You are on page 1of 6

Gonzales vs Comelec the extent that this view may be inconsistent with the stand taken in

Mabanag vs. Lopez Vito,16 the latter should be deemed modified


FACTS: This case is composed of consolidated cases filed separately accordingly. The Members of the Court are unanimous on this point.
by Petitioner Gonzalez and PHILCONSA assailing for the declaration
of nullity of RA. No. 4913 and R.B.H. No. 1 and 3. On March 16, 1967, Pursuant to this provision, amendments to the Constitution may be
the Senate and the House of Representatives passed the following proposed, either by Congress, or by a convention called by Congress
resolutions (Resolution of Both Houses/R.B.H.): for that purpose. In either case, the vote of "three-fourths of all the
members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives voting
1. R.B.H No. 1: Proposes that Sec 5, Art VI of Constitution be amended separately" is necessary. And "such amendments shall be valid as part
so as to increase the membership of the House of Representatives from of" the "Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at
a maximum of 120 in accordance with the present Constitution, to a an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for
maximum of 180, to be apportioned among several provinces and that their ratification."
each province shall have at least one (1) member.
In the cases at bar, it is conceded that the R. B. H. Nos. 1 and 3 have
2. R.B.H. No. 2: Calls for a convention to propose amendments to the been approved by a vote of three-fourths of all the members of the
Constitution, which will be composed of two (2) elective delegates Senate and of the House of Representatives voting separately. This,
from each representative district, to be "elected in the general elections notwithstanding, it is urged that said resolutions are null and void
to be held on the second Tuesday of November 1971. because:
3. R.B.H. No. 3: Proposes that Sec 16, Art VI of the Constitution be 1. The Members of Congress, which approved the proposed
amended so as to authorize Senators and Members of the House of amendments, as well as the resolution calling a convention to propose
Representatives to become delegates to the aforementioned amendments, are, at best, de facto Congressmen;
constitutional convention, without the need to forfeit their respective
seats in Congress. 2. Congress may adopt either one of two alternatives propose —
amendments or call a convention therefore but may not avail of both
Subsequently, Congress passed a bill, which became RA No. 4913, — that is to say, propose amendment and call a convention — at the
providing that the amendments to the Constitution proposed in the same time;
aforementioned Resolutions No. 1 and 3 be submitted, for approval by
the people at the general elections on November 14, 1967. This act 3. The election, in which proposals for amendment to the Constitution
fixes the date and manner of elevtion for the proposed amendments to shall be submitted for ratification, must be a special election, not a
be voted upon by the people, and appropriates funds for said election. general election, in which officers of the national and local
governments — such as the elections scheduled to be held on
Petitioners assail the validity/constitutionality of RA No. 4913 and for November 14, 1967 — will be chosen; and
the prohibition with preliminary injunction to restrain COMELEC
from implementing or complying with the said law. PHILCONSA also 4. The spirit of the Constitution demands that the election, in which
assails R.B.H No. 1 and 3. proposals for amendment shall be submitted to the people for
ratification, must be held under such conditions — which, allegedly,
Ruling: Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose do not exist — as to give the people a reasonable opportunity to have
amendments thereto is not included in the general grant of legislative a fair grasp of the nature and implications of said amendments.
powers to Congress.10 It is part of the inherent powers of the people
— as the repository of sovereignty in a republican state, such as ours11 Imbong vs Comelec
— to make, and, hence, to amend their own Fundamental Law.
Congress may propose amendments to the Constitution merely FACTS:Manuel Imbong and Raul Gonzales, filing separate cases and
because the same explicitly grants such power.12 Hence, when both interested in running as candidates for delegates to the
exercising the same, it is said that Senators and Members of the House Constitutional Convention, question the constitutionality of R.A. No.
of Representatives act, not as members of Congress, but as component 6132, claiming that it prejudices their rights as such candidates. On
elements of a constituent assembly. When acting as such, the members March 16, 1967, the Congress, acting as a Constituent Assembly,
of Congress derive their authority from the Constitution, unlike the passed Res. No. 2 which called for a Constitutional Convention which
people, when performing the same function,13 for their authority does shall have two delegates from each representative district. On June 17,
not emanate from the Constitution — they are the very source of all 1969, the Congress passed Resolution No. 4 amending Resolution No.
powers of government, including the Constitution itself . 2 by providing that the convention shall be composed of 320 delegates
with at least two delegates from each representative district. On August
Since, when proposing, as a constituent assembly, amendments to the 24, 1970, the Congress, acting as a legislative body, enacted R.A. 6132,
Constitution, the members of Congress derive their authority from the implementing Res Nos. 2 and 4 and expressly repealing R.A 4914
Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily, that they do not have the which previously implemented Res. No. 2. Gonzales assails the
final say on whether or not their acts are within or beyond validity of Sections 2, 4, 5, and par. 1 of 8(a), and the entire law, while
constitutional limits. Otherwise, they could brush aside and set the Imbong questions the constitutionality of par. 1 of Sec. 8(a) of said
same at naught, contrary to the basic tenet that ours is a government of R.A. 6132.
laws, not of men, and to the rigid nature of our Constitution. Such
rigidity is stressed by the fact that, the Constitution expressly confers Ruling: Without first considering the validity of its specific provisions,
upon the Supreme Court,14 the power to declare a treaty we sustain the constitutionality of the enactment of R.A. No. 6132 by
unconstitutional,15 despite the eminently political character of treaty- Congress acting as a legislative body in the exercise of its broad law-
making power. making authority, and not as a Constituent Assembly, because —

