Case Digests
Case Digests, Constitutional Law 1 Digests, Law School

Case Digest: Tolentino v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. L-34150, 4 November 1971

Tolentino v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. L-34150, 4 November 1971

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


Petition for prohibition principally to restrain the respondent Commission on Elections “from undertaking to hold a plebiscite on November 8, 1971,” at which the proposed constitutional amendment “reducing the voting age” in Section 1 of Article V of the Constitution of the Philippines to eighteen years “shall be, submitted” for ratification by the people pursuant to Organic Resolution No. 1 of the Constitutional Convention of 1971, and the subsequent implementing resolutions, by declaring said resolutions to be without the force and effect of law in so far as they direct the holding of such plebiscite and by also declaring the acts of the respondent Commission (COMELEC) performed and to be done by it in obedience to the aforesaid Convention resolutions to be null and void, for being violative of the Constitution of the Philippines.


Is there 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?


The Court holds that there is, and it is the condition and limitation that all the amendments to be proposed by the same Convention must be submitted to the people in a single “election” or plebiscite. It being indisputable that the amendment now proposed to be submitted to a plebiscite is only the first amendment the Convention propose We hold that the plebiscite being called for the purpose of submitting the same for ratification of the people on November 8, 1971 is not authorized by Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, hence all acts of the Convention and the respondent Comelec in that direction are null and void.

We have arrived at this conclusion for the following reasons:

  1. The language of the constitutional provision aforequoted is sufficiently clear. lt says distinctly that either Congress sitting as a constituent assembly or a convention called for the purpose “may propose amendments to this Constitution,” thus placing no limit as to the number of amendments that Congress or the Convention may propose. The same provision also as definitely provides that “such amendments shall be valid as part of this Constitution when approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for their ratification,” thus leaving no room for doubt as to how many “elections” or plebiscites may be held to ratify any amendment or amendments proposed by the same constituent assembly of Congress or convention, and the provision unequivocably says “an election” which means only one.

(2) Very little reflection is needed for anyone to realize the wisdom and appropriateness of this provision. As already stated, amending the Constitution is as serious and important an undertaking as constitution making itself. Indeed, any amendment of the Constitution is as important as the whole of it if only because the Constitution has to be an integrated and harmonious instrument, if it is to be viable as the framework of the government it establishes, on the one hand, and adequately formidable and reliable as the succinct but comprehensive articulation of the rights, liberties, ideology, social ideals, and national and nationalistic policies and aspirations of the people, on the other. lt is inconceivable how a constitution worthy of any country or people can have any part which is out of tune with its other parts..


A constitution is the work of the people thru its drafters assembled by them for the purpose. Once the original constitution is approved, the part that the people play in its amendment becomes harder, for when a whole constitution is submitted to them, more or less they can assumed its harmony as an integrated whole, and they can either accept or reject it in its entirety. At the very least, they can examine it before casting their vote and determine for themselves from a study of the whole document the merits and demerits of all or any of its parts and of the document as a whole. And so also, when an amendment is submitted to them that is to form part of the existing constitution, in like fashion they can study with deliberation the proposed amendment in relation to the whole existing constitution and or any of its parts and thereby arrive at an intelligent judgment as to its acceptability.



We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

You may also like...