Political Law (Constitutional Law) – Article XVII




1) Amendment:  an alteration of one or a few specific provisions of the Constitution.  Its main purpose is to improve specific provisions of the Constitution.  The changes brought about by amendments will not affect the other provisions of the Constitution.

2) Revision:  An examination of the entire Constitution to determine how and to what extent it should be altered.  A revision implies substantive change, affecting the Constitution as a whole.

Constituent power v. Legislative power

1)      Constituent power is the power to formulate a Constitution or to propose amendments to or revisions of the Constitution and to ratify such proposal. Legislative power is the power to pass, repeal or amend or ordinary laws or statutes (as opposed to organic law).

2)      Constituent power is exercised by Congress (by special constitutional conferment), by a Constitutional Convention or Commission, by the people through initiative and referendum, and ultimately by sovereign electorate, whereas legislative power is an ordinary power of Congress and of the people, also through initiative and referendum.

3)      The exercise of constituent power does not need the approval of the Chief Executive, whereas the exercise of legislative power ordinarily needs the approval of the Chief Executive, except when done by people through initiative and referendum.

Three (3) steps necessary to give effect to amendments and revisions:

1) Proposal of amendments or revisions by the proper constituent assembly;

2) Submission of the proposed amendments or revisions; and

3) Ratification

Proposal of amendments:

Amendments may be proposed by:

A. Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, by a 3/4 vote of all its members.

  • The power of Congress to propose amendments is NOT part of its ordinary legislative power.
  • The only reason Congress can exercise such power is that the Constitution has granted it such power.

B. Constitutional Convention:

1) How a Constitutional Convention may be called

a). Congress may call a ConCon by a 2/3 vote of all its members; or

b). By a majority vote of all its members, Congress may submit to the electorate the question of whether to call a ConCon or not.

2) Choice of which constituent assembly (either Congress or ConCon) should initiate amendments and revisions is left to the discretion of Congress.  In other words, it is a political question.

3) BUT:  The manner of calling a ConCon is subject to judicial review, because the Constitution has provided for vote requirements.

4) If Congress, acting as a constituent assembly, calls for a ConCon but does not provide the details for the calling of such ConCon, Congress – exercising its ordinary legislative power – may supply such details.  But in so doing, Congress (as legislature) should not transgress the resolution of Congress acting as a constituent assemble.

5) Congress, as a constituent assembly and the ConCon have no power to appropriate money for their expenses.  Money may be spent from the treasury only to pursuant to an appropriation made by law.

C. People’s Initiative

1) Petition to propose such amendments must be signed be at least 12% of ALL registered voters.

2) Every legislative district represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein.

3) Limitation:

It cannot be exercised oftener than once every 5 years.


1)      While the substance of the proposals made by each type of constituent assembly is not subject to judicial review, the manner the proposals are made is subject to judicial review.

2)      Since these constituent assemblies owe their existence to the Constitution, the courts may determine whether the assembly has acted in accordance with the Constitution.

3)      Examples of justiciable issues:

a)      Whether a proposal was approved by the required number of votes in Congress (acting as a constituent assembly).

b)      Whether the approved proposals were properly submitted to the people for ratification.

Proposal of Revisions

1)      By Congress, upon a vote of 3/4 of its members

2)      By a constitutional convention


1)      Amendments and revisions proposed by Congress and/or by a ConCon:

a)      Valid when ratified by a MAJORITY of votes cast in a plebiscite.

b)      Plebiscite is held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days from the approval of such amendments or revisions.

2)      Amendments proposed by the people via initiative:   

a)      Valid when ratified by a MAJORITY of votes cast in a plebiscite.

b)      Plebiscite is held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the certification by COMELEC of the petition’s sufficiency

3)      Requisites of a valid ratification:

a)      Held in a plebiscite conducted under the election law;

b)      Supervised by the COMELEC; and

c)      Where only franchised voters (registered) voters take part.

4)      Issues regarding ratification:

a)      The Constitution does not require that amendments and revisions be submitted to the people in a special election. Thus, they may be submitted for ratification simultaneously with a general election.

b)      The determination of the conditions under which proposed amendments/revisions are submitted to the people falls within the legislative sphere. That Congress could have done better does not make the steps taken unconstitutional.

c)      All the proposed amendments/revisions made by the constituent assemblies must be submitted for ratification in one single plebiscite. There cannot be a piece-meal ratification of amendments/revisions.

d)      Presidential proclamation is NOT required for effectivity of amendments/revisions, UNLESS the proposed amendments/revisions so provide.



Political Law (Constitutional Law) Reviewer & Memory Aid

Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001

Louie, Carrie, Evelyn, Thel, Gem, Ronald


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 December 20, 2011, in Constitutional Law, Political Law and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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