Tolentino v. COMELEC

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  TOLENTINO v COMELEC (1971) FACTS : The Constitutional Convention of 1971 approved Organic Resolution No. 1 which amended the age qualification for the exercise of suffrage from 21 to 18. President Diosdado Macapagal then sent a letter to COMELEC calling upon the commission to help the Convention implement the said resolution. On 20 September 1971, COMELEC then RESOLVED to inform the Constitutional Convention that it will hold the plebiscite on condition that: a) The Constitutional Convention will undertake the printing of separate official ballots, election returns and tally sheets for the use of said plebiscite at its expense; b) The Constitutional Convention will adopt its own security measures for the printing and shipment of said ballots and election forms; and c) Said official ballots and election forms will be delivered to the Commission in time so that they could be distributed at the same time that the Commission will distribute its official and sample ballots to be used in the elections on November 8, 1971 .”  To implement the Resolution, the President issued an order forming an Ad Hoc Committee. Implementing guidelines were issued and approved by the President who then transmitted the same to COMELEC. On 7 October 1971, The Convention approved a resolution calling for a recess of the Convention from 1 November 1971 to 9 November 1971 to permit the delegates to campaign for the ratification of Organic Resolution No. 1. On 12 October 1971, the Convention passed Resolution No. 24 confirming the authority of the President of the Constitution to implement Organic Resolution No. 1, including the creation of the Ad Hoc Committee ratifying all acts performed in connection with said implementation. The scheduled advance plebiscite concerns only the amendments included in Organic Resolution No. 1 and this was even before the rest of the draft of the Constitution had been approved. ISSUE : WON there is any limitation or condition in Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution which is violated by the act of the Convention of calling for a plebiscite on the sole amendment  contained in Organic Resolution No. 1? HELD/RATIO : Yes, it violates the condition and limitation that al the amendments to be proposed by the same Convention must be submitted to the people in a single “election” or plebiscite.  Section 1, Article XV definitely provides that “such amendments  shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes at an election  at which the amendments  are submitted to the people for their ratification” --- this provision unequivocally says “ an election ” which means only one . The Court has no desire at all to hamper and hamstring the noble work of the Constitutional Convention . We are not denying any right of the people to vote on the proposed amendment; We are only holding that under Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution, the same should be submitted to them not separately from but together with all the other amendments to be proposed  by this present Convention. In order that a plebiscite for the ratification of an amendment to the Constitution may be validly held, it must provide the voter not only sufficient time but ample basis for an intelligent appraisal of the nature of the amendment  per se  as well as its relation to the other parts of the Constitution with which it has to form a harmonious whole.  MR for TOLENTINO v COMELEC Reconsideration of the decision is sought on the following grounds: (1) That inasmuch as Congress, acting as a constituent assembly , can submit to a plebiscite, whether, singly or together, the constitutional amendments it may propose, the Convention being at par   with such constituent assembly  = Although Congress as the legislature is a continuing body, factually and in contemplation of law, it is not so whenever it sits in its capacity as a constituent assembly. In the latter instance, its juridical existence as such is coextensive only with the legal duration of the joint session assembled to perform any particular work of proposing amendments to the Constitution. In the juridical sense, each such joint session is a constitutional convention in itself, distinct and separate from the others of similar nature, and may be distinguished from the convention per se. Consequently, while Congress may easily reconvene as another constituent body after it has finally adjourned as such, from the very nature of its existence, a new call for election of delegates who would compose a new Constitutional Convention would be needed. (2) That the phrase “ at an election ” in Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution does not necessarily mean only one plebiscite but may be construed as signifying several plebiscites,  because there is  jurisprudence holding that a word in singular in a statute or constitution may be understood in the plural; = We went further and construed the assailed provision, by going behind the actual words and ascertaining the purpose and intent of the framers of the Constitution. Nothing in the Decision denies the possibility that the phrase “an election” may comprehend more than one plebiscite; what the Court held in effect with the spirit of the provisions, is that which proscribes piece-meal submission before the whole draft of the new Constitution or all the amendment to be proposed have been finally approved by that body, considering that before that there could be no safe frame of reference for intelligent voting, especially because the particular amendment proposed is subject to many undefined reservations which it is in the power of the Convention to approve at any time before or after the ratification of their final handiwork.   (3) That the question of whether or not the Convention should submit the amendments it may propose in a single plebiscite or otherwise is a matter that goes into the wisdom of the action  of the Convention rather than to its authority or power, hence outside the pale of judicial review. = the movants have confused wisdom of the questioned action taken by the Convention with the wisdom of the provisions of Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution which is applicable thereto. What We discussed in Our decision is not whether or not the Convention acted wisely; We simply held that for the reasons given in the decision, We see wisdom in the construction that piece-meal submission, before all the proposed Constitutional amendments as a whole have been approved, is not allowed by the Constitution. (4) And that, in relation to the point in the decision to the effect that the proposed amendment in question regarding the reduction of the voting age in the Philippines has no frame of reference   because the proposed amendment “is a simple fixing of the minimum voting age from 21 to 18,” and “it is difficult to conceive of any possible future amendments where (sic) this fixed voting age could be out of tune” and hard to “imagine how this amendment  on this minimum voting age could conceivably be better understood if presented together with the various substantial and fundamental amendments in the whole draft when concluded,”  = The right to vote is not as simple as it might appear to be when considered in relation to the form of government, the fundamental principles and the educational policies, inter alia, that the other amendments to the Constitution may adopt and pursue. In the way that the proposal is worded, read together with the reservations tacked to it by the Convention thru Section 3 of the questioned resolution, it is too much of a speculation to assume what exactly the amendment would really amount to in the end.  BAYAN v ZAMORA (2000) FACTS : The United States panel met with the Philippine panel to discussed, among others, the possible elements of the Visiting Forces  Agreement (VFA). This resulted to a series of conferences and negotiations which culminated on January 12 and 13, 1998. Thereafter, President Fidel Ramos approved the VFA, which was respectively signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Siazon and United States Ambassador Thomas Hubbard. On 5 October 1998 Pres. Estrada through Sec. of Foreign Affairs ratified the VFA. Senate approved it by 2/3 votes on 27 May 1989. On 1 June 1999, the VFA officially entered into force. On the whole, the VFA is an agreement which defines the treatment of United States troops and personnel visiting the Philippines. It provides for the guidelines to govern such visits of military personnel, and further defines the rights of the United States and the Philippine government in the matter of criminal  jurisdiction, movement of vessel and aircraft, importation and exportation of equipment, materials and supplies. Petitioners: Section 25, Article XVIII is applicable considering that the VFA has for its subject the presence of foreign military troops in the Philippines. Respondents: Section 21, Article VII should apply inasmuch as the VFA is not a basing arrangement but an agreement which involves merely the temporary visits of United States personnel engaged in joint military exercises. ISSUE : 1. Is the VFA governed by the provision of Section 21, Article VII or of Section 25,  Article XVII of the Constitution? - Section 25, Article XVIII , which specifically deals with treaties involving foreign military bases, troops, or facilities, should apply  in the instant case. - To a certain extent and in a limited sense, however, the provisions of section 21, Article VII will find applicability with regard to the issue and for the sole purpose of determining the number of votes required to obtain the valid concurrence of the Senate, as will be further discussed hereunder. 2. WON the requirements of Section 25 were complied with when the Senate gave its concurrence to the VFA Section 25, Article XVIII disallows foreign military bases, troops, or facilities in the country, unless the following conditions are sufficiently met, viz:   it must be under a treaty;   A treaty, as defined by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, is “an international instrument concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments, and whatever its particular designation.”     the treaty must be duly concurred in by the Senate  and, when so required by congress, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum;     Section 25, Article XVIII must be related and viewed in light of the clear mandate embodied in Section 21,  Article VII, which in more specific terms, requires that the concurrence of a treaty, or international agreement, be made by a two -thirds vote of all the members of the Senate.    recognized as a treaty  by the other contracting state.     the phrase “recognized as a treaty”   means that the other contracting party accepts or
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