In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress — acting


as a constituent assembly — violates the Constitution essentially
justiciable, not political, and, hence, subject to judicial review, and, to
1. Congress, when acting as a Constituent Assembly pursuant to Art. 1. The power of the Interim Batasang Pambansa to propose its
XV of the Constitution, has full and plenary authority to propose amendments and how it may be exercised was validly obtained. The
Constitutional amendments or to call a convention for the purpose, by 1973 Constitution in its Transitory Provisions vested the Interim
a three-fourths vote of each House in joint session assembled but National Assembly with the power to propose amendments upon
voting separately. Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4 calling for a constitutional special call by the Prime Minister by a vote of the majority of its
convention were passed by the required three-fourths vote. members to be ratified in accordance with the Article on Amendments
similar with the interim and regular national assembly. 15 When,
2. The grant to Congress as a Constituent Assembly of such plenary therefore, the Interim Batasang Pambansa, upon the call of the
authority to call a constitutional convention includes, by virtue of the President and Prime Minister Ferdinand E. Marcos, met as a
doctrine of necessary implication, all other powers essential to the constituent body it acted by virtue of such impotence.
effective exercise of the principal power granted, such as the power to
fix the qualifications, number, apportionment, and compensation of the 2. Petitioners assailed that the resolutions where so extensive in
delegates as well as appropriation of funds to meet the expenses for the character as to amount to a revision rather than amendments. To
election of delegates and for the operation of the Constitutional dispose this contention, the court held that whether the Constitutional
Convention itself, as well as all other implementing details Convention will only propose amendments to the Constitution or
indispensable to a fruitful convention. Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4 entirely overhaul the present Constitution and propose an entirely new
already embody the above-mentioned details, except the appropriation Constitution based on an ideology foreign to the democratic system, is
of funds. of no moment, because the same will be submitted to the people for
ratification. Once ratified by the sovereign people, there can be no
3. While the authority to call a constitutional convention is vested by debate about the validity of the new Constitution. The fact that the
the present Constitution solely and exclusively in Congress acting as a present Constitution may be revised and replaced with a new one ... is
Constituent Assembly, the power to enact the implementing details, no argument against the validity of the law because 'amendment'
which are now contained in Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4 as well as in R.A. includes the 'revision' or total overhaul of the entire Constitution. At
No. 6132, does not exclusively pertain to Congress acting as a any rate, whether the Constitution is merely amended in part or revised
Constituent Assembly. Such implementing details are matters within or totally changed would become immaterial the moment the same is
the competence of Congress in the exercise of its comprehensive ratified by the sovereign people."
legislative power, which power encompasses all matters not expressly
or by necessary implication withdrawn or removed by the Constitution 3. That leaves only the questions of the vote necessary to propose
from the ambit of legislative action. And as long as such statutory amendments as well as the standard for proper submission. The
details do not clash with any specific provision of the constitution, they language of the Constitution supplies the answer to the above
are valid. questions. The Interim Batasang Pambansa, sitting as a constituent
body, can propose amendments. In that capacity, only a majority vote
4. Consequently, when Congress, acting as a Constituent Assembly, is needed. It would be an indefensible proposition to assert that the
omits to provide for such implementing details after calling a three-fourth votes required when it sits as a legislative body applies as
constitutional convention, Congress, acting as a legislative body, can well when it has been convened as the agency through which
enact the necessary implementing legislation to fill in the gaps, which amendments could be proposed. That is not a requirement as far as a
authority is expressly recognized in Sec. 8 of Res No. 2 as amended by constitutional convention is concerned. Further, the period required by
Res. No. 4. the constitution was complied as follows: "Any amendment to, or
revision of, this Constitution shall be valid when ratified by a majority
5. The fact that a bill providing for such implementing details may be
of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not later than three
vetoed by the President is no argument against conceding such power
months after the approval of such amendment or revision." 21 The
in Congress as a legislative body nor present any difficulty; for it is not
three resolutions were approved by the Interim Batasang Pambansa
irremediable as Congress can override the Presidential veto or
sitting as a constituent assembly on February 5 and 27, 1981. In the
Congress can reconvene as a Constituent Assembly and adopt a
Batasang Pambansa Blg. 22, the date of the plebiscite is set for April
resolution prescribing the required implementing details.
7, 1981. It is thus within the 90-day period provided by the
Occena vs Comelec Constitution.

