Wegotmail: Statement of Atty. Alfredo A. Garbin Jr., former chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments at the House of Representatives on PI on Charter change


As a result, the powers therein provided are called constituent powers. So when Congress acts under this provision, it acts not as a legislature exercising legislative powers. It acts as a constituent body exercising constituent powers.

The rules, therefore, governing the exercise of legislative powers do not apply, or do not apply strictly, to the actions taken under Article XVII.

Accordingly, since Article XVII states that Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of the people's right directly to propose amendments to the Constitution through initiative, the act of Congress pursuant thereto is not strictly a legislative action but partakes of a constituent act.

As a result, Republic Act No. 6735, the act that provides for the exercise of the people of the right to propose a law or amendments to the Constitution is, with respect to the right to propose amendments to the Constitution, a constituent measure, not a mere legislative one.

The consequence of this special character of the enactment, insofar as it relates to proposing amendments to the Constitution, is that the requirements for statutory enactments, such as sufficiency of standards and the like, do not and should not strictly apply. As long as there is a sufficient and clear intent to provide for the implementation of the exercise of the right, it should be sustained, as it is simply a compliance of the mandate placed on Congress by the Constitution.

Seen in this light, the provisions of Republic Act No. 6735 relating to the procedure for proposing amendments to the Constitution, can and should be upheld, despite shortcomings perhaps in legislative headings and standards.

For this reason, I concur in the view that Santiago v. Comelec should be re-examined and, after doing so, that the pronouncement therein regarding the insufficiency or inadequacy of the measure to sustain a people's initiative to amend the Constitution should be reconsidered in favor of allowing the exercise of this sovereign right.” (emphasis supplied)

This is the opportune time to revisit the ruling in Santiago vs COMELEC. The country desires change and improvement which is attainable by relaxing the economic provisions of the Constitution; a call stymied by the upper house. The impasse between the two Houses creates this impending need to finally clarify the manner of voting of both Houses when it comes to the Constituent Assembly.

On another matter, I would also like to bring to the minds of the people that, if allowed, this is not the first time that the House of Representatives and Senate vote jointly. This manner of voting is not an anomaly or a new concept in the Constitution. Article VII, Section 18 of our Constitution prescribes joint voting of the two Houses in matters which are considered to be of supreme and paramount importance. These two instances are: 1) when revoking or extending proclamation of the writ of habeas corpus; and 2) when revoking or extending the declaration of martial law.


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