Philippine Bar Exams Reviewer for Political Law Part 1
The Constitution – Concepts and Definitions
POLITICAL LAW REVIEW CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 1
PART I – THE CONSTITUTION
#1. WHAT IS POLITICAL LAW?
Political Law deals with organization and operations of governmental organs and defines the relations of the State with the inhabitants of its territory. [People v. Perfecto (1922)]
#2. WHAT IS CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
Constitutional Law is the law embodied in the Constitution and the legal principles growing out of the interpretation and application of its provisions by the courts in specific cases.
#3. DEFINE CONSTITUTION
The Constitution is a document which serves as the fundamental law of the state; that written instrument enacted by the direct action of the people by which the fundamental powers of the government are established, limited and defined. [Malcolm, Phil. Const. Law]
#4. WHAT ARE THE CLASSIFICATION OF CONSTITUTIONS?
(1) Written v. unwritten
(2) Enacted (conventional) v. evolved (cumulative) (3) Rigid v. flexible
The Philippine Constitution is written, enacted and rigid.
#5. WHAT IS THE DATE OF EFFECTIVITY OF THE 1987 CONSTITUTION?.
February 2, 1987, the date of the plebiscite, and not on the date its ratification was proclaimed. [De Leon v. Esguerra (1987)]
#6. WHAT ARE THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION?
(1) Verba legis (give words their ordinary meaning) (2) Ratio legis est anima (intent of the framers)
(3) Ut magis valeat quam pereat (interpret as a whole)
#7. WHAT ARE THE PARTS OF THE CONSTITUTION?
(1) Constitution of Government –e.g. Art. VI, VII, VIII, IX (2) Constitution of Sovereignty–i.n.Art.XVII
(3) Constitution of Liberty–e.g.Art.III
#8. DEFINE AMENDMENT
An addition or change within the lines of the original constitution; adds, reduces or deletes without altering the basic principles involved; affects only the specific provision being amended. [Lambino v. COMELEC (2006)]
#9. DEFINE REVISION
A change that alters a basic principle in the constitution; alters the substantial entirety of the constitution. [Id.] The 1987 Constitution allows people’s initiative only for the purpose of amending, not revising, the Constitution.[Id.]
#10. DISTINGUISH THE TWO-PART TEST? To determine whether amendment or revision:
(1) Quantitative test: Examines only number of provisions affected, not the degree of the change.
(2) Qualitative test: Inquires into the qualitative effects of the proposed change in the constitution, i.e. whether the change will “accomplish such far reaching changes in the nature of our basic governmental plan as to amount to a revision.” [Id.]
#11. WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE AMENDATORY PROCESS?
Step 1. Proposal – The adoption of the suggested change in the Constitution.
(a) Congress (as a Constituent Assembly) – a vote of 3⁄4 of ALL its members.
(b) Constitutional Convention – Called into existence by (i) 2/3 of all members of Congress OR (ii) the electorate, in a referendum called for by a majority of all members of Congress [CONST., art. XVII, sec. 3]
(c) People (through a People’s Initiative)- petition of at least 12% of the total number of registered voters; every legislative district must be represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein.
○ (i) Limitation on Initiative: No amendment in this manner shall be authorized (1) within 5 years following the ratification of the 1987 Const. nor (2) more often than
once every 5 years thereafter.
(ii) Enabling Law: Constitutional provision on amendments via People’s Initiative not self- executory [Defensor-Santiago v. COMELEC, 270 SCRA 170 (1997)]
Syep 2. Ratification – the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the people and shall be deemed ratified by the majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite, held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days:
(a) After approval of the proposal by Congress or ConCon;
(b) After certification by the COMELEC of sufficiency of petition of the people.
#12. WHAT IS THE DOCTRINE OF PROPER SUBMISSION?
A plebiscite may be held on the same day as a regular election [Gonzales v. COMELEC (1967)]. The entire Constitution must be submitted for ratification at one plebiscite only. The people must have a proper “frame of reference”. [Tolentino v. COMELEC (1971)]. No “piecemeal submission,” e.g. submission of age amendment ahead of other proposed amendments. [Id.]
#13. WHAT IS JUDICIAL REVIEW OF AMENDMENTS?
The validity of the process of amendment is not a political question because the Court must review if constitutional processes were followed; the issue is manner not wisdom. [See Lambino]
#14. WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE REVISION PROCESS?
Same as amendments in all respects except that it cannot be proposed via a People’s Initiative. [See Lambino, supra]
#15. WHAT ARE SELF-EXECUTING PROVISIONS?
Provisions which are complete in themselves and do not need enabling legislation for their operation; judicially enforceable per se.[Manila Prince Hotel v. GSIS (1997)].
General Presumption: All provisions of the constitution are self-executing. [Id.]
Exception: Statements of general principles, such as those in Art. II, are usually not self- executing.
#16. WHAT ARE NON-SELF EXECUTING PROVISIONS?
Provisions which merely “la[y] down a general principle.” [Manila Prince, supra]
Note: A provision may be self-executing in one part, and non-self-executing in another. [Manila Prince, supra]