Is People’s Initiative even legal? YES! Sec. 21, Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution guarantees the right of the people to amend it. And although said provision is not self-executory, Congress passed an enabling law, RA 67352 in 1989. Otherwise, if up to now there is still no enabling law after 31 years, then Congress has continuously been terribly remiss in complying with this Constitutional mandate to provide for the implementation of the right of the people to initiate amendments to the so-called “People Power Charter” wherein the sovereign will of the people is supreme as enshrined it the Preamble itself! Even in the hierarchy of the three ways provided under ‘Amendments or Revisions’, people’s initiative is the supreme mode than through a constituent assembly or constitutional convention.
Certain groups, however, rant that RA 6735 is inadequate with regard to people’s initiative in amending the Constitution merely because it does not have the proper headings, sub titles or Sections, as duly provided for initiatives and referendum for local and national laws. But when Congress acts to comply with a Constitutional directive, Justice Azcuna then stated in the Lambino case that “it acts as a constituent body exercising constituent powers” and that “the rules, therefore, governing the exercise of its legislative powers do not apply to the actions taken under Article XVII” thereof. Hence, Azcuna argued that “RA 6735 is adequate and sufficient” and “should be upheld despite shortcomings perhaps in legislative headings and standards.”
Our people need direct quality services from their duly-elected local officials but LGUs, specially in the rural areas, can barely make both ends meet due to lack of resources. Surely, we can expect our economic managers oppose this #PIRA4LGUs. Hence, they cited two Supreme Court rulings on people’s initiative, i.e. G.R. No. 127325 (Delfin, et al. v Comelec) and G.R. No. 174153 (Lambino, et al. v. Comelec) where both people’s initiatives did not materialize then, hoping perhaps to dampen the people’s current aspirations.
But the doctrine of judicial precedence applies only when the facts of the case are the same. The Delfin and Lambino initiatives in 1996 and 2006, respectively, both proposed a revision of the Constitution which, technically, did not even conform to the Constitution provision since it allows only an amendment through a people’s initiative. Both initiatives were thumbed down by the Supreme Court citing grave technicalities that does not even comply with existing laws. In both cases they did not even comply with the required total signatures. The people are merely proposing an amendment and not a revision of the Constitution. The facts of these cases are totally different now! Hence, judicial precedence does not prospectively apply in #PIRA4LGUs!
In a Minute Resolution of the SC en banc on GR Nos. 174153 and 174299, issued on Nov. 21, 2006, it further ruled with finality that: “Ten (10) members of the Court reiterate their position, as shown by their various opinions already given when the Decision herein was promulgated that Republic Act No. 6735 is sufficient and adequate to amend the Constitution thru people’s initiative”! Hence, Comelec Resolution No. 7796 was issued in 2007 implementing the provisions of RA 6735 regarding the conduct of a people’s initiative to amend the Constitution.
This time, of course, we will not commit the same grave mistakes made by Delfin and Lambino! Let the supreme will of the people be heard!
(To be continued….)
1 1987 Constitution, Article XVII. Amendments or Revisions - “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 of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five 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.”
2 RA 6735. “AN ACT PROVIDING FOR A SYSTEM OF INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR” - “Section 2. Statement of Policy. — The power of the people under a system of initiative and referendum to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances, or resolutions passed by any legislative body upon compliance with the requirements of this Act is hereby affirmed, recognized and guaranteed.
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