FACTS: Petitioner Samuel Occena and Ramon A. Gozales instituted a Tolentino vs Comelec
prohibiting proceedings against the validity of three batasang
FACTS:
pambansa resolutions (Resolution No. 1 proposing an amendment
allowing a natural-born citizen of the Philippines naturalized in a The 1971 Constitutional Convention came into being by virtue of two
foreign country to own a limited area of land for residential purposes resolutions of the Congress approved in its capacity as a constituent
was approved by the vote of 122 to 5; Resolution No. 2 dealing with assembly convened for the purpose of calling a convention to propose
the Presidency, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, and the National amendments to the Constitution. After election of delegates held on
Assembly by a vote of 147 to 5 with 1 abstention; and Resolution No. November 10, 1970, the Convention held its inaugural session on June
3 on the amendment to the Article on the Commission on Elections by 1, 1971. In the morning of September 28, 1970, the Convention
a vote of 148 to 2 with 1 abstention.) The petitioners contends that such approved Organic Resolution No. 1 which is entitled as, "A
resolution is against the constitutions in proposing amendments: RESOLUTION AMENDING SECTION 1 OF ARTICLE V OF THE
CONSTITUTION SO AS TO LOWER THE VOTING AGE TO 18."
ISSUE: Whether the resolutions are unconstitutional?
On September 30, 1971, the COMELEC "resolved" to follow the
HELD: In dismissing the petition for lack of merit, the court ruled the mandate of the Convention, that it will hold the said plebiscite together
following: with the senatorial elections on November 8, 1971 .

