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POLITICAL LAW PART I

DEFINITIONS & CONCEPTS


1. Define: a. Political Lawis that branch of public law which deals with the organization and
operations of the governmental organs of the State and defines the relations of the State with the
inhabitants of its territory. (PEOPLE VS. PERFECTO, 43 Phil. 887)
b. Constitutional Law
c. Constitution
d. Administrative Law
e. Law of Public Officers
f. Law on Public Corporations
g. Election Law
h. Distinction between Political Law and Constitutional Law
2. Read: MACARIOLA VS. JUDGE ASUNCION, 114 SCRA 77
The provision in the Code of Commerce which prohibits judges, justices, etc., (public officers)
from engaging in business within the territorial jurisdiction of their courts is political in nature and
therefore, said provision was deemed abrogated when there was a change of sovereignty from
Spain to the United States at the turn of the century. Political laws are deemed abrogated if there
is a change of sovereignty and unless re-enacted under the new sovereign, the same is without
force and effect.
3. The Supremacy of the Constitution
Read: 1. MUTUC VS. COMELEC, 36 SCRA 228
2. MANILA PRINCE HOTEL VS. GSIS, 267 SCRA 408
A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation.
It is supreme, imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the authority from which it
emanates. It has been defined as the fundamental and paramount law of the nation. It prescribes
the permanent framework of a system of government, assigns to the different departments their
respective powers and duties, and establishes certain fixed principles on which government is
founded. The fundamental conception in other words is that it is a supreme law to which all other
laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all
public authority administered.
Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the
constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive

branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any
force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of
the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.
Admittedly, some constitutions are merely declarations of policies and principles. Their provisions
command the legislature to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who merely
establish an outline of government providing for the different departments of the governmental
machinery and securing certain fundamental and inalienable rights of citizens. A provision which
lays down a general principle, such as those found in Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, is usually not
self-executing. But a provision, which is complete in itself and becomes operative without the aid
of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which supplies sufficient rule by means of which
the right it grants may be enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus a constitutional provision
is self-executing if the nature and extent of the right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed
by the constitution itself, so that they can be determined by an examination and construction of
its terms, and there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the legislature for
action.
4. Kinds of Constitution
a) written or unwritten
b) rigid and flexible
c) cumulative or conventional
5. AMENDMENT OR REVISION OF THE CONSTITUTION (Art. XVII)
Section 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:
[1] The Congress upon a vote of of all its Members; or
[2] A constitutional Convention.
Section 2. Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people
through initiative upon a petition of at least 12% of the total number of registered voters, of
which every legislative district must be represented by at least 3% of the registered voter therein.
No amendment under this Section shall be authorized within five (5) years following the
ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.
The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
Section 3. The Congress, by a vote of 2/3 of all its members, cal a constitutional convention, or
by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a
convention.

Section 4. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution under Section 1 hereof shall be
valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier
than sixty days nor later than ninety days after the approval of such amendment or revision.
Any amendment under Section 2 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast
in a plebiscite which shall be held not later than ninety days after the certification by the
COMELEC of the sufficiency of the petition.
NOTE: Amendments to, or revision of the Constitution is VALID only when approved by a majority
of the votes cast during the plebiscite, not by the votes of the Members of Congress.
2. Read: R.A. 6735
Requisites for a valid peoples initiative to amend the Constitution; distinctions between
amendment and revision.
RAUL L. LAMBINO and ERICO B. AUMENTADO , together with 6,327,952 registered voters vs.
THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, G.R. No. 174153, October 25, 2006, 505 SCRA 160
Carpio, J.
Facts:
Petitioners filed a Petition for Initiative and Referendum with the COMELEC to amend the 1987
Philippine Constitution, particularly Articles VI and VII to replace the present PresidentialBicameral system of government to Parliamentary-Unicameral system using Section 2, Art. XVII of
the Constitution. Petitioners claim that their petition was signed by 6,327,952 million voters all
over the country and the same constitutes over 12% of all the registered voters in the entire
country and that more than 3% of the registered voters in every legislative district signed the
same in accordance with Section 2, Art. XVII of the Constitution. The petition to change the
Constitution involves sections 1-7 of Article VI; Sections 1-4 of Article VII and an Article XVII
entitled Transitory Provisions. The petitioners prayed with the COMELEC that after due
publication of their Petition, the COMELEC should submit the following proposition in a plebiscite
for the voters ratification:
DO YOU APPROVE THE AMENDMENT OF ARTICLES VI AND VII OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION, CHANGING
THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT FROM THE PRESIDENTIAL BICAMERAL TO A UNICAMERALPARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM, AND PROVIDING ARTICLE XVIII AS TRANSITORY PROVISIONS FOR THE
ORDERLY SHIFT FROM ONE SYSTEM TO THE OTHER?
The COMELEC dismissed the petition citing SANTIAGO VS. COMELEC, 270 SCRA 106 where it was
held that:

