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Case Digest: Almario et. al. v. Alba, G.R. No. L-66088, 25 January 1984

Almario et. al. v. Alba, G.R. No. L-66088, 25 January 1984

TOPIC: Amendment vs. Revision of the Constitution: Proposal Stage: Doctrine of Fair and Proper Submission


As provided for in Batas Pambansa Blg. 643, the Filipino electorate will go to the polls on January 27, 1984 to either approve or reject amendments to the Constitution proposed by Resolution Nos. 104, 105, 110, 111, 112, and 113 of the Batasang Pambansa. The proposed amendments are embodied in four (4) separate questions to be answered by simple YES or NO answers.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Petitioners herein seek to enjoin the submission on January 27, 1984 of Question Nos. 3 and 4, which cover Resolution Nos. 105 and 113, to the people for ratification or rejection on the ground that there has been no fair and proper submission following the doctrine laid down in Tolentino v. COMELEC (41 SCRA 707). The petitioners do not seek to prohibit the holding of the plebiscite but only ask for more time for the people to study the meaning and implications of Resolution Nos. 105 and 113 until the nature and effect of the proposals are fairly and properly submitted to the electorate.

The questions to be presented to the electorate at the plebiscite are:


Do you vote for the approval of amendments to the Constitution as proposed by the Batasang Pambansa in Resolution Numbered 105 which, in substance, provide that grant shall be an additional mode for the acquisition of lands belonging to the public domain and that the agrarian reform program may include the grant or distribution of alienable lands of the public domain to qualified tenants, farmers and other landless citizens.


Do you vote for the approval of an amendment to the Constitution as proposed by the Batasang Pambansa in its Resolution Numbered 113, adding the following paragraph to Section 12 of Article XIV of the

“The State shall moreover undertake an urban land reform and social housing program to provide deserving landless, homeless or inadequately sheltered low income resident citizens reasonable opportunity to acquire land and decent housing consistent with Section 2 of Article IV of this Constitution.”


WON Q 3 & 4 can be presented through a plebiscite on a later date.


Section 2, Article XVI of the Constitution allows a period of not more than three months for the conduct of information campaigns. The sufficiency of the period during which amendments are submitted to the people before they vote to either affirm or reject depends on the complexity and intricacy of the questions presented. The petitioners have failed to show that the addition of the one word “grant” to Section 11, Article XIV or that the addition of two paragraphs including one on urban land reform to Section 12 of Article XIV result in amendments of such nature that when the people go to the polls on January 27, 1984 they cannot arrive at an intelligent judgment on their acceptability or non-acceptability.

The present provisions of the Constitution are adequate to support any program of the government for the grant of pub]ic lands to qualified and deserving citizens or for the implementation of urban land reform. Homesteads and free patents are “grants.” We likewise see no constitutional infirmity to a law passed by the Batasang Pambansa, under the present Constitution, that would grant alienable and disposable lands of the public domain not more than twenty four (24) hectares to any qualified tenant, farmer, and other landless citizen in areas reserved by the President, acting pursuant to such law. Nor is it correct to say that after the agrarian land reform program now being implemented and the agitation for a similar program in urban areas, the meaning of “urban land reform” is not yet understood. Questions No. 3 and No. 4, if ratified with an affirmative vote, will serve at most a symbolic purpose.

More important, however, is that the necessity, expediency, and wisdom of the proposed amendments are beyond the power of the courts to adjudicate. Precisely, whether or not “grant” of public land and “urban land reform” are unwise or improvident or whether or not the proposed amendments are unnecessary is a matter which only the people can decide. The questions are presented for their determination. Assuming that a member or some members of this Court may find undesirable any additional mode of disposing of public land or an urban land reform program, the remedy is to vote “NO” in the plebiscite but not to substitute his or their aversion to the proposed amendments by denying to the millions of voters an opportunity to express their own likes or dislikes. The issue before us has nothing to do with the wisdom of the proposed amendments, their desirability, or the danger of the power being abused. The issue is whether or not the voters are aware of the wisdom, the desirability, or the dangers of abuse. The petitioners have failed to make out a case that the average voter does not know the meaning of “grant” of public land or of “urban land reform.”




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