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The Constitution of the Philippines

The Constitution of the Philippines

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the Philippine constitution
the Philippine constitution

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Published by: jisang on Sep 01, 2010
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TheConstitution of the Philippines (
Saligang Batas ngPilipinas
inFilipino) is the supremelaw of the Philippines.The Philippines has undergone severalconstitutions since the declaration of independence in1898. The Constitution currently in effect waspromulgated in 1987
, and is popularly known as the"1987 Constitution".
It was formulated following theascendancy of Corazon Aquinoto the presidencyin 1986.Background of the 1987 ConstitutionIn 1986, following theEDSA Revolution of 1986whichoustedFerdinand Marcosas president, and following onher own inauguration, Corazon Aquino issued Proclamation No. 3, declaring a national policy toimplement the reforms mandated by the people,protecting their basic rights, adopting a provisionalconstitution, and providing for an orderly translation toa government under a new constitution.
PresidentAquino later issued Proclamation No. 9, creating aConstitutional Commission to frame a new constitutionto replace the 1973Constitution which took effect during the martial law regime imposed by herpredecessor. President Aquino appointed 50 membersto the Commission. The members of the Commissionwere drawn from varied backgrounds, including severalformer senators and congressmen, a formerSupremeCourt Chief Justice (Roberto Concepcion), aCatholic bishop (Teodoro Bacani) and a notedfilm director(Lino Brocka). President Aquino also deliberately appointed 5members, including formerLabor Minister Blas Ople, who had been allied with President Marcos until thelatter's ouster. After the Commission had convened, itelected as its president Cecilia Munoz Palma
, who hademerged as a leading figure in the anti-Marcosopposition following her retirement as the first femaleAssociate Justice of theSupreme Court
, . TheCommission finished the draft charter within fourmonths after it was convened. Several issues wereheatedly debated during the sessions, including on theform of government to adopt, the abolition of thedeathpenalty, the continued retention of theClark  andSubic American military bases, and the integration of economic policies into the Constitution. Brocka wouldwalk out of the Commission before its completion, andtwo other delegates would dissent from the final draft.Nonetheless, a majority of voters approved theConstitution in aplebisciteheld onFebruary 2,1987. Preamble of the 1987 ConstitutionThe Preamble reads:
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploringthe aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establish agovernment that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good,conserve and develop our patrimony and secure to ourselves and our posterity theblessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, doordain and promulgate this Constitution.
, the Preamble or
Kami, ang nakapangyayaring sambayanangPilipino, na humihingi ng tulong saMakapangyarihang Diyos, upang bumuo ngisang makatarungan at makataong lipunan at magtatag ng isang Pamahalaan na kakatawansa aming mga mithiin at mga hangarin,magtataguyod ng kabutihan sa bawat isa,mangangalaga at magpapaunlad ng amingkamanahan, at titiyak para saming sarili at angkanang susunod ng mga biyaya ng kalayaanat demokrasya sa ilalim ng pananaig ng batasat ng pamamahalang puspos ng katotohanan,katarungan, kalayaan, pag-ibig, pagkakapantay-pantay at kapayapaan, ay naglalagda at naghahayag ng Konstitusyongito.
Significant Features of the 1987 ConstitutionThe Constitution establishes the Philippines as a"democratic and republican State", where "sovereigntyresides in the people and all government authorityemanates from them". (Section 1, Article II) Consistentwith the doctrine of  separation of powers
, the powersof the national government are exercised in main bythree branches — theexecutive branch headed by the President, thelegislative branchcomposed of Congress and the  judicial branchwith theSupreme Court  occupying the highest tier of the judiciary. ThePresident and the members of Congress are directlyelected by the people, while the members of theSupreme Court are appointed by the President from alist formed by the  Judicial and Bar Council. As with the American system of government, it is Congress whichenacts the laws
, subject to theveto powerof thePresident which may nonetheless be overturned by2/3rds vote of Congress. (Section 27(1), Article VI) ThePresident has the constitutional duty to ensure thefaithful execution of the laws (Section 17, Article VII),while the courts are expressly granted the power of  judicial review (Section 1, Article VIII), including thepower to nullify or interpret laws. The President is alsorecognized as thecommander-in-chief  of the armed forces. (Section 18, Article VII) The Constitution alsoestablishes limited political autonomy to thelocalgovernment units that act as the municipalgovernments forprovinces
, andbarangays.(Section 1, Article X) Local governments aregenerally considered as falling under the executivebranch, yet local legislation requires enactment by dulyelected local legislative bodies. The The Constitution(Section 3, Article X) mandated that the Congress wouldenact a Local Government Code. The Congress dulyenacted Republic Act No. 7160, The Local GovernmentCode of 1991, which became effective on 1 January
The Supreme Court has noted that the Bill of Rights "occupies a position of primacy in thefundamental law".