RA 6735 intended to include the System of Initiative on Amendments to the Constitution, but is,
unfortunately, Inadequate to cover that system under Section 2, Art. XVII of the Constitution. x x x
.
The foregoing brings us to the conclusion that RA 6735 is incomplete, inadequate or wanting in
essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is
concerned. Its lacunae on this substantive matter are fatal and cannot be cured by empowering
the COMELEC to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry the purposes
of this act.
Considering the said dismissal, petitioners elevated the matter to the Supreme Court on Certiorari
and Mandamus alleging rave abuse of discretion and to set aside the COMELEC Decision and to
compel the latter to give due course to their initiative petition.
The Issues:
1.

WHETHER THE LAMBINO GROUPS PETITION COMPLIES WITH SECTION 2, ARTICLE XVII OF

THE CONSTITUTION ON AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION THROUGH PEOPLES INITIATIVE;


2.

WHETHER THE COURT SHOULD REVISIT ITS RULING IN DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO VS. COMELEC,

DECLARING THAT RA NO. 6735 INCOMPLETE, INADEQUATE OR WANTING IN ESSENTIAL TERMS AND
CONDITIONS TO IMPLEMENT THE INITIATIVE CLAUSE ON PROPOSALS TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION;
and
3.

WHETHER THE COMELEC COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN DENYING DUE

COURSE TO THE LAMBINO GROUPS PETITION.


H E L D:
There is no merit to the petition.
The Lambino group miserably failed to comply with the basic requirements of the Constitution for
conducting a peoples initiative. Thus, there is even no need to revisit Santiago, as the present
petition warrants dismissal based alone on the Lambino Groups glaring failure to comply with the
basic requirements of the Constitution. As such, there is likewise no grave abuse of discretion on
the part of the COMELEC.
Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution is the governing constitutional provision that allows a
peoples initiative to propose amendments to the Constitution. This Section provides:
Section 2. Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be DIRECTLY PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE
through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum (12%) of the total number of

registered voters of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per
centum (3%) of the registered voters therein.
The deliberations of the Constitutional Convention vividly explain the meaning of the amendment
directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition. Thus:
MR. RODRIGO: Let us look at the mechanics. Let us say some voters want to propose a
constitutional amendment. IS THE DRAFT OF THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT READY
TO BE SHOWN TO THE PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE ASKED TO SIGN?
MR. SUAREZ. That can be reasonably assumed, Madam President.
MR. RODRIGO: What does the sponsor mean? The draft is ready and shown to them before they
sign? Now, who prepares the draft?
MR. SUAREZ: The people themselves, Madam PresidentAs it is envisioned, any Filipino can
prepare that proposal and pass it around for signature.
Clearly, the framers of the Constitution intended that the draft of the proposed constitutional
amendment should be ready and shown to the people before they sign such proposal. The
framers plainly stated that before they sign there is already a draft shown to them. The framers
also envisioned that the people should sign on the proposal itself because the proponents must
prepare the proposal and pass it around for signature.
The essence of amendments directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition
IS THAT THE ENTIRE PROPOSAL ON ITS FACE IS A PETITION BY THE PEOPLE. This means two (2)
essential elements must be present:
1.

The people must author and must sign the entire proposal. No agent or representative

can sign for and on their behalf;


2.

As an initiative upon a petition, THE PROPOSAL MUST BE EMBODIED IN A PETITION.

These essential elements are present only if the full text of the proposed amendments is first
shown to the people who will express their assent by signing such complete proposal in a petition.
Thus, an amendment is DIRECTLY PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE UPON A
PETIITON ONLY IF THE PEOPLE SIGN ON A PETITION THAT OCNTAINS THE FULL TEXT OF THE
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS.
The petitioners bear the burden of proving that they complied with the constitutional
requirements in gathering the signaturesthat the petition contained, or incorporated by
attachment, the full text of the proposed amendments.
The Lambino Group did not attach to their present petition a copy of the document containing
the proposed amendments and as such, the people signed initiative petition without knowing
the actual amendments proposed in the said initiative. Instead , the alleged 6.3 million people

