Pre-Bar Quizzer in Political Law – PART I: Constitution of Government 1-10

1.      Define Political Law

It is that branch of public law which deals with the organization and operations of the governmental organs of the State and defines the relations of the State with the inhabitants of its territory. (PEOPLE VS. PERFECTO, 43 Phil. 887)

2.      What are included in Political Law?

  • Constitutional Law;
  • Administrative Law
  • Law of Public Officers
  • Law on Public Corporation
  •   Election Law

3. What is the doctrine of constitutional supremacy?

Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.

4. What are the requisites for the exercise of “people’s initiative” to amend the Constitution?

It is provided under Section 2, Art. XVII of the Constitution which provides that “Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least 12% of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least  3% of the registered voter therein.” The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.

5. Is there a law which would provide for the mechanism for the people to propose amendments to the Constitution by people’s initiative?

          While Congress had enacted RA 6735 purportedly to provide the mechanisms for the people’s exercise the power to amend the Constitution by people’s initiative, the Supreme Court in MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO,   et al. Vs. COMELEC,   G.R. No. 127325, March 19, 1997 & June 10, 1997, the Supreme Court held that RA 6735 is incomplete, inadequate or wanting in essential terms and conditions insofar as initiative on amendments to the Constitution is concerned. Its lacunae on this substantive matter are fatal and cannot be cured by “empowering” the COMELEC to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry the purposes of this act.

In LAMBINO VS. COMELEC, however, the Supreme Court on November 21, 2006, in the Minute Resolution of the petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration held that RA No. 6735 is adequate and complete for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution through people’s initiative by a vote of 10 members as per Certification of the En Banc’s Clerk of Court.

5-a. May the question “Do you approve the amendment of Articles VI and VII of the 1987 Philippine Constitution changing the form of government from Presidential-Bicameral to Parliamentary-Unicameral” be allowed to be submitted to the people for their ratification or rejection as a means of amending the Constitution by people’s initiative if the requisite number of signatories (12% nationwide and at least 3% for every legislative district) are met?

No for two (2) reasons.

1. The said “proposal” did not indicate which provisions of Articles VI and VII are actually being amended which is a must under Section 2, Art. XVII. Otherwise, who shall make the amendments if the people in a plebiscite approve the same;

2. Changing the form of government from presidential to parliamentary is an act of REVISING the Constitution which is not allowed under Art. XVII, Section 2. People’s initiative may only be allowed to propose amendments to the Constitution, not revision.

6. What are the requisites before an amendment to the Constitution by “people’s initiative” is sufficient in form and in substance?

In the case of RAUL L. LAMBINO and ERICO B. AUMENTADO , together with 6,327,952 registered voters vs. THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, G.R. No. 174153, October 25, 2006, 505 SCRA 160, the following requisites must be present:

1.     The people must author and must sign the entire proposal. No agent or representative can sign for and on their behalf;

2.     As an initiative upon  a petition, THE PROPOSAL MUST BE EMBODIED IN A PETITION.

These essential elements are present only if the full text of the proposed amendments  is first shown to the people who will express  their assent by signing such complete proposal in a petition. Thus, an amendment is “DIRECTLY PROPOSED BY THE PEOPLE THROUGH INITIATIVE UPON A PETIITON “ ONLY IF THE PEOPLE SIGN ON A PETITION THAT OCNTAINS THE FULL TEXT OF THE PROPOSED AMENDMENTS.

7. Distinguish “Revision” from “amendment” of the Constitution.

“Revision” is the  alterations of the different portions of the entire document [Constitution]. It may result in the rewriting whether the whole constitution, or the greater portion of it, or perhaps some of its important provisions. But whatever results the revision may produce, the factor that characterizes it as an act of revision is the original intention and plan authorized to be carried out. That intention and plan must contemplate a consideration of all the provisions of the Constitution to determine which one should be altered or suppressed or whether the whole document should be replaced with an entirely new one.

“Amendment” of the Constitution, on the other hand, envisages a change or only a few specific provisions. The intention of an act to amend is not to consider the advisability of changing the entire constitution or of considering that possibility. The intention rather is to improve specific parts of the existing constitution or to add to it provisions deemed essential on account of changed conditions or to suppress portions of it that seem obsolete, or dangerous, or misleading in their effect. (SINCO, Vicente, PHILIPPINE POLITICAL LAW)

8. May Congress propose amendments to the Constitution while at the same time calling for a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution?

                   Yes, there is no prohibition for Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution and at the same time call for the convening of a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution. The word “or” in the provision “…Congress, upon a vote of ¾ of all its members; OR [2] A constitutional Convention” under Section 1, Art. XVII  also means “AND”. (GONZALES VS. COMELEC, 21 SCRA 774)

          9. What is the “Doctrine of Proper Submission” in connection with proposed amendments to the Constitution?

          “Doctrine of Proper Submission” means all the proposed amendments to the Constitution shall be presented to the people for the ratification or rejection at the same time, not piecemeal. (TOLENTINO VS. COMELEC, 41 SCRA 702)

10. What is the archipelagic doctrine or archipelago theory?

It is the 2nd sentence of Section 1, Art. I of the Constitution which states that “thewaters around, between and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.”




Pre-Bar Quizzer in Political Law (Doctrinal Rulings, Requisites and Definitions) July, 2008 by Atty. Larry D. Gacayan

College of Law, University of the Cordilleras

Baguio City


About Magz

First of all, I am not a lawyer. I'm a graduate of AB Political Science and went to the College of Law but stopped going to law school for some reasons. I'm a passionate teacher who has been teaching English to speakers of other languages and a person who likes writing and blogging. I lost some important files and software when my computer broke down so the reason I created this website is to preserve the notes, reviewers and digests I collected when I was at the law school and at the same time, I want to help out law students who do not have enough time to go and read books in the library.

Posted on June 22, 2011, in Political Law and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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