Requirements of proposal to amend the constitution thru people’s initiative.
The initiative petition does not comply with Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution on direct proposal by the people.
This section states:
Sec. 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. xxxx.
Form required of the proposals.
These essential elements are present only if the full text of the proposed amendments is first shown to the people who express their assent by signing such complete proposal in a petition. Thus, an amendment is “directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition” only if the people sign on a petition that contains the full text of the proposed amendments.
The full text of the proposed amendments may be either written on the face of the petition, or attached to it. If so attached, the petition must state the fact of such attachment. This is an assurance that every one of the several millions of signatories to the petition had seen the full text of the proposed amendments before signing. Otherwise, it is physically impossible, given the time constraint, to prove that every one of the millions of signatories had seen the full text of the proposed amendments before signing. (Raul Lambino, et al. vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 174153 and other cases, October 25, 2006).
The people must first see the full text of the proposed amendments; reason.
The unbending requirement is that the people must first see the full text of the proposed amendments before they sign to signify their assent, and that the people must sign on an initiative petition that contains the full text of the proposed amendments. (State ex. Rel. Patton vs. Myers, 127 Ohio St., 95, 186 N.R. 872 (1933).
The rationale for this requirement is that, as signature requirement would be meaningless if the person supplying the signature has not first seen what it is that he or she is signing. Further, and more importantly, loose interpretation of the subscription requirement can pose a significant potential for fraud. A person permitted to describe orally the contents of an initiative petition to a potential signer, without the signer having actually examined the petition, could easily mislead the signer by, for example, omitting, downplaying, or even flatly misrepresenting, portions of the petition that might not be to the signer’s liking. This danger seems particularly acute when, in this case, the person giving the description is the drafter of the petition, who obviously has a vested interest in seeing that it gets the requisite signatures to qualify for the ballot. (Capezzito vs. State Ballot Commission, 407 Mass. 949, 955 ).
Extent of the coverage of a people’s initiative to change the Constitution.
A people’s initiative to change the Constitution applies only to an amendment of the Constitution and not revision. In contrast, Congress or a constitutional convention can propose both amendments and revision to the Constitution. (Art. XVIII, Sec. 2, Constitution.
Article XVII of the Constitution speaks of three modes of amending the Constitution. The first mode is through Congress upon three-fourths vote of all its members. The second mode is through a constitutional convention. The third mode is through a people’s initiative.
Section 1 of Article XVII, referring to the first and second modes, applies to “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution.” In contrast, Section 2 of Article XVII, referring to the third mode, applies only to “Amendments to this Constitution.”
Two-part test in initiative clauses in Constitution.
There are the qualitative and quantitative tests.
The quantitative test asks whether the proposed change is so extensive in its provisions as to change directly the “substance entirety” of the constitution by the deletion or alteration of numerous provisions. (Amador Valley Joint Union High School District vs. State Board of Equalization, 583 P. 2d. 1281, 1286 ). The court examines only the number of provisions affected and does not consider the degree of the change.
The qualitative test inquires into the qualitative effects of the proposed change in the constitution. The main inquiry is whether the change will “accomplish such far reaching changes in the nature of our basic governmental plan as to amount to a revision.” whether there is an alteration in the structure of government is a proper subject of inquiry. Thus, “a change in the nature of the basic governmental plan” includes “change in its fundamental framework or the fundamental powers of its Branches.” A change in the nature of the basic governmental plan also includes changes that “jeopardize the traditional form of government and the system of check and balances.” (Lambino, et al. vs. COMELEC. et al.).
Effect of change in the structure of government, revision not mere amendment.
Under both the quantitative and qualitative tests, the Lambino Group’s initiative is a revision and not merely an amendment. Quantitatively, the Lambino Group’s proposed changes overhaul two articles – Article VI on the Legislature and Article VII on the Executive – affecting a total of 105 provisions in the entire Constitution. Qualitatively, the proposed changes alter substantially the basic plan of government, from presidential to parliamentary, and from a bicameral to a unicameral legislature.
A change in the structure of government is a revision of the Constitution, as when the three great co-equal branches of government in the present Constitution are reduced into two. This alters the separation of powers in the Constitution. A shift from the present Bicameral-Presidential system to a Unicameral-Parliamentary system is a revision of the Constitution. Merging the legislative and executive branches is a radical change in the structure of government.
Effect if initiative proposes more than one subjects.
The Lambino Group’s logrolling initiative also violated Section 10(a) of RA 6735 stating, “No petition embracing more than one (1) subject shall be submitted to the electorate; x x x.” The proposed Section 4(4) of the Transitory Provisions, mandating the interim Parliament to propose further amendments or revisions to the Constitution, is a subject matter totally unrelated to the shift in the form of government. Since the initiative embraced more than one subject matter, RA 6735 prohibits submission of the initiative petition to the electorate. Thus, even if RA 6735 is valid, the Lambino Group’s initiative will still fail. (Lambino, et al. vs. COMELEC).