Petitioner, Arturo Tolentino, filed a petition for prohibition, its main


thrust being that Organic Resolution No. 1 and the necessary
implementing resolutions subsequently approved have no force and Constitution, which confines the right of suffrage to those citizens of
effect as laws in so far as they provide for the holding of a plebiscite the Philippines 18 years of age and above.
co-incident with the senatorial elections, on the ground that the calling
and holding of such a plebiscite is, by the Constitution, a power lodged The Solicitor General contends that petitioners have no standing to sue,
exclusively in Congress as a legislative body and may not be exercised and that the issue raised is political in nature – and thus it cannot be
by the Convention, and that, under Article XV Section 1 of the 1935 reviewed by the court. The Solicitor General also asserts that at this
Constitution, the proposed amendment in question cannot be presented state of the transition period, only the incumbent President has the
to the people for ratification separately from each and all other authority to exercise constituent power; the referendum-plebiscite is a
amendments to be drafted and proposed by the Constitution. step towards normalization.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Organic Resolution No. 1 of the 1971 Province if North Cotabato vs GRP
Constitutional Convention violative to the Constitution.
Facts: President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in line with the
HELD:NO. All the amendments to be proposed by the same government‘s policy of pursuing peace negotiations with the Moro
Convention must be submitted to the people in a single "election" or Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), asked Prime Minister Mahathir
plebiscite. In order that a plebiscite for the ratification of a Mohammad to convince the MILF to continue negotiating with the
Constitutional amendment may be validly held, it must provide the government. MILF, thereafter, convened its Central Committee and
voter not only sufficient time but ample basis for an intelligent decided to meet with the Government of the Republic of the
appraisal of the nature of the amendment per se but as well as its Philippines (GRP). Formal peace talks were held in Libya which
relation to the other parts of the Constitution with which it has to form resulted to the crafting of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement on Peace
a harmonious whole. (Tripoli Agreement 2001) which consists of three (3) aspects: a.)
security aspect; b.) rehabilitation aspect; and c.) ancestral domain
In the present context, where the Convention has hardly started aspect. Various negotiations were held which led to the finalization of
considering the merits, if not thousands, of proposals to amend the the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD).
existing Constitution, to present to the people any single proposal or a The said memorandum was set to be signed last August 5, 2008. In its
few of them cannot comply with this requirement. body, it grants ―the authority and jurisdiction over the Ancestral
Domain and Ancestral Lands of the Bangsamoro to the Bangsamoro
Sanidad vs Comelec Juridical Entity (BJE). The latter, in addition, has the freedom to enter
into any economic cooperation and trade relation with foreign
FACTS: On September 2, 1976, President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued
countries. ―The sharing between the Central Government and the BJE
Presidential Decree No. 991 to call for a national referendum on
of total production pertaining to natural resources is to be 75:25 in
October 16, 1976 through the so-called Citizens Assemblies
favor of the BJE. The MOA-AD further provides for the extent of the
(“barangays”). Its primary purpose is to resolve the issues of martial
territory of the Bangsamoro. It describes it as ―the land mass as well
law (as to its existence and length of effectivity).
as the maritime, terrestrial, fluvial and alluvial domains, including the
On September 22, the president issued another proclamation (P.D. aerial domain and the atmospheric space above it, embracing the
1033) to specify the questions that are to be asked during the Mindanao-Sulu-Palawan geographic region. With regard to
referendum on October 16. The first question is whether or not the governance, on the other hand, a shared responsibility and authority
citizen wants martial law to continue, and the second one asks for the between the Central Government and BJE was provided. The
approval on several proposed amendments to the existing Constitution. relationship was described as ―associative. With the formulation of
the MOA-AD, petitioners aver that the negotiation and finalization of
The COMELEC was vested with the exclusive supervision and control the MOA-AD violates constitutional and statutory provisions on public
of the national referendum in October 16. consultation, as mandated by Executive Order No. 3, and right to
information. They further contend that it violates the Constitution and
Father and son, Pablo and Pablito Sanidad filed for prohibition with
laws. Hence, the filing of the petition.
preliminary injunction to enjoin the COMELEC from holding and
conducting the Referendum Plebiscite on October 16, and to declare Ruling:While the President does not possess constituent powers as
without force and effect Presidential Decree Nos. 991 and 1033, those powers may be exercised only by Congress, a Constitutional
insofar as they propose amendments to the Constitution. Convention, or the people through initiative and referendum she may
submit proposals for constitutional change to Congress in a manner
Another petitioner, Vicente Guzman filed for prohibition with
that does not involve the arrogation of constituent powers.
preliminary injunction, asserting that the power to propose
