Constitutional Amendments & Revisions

Article excerpt

Byline: Rene F Espina

AMIDST the controversy about the peopleas initiative to amend the Constitution, letas read the constitutional provisions:

"Art. XVII Amendments or Revisions Sec. I. Any amendment to, or revision of this Constitution may be proposed by: 1) the Congress upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members; or 2) A constitutional convention."

"Sec. II Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least 12 percent of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three percent of the registered voters. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter. The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right."

"Section IV ... Any amendment under Section II hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the certification by the Commission on Elections of the petition."

The records of the 1987 Constitutional Commission show that revision may involve a rewriting of the whole Constitution. On the other hand, the act of amending a Constitution envisages a change of specific provisions only. Amendment means, "not the change of an entire constitution but only the improvement of specific parts or the addition of provisions deemed essential as a consequence of new conditions or the elimination of parts already considered obsolete or unresponsive to the needs of the times."

Con-Com delegate Fr. Joaquin Bernas states that "the guiding original intention and plan of revision contemplates a reexamination of the entire document or provisions of the document which have overall implications for the entire document, to determine how and to what extent they shall be altered. Bernas cited examples of revisions, i.e., the switch from the Presidential to a Parliamentary system and from bicameral to unicameral system because of their, "overall impact on the entire structure. …