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SUFFRAGE AND ITS SCOPE

Suffrage – right and obligation of the citizens to vote in the election of government officials and
in deciding on public questions submitted to them.
- It includes
a. election – principal by means by which the citizens vote and select certain officials to
represent them in the administration of the government. May be local or
national
b. Plebiscite – election where the people render decision to accept and reject certain
amendments to the constitution.
- also used in determining the will of the residents in a barangay or a local
government unit on certain issues of concern
C. Referendum – process wherein a law or part of a law passed by the legislature or local
legislature body is submitted to the people for their approval or rejection
d. Initiative – process where the people are given the opportunity to directly propose or
enact law.
e. Recall – means by which local officials may be removed from office even before the
expiration of their term of office by a vote of the residents

Who may exercise suffrage?


Filipino citizens can exercise this right as long as they comply with the following requirements:
1. at least 18 years of age
2. not disqualified by law
- Congress determines who are disqualified to vote
- Under existing law the following are prohibited to vote
a. Any person who has been sentenced for a prison term of not less than one year,
except 5 years from completion of his sentence.
b. Any person who has been found guilty of committing a crime involving disloyalty to
the state (rebellion and treason), except after 5 years from completion of his
sentence and
c. any person found to be not in normal mental condition
3. a resident of the country for at least one year
4. a resident of the place where they intend to vote for at least 6 months immediately
preceding the election

No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the


exercise of suffrage.

Education, ability to pay tax and gender differences cannot be requirement for the exercise of
the right to vote.
SUFFRAGE AND ITS SCOPE
Suffrage – right and obligation of the citizens to vote in the election of government officials and
in deciding on public questions submitted to them.
- It includes
a. election – principal by means by which the citizens vote and select certain officials to
represent them in the administration of the government. May be local or
national
b. Plebiscite – election where the people render decision to accept and reject certain
amendments to the constitution.
- also used in determining the will of the residents in a barangay or a local
government unit on certain issues of concern
C. Referendum – process wherein a law or part of a law passed by the legislature or local
legislature body is submitted to the people for their approval or rejection
d. Initiative – process where the people are given the opportunity to directly propose or
enact law.
e. Recall – means by which local officials may be removed from office even before the
expiration of their term of office by a vote of the residents

Who may exercise suffrage?


Filipino citizens can exercise this right as long as they comply with the following requirements:
1. at least 18 years of age
2. not disqualified by law
- Congress determines who are disqualified to vote
- Under existing law the following are prohibited to vote
a. Any person who has been sentenced for a prison term of not less than one year,
except 5 years from completion of his sentence.
b. Any person who has been found guilty of committing a crime involving disloyalty to
the state (rebellion and treason), except after 5 years from completion of his
sentence and
c. any person found to be not in normal mental condition
3. a resident of the country for at least one year
4. a resident of the place where they intend to vote for at least 6 months immediately
preceding the election
(Ang karapatan sa halal ay maaaring gampanan ng lahat ng mga mamamayan ng
Pilipinas na hindi inalisan ng karapatan ng batas, na labingwalong taong gulang
man lamang, at nakapanirahan sa Pilipinas sa loob ng isang taon man lamang, at
anim na buwan man lamang sa lugar na kanilang bobotohan kagyat bago
maghalalan.)
A person can cast his vote in any election in the country even if he is illiterate or does not know
how to read and write.

The constitution also prohibits property requirements in the exercise of suffrage or to be


elected in a position of leadership in government.

Education, ability to pay tax and gender differences cannot be requirement for the exercise of
the right to vote.

Suffrage

Section 1. Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise
disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided
in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein they propose to vote
for at least six months immediately preceding the election.No literacy, property, or
other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.

Section 2. The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity
of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.

The Congress shall also design a procedure for the disabled and the illiterates to vote
without the assistance of other persons. Until then, they shall be allowed to vote under
existing laws and such rules as the Commission on Elections may promulgate to
protect the secrecy of the ballot.

Article Five (5) of the 1987 Constitution has the heading Suffrage, which pertains to
Voting Rights.

“Suffrage” has been translated by others as Karapatan sa Halal.