 The Bill of Rights, contained inArticle III, enumerates the specific protections againstState power. Many of these guarantees are similar tothose provided in theAmerican constitution and other democratic constitutions, including the due processand equal protection clause,the right againstunwarranted searches and seizures
, the right against self-incrimination, and the right tohabeas corpus.The scope and limitations to these rights have largely beendetermined byPhilippine Supreme Court decisions. Outside of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution alsocontains several other provisions enumerating variousstate policies including, i.e., the affirmation of  labor"as a primary social economic force" (Section 14, Article II);the equal protection of "the life of the mother and thelife of the unborn from conception" (Section 12, ArticleII); the "Filipino family as the foundation of the nation"(Article XV, Section 1); the recognition of Filipinoas"the national language of the Philippines" (Section 6,Article XIV), and even a requirement that "alleducational institutions shall undertake regular sportsactivities throughout the country in cooperation withathletic clubs and other sectors." (Section 19.1, ArticleXIV) Whether these provisions may, by themselves, bethe source of enforceable rights without accompanyinglegislation has been the subject of considerable debatein the legal sphere and within the Supreme Court. TheCourt, for example, has ruled that a provision requiringthat the State "guarantee equal access to opportunitiesto public service" could not be enforced withoutaccompanying legislation, and thus could not bar thedisallowance of so-called "nuisance candidates" inpresidential elections.
 But in another case, the Courtheld that a provision requiring that the State "protectand advance the right of the people to a balanced andhealthful ecology" did not require implementinglegislation to become the source of operative rights.
Historical constitutionsMalolos CongressIt is known as the Constitución política de Malolos andit was written in Spanish.Following the declaration of  independence from Spain
, by the RevolutionaryGovernment, a congress was held inMalolos,Bulacanin 1899 to draw up a constitution. It was the firstrepublican constitution in Asia. The document statesthat the people has exclusive sovereignty. It statesbasic civil rights, separated the church and state, andcalled for the creation of an Assembly of Representatives which would act as the legislativebody. It also calls for a Presidential form of governmentwith the president elected for a term of four years by amajority of the Assembly. The Malolos Constitution
established Spanishas the official language of the Philippines. The Preamble reads:
"Nosotros los Representantes del PuebloFilipino, convocados legítimamente paraestablecer la justicia, proveer a la defensacomún, promover el bien general y asegurar losbeneficios de la libertad, implorando el auxiliódel Soberano Legislador del Universo paraalcanzar estos fines, hemos votado, decretadoy sancionado la siguiente"
(We, the Representatives of the Filipino people,lawfully covened, in order to establish justice, provide for common defense, promote thegeneral welfare, and insure the benefits of liberty, imploring the aid of the SovereignLegislator of the Universe for the attainment of these ends, have voted, decreed, and sanctioned the following)
Commonwealth and Third Republic (1935)
: Seated, left to right:George H. Dern
, Secretary of War; PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt, signing the Constitution of theCommonwealth of thePhilippines
, President,PhilippineSenateThe1935Constitution was written in 1934
, approvedand adopted by the Commonwealth of the Philippines(1935-1946) and later used by the Third Republic of thePhilippines (1946-1972). It was written with an eye tomeeting the approval of theUnited States Government as well, so as to ensure that the U.S. would live up toits promise to grant the Philippines independence andnot have a premise to hold onto its "possession" on thegrounds that it was too politically immature and henceunready for full, real independence.The Preamble reads:
"The Filipino people, imploring the aid of DivineProvidence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promotethe general welfare, and secure to themselvesand their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice,liberty, and democracy, do ordain and  promulgate this constitution."