who signed the petition had to rely the representations of Atty. Lambino. Clearly, Atty. Lambino
and his group deceived the 6.3 million signatories, and even the entire nation.
2. A peoples initiative to change the Constitution applies only to an amendment of the
Constitution and not to its revision. In contrast, Congress and a Constitutional Convention can
propose both amendments and revisions to the Constitution. This is clear under Section 1 of Art.
XVII of the Constitution.
Where the intent and language of the Constitution under Section 2 of Art. XVIII clearly withhold
from the people the power to propose revisions to the Constitution, the people cannot propose
revisions even as they are empowered to propose amendments. The two are distinguished as
follows:
Revision is the alterations of the different portions of the entire document [Constitution]. It
may result in the rewriting whether the whole constitution, or the greater portion of it, or
perhaps some of its important provisions. But whatever results the revision may produce, the
factor that characterizes it as an act of revision is the original intention and plan authorized to be
carried out. That intention and plan must contemplate a consideration of all the provisions of the
Constitution to determine which one should be altered or suppressed or whether the whole
document should be replaced with an entirely new one.
Amendment of the Constitution, on the other hand, envisages a change or only a few specific
provisions. The intention of an act to amend is not to consider the advisability of changing the
entire constitution or of considering that possibility. The intention rather is to improve specific
parts of the existing constitution or to add to it provisions deemed essential on account of
changed conditions or to suppress portions of it that seem obsolete, or dangerous, or misleading in
their effect.
MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO, et al. Vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 127325, March 19, 1997 & June 10,
1997
RA 6735 intended to include the System of Initiative on Amendments to the Constitution, but is,
unfortunately, Inadequate to cover that system. Section 2 Art. XVII is not self-executory and unless
Congress provides for its implementation , it would remain in the cold niche of the Constitution.
RA 6735 in all its 23 sections mentions the word Constitution only in section 2 and Section 3 as
compared to the initiative on statutes and local legislation. The foregoing brings us to the
conclusion that RA 6735 is incomplete, inadequate or wanting in essential terms and conditions
insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned. Its lacunae on this
substantive matter are fatal and cannot be cured by empowering the COMELEC to promulgate
such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry the purposes of this act.
Enumerate the steps to be followed and the requisites to be met in order that the people may
proposed the amendments, repeal, amend or enact a law or provision of the Cnstitution.

3. What are the different modes of amending the constitution? Distinguish Revision from
amendment of the Constitution.
Revision is the alterations of the different portions of the entire document [Constitution]. It
may result in the rewriting whether the whole constitution, or the greater portion of it, or
perhaps some of its important provisions. But whatever results the revision may produce, the
factor that characterizes it as an act of revision is the original intention and plan authorized to be
carried out. That intention and plan must contemplate a consideration of all the provisions of the
Constitution to determine which one should be altered or suppressed or whether the whole
document should be replaced with an entirely new one.
Amendment of the Constitution, on the other hand, envisages a change or only a few specific
provisions. The intention of an act to amend is not to consider the advisability of changing the
entire constitution or of considering that possibility. The intention rather is to improve specific
parts of the existing constitution or to add to it provisions deemed essential on account of
changed conditions or to suppress portions of it that seem obsolete, or dangerous, or misleading in
their effect. (SINCO, Vicente, PHILIPPINE POLITICAL LAW)
4. Read: a) MABANAG vs. LOPEZ VITO, 78 Phil. 1
b) GONZALES vs. COMELEC, 21 SCRA 774
There is no prohibition for Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution and
at the same time call for the convening of a Constitutional Convention to amend the
Constitution. The word or in the provision Congress, upon a vote of of all its members;
OR [2] A constitutional Convention under Section 1, Art. XVII also means AND.
c) TOLENTINO vs. COMELEC, 41 SCRA 702
Doctrine of Proper Submission means all the proposed amendments to the Constitution
shall be presented to the people for the ratification or rejection at the same time, not
piecemeal.
d) SANIDAD vs. COMELEC, 73 SCRA 333
e) ALMARIO vs. ALBA, 127 SCRA 69
If the question regarding the proposed amendment to the Constitution deals with its
necessity, expediency or wisdom, the same is political in nature and beyond the power of the
courts to decide.
f) MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO VS. COMELEC, 270 ACRA 106
Reference:
Political Law Reviewer by Atty. Larry D. Gacayan
College of Law, University of the Cordilleras
Baguio City
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Political Law (Constitutional Law)


Article XVIII
DEC 20
Posted by Magz

ARTICLE XVIII TRANSITORY PROVISIONS


Effectivity of the 1987 Constitution

The 1987 Constitution took effect immediately upon its ratification.


According to the SC, this took place on February 2, 1987, which was the day the people cast
their votes ratifying the Constitution.

Military bases agreements

1)

Renewals of military bases agreements must be through a strict treaty.

2)

Ratification of the agreement in a plebiscite is necessary only when Congress so requires.

3)

Section 25 of Article XVIII allows possible local deployment of only AMERICAN forces.