amendments or revisions of the Constitution during the transition Since, under the present Constitution, the people also have the power
period is expressly conferred to the interim National Assembly under to directly propose amendments through initiative and referendum, the
Section 16, Article XVII of the Constitution. President may also submit her recommendations to the people, not as
a formal proposal to be voted on in a plebiscite similar to what
Another set of petitioners, Raul Gonzales and Alfredo Salapantan
President Marcos did in Sanidad, but for their independent
sought to restrain the implementation of Presidential Decrees relative
consideration of whether these recommendations merit being formally
to the forthcoming Referendum-Plebiscite of October 16. They assert
proposed through initiative.
that the incumbent President cannot act as a constituent assembly to
propose amendments to the Constitution and a referendum-plebiscite It will be observed that the President has authority, as stated in her oath
is untenable under the Constitutions of 1935 and 1973. of office,[178] only to preserve and defend the Constitution. Such
presidential power does not, however, extend to allowing her to change
The submission of the proposed amendments in such a short period of
the Constitution, but simply to recommend proposed amendments or
time for deliberation renders the plebiscite a nullity. To lift Martial
revision. As long as she limits herself to recommending these changes
Law, the President need not consult the people via referendum; and
and submits to the proper procedure for constitutional amendments and
allowing 15-.year olds to vote would amount to an amendment of the
revision, her mere recommendation need not be construed as an FIRST: Contrary to the assertion of COMELEC, Section 2 of the Act
unconstitutional act. does not suggest an initiative on amendments to the Constitution. The
inclusion of the word “Constitution” therein was a delayed
The foregoing discussion focused on the Presidents authority to afterthought. The word is not relevant to the section which is silent as
propose constitutional amendments, since her authority to propose new to amendments of the Constitution.
legislation is not in controversy. It has been an accepted practice for
Presidents in this jurisdiction to propose new legislation. One of the SECOND: Unlike in the case of the other systems of initiative, the Act
more prominent instances the practice is usually done is in the yearly does not provide for the contents of a petition for initiative on the
State of the Nation Address of the President to Congress. Moreover, Constitution. Sec 5(c) does not include the provisions of the
the annual general appropriations bill has always been based on the Constitution sought to be amended, in the case of initiative on the
budget prepared by the President, which for all intents and purposes is Constitution
a proposal for new legislation coming from the President.
THIRD: No subtitle is provided for initiative on the Constitution. This
Santiago vs Comelec conspicuous silence as to the latter simply means that the main thrust
of the Act is initiative and referendum on national and local laws. The
FACTS: In 1996, Atty. Jesus Delfin filed with COMELEC a petition argument that the initiative on amendments to the Constitution is not
to amend Constitution, to lift term limits of elective officials, by accepted to be subsumed under the subtitle on National Initiative and
people’s initiative. Delfin wanted COMELEC to control and supervise Referendum because it is national in scope. Under Subtitle II and III,
said people’s initiative the signature-gathering all over the country. the classification is not based on the scope of the initiative involved,
The proposition is: “Do you approve of lifting the term limits of all but on its nature and character.
elective government officials, amending for the purpose Sections 4 )
and 7 of Article VI, Section 4 of Article VII, and Section 8 of Article National initiative – what is proposed to be enacted is a national law,
8 of Article X of the 1987 Philippine Constitution?” Said Petition for or a law which only Congress can pass.
Initiative will first be submitted to the people, and after it is signed by
at least 12% total number of registered voters in the country, it will be Local initiative – what is proposed to be adopted or enacted is a law,
formally filed with the COMELEC. ordinance or resolution which only legislative bodies of the
governments of the autonomous regions, provinces, cities,
COMELEC in turn ordered Delfin for publication of the petition. municipalities, and barangays can pass.
Petitioners Sen. Roco et al moved for dismissal of the Delfin Petition
on the ground that it is not the initiatory petition properly cognizable Potestas delegata non delegari potest
by the COMELEC.
What has been delegated, cannot be delegated. The recognized
a. Constitutional provision on people’s initiative to amend the exceptions to the rule are: [1] Delegation of tariff powers to the
Constitution can only be implemented by law to be passed by President; [2] Delegation of emergency powers to the President; [3]
Congress. No such law has been passed.b. Republic Act No. 6735 Delegation to the people at large; [4] Delegation to local governments;
provides for 3 systems on initiative but failed to provide any subtitle and [5] Delegation to administrative bodies.
on initiative on the Constitution, unlike in the other modes of initiative.
COMELEC
This deliberate omission indicates matter of people’s initiative was left
to some future law.c. COMELEC has no power to provide rules and Empowering the COMELEC, an administrative body exercising quasi
regulations for the exercise of people’s initiative. Only Congress is judicial functions, to promulgate rules and regulations is a form of
authorized by the Constitution to pass the implementing law.d. delegation of legislative authority. In every case of permissible
