On the jurisprudential level, it was Mr. Justice Conrado Sanchez in Pimentel vs.
Salanga who penned the ethical idiom that "to disqualify or not to disqualify one's self,
is a matter of conscience. (No. L-27934, September 18, 1967). In the same breath, the
Christ-like Indian sage Mohandas Gandhi cautioned that "in matters of conscience, the
law of the majority has no place."
Considering the foregoing, I bet to ABSTAIN from participating in the case at bar.
Narvasa, C.J., Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, and Kapunan, JJ. , voted to
DENY.
Melo, Puno, Mendoza, Francisco, Hermosisima and Panganiban, JJ., voted to
GRANT.
Vitug, J., maintained that the matter was not ripe for judicial adjudication.
Padilla, J., on leave.
Footnotes
* Arrived after the roll.
** On official mission.

PUNO, J., separate opinion:


1. See e.g., pp. 3-17 of Roco's Petition-In-Intervention.
2. Record of the Senate, June 8, 1989, pp. 1461, 1509-1514.

3. Nebbia v. New York, 291 U.S. 502, 537, 78 L. Ed. 940, 957 (1934).
4. Section 1, Article VI of the Constitution.
5. 50 Phil. 259.

6. The Constitution of the Philippines, 2nd ed., pp. 177-178.


7. See page 4 of Roco's Consolidated Comment.
8. Crawford, Statutory Construction, Sec. 158, pp. 244-245; see also Agpalo, Statutory
Construction, 1986 ed., p. 52.
9. Emma Q. Fernando, Philippine Constitutional Law, 1984 ed., p. 2.

10. Faitoute Iron and Steel Co. v. City of Asbury Park, 316 US 502 (1942).
11. People v. Vera, 65 Phil. 56 (1937).
12. G.R. No. 111230, September 30, 1994, 237 SCRA 279.

13. G.R. No. 126576, March 5, 1997.


FRANCISCO, J., separate opinion:
1. Bernas, 1987 Philippine Constitution, 2nd ed., 1992.

2. Petition, p. 4.
3. Art. VII, Secs. 4-5, 1935 Constitution; Mendoza, V., From Mckinley's Instructions to the New
Constitution, Documents on the Philippine Constitutional System, Central Lawbook
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Publishing Co., Inc., 1978, pp. 155-156.
4. 115 SCRA 418, 433. See also: The 1973 Constitution by Bernas, 1983 ed., p. 4.

HERMOSISIMA, JR., J., concurring and dissenting:


1. Paragraph (b) of the dispositive portion of the Majority Decision promulgated on March 19,
1997.
2. Section 2, Article XVII, 1987 Constitution.

3. Motion for Reconsideration dated April 4, 1997 filed by private respondent Delfin, p. 17.
4. G.R. No. 126576, promulgated on March 5, 1997.
5. Mayor Ricardo M. Angobung v. Commission on Elections En Banc and Atty. Aurora S. de
Alban, G.R. No. 126576, March 5, 1997.
6. Section 2, Article XVII, 1987 Constitution.

7. Section 2, R.A. No. 6735.


8. Section 3, paragraph (a), R.A. No. 6735.
9. Section 3, paragraph (a), R.A. No. 6735.

10. Section 3, paragraph (e), R.A. No. 6735.


11. Section 5 (b), R.A. No. 6735.
12. Ibid.
13. Section 3 (f), R.A. No. 6735.

14. Ibid.
15. Section 6, R.A. No. 6735.
16. Section 7, R.A. No. 6735.

17. Section 20, R.A. No. 6735.


18. Section 2 (1), Article IX-C, 1987 Constitution.
19. Section 20, R.A. No. 6735.

Torres, J., inhibition:


1. On 3 April 1997 by private respondents Spouses Alberto and Carmen Pedrosa, dated 3 April
1997 (Rollo, 899-919), and expanded by their "Additional Argument in Support of the
Motion for Reconsideration" dated and filed 4 April 1997 (Id., 920-925).
On 4 April 1997, by the O ce of the Solicitor General (OSG) for public respondent Commission
on Elections (COMELEC), dated 4 April 1997 (Id., 825-897);and
On 8 April 1997, by private respondent Jesus Delfin, dated 4 April 1997 (Id., 930-951).

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