There are only two Sections in this Article.

SUFFRAGE
Meaning of Suffrage
Suffrage is the right and obligation to vote. It is a political right conferred by the Constitution
empowering a citizen to participate in the process of government which makes the State truly
democratic and republican. Section 1, Article V, however, provides that “suffrage may be exercised…”
thus, making it non-mandatory. Failure to exercise such right is not punishable by law, but
nonetheless makes a citizen irresponsible. In other words, suffrage is an obligation but a non-
mandatory one.
When Suffrage may be Exercised
Suffrage is exercised not only during elections, but also during initiatives, referendums, plebiscite,
and recalls. Election is the means by which the people choose their representatives who are entrusted
the exercise of the powers of the government. Initiative is the means by which people directly
propose and enact laws, that is, they initiate the law-making process. Referendum refers to process
by which the people ratify or reject a law or part thereof referred or submitted to them by the
national or local law-making body. Plebiscite entails a process by which the people either ratify or
reject an amendment or revision to the Constitution. And recall is a mode of removing an incumbent
official from office by a vote of the people upon proper registration of a petition signed by the
required number of qualified voters. In all these instances, a qualified citizen can rightfully exercise
suffrage.
Who may Exercise Suffrage
1. Qualified Citizens Only. Suffrage can be exercised only by a citizen of the Philippines, who has
none of the disqualifications, at least eighteen years of age on the day of the election, and a resident
of the Philippines for at least one year and of the place where he intends to vote for at least six
months immediately preceding the election (Section 1, Article V). Suffrage is an attribute of
citizenship, and therefore aliens cannot exercise the same.
2. Reason for Lowering the Voting Age. The voting age was lowered down from 21 to 18 years old to
broaden the electoral base. If the voting age is 21, then only a small percentage of the total
population of the Philippines can vote. Moreover, according to psychologists, 18 to 21 year-old
Filipino youth, living in urban or rural areas, have the same political maturity. This is affirmed in
many provisions of Philippine law, in that the marrying age, the age when someone can enter into a
contract, and the age when someone can be called to defend the State, is 18 years old. It must be
noted, however, “registration” may be done before reaching the age of majority for as long as the
voter is 18 years old on the day of the election.
3. Explanation of Residency Requirement. A citizen, in order to be qualified to vote, must have
resided in the Philippines for at least one year and for at least six months on the place where he
intends to vote immediately preceding the elections. The “one year residency requirement” means
“permanent residence” while the “six month residency requirement” means either “permanent or
temporary residence.” On the on hand, permanent residence or domicile requires bodily presence in
the locality, the intention to remain there (animus manendi), and an intention to return to it if one
goes somewhere else (animus revertendi). If a new residence is established, permanent residence
requires an intention not to return to the old domicile (animus non revertandi). For example, if a
Filipino citizen works abroad to look for greener pastures, but still has the “intention to return” to
the Philippines, he can still exercise his right to vote since his domicile is still in the Philippines. On
the other hand, temporary residence only requires the intention to reside in a fixed place. To be
familiar with the needs of the locality, a voter must reside therein for at least six months immediately
preceding the elections. This is requirement for both national and local elections. In here, since
residence can also mean temporary residence, one can vote in either his locality of permanent
residence or locality of temporary residence during local or national elections. For example, Pedro is
domiciled in Tuguegarao City and is a registered voter therein. But he is working in Manila for more
than six months already, has established a temporary residence, and is likewise a registered voter
there. Under the law, he can vote in Tuguegarao city since he is a permanent resident of the place or
in Manila since he has a temporary residence there.
4. No Additional Substantive Requirement. Still in keeping with the trend for broadening electoral
base, the Constitution does not provide for “literacy, property or other substantive requirements.”
Rather it encourages the “participation” and “equalization” of the privileges and rights of the people.
Being democratic and republican, the State endeavors for the establishment of a wide base of
electoral involvement by the people, not only by the rich minority who joy the privilege of formal
education, but also by the poor majority who are usually unlettered because of poverty. It must also
be emphasize that there is no direct relationship between education or property, on the one hand,
and capacity for intelligent voting, on the other, in that even a rich and highly educated person may
initiate and be swayed by sham elections.
Absentee Voting
Because of the phenomenon of “Filipino labor explosion overseas,” the so-called “absentee voting
system” is mandated by the Constitution to be provided for, or legislated, by the Congress. Section 2,
Article V states, “The Congress shall provide… a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos
abroad.” For as long as they are qualified, overseas Filipino workers can still participate in elections
despite their temporary absence in the Philippines. While residency is a voting requirement, it must
not be a reason for disenfranchising thousands of Filipinos abroad whose hearts are still with the
Philippines.
Importance of Suffrage
As a final note, the importance of suffrage cannot be overemphasized as it is the bed rock of
Philippine democracy and republicanism. Removed, then the Philippines is no longer democratic
and republican. This is why the Constitution mandates the Congress “to provide a system for
securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot.” The mandate becomes especially important now that
the electoral base is broadened to include the illiterate and the disabled who are the usual prey of
unscrupulous politicians. Thus, to secure the very essence of Philippine democracy and to protect the
illiterates and disabled from being disenfranchised, the Constitution also provides that “The
Congress shall also design a procedure for the disabled and the illiterates to vote without the
assistance of other persons. Until then, they shall be allowed to vote under existing laws and such
rules as the Commission on Elections may promulgate to protect the secrecy of the ballot.”
Referendums and plebiscites are conducted in order to pass certain laws. Any amendments or
revision to the constitution, merging, creation and abolition of local government units and
autonomous regions and the like are validated via plebiscites. In order for a referendum and
plebiscite to pass, the votes in favor must be greater in number than those which are opposed; there
is no requirement for how high the voter turnout should be in such referendums or plebiscites.
The terms "referendum" and "plebiscite" mean different things in the context of Philippine political
discourse:

 Referendum is the power of the electorate to approve or reject a legislation through an election
called for the purpose.
 Plebiscite is the electoral process by which an initiative on the Constitution is approved or
rejected by the people.
 It is also the term used in determining the creation of a barangay (village), municipalities,
cities, provinces and autonomous regions.
In order to initiate a referendum, a total of 10% of all registered voters, plus 3% from every affected
legislative district, must sign a petition. If the affected locality only has one legislative district, the 3%
requirement falls to every municipality for a province-wide referendum, and for every barangay for
citywide referendum. For barangay-level referendums, the requirement is 10% of all registered
voters. For a constitutional plebiscite, 12% of all registered voters is needed, with 3% for all
legislative districts, and that it could be exercised five years after its ratification on February 2, 1987,
and once every five years after each plebiscite. A referendum is passed if it is approved by a
majority of the votes cast; a defeat means the law sought to be rejected or amended remains to be
in full effect.
There had been two "waves" of national referendums in the Philippines: the first was during
the Commonwealth period, and the latter was during the martial law period. Locally, the most
common plebiscites are on creating new provinces and the upgrading of a municipality into a city.
The last provincial-level plebiscite was on 2013 for the creation of a new province of Davao
Occidental that was passed; the last national plebiscite was in 1987 for the approval of the
constitution endorsed by the 1986 Constitutional Commission.

Recall[edit]
Elected local government officials may be recalled. A recall election may be called if there is a
petition of at least 25% of the registered voters in that LGU. An amendment to the law where a
majority of all members of a preparatory recall assembly, composed of all elected local officials
within a local government unit (LGU), endorse a recall, was repealed. The recalled official is not
allowed to resign when facing a recall election, but may participate in it; the candidate with the
highest number of votes wins the recall election.
The president, vice president, members of Congress, and the elected officials of the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao cannot be removed via recall.
The last recall election above the barangay level was the 2015 Puerto Princesa mayoral recall
election.

Initiatives[edit]
Main article: People's Initiative
Initiatives (locally known as "people's initiative") to amend or revise the constitution, or propose new
laws are allowed if there is a petition of at least 12% of all registered voters in the country, with at
least 3% in every legislative district. A plebiscite will be called it meets such requirements. A people's
initiative has never made it past the stage verification of signature