People’s initiative is limited to amendments to the Constitution, not to delegation, there must be a showing that the delegation itself is valid.
revision thereof. Extending or lifting of term limits constitutes a It is valid only if the law (a) is complete in itself, setting forth therein
revision.e. Congress nor any government agency has not yet the policy to be executed, carried out, or implemented by the delegate;
appropriated funds for people’s initiative. and (b) fixes a standard – the limits of which are sufficiently
determinate and determinable – to which the delegate must conform in
ISSUE:
the performance of his functions. Republic Act No. 6735 failed to
Whether or not the people can directly propose amendments to the satisfy both requirements in subordinate legislation. The delegation of
Constitution through the system of initiative under Section 2 of Article the power to the COMELEC is then invalid.
XVII of the 1987 Constitution.
COMELEC RESOLUTION NO. 2300
HELD:
Insofar as it prescribes rules and regulations on the conduct of initiative
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6735 on amendments to the Constitution is void. COMELEC cannot validly
promulgate rules and regulations to implement the exercise of the right
It was intended to include or cover people’s initiative on amendments of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution
to the Constitution but, as worded, it does not adequately cover such through the system of initiative. It does not have that power under
intiative. Article XVII Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution providing for Republic Act No. 6735.
amendments to Constitution, is not self-executory. While the
Constitution has recognized or granted the right of the people to Whether the COMELEC can take cognizance of, or has jurisdiction
directly propose amendments to the Constitution via PI, the people over, a petition solely intended to obtain an order: (a) fixing the time
cannot exercise it if Congress, for whatever reason, does not provide and dates for signature gathering; (b) instructing municipal election
for its implementation. officers to assist Delfin’s movement and volunteers in establishing
signature stations; and (c) directing or causing the publication of the
unsigned proposed Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution.
DELFIN PETITION The Lambino Group’s compliance with RA 6735 limiting initiative
petitions to only one subject.
COMELEC ACTED WITHOUT JURISDICTION OR WITH
GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN ENTERTAINING THE ISSUES: 1. Whether the Lambino Group’s initiative petition complied
DELFIN PETITION. Even if it be conceded ex gratia that RA 6735 is with Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution – NO.
a full compliance with the power of Congress to implement the right
to initiate constitutional amendments, or that it has validly vested upon 2. Whether the Court should revisit its ruling on Santiago v.
the COMELEC the power of subordinate legislation and that COMELEC which declared RA 6735 “incomplete, inadequate, or
COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 is valid, the COMELEC acted wanting in essential terms and conditions” to implement the initiative
without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion in entertaining clause proposals to amend the Constitution – NO
the Delfin Petition.
3. Whether the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in
The Delfin Petition does not contain signatures of the required number denying due course to the Lambino Group’s petition – NO.
of voters. Without the required signatures, the petition cannot be
RATIO: 1. The Lambino Group failed to comply with Section 2,
deemed validly initiated. The COMELEC requires jurisdiction over a
Article XVII of the Constitution.
petition for initiative only after its filing. The petition then is the
initiatory pleading. Nothing before its filing is cognizable by the a. The petition is not directly proposed by the people.
COMELEC, sitting en banc.
The Lambino Group’s Initiative does comply with the requirement that
Since the Delfin Petition is not the initiatory petition under RA6735 the amendment be “directly proposed by the people upon a petition”
and COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, it cannot be entertained or given because the Lambino group failed to present the full text of the
cognizance of by the COMELEC. The petition was merely entered as proposed changes to the Constitution to the signatories and thus it
UND, meaning undocketed. It was nothing more than a mere scrap of cannot be assumed that the signatories had knowledge of the full nature
paper, which should not have been dignified by the Order of 6 and effect of the changes they were supporting. Given that the Initiative
December 1996, the hearing on 12 December 1996, and the order first gathered signatures without showing the full text of the proposed
directing Delfin and the oppositors to file their memoranda to file their amendments, it can be seen as a “gigantic fraud on the people.”
memoranda or oppositions. In so dignifying it, the COMELEC acted
without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion and merely While Section 2, Article XVII does not explicitly state that the full text
wasted its time, energy, and resources. Therefore, Republic Act No. of proposed amendments to the constitution should be presented to the
6735 did not apply to constitutional amendment. people before they sign the petition, as shown on the record of the
deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, it was the intent of the
Lambino vs Comelec framers that an amendment is “directly proposed by the people through
initiative upon a petition” only if the people sign on a petition that
FACTS: On August 25, 2006, the Lambino Group filed a petition with
