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Santiago v.

COMELEC
G.R No. 127325, March 19, 1997

FACTS: ->On December 6, 1996, Atty. Jesus S. Delfin, founding member of the Movement for People's Initiative, filed with the COMELEC a "Petition to Amend the Constitution, to Lift Term Limits of Elective Officials, by People's Initiative" citing Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution. Acting on the petition, the COMELEC set the case for hearing and directed Delfin to have the petition published. After the hearing the arguments between petitioners and opposing parties, the COMELEC directed Delfin and the oppositors to file their "memoranda and/or oppositions/memoranda" within five days. On December 18, 1996, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Alexander Padilla, and Maria Isabel Ongpin filed a special civil action for prohibition under Rule 65 raising the following arguments, among others: 1.) That the Constitution can only be amended by peoples initiative if there is an enabling law passed by Congress, to which no such law has yet been passed; and 2.) That R.A. 6735 does not suffice as an enabling law on peoples initiative on the Constitution, unlike in the other modes of initiative.

ISSUE: -> Is R.A. No. 6735 sufficient to enable amendment of the Constitution by peoples initiative? HELD: ->NO. R.A. 6735 is inadequate to cover the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution. Under the said law, initiative on the Constitution is confined only to proposals to AMEND. The people are not accorded the power to "directly propose, enact, approve, or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution" through the system of initiative. They can only do so with respect to "laws, ordinances, or resolutions." The use of the clause "proposed laws sought to be enacted, approved or rejected, amended or repealed" denotes that R.A. No. 6735 excludes initiative on amendments to the Constitution. Also, while the law provides subtitles for National Initiative and Referendum and for Local Initiative and Referendum, no subtitle is provided for initiative on the Constitution. This means that the main thrust of the law is initiative and referendum on national and local laws. If R.A. No. 6735 were intended to fully provide for the implementation of the initiative on amendments to the Constitution, it could have provided for a subtitle therefor, considering that in the order of things, the primacy of interest, or hierarchy of values, the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution is far more important than the initiative on national and local laws. While R.A. No. 6735 specially detailed the process in implementing initiative and referendum on national and local laws, it intentionally did not do so on the system of initiative on amendments to the Constitution. WHEREFORE, petition is GRANTED.