People’s Initiative to Amend the Constitution? Signatures Have No Value

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Macalintal cited Section 2, Article 17 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that any amendment of its provisions through initiative must be done “upon a petition.”

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal/Wikimedia Creative Commons

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been receiving signature sheets allegedly in support of a “people’s initiative” to amend the 1987 Philippine Constitution. But these signatures hold no value and should not be accepted by the Comelec, lawyer Romulo Macalintal, an election law expert, said.

Macalintal cited Section 2, Article 17 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that any amendment of its provisions through initiative must be done “upon a petition.” This means that for a people’s initiative to be valid, it must be initiated through a formal petition.

Without a petition, he said, the signature sheets being submitted to the Comelec lack the necessary legal foundation.

Macalintal added that a previous Supreme Court ruling in the 2006 case of Lambino vs. Comelec clarified that the people must have the opportunity to read the petition before deciding whether to sign it.

However, in the current situation, the Comelec Chairman, George Erwin Garcia, has admitted that no petition has been filed.

Therefore, the signature sheets being collected lack the required petition for the people to review and make an informed decision, Macalintal said.

Without a formal petition and the opportunity for the people to review its contents, these signatures are merely a collection of names on pieces of paper.

Macalintal’s statement highlights the importance of adhering to the constitutional provisions and legal requirements for any amendment to the Philippine Constitution.

The people’s initiative process is designed to ensure that any changes to the constitution reflect the will of the people and are conducted in a transparent and informed manner.

Accepting signature sheets without a valid petition undermines the integrity of the people’s initiative process and may lead to confusion and legal challenges down the line.

It is essential for the Comelec to uphold the constitutional requirements and only accept signatures in support of a people’s initiative when a formal petition has been filed.

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