Macalintal vs COMELEC
[G.R. No. 157013. July 10, 2003]
A petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Romulo Macalintal, a memer of the Philippine Bar, seeking a declaration that certain provisions of RA 9189 (The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003) suffer from constitutional infirmity. He claimed that he has actual and material legal interest in the subject matter of this case in seeing to it that public funds are properly and lawfully used and appropriated, petitioner filed this petition as a taxpayer and as lawyer. R.A. No. 9189, entitled, “An Act Providing for A System of Overseas Absentee Voting by Qualified Citizens of the Philippines Abroad, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes,” appropriates funds under Section 29 thereof which provides that a supplemental budget on the General Appropriations Act of the year of its enactment into law shall provide for the necessary amount to carry out its provisions. Petitioner raises three principal questions for contention:
* That Section 5(d) of R.A. No. 9189 allowing the registration of voters, who are immigrants or permanent residents in other countries, by their mere act of executing an affidavit expressing their intention to return to the Philippines, violates the residency requirement in Art. V, Sec. 1 of the Constitution; * That Section 18.5 of the same law empowering the COMELEC to proclaim the winning candidates for national offices and party list representatives, including the President and the Vice-President, violates the constitutional mandate under Art. VII, Sec. 4 of the Constitution that the winning candidates for President and Vice-President shall be proclaimed as winners only by Congress; and * That Section 25 of the same law, allowing Congress (through the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee created in the same section) to exercise the power to review, revise, amend, and approve the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) that the COMELEC shall promulgate, violates the independence of the COMELEC under Art. IX-A, Sec. 1 of the Constitution.
1. Whether or not Section 5(d) of R.A. No. 9189 violates Art. V, Sec. 1 of the Constitution. 2. Whether or not Section 18.5 of R.A. No. 9189 violates Art. VII, Sec. 4 of the Constitution. 3. Whether or not Section 25 of R.A. No. 9189 violates Art. IX-A, Sec. 1 of the Constitution Ruling:
1. No, Sec 5(d) is valid. The Court has relied on the discussions of the members of the Constitutional Commission on the topics of absentee voting and absentee voter qualification, in connection with Sec. 2, Art. V of the Constitution, which reads: “Sec. 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.”
It was clearly shown from the said discussions that the Constitutional Commission intended to enfranchise as much as possible all Filipino citizens abroad who have not abandoned their domicile of origin, which is in the Philippines. The Commission even intended to extend to young Filipinos who reach voting age abroad whose parents’ domicile of origin is in the Philippines, and consider them qualified as voters for the first time. That Section 2 of Article V of the Constitution is an exception to the residency requirement found in Section 1 of the same Article was in fact the subject of debate when Senate Bill No. 2104, which later became R.A. No. 9189, was deliberated upon on the Senate floor, further weakening petitioner’s claim on the unconstitutionality of Section 5(d) of R.A. No. 9189.
2. Yes, Section 18.5 is unconstitutional. Section 18.5 of R.A. No. 9189 is far too sweeping that it necessarily includes the proclamation of the winning candidates for the presidency and the vice-presidency, granting merit to petitioner’s contention that said Section appears to be repugnant to Section 4, Article VII of the Constitution only insofar...