History of Philippine Constitutions

Malolos Congress
It is known as the La Constitución política de Malolos and was written in Spanish. Following the declaration of independence from Spain by the Revolutionary Government, a congress was held in Malolos, Bulacan in 1899 to draw up a constitution. It was the first republican constitution in Asia. The document declares that the people have exclusive sovereignty. It states basic civil rights, the separation of church and state, and calls for the creation of an Assembly of Representatives which would act as the legislative body. It also calls for a Presidential form of government with the president elected for a term of four years by a majority of the Assembly. The Malolos Constitution established Spanish as the official language of the Philippines. The Preamble reads:

"Nosotros los Representantes del Pueblo Filipino, convocados legítimamente para establecer la justicia, proveer a la defensa común, promover el bien general y asegurar los beneficios de la libertad, implorando el auxilió del Soberano Legislador del Universo para alcanzar estos fines, hemos votado, decretado y sancionado la siguiente"

(We, the Representatives of the Filipino people, lawfully convened, in order to establish justice, provide for common defense, promote the general welfare, and insure the benefits of liberty, imploring the aid of the Sovereign Legislator of the Universe for the attainment of these ends, have voted, decreed, and sanctioned the following)

Commonwealth and Third Republic (1935)

23 March 1935: Seated, left to right: George H. Dern, Secretary of War; President Franklin D. Roosevelt, signing the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Philippines; Manuel L. Quezon, President, Philippine Senate

The 1935 Constitution of the Philippines was written in 1934, approved and adopted by the Commonwealth of the Philippines (1935-1946) and later used by the Third Republic of the Philippines (1946-1972). It was written with an eye to meeting the approval of the United States Government as well, so as to ensure that the U.S. would live up to its promise to grant the Philippines independence and not have a premise to hold on to its "possession" on the grounds that it was too politically immature and hence unready for full, real independence. The Preamble reads:

"The Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty, and democracy, do ordain and promulgate this constitution."

The original 1935 Constitution provides, inter alia, for a unicameral Legislature and a single six-year term for the President. It was amended in 1940 to have a bicameral Congress composed of a Senate and House of Representatives, as well the creation of an independent Commission on Elections. The Constitution limited the President to a four-year term with a maximum of two consecutive terms in office. A Constitutional Convention was held in 1971 to rewrite the 1935 Constitution. The convention was stained with manifest bribery and corruption. Possibly the most controversial issue was removing the presidential term limit so that Ferdinand E. Marcos could seek election for a third term, which many felt was the true reason for which the convention was called. In any case, the 1935 Constitution was suspended in 1972 with Marcos' proclamation of martial law, the rampant corruption of the constitutional process providing him with one of his major premises for doing so.

Second Republic (1943)
The 1943 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines was drafted by a committee appointed by the Philippine Executive Commission, the body established by the Japanese to administer the Philippines in lieu of the Commonwealth of the Philippines which had established a government-in-exile. In mid-1942, Japanese Premier Hideki Tojo had promised the Filipinos "the honor of independence" which meant that the commission would be supplanted by a formal republic.

The Philippine Independence Committee tasked with drafting a new constitution was composed, in large part, of members of the pre-war National Assembly and of individuals with experience as delegates to the convention that had drafted the 1935 Constitution. Their draft for the republic to be established under the Japanese Occupation, however, would be limited in duration, provide for indirect, instead of direct, legislative elections, and an even stronger executive branch. Upon approval of the draft by the Committee, the new charter was ratified in 1943 by an assembly of appointed, provincial representatives of the KALIBAPI, the organization established by the Japanese to supplant all previous political parties. Upon ratification by the Kalibapi assembly, the Second Republic was formally proclaimed (1943-1945). José P. Laurel was appointed as President by the National Assembly and inaugurated into office in October of 1943. Laurel was highly regarded by the Japanese for having openly criticized the U.S. for the way they ran the Philippines and because he had a degree from Tokyo International University. The 1943 Constitution remained in force in Japanese-controlled areas of the Philippines, but was never recognized as legitimate or binding by the governments of the United States or of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and guerrilla organizations loyal to them. In late 1944, President Laurel declared that a state of war existed with the United States and the British Empire and proclaimed martial law, essentially ruling by decree. His government in turn went into exile in December, 1944, first to Taiwan and then Japan. After the announcement of Japan's surrender, Laurel formally proclaimed the Second Republic as dissolved. Until the 1960s, the Second Republic, and its officers, were not viewed as legitimate or as having any standing, with the exception of the Supreme Court whose decisions, limited to reviews of criminal and commercial cases as part of a policy of discretion by Chief Justice Jose Yulo continued to be part of the official records (this was made easier by the Commonwealth never constituting a Supreme Court, and the formal vacancy in the chief justice position for the Commonwealth with the execution of Jose Abad Santos by the Japanese). It was only during the Macapagal administration that a partial, political rehabilitation of the Japanese-era republic took place, with the recognition of Laurel as a former president and the addition of his cabinet and other officials to the roster of past government officials. However, the 1943 charter was not taught in schools and the laws of the 1943-44 National Assembly never recognized as valid or relevant.

The Preamble reads:

"The Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence and desiring to lead a free national existence, do hereby proclaim their independence, and in order to establish a government that shall promote the general welfare, conserve and develop the patrimony of the Nation, and contribute to the creation of a world order based on peace, liberty, and moral justice, do ordain this Constitution."

The 1943 Constitution provided strong executive powers. The Legislature consisted of a unicameral National Assembly and only those considered as anti-US could stand for election, although in practice most legislators were appointed rather than elected.