The original 1935 Constitution provided for unicameralNational Assembly and the President was elected to asix-year term without re-election. It was amendedin 1940to have a bicameral Congress composed of aSenate and House of Representatives, as well thecreation of an independentelectoral commission. TheConstitution now granted the President a four-yearterm with a maximum of two consecutive terms inoffice. A Constitutional Convention was held in1971 to rewrite the 1935 Constitution. The convention wasstained with manifest bribery and corruption. Possibly the most controversial issue was removing thepresidential term limit so that Ferdinand E. Marcoscould seek election for a third term, which many feltwas the true reason for which the convention wascalled. In any case, the 1935 Constitution wassuspended in 1972with Marcos' proclamation of  martial law
, the rampant corruption of the constitutionalprocess providing him with one of his major premisesfor doing so.Second Republic (1943)The1943Constitution was drafted by a committeeappointed by the Philippine Executive Commission
, thebody established by the Japanese to administer thePhilippines in lieu of theCommonwealth of thePhilippines which had established agovernment-in- exile. In mid-1942 Japanese Premier Hideki Tojohad promised the Filipinos "the honor of independence"which meant that the commission would be supplantedby a formal republic. The Preparatory Committee forPhilippine Independencetasked with drafting a newconstitution was composed in large part, of members of the prewar National Assembly and of individuals withexperience as delegates to the convention that haddrafted the 1935 Constitution. Their draft for therepublic to be established under the JapaneseOccupation, however, would be limited in duration,provide for indirect, instead of direct, legislativeelections, and an even stronger executive branch. Uponapproval of the draft by the Committee, the newcharter was ratified in 1943 by an assembly of appointed, provincial representatives of the Kalibapi
, the organization established by the Japanese tosupplant all previous political parties. Upon ratificationby the Kalibapi assembly, the Second Republic wasformally proclaimed (1943-1945). José P. Laurelwasappointed as President by theNational Assemblyandinaugurated into office in October of  1943. Laurel was highly regarded by the Japanese for having openlycriticised the US for the way they ran the Philippinesand because he had a degree fromTokyo InternationalUniversity. The 1943 Constitution remained in force in Japanese-controlled areas of the Philippines, but wasnever recognized as legitimate or binding by thegovernments of theUnited States or of the Commonwealth of the Philippinesand guerrillaorganizations loyal to them. In late 1944, PresidentLaurel declared a state of war existed with the UnitedStates and the British Empire and proclaimed martiallaw, essentially ruling by decree. His government inturn went into exile in December, 1944, first to Taiwanand then Japan.After the announcement of Japan's surrender, Laurel formally proclaimed the SecondRepublic as dissolved. Until the 1960s, the SecondRepublic, and its officers, were not viewed as legitimateor as having any standing, with the exception of theSupreme Courtwhose decisions, limited to reviews of criminal and commercial cases as part of a policy of discretion by Chief Justice  Jose Yulocontinued to be part of the official records (this was made easier by theCommonwealth never constituting a Supreme Court,and the formal vacancy in the chief justice position forthe Commonwealth with the execution of  Jose AbadSantosby the Japanese). It was only during theMacapagal administration that a partial, politicalrehabilitation of the Japanese-era republic took place,with the recognition of Laurel as a former president andthe addition of his cabinet and other officials to theroster of past government officials. However, the 1943charter was not taught in schools and the laws of the1943-44 National Assembly never recognized as valid orrelevant. The Preamble reads:
"The Filipino people, imploring the aid of DivineProvidence and desiring to lead a free national existence, do hereby proclaim their independence, and in order to establish agovernment that shall promote the general welfare, conserve and develop the patrimony of the Nation, and contribute to the creation of aworld order based on peace, liberty, and moral  justice, do ordain this Constitution."
