G.R. No. 127325 March 19, 1997
MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO, ALEXANDER PADILLA, and MARIA ISABEL ONGPIN, petitioners, vs.
COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, JESUS DELFIN, ALBERTO PEDROSA & CARMEN PEDROSA, in their capacities as founding members of the People's Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action (PIRMA), respondents. SENATOR RAUL S. ROCO, DEMOKRASYA-IPAGTANGGOL ANG KONSTITUSYON (DIK), MOVEMENT OF ATTORNEYS FOR BROTHERHOOD INTEGRITY AND NATIONALISM, INC. (MABINI), INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES (IBP), and LABAN NG DEMOKRATIKONG PILIPINO (LABAN), petitioners-intervenors. DAVIDE, JR., J.:
The heart of this controversy brought to us by way of a petition for prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court is the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative under Section 2 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution. Undoubtedly, this demands special attention, as this system of initiative was unknown to the people of this country, except perhaps to a few scholars, before the drafting of the 1987 Constitution. The 1986 Constitutional Commission itself, through the original proponent 1 and the main sponsor 2 of the proposed Article on Amendments or Revision of the Constitution, characterized this system as "innovative". 3 Indeed it is, for both under the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions, only two methods of proposing amendments to, or revision of, the Constitution were recognized, viz., (1) by Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members and (2) by a constitutional convention. 4 For this and the other reasons hereafter discussed, we resolved to give due course to this petition. On 6 December 1996, private respondent Atty. Jesus S. Delfin filed with public respondent Commission on Elections (hereafter, COMELEC) a "Petition to Amend the Constitution, to Lift Term Limits of Elective Officials, by People's Initiative" (hereafter, Delfin Petition) 5 wherein Delfin asked the COMELEC for an order 1. Fixing the time and dates for signature gathering all over the country; 2. Causing the necessary publications of said Order and the attached "Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution, in newspapers of general and local circulation; 3. Instructing Municipal Election Registrars in all Regions of the Philippines, to assist Petitioners and volunteers, in establishing signing stations at the time and on the dates designated for the purpose. Delfin alleged in his petition that he is a founding member of the Movement for People's Initiative, 6 a group of citizens desirous to avail of the system intended to institutionalize people power; that he and the members of the Movement and other volunteers intend to exercise the power to directly propose amendments to the Constitution granted under Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution; that the exercise of that power shall be conducted in proceedings under the control and supervision of the COMELEC; that, as required in COMELEC Resolution No. 2300, signature stations shall be established all over the country, with the assistance of municipal election registrars, who shall verify the signatures affixed by individual signatories; that before the Movement and other volunteers can gather signatures, it is necessary that the time and dates to be designated for the purpose be first fixed in an order to be issued by the COMELEC; and that to adequately inform the people of the electoral process involved, it is likewise necessary that the said order, as well as the Petition on which the signatures shall be affixed, be published in newspapers of general and local circulation, under the control and supervision of the COMELEC. The Delfin Petition further alleged that the provisions sought to be amended are Sections 4 and 7 of Article VI, 7Section 4 of Article VII, 8 and Section 8 of Article X 9 of the Constitution. Attached to the petition is a copy of a "Petition for Initiative on the 1987 Constitution" 10 embodying the proposed...
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