THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has an innate mandate to establish rules and regulations, including that for the People's Initiative (PI), as long as they are provided for by the laws of the land, said an official Friday, January 26, 2024.
In an interview, Comelec Chairman George Garcia responded to questions of Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel on where did the Comelec get its power to establish guidelines for PI, particularly its Resolution 10650.
"It is automatic that if you are a quasi-judicial, quasi-legislative, or administrative (body), rule-making is part of your power. As long as there is a law, we have the power to promulgate implementing rules and regulations," said Garcia.
"So, where did we get the power? In the Constitution. It is the power to enforce and administer election laws," he added.
He cited as an example the rules that the Comelec promulgate for the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy (COC), saying it is based on the Omnibus Election Code.
"In this case in contention, the Lambino case said Republic Act 6735 or the law on People's Initiative is a valid law. Therefore, the Comelec is obligated to come out with the guidelines on how to implement RA 6735," said Garcia.
On January 25, 2024, Pimentel questioned the Comelec on where did it get the authority to formulate guidelines on PI, including receipt of signature sheets as part of its "ministerial duty."
As of Friday, January 26, there are already 1,072 city and municipal Offices of Election Officers (OEOs) in 197 legislative districts that have submitted signature sheets for the PI.
Pimentel pointed how the RA 6735 is insufficient to support people’s initiative, which means the law is invalid as basis for the Comelec.
Pimentel has already stated that he is looking to file a case against the Comelec before the Supreme Court regarding its PI guidelines.
Garcia, in response, reiterated that they would welcome legal questions against Comelec Resolution 10650.
"If there is a legal issue, it is best to be brought to the Supreme Court so that we can all be enlightened on the matter," said Garcia. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)