The 1943 Constitution provided strong executivepowers. The Legislature consisted of a unicameralNational Assembly and only those considered as anti-UScould stand for election, although in practice mostlegislators were appointed rather than elected.The New Society and the Fourth Republic (1973)The 1973 Constitution, promulgated after Marcos'declaration of martial law, introduced a parliamentary-style government. Legislative power was vested in aNational Assembly whose members were elected forsix-year terms. The President was elected as thesymbolic head of state from the Members of theNational Assembly for a six-year term and could be re-elected to an unlimited number of terms. Upon election,the President ceased to be a member of the NationalAssembly. During his term, the President was notallowed to be a member of a political party or hold anyother office. Executive power was exercised by thePrime Minister who was also elected from the Membersof the National Assembly. The Prime Ministerwas the head of government and Commander-in-Chief of thearmed forces. This constitution was subsequentlyamended four times (arguably five depending on howone considers Proclamation No. 3 of 1986). The 1973Constitution was amended in 1976 to allow theincumbent president to hold the position of primeminister and president simultaneously and to exerciselegislative powers as well. This allowed Marcos tofurther consolidate his power. A minor amendment in1980 changed the retiring age of judges from 65 to 70years of age. Amendments were done again in1981 which established a semi-parliamentary or (semi-presidential) form of government with a presidentelected by direct vote of the people. Additionally,
executive power was transferred back to the President(who was now the Chief Executive) and the position of Prime Minister was reduced to a minor position.Additionally, the 1981 amendments created anExecutive Committee. Marcos (at least on paper),claimed the end of martial law at about this time andconducted (highly questionable) elections, which heunsurprisingly "won". The last amendments in 1984abolished the Executive Committee and restored theposition of Vice-President (which did not exist in theoriginal, unamended 1973 Constitution). Following theEDSA People Power Revolution that removed PresidentFerdinand E. Marcosfrom office, the new President,Corazon C. Aquinoissued Proclamation No. 3 and theadoption of a provisional constitution that wouldprepare for the next constitution which became the1987 constitution. Presidential Proclamation No. 3,nicknamed the 1986 Freedom Constitution was themost far reaching set of amendments to the 1973constitution that it was almost a constitution in its ownright. However, it is really a large set of amendmentswhich superseded and abolished certain provisionsfrom the constitution. It granted the President certainpowers to remove officials from office, reorganise thegovernment and hold a new constitutional conventionto draft a new constitution.Thepolitical systemin thePhilippinestakes place in an organized framework of a presidential
, representative,and democratic republicwhereby thepresident is both thehead of stateand the head of governmentwithin a pluriform multi-party system. This system revolvesaround three separate and sovereign yetinterdependent branches: the legislative branch (thelaw-making body), the executive branch (the law-enforcing body), and the judicial branch (the law-interpreting body). Executive poweris exercised by the government under the leadership of the president.Legislative power is vested in both the government andthe two-chamber congress -- the Senate(the upper chamber) and the House of Representatives(the lower chamber). Judicial poweris vested in the courts withtheSupreme Court of the Philippinesas the highest judicial body.National Government of the PhilippinesExecutive branchThe executive branch is headed by thePresident
,GloriaMacapagal-Arroyo (party affiliation: Kampi/Lakas-CMD) 20 January 2001, who functions as both the head of  state and the head of government. The president is alsotheCommander-in-Chief of theArmed Forces of the Philippines.The president is elected by popular vote toa term of 6 years. The president, then, appoints (andmay fire) his/hercabinetmembers whom he/shepresides over. The executive seat of government isadministered officially from Malacañang Palace- also the official residence of the president - in the capitalCity of Manila. ThePresidentmay no longer run for re- election, unless he/she becomes president throughconstitutional succession and has served for no morethan 4 years as president. The second highest official,Vice-President Noli de Castro(party affiliation:Lakas- CMD/Independent) 30 June 2004,is also elected by popular vote. The vice-president is second in line tosuccession should the president resign, be impeachedor die in office. The vice-president usually, though notalways, may be a member of the president's cabinet. If there is a vacancy in the position of Vice President, thePresident will appoint any member of Congress (usuallya party member) as new Vice President. Theappointment will be validated by a three-fourths vote of Congress voting separately.Legislative branchPhilippine GovernmentThe bicameral Philippinelegislature,theCongress, consists of the Senateand theHouse of  Representatives