Fourth Republic (1973)
The 1973 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, promulgated after Marcos' declaration of martial law, provides for a parliamentary form of government. Legislative power was vested in a National Assembly whose members were elected for six-year terms. The President was elected as the symbolic head of state from the Members of the National 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 National Assembly. During his term, the President was not allowed to be a member of a political party or hold any other office. Executive power was exercised by the Prime Minister who was also elected from the Members of the National Assembly. The Prime Minister was the head of government and Commander-inChief of the armed forces. This constitution was subsequently amended three times. On 22 September 1976, President Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1033 proposing amendments to the Constitution, which was later on ratified and included in the 1973 Constitution. The amendments provide, among other things, for the replacement of the National Assembly by the Batasang Pambansa. It also states that the incumbent President of the Philippines shall be the Prime Minister, and shall continue to exercise legislative powers until Martial Law has been lifted. Amendments were done again in 1981 which re-established a parliamentary form of government with a president elected by direct vote of the people. In reality, these amendments had little effect at the time due to the ongoing Marcos dictatorship; however, Marcos did, at least in name, dissolve martial law at about this time and conduct (highly questionable) elections, which he unsurprisingly "won". Presidential

Proclamation No. 3, popularly known as the 1986 Provisional Freedom Constitution, was the most far reaching set of amendments to the 1973 constitution that it was almost a constitution in its own right. However, it is really a large set of amendments which superseded and abolished certain provisions from the constitution. It granted the President certain powers to remove officials from office, reorganize the government and hold a new constitutional convention to draft a new constitution. Following the EDSA People Power Revolution that removed President Ferdinand E. Marcos from office, the new President, Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 3 and the adoption of a provisional constitution that would prepare for the next constitution which became the 1987 constitution.

The Philippine Constitution
The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines (In Filipino: Ang Konstitusyon ng Republika ng Pilipinas), ratified on February 2, 1987, is the fourth fundamental law to govern the Philippines since it became independent on July 4, 1946. First, the 1935 Constitution, which became fully operational after the Inauguration of the Third Philippine Republic. Second, the 1973 Constitution, which was promulgated during Martial Law and became fully operational only after the lifting of Martial Law in 1981. Third, the 1986 Provisional "Freedom" Constitution, which was promulgated on March 25 by President Corazon C. Aquino after the successful People Power Revolution in 1986. [Importance

of the Study

The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines provides that "(1) All educational institutions shall include the study of the Constitution as part of the curricula." As the basic and fundamental law of the land, the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines is the sole instrument that affects the very core of Filipino nationhood, for “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.” In this light, it is imperative that every Filipino, regardless of status and profession, should learn the foundation and operation of his government in order to guarantee a successful Philippine Republic.

History of Philippine Constitutions
The 1897 Constitution of Biak-na-Bato, or Constituciong Halal sa Biak-na-Bato, promulgated by the Philippine Revolutionary Government on November 1, 1897, is the provisionary Constitution of the Philippine Republic during the Revolution against Spain. It provides that the Supreme Council, vested with the supreme power of government, shall conduct foreign relations, war, the interior, and the treasury. The 1899 Political Constitution of the Republic, known as the Malolos Constitution, was approved by President Emilio Aguinaldo on January 21, 1899 and served as the Constitution of the First Philippine Republic. It provides for a parliamentary form of government, but the President, and not a Prime Minister, acts as the head of government. Legislative power is exercised by the Assembly of Representatives of the Nation, and judicial power is lodge in a Supreme Court. The 1935 Constitution of the Philippines, ratified on May 17, 1935, establishes the Commonwealth of the Philippines, defining its powers, composition and organization as it function as the Government of the Philippine Islands. It is based on the principle of separation of powers among the three branches of government. Executive power is vested in the President and shall serve for a single-six year term. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral National Assembly, and judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Court. It also provides that upon proclamation of Philippine Independence, the Commonwealth of the Philippines shall be known as the Republic of the Philippines. The 1939 Amendment -- The amendments liberalized all laws and made few changes on the economic provisions of the Tydings-Mcduffie Law. The 1940 Amendments -- The amendments, by virtue of Resolution No. 73, provide for the establishment of a bicameral Congress, composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives, and limits the term of office of the President to four years, but may continue to serve for a maximum of eight years. The amendment also provides for the creation of a Commission on Elections. The 1947 Amendment -- known as the Parity Amendment, gave Americans equal rights with Filipinos in the exploitation of Philippine Natural resources.

The 1943 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, or the Constitution of the Second Philippine Republic, was ratified by the general assembly of the KALIBAPI. It is based on the system of separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and the judiciary. It served as a temporary constitution, for it stipulated that one year after the end of the World War II, it shall be replaced by a new constitution. The 1973 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, or Ang Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas, ratified by the Citizens Assemblies on January 17, 1973, provides for a shift from a presidential form of government to a parliamentary system. The President serves as a symbolic head of State, executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister with the assistance of the Cabinet, and legislative power is vested in a unicameral National Assembly. In 1976, the National Assembly was replaced by the Batasang Pambansa, by virtue of PD 1033 issued by President Ferdinand Marcos. The 1973 Constitution as amended (amended in 1981 and 1984) provides for a semi-parliamentary form of government, where the President, no longer acts as a symbolic head, but acts as the head of state and the chief executive. The Office of the President has been restored to its original status under the 1935 Constitution. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral Batasang Pambansa. The Prime Minister, who is subordinated to the President, acts as the Head of the Cabinet. The 1986 Provisional Constitution, popularly known as the Freedom Constitution, promulgated by President Corazon C. Aquino on March 25, 1986, was a provisional constitution after a successful People Power Revolution. Under the Freedom Constitution, executive and legislative powers are exercised by the President, and shall continue to exercise legislative powers until a legislature is elected and convened under a new Constitution. Furthermore, the President is mandated to convene a Constitutional Commission tasked to draft a new charter.

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