contains the full text of the proposed amendments.
the COMELEC to hold plebiscite that will ratify their initiative petition
under Section 5(b) and (c) and Section 7 of RA 6735. The Lambino A signature requirement would be meaningless if the signatories have
Group claims that their petition has the support of 6,327,952 not first been informed of the full extent of the proposal he/she is
individuals satisfying the requirement that the signatories of the signing, and that the attachment of the full text proposal would provide
petition constitute 12% of all registered voters with each legislative the assumption that people would be informed in their decision
district represented by at least 3% of its registered voters. The Lambino whether to sign or not.
Group’s initiative petition modifies Sections 1-7 of Article VI and
Sections 1-4 of Article VII of the Constitution and adds Article XVIII Moreover, the signature sheet submitted by the Lambino Group to the
entitled ‘Transitory Provisions” to it shifting the country’s form of Court does not contain the full text of the proposed changes to the
government from Bicameral-Presidential to Unicameral- Constitution; instead, the signature sheet merely asks whether the
Parliamentary. Days later, the Lambino Group filed an amended people approve a shift from a Bicameral-Presidential to a Unicameral-
petition with the COMELEC. However, the COMELEC issued its Parliamentary system of government.
resolution denying due course to the Lambino Groups’s petition
The petitioners alleged that they circulated the draft of their 30 August
invoking Santiago v. Commission on Elections, which found RA 6735
2006 amended petition during the signature gathering from February
as inadequate, in stating that there is no enabling law governing
to August 2006, having the Court believe that they prepared their
initiative petitions such as that of the Lambino Group to amend the
amended petition almost seven months earlier in February 2006 and
Constitution. The Lambino Group is petitioning for the issuance of
even before they filed their 25 August 2006 petition. While Aumentado
writs of certiorari and mandamus to set aside the COMELEC
gives as evidence ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02, as proof that the
Resolution of August 31, 2006 and to compel the COMELEC to give
amended petition was circulated six months before the petitions were
due course to their initiative petition. The petitioners and supporting
filed, ULAP Resolution No. 2006-02 does not authorize petitioner
intervenors hold the view that COMELEC committed grave abuse of
Aumentado to prepare the petitions, rather, it only states that ULAP
discretion in relying on Santiago. Opposing intervenors maintain that
“supports the proposals of the Consultative Commission on Charter
Santiago is a binding precedent and they also challenge:
Change” which are vastly different from the proposals of the Lambino
The Lambino Group’s standing to file the petition Group, thus the ULAP Resolution does not establish that the Lambino
Group circulated the draft of the petition.
The validity of the signature gathering and verification process
There is inconsistency in the story of the Lambino Group as it was first
The Lambino Group’s compliance with Section 2, Article XVII of stated that they circulated both the 25 August 2006 petion and the 30
the Constitution The nature of the proposed changes as revisions and August 2006 amended petion; however, Atty. Lambino later changed
not mere amendments. the story stating that only the amended petition was circulated.
Even with the assumption that the amended petition was indeed The prosed changes by the Lambino Group significantly alter the basic
circulated while the signatures were being gathered it could still be plan of government as it would effectively alter the separation of
concluded that there would not be enough copies of the petition for all powers through the abolition of the Office of the President and merging
the signatories to see. As per Atty. Lambino’s own admission only of the legislative and executive, and alter the system of checks and
100,000 copies could be confirmed to have been printed as these were balances within the legislature through the abolition of one chamber of
printed by Lambino himself. Assuming that each signature sheet, Congress.
which had space for 10 signatures, was attached with a copy of the
petition, there would be enough copies for only 1 million people, far Under both quantitative and qualitative tests, the Lambino Group’s
from the 6,327,952 signatures gathered by the Lambino Group. proposed changes constitute a revision and not simply an amendment
as it “radically alters the framework of government set forth in the
Having proved that majority of the signatories were not able to see the Constitution.
full text of the of the proposed changes proposed signing, they could
not have known the full nature and effect of the proposed changes The Court states that since the proposed changes constitute a revision
which include three controversial amendments: The lifting of term and would require far-reaching amendments in not just the specified
limits on the members of the legislature. articles and provisions but also in several others, a deliberative body
with recorded proceedings would be the best vehicle to undertake
The interim Parliament will continue to function indefinitely until it them, as was intended by the framers and is stated in the constitution,
decides to call for parliamentary elections thus enabling its members and not a people’s initiative.
to determine when they will end their term.
2. There is no need to revisit the Court’s ruling in Santiago since an
Within 45 days after the proposed changes, the interim Parliament affirmation or reversal of the said ruling would not change the outcome
will convene to propose further amendments to the constitution. of this petition.