Reference:
Political Law (Constitutional Law) Reviewer & Memory Aid
Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001
Louie, Carrie, Evelyn, Thel, Gem, Ronald

ARTICLE XVII- AMENDMENTS OR REVISIONS


Definitions:
1) Amendment: an alteration of one or a few specific provisions of the Constitution. Its main
purpose is to improve specific provisions of the Constitution. The changes brought about by
amendments will not affect the other provisions of the Constitution.
2) Revision: An examination of the entire Constitution to determine how and to what extent it
should be altered. A revision implies substantive change, affecting the Constitution as a whole.
Constituent power v. Legislative power
1)
Constituent power is the power to formulate a Constitution or to propose amendments to
or revisions of the Constitution and to ratify such proposal. Legislative power is the power to pass,
repeal or amend or ordinary laws or statutes (as opposed to organic law).
2)
Constituent power is exercised by Congress (by special constitutional conferment), by a
Constitutional Convention or Commission, by the people through initiative and referendum, and

ultimately by sovereign electorate, whereas legislative power is an ordinary power of Congress


and of the people, also through initiative and referendum.
3)
The exercise of constituent power does not need the approval of the Chief Executive,
whereas the exercise of legislative power ordinarily needs the approval of the Chief Executive,
except when done by people through initiative and referendum.
Three (3) steps necessary to give effect to amendments and revisions:
1) Proposal of amendments or revisions by the proper constituent assembly;
2) Submission of the proposed amendments or revisions; and
3) Ratification
Proposal of amendments:
Amendments may be proposed by:
A. Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, by a 3/4 vote of all its members.

The power of Congress to propose amendments is NOT part of its ordinary legislative power.

The only reason Congress can exercise such power is that the Constitution has granted it such
power.
B. Constitutional Convention:
1) How a Constitutional Convention may be called
a). Congress may call a ConCon by a 2/3 vote of all its members; or
b). By a majority vote of all its members, Congress may submit to the electorate the question of
whether to call a ConCon or not.
2) Choice of which constituent assembly (either Congress or ConCon) should initiate amendments
and revisions is left to the discretion of Congress. In other words, it is a political question.
3) BUT: The manner of calling a ConCon is subject to judicial review, because the Constitution has
provided for vote requirements.
4) If Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, calls for a ConCon but does not provide the
details for the calling of such ConCon, Congress exercising its ordinary legislative power may
supply such details. But in so doing, Congress (as legislature) should not transgress the resolution
of Congress acting as a constituent assemble.
5) Congress, as a constituent assembly and the ConCon have no power to appropriate money for
their expenses. Money may be spent from the treasury only to pursuant to an appropriation made
by law.
C. Peoples Initiative

1) Petition to propose such amendments must be signed be at least 12% of ALL registered voters.
2) Every legislative district represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein.
3) Limitation:
It cannot be exercised oftener than once every 5 years.
Note:
1)
While the substance of the proposals made by each type of constituent assembly is not
subject to judicial review, the manner the proposals are made is subject to judicial review.
2)
Since these constituent assemblies owe their existence to the Constitution, the courts may
determine whether the assembly has acted in accordance with the Constitution.
3)

Examples of justiciable issues:

a)

Whether a proposal was approved by the required number of votes in Congress (acting as a

constituent assembly).
b)

Whether the approved proposals were properly submitted to the people for ratification.

Proposal of Revisions

1)

By Congress, upon a vote of 3/4 of its members

2)

By a constitutional convention

Ratification

1)

Amendments and revisions proposed by Congress and/or by a ConCon:

a)

Valid when ratified by a MAJORITY of votes cast in a plebiscite.

b)
Plebiscite is held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days from the approval of such
amendments or revisions.
2)

Amendments proposed by the people via initiative:

a)

Valid when ratified by a MAJORITY of votes cast in a plebiscite.

b)
Plebiscite is held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the certification by
COMELEC of the petitions sufficiency
3)

Requisites of a valid ratification:

a)

Held in a plebiscite conducted under the election law;

b)

Supervised by the COMELEC; and

c)

Where only franchised voters (registered) voters take part.

4)

Issues regarding ratification:

a)

The Constitution does not require that amendments and revisions be submitted to the

people in a special election. Thus, they may be submitted for ratification simultaneously with a
general election.
b)
The determination of the conditions under which proposed amendments/revisions are
submitted to the people falls within the legislative sphere. That Congress could have done better
does not make the steps taken unconstitutional.
c)

All the proposed amendments/revisions made by the constituent assemblies must be

submitted for ratification in one single plebiscite. There cannot be a piece-meal ratification of
amendments/revisions.
d)
Presidential proclamation is NOT required for effectivity of amendments/revisions, UNLESS
the proposed amendments/revisions so provide.

Reference:
Political Law (Constitutional Law) Reviewer & Memory Aid
Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001
Louie, Carrie, Evelyn, Thel, Gem, Ronald