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Article XVII.

Amendments or Revisions

Defensor Santiago v. Commission on Elections, 270 SCRA 106 (1997)

Facts:
Private respondent Atty. Jesus Delfin, president of People’s Initiative for Reforms, Modernization and Action
(PIRMA), filed with COMELEC a petition to amend the constitution to lift the term limits of elective officials, through
People’s Initiative. He based this petition on Article XVII, Sec. 2 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides for the right
of the people to exercise the power to directly propose amendments to the Constitution. Subsequently the COMELEC
issued an order directing the publication of the petition and of the notice of hearing and thereafter set the case for
hearing. At the hearing, Senator Roco, the IBP, Demokrasya-Ipagtanggol ang Konstitusyon, Public Interest Law Center,
and Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino appeared as intervenors-oppositors. Senator Roco filed a motion to dismiss the
Delfin petition on the ground that one which is cognizable by the COMELEC. The petitioners herein Senator Santiago,
Alexander Padilla, and Isabel Ongpin filed this civil action for prohibition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court against
COMELEC and the Delfin petition rising the several arguments, such as the following: (1) The constitutional provision
on people’s initiative to amend the constitution can only be implemented by law to be passed by Congress. No such
law has been passed; (2) The people’s initiative is limited to amendments to the Constitution, not to revision thereof.
Lifting of the term limits constitutes a revision, therefore it is outside the power of people’s initiative. The Supreme
Court granted the Motions for Intervention.

Issues:
(1) Whether or not Sec. 2, Art. XVII of the 1987 Constitution is a self-executing provision.

(2) Whether or not COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 regarding the conduct of initiative on amendments to the
Constitution is valid, considering the absence in the law of specific provisions on the conduct of such initiative.

(3) Whether the lifting of term limits of elective officials would constitute a revision or an amendment of the
Constitution.

Held:
Sec. 2, Art XVII of the Constitution is not self executory, thus, without implementing legislation the same
cannot operate. Although the Constitution has recognized or granted the right, the people cannot exercise it if
Congress does not provide for its implementation.

The portion of COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 which prescribes rules and regulations on the conduct of
initiative on amendments to the Constitution, is void. It has been an established rule that what has been delegated,
cannot be delegated (potestas delegata non delegari potest). The delegation of the power to the COMELEC being
invalid, the latter cannot validly promulgate rules and regulations to implement the exercise of the right to people’s
initiative.

The lifting of the term limits was held to be that of a revision, as it would affect other provisions of the
Constitution such as the synchronization of elections, the constitutional guarantee of equal access to opportunities for
public service, and prohibiting political dynasties. A revision cannot be done by initiative. However, considering the
Court’s decision in the above Issue, the issue of whether or not the petition is a revision or amendment has become
academic.

Lambino, et al v. Commission on Elections, 505 SCRA 160 (2006)

Facts:
Petitioners (Lambino group) commenced gathering signatures for an initiative petition to change the 1987
constitution, they filed a petition with the COMELEC to hold a plebiscite that will ratify their initiative petition under
RA 6735. Lambino group alleged that the petition had the support of 6M individuals fulfilling what was provided by
art 17 of the constitution. Their petition changes the 1987 constitution by modifying sections 1-7 of Art 6 and sections
1-4 of Art 7 and by adding Art 18. the proposed changes will shift the present bicameral- presidential form of
government to unicameral- parliamentary. COMELEC denied the petition due to lack of enabling law governing
initiative petitions and invoked the Santiago Vs. Comelec ruling that RA 6735 is inadequate to implement the initiative
petitions.

Issue:

Whether or Not the Lambino Group’s initiative petition complies with Section 2, Article XVII of the
Constitution on amendments to the Constitution through a people’s initiative.

Whether or Not this Court should revisit its ruling in Santiago declaring RA 6735 “incomplete, inadequate or
wanting in essential terms and conditions” to implement the initiative clause on proposals to amend the Constitution.

Whether or Not the COMELEC committed grave abuse of discretion in denying due course to the Lambino
Group’s petition.

Held:
According to the SC the Lambino group failed to comply with the basic requirements for conducting a
people’s initiative. The Court held that the COMELEC did not grave abuse of discretion on dismissing the Lambino
petition.

1. The Initiative Petition Does Not Comply with Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution on Direct Proposal by the
People

The petitioners failed to show the court that the initiative signer must be informed at the time of the signing of the
nature and effect, failure to do so is “deceptive and misleading” which renders the initiative void.

2. The Initiative Violates Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution Disallowing Revision through Initiatives

The framers of the constitution intended a clear distinction between “amendment” and “revision, it is intended that
the third mode of stated in sec 2 art 17 of the constitution may propose only amendments to the constitution. Merging
of the legislative and the executive is a radical change, therefore a constitutes a revision.

3. A Revisit of Santiago v. COMELEC is Not Necessary

Even assuming that RA 6735 is valid, it will not change the result because the present petition violated Sec 2 Art 17 to
be a valid initiative, must first comply with the constitution before complying with RA 6735

Petition is dismissed.