This provision is determined by the Court to be totally unrelated to the Even if it is assumed RA 6735 is valid, contrary to the ruling in
stated objective of the initiative and is considered logrolling. Santiago, the outcome of the Lambino Group’s petition would not
change since before referring to RA 6735 a petition must first comply
Logrolling refers to the incorporation of an unrelated subject matter in with Section 2, Article XVII, and as was previously established, it does
the same petition thus creating two propositions within one petition not.
thus putting the people in a dilemma where since they can only say yes
or no to the whole petition they cannot agree to one proposition without The Lambino Group’s petition also does not comply with RA 6735.
also agreeing to the other. Indeed, It violates Section 5(b) of RA 6735 requiring that the
signatories, consistitng of 12% of the total number of registered voters,
Logrolling confuses and even deceives the people. sign the petition since it has already been established that the 6 million
signatories only signed a signature sheet and not the petition itself.
While Atty. Lambino states that this provision is not necessary and
should thus be ignored, the Court does not agree since this provision It also violates Section 10(a) of RA 6735, which states that no more
could effectively invalidate the whole exercise of the people’s than 1 subject can be embraced by a petition, through its provision
initiative as through this provision the interim Parliament could, in which mandates the interim Parliament to propose further amendments
theory, propose amendments not agreed upon by the signatories of the which as determined earlier is unrelated to the subject of a shift from
initial petition. presidential to parliamentary form of government.
b. People’s initiative can only be done for constitutional amendments 3. The COMELEC did not commit a grave of abuse of discretion in
and not revisions. dismissing the Lambino Group’s Initiative petition.
Based on the deliberations of the Constitutional Commission, the Since the COMELEC merely followed the Court’s ruling in Santiago,
framers intentionally made a distinction between amendments and the Commission did not gravely abuse its discretion.
revisions. It was the intent, as is written, that only Congress or a
constitutional convention can propose revisions while a people’s
initiative is limited only to the proposal of amendments.

A revision implies a change that alters a basic principle in the


constitution while amendment refers to a change that adds, reduces, or
deletes, without altering the basic principle of the constitution. A
change in a single word could already be considered a revision as long
as it overhauls the structure of government and the ideological basis of
the Constitution.

There are two tests to determine whether a change is an amendment or


a revision:

Quantitative test – examines the number of provisions, not the


degree of change, in order to test how extensive the proposed changes
are.

Qualitative test – based on qualitative effects, asks whether the


proposed changes create far reaching changes in the nature of the basic
governmental plan thus amounting to a revision.