Cha Cha petition junked;
‘Grand deception,’ SC says
By a hairline, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition seeking to revise the 1987 constitution via a people’s initiative.
By a vote of 8-7 majority, the high court ruled that the Commission on Elctions did not commit a grave abuse of discretion when it denied the pleas of “Sigaw ng Bayan,” advocates for charter change via people’s initiative to revise the charter.
The Supreme Court through its writer, Mr. Justice Antonio Carpio, articulated the main reason for dnying the petition of pro-charter change advocates, Sigaw ng Bayan.
In many ways, the Supreme Court ruled the constitutional requirements to conduct such change in the constitution were not complied with.
Such non-compliance is fatal, the Supreme Court said.
The constitutional requirements in order to have a valid peoples’ initiative is spelled out in the 1987 Constitution.
Non-compliance with requirements fatal
There were at least two main instances where the Supreme Court found out that the requirements for a valid petition were not complied with.
First, the text of the propose changes to the constitution was not attached to the signature sheets. Thus there is no evidence that the people, the signatories saw what these proposed changes were.
Second, the Supreme Court ruled that a peoples’ iniaitive can only amend a constitution, not revise it. The high court in its decision categorically declared a wide distinction between a revision and a mere amendment.
Under the constitution, a change in the constitution through a peoples’ initiative can accommodate only amendments.
The Court said: “there is no doubt whatsoever that the Lambino Group’s initiative is a revision and not an amendment. Thus, the present initiative is void and unconstitutional because it violates Section 2, Article XVII of the Constitution limiting the scope of a people’s initiative to “[A]mendments to this Constitution.”
Remarkable in the decision were the frank, brutal and no-holds-barred language employed by the high court through its ponencia, which strongly criticized the petitioners for the “deceptive” tactics employed in undertaking the process of peoples’ initiative.
The Surpeme Court castigated Atty Raul Lambino, the petitioner and his group Sigaw ng Bayan for deceiving 6.3 million Filipinos, even the entire nation for their misrepresentations.
The Supreme Court found that petitioner Atty. Lambino and his group mis-represented by leading the Filipinos to believe that the proposed changes would require the holding in 2007 of elections for the regular Parliament simultaneously with the local elections.
The truth is that “the members of the interim Parliament will decide the expiration of their own term of office,” the high court said. The Supreme Court described the petitioners’ act as a “grand deception”.
That is why it is required that the signature sheets must be accompanied by the actual changes to be proposed, which the proponents failed to do.
The Supreme Court also chided the petitioners for their “less than candid” and belated claims that they “printed and circulated, together with the signature sheets, the petition or amended petition” containing the proposed changes to the constitution.
The Supreme Court did not mince words in chiding the petitioners for their deceptive tactics. The Court said: “An initiative that gathers signatures from the people without first showing to the people the full text of the proposed amendments is most likely a deception, and can operate as a gigantic fraud on the people.”
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