; members of both are elected bypopular vote. TheSenateis elected at large. There arecurrently 24 senators. Of a possible 250 members of theHouse of Representatives
, 206 are elected from thesingle-member districts. The remainder of the Houseseats are designated for sectoral representativeselected at large through a complex "party list" system,hinging on the party receiving at least 2% to 6% of thenational vote total. The upper house is located inPasayCity
, while the lower house is located inQuezon City.The district and sectoral representatives are electedwith a term of three years. They can be reelected butthey are no longer eligible to run for the fourthconsecutive term. The senators elected with a term of six years. They can be reelected but they are no longereligible to run for the third consecutive term. TheHouse of Representatives may opt to pass a resolutionfor a vacancy of a legislative seat that will pave way fora special election. The winner of the special electionwill serve the unfinished term of the previous districtrepresentative and will be considered as one electiveterm. The same rule applies in the Senate however itwill only apply if the seat is vacated before the regularlegislative election. This case applies when SenatorTeofisto Guingona was appointed as Vice Presidentbefore the May 2001 election. Senator GregorioHonasanwas in the 13th position in the Senatorialelection and he served the unfinished term of Guingona. Honasan is no longer eligible to run for the2004 elections. The case did not apply in 1998 whenGloria Arroyo was elected as Vice President and in 2004when Noli de Castro was elected as Vice President.When Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the Presidency, her Lakas-CMD party also regained itsdominant position in Congress. The party leads the 187member Sunshine Coalition composed of several majorand minor parties like her party Lakas-CMD, LiberalParty, Nacionalista Party, Nationalist People's Coalition,PDP-Laban, Aksyon Demokratiko, REPORMA-LM,PROMDI and Others. In addition, she established herown party KAMPI. In the Senate, the pro-administrationcoalition controls 13 of the 24 seats. Members of thePhilippine Congress tend to have weak party loyaltiesand change party affiliation easily. In October 2003, theSunshine Coalition dissolved over Pres.GloriaMacapagal-Arroyo's decision to seek election for thepresidency which she came into by succeeding  JosephEstrada during the EDSA 2Revolution of 2001. Senate President: Manuel VillarSpeaker of the House of  Representatives: Jose de Venecia 
Presidents of theSenate
Offices of the OmbudsmanThe government and all three of its branches areindependently monitored by the Offices of theOmbudsman. The Ombudsman is given the mandate toinvestigate and prosecute any official/s in governmentthat is allegedly guilty of crimes, especiallyGraftandCorruption. The Ombudsman leads a team composed of a sheriff and 6 deputies who lead their respectivedivisions and/or bureaus.Political parties and electionsFor otherpolitical partiesseeList of political parties in the Philippines. An overview onelections and election results is included inElections in the Philippines.
During theAmerican occupation, the Nacionalista Party  (more like the Republicans) was the dominant party at the time. This, however, was interrupted by World WarII
, when during the Japanese occupation, a new party,theKapisanan ng Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (KALIBAPI), was formed. It was the only party that wasallowed to operate during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. After the war, KALIBAPI was abolishedand the Nacionalistas returned to power. However, anew party, theLiberal Party(similar to theDemocrats), was formed after some Nacionalistas led by Jose P.Laurelsplitfrom the original party. This de factotwo-party system was kept until 1972. However, whenFerdinand Marcosdeclared martial law
,he formed hisown monolithic party, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan  (KBL, New Society Movement). The traditional partieswere sidelined. Worse, most of his political opponentswere incarcerated, tortured or even killed. But, amajority of the KBL members were ex-Nacionalistas, ex-Liberals and others. In 1978, Marcos called anelectionto the interim Batasang Pambansaand an opposition party was formed known asLABAN. Among thecandidates then were Benigno Aquino
, Ernesto Maceda,Alex Bongcayao to name a few. During that election,Only Maceda was elected . In 1984, many oppositionparties sprang up. Among them are PDP-LABAN(different from the original LABAN party) of  AquilinoPimentel
, the UNIDO, or the United NationalistDemocratic Organization of Salvador Laurel, the LiberalParty-Kalaw Wing and Lakas ng Bansa. The UNIDOwould later be an umbrella coalition of oppositionagainst Ferdinand Marcos.The Liberal Party-Salonga

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