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Imbong v. Ferrer, G.R. No. L-32432, 11 September 1970

Imbong v. Ferrer, G.R. No. L-32432, 11 September 1970

TOPIC: Amendment vs. Revision of the Constitution: Proposal Stage: Constituent Assembly and Constitutional Convention


It will be recalled that on March 16, 1967, Congress, acting as a Constituent Assembly pursuant to Art. XV of the Constitution, passed Resolution No. 2 which among others called for a Constitutional Convention to propose constitutional amendments to be composed of two delegates from each representative district who shall have the same qualifications as those of Congressmen, to be elected on the second Tuesday of November, 1970 in accordance with the Revised Election Code.

After the adoption of said Res. No. 2 in 1967 but before the November elections of that year, Congress, acting as a legislative body, enacted Republic Act No. 4914 implementing the aforesaid Resolution No. 2 and practically restating in toto the provisions of said Resolution No. 2.

On June 17, 1969, Congress, also acting as a Constituent Assembly, passed Resolution No. 4 amending the aforesaid Resolution No. 2 of March 16, 1967 by providing that the convention “shall be composed of 320 delegates apportioned among the existing representative districts according to the number of their respective inhabitants: Provided, that a representative district shall be entitled to at least two delegates, who shall have the same qualifications as those required of members of the House of Representatives,”1 “and that any other details relating to the specific apportionment of delegates, election of delegates to, and the holding of, the Constitutional Convention shall be embodied in an implementing legislation: Provided, that it shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of this Resolution.”2

On August 24, 1970, Congress, acting as a legislative body, enacted Republic Act No. 6132, implementing Resolutions Nos. 2 and 4, and expressly repealing R.A. No. 4914.

Petitioner Raul M. Gonzales assails the validity of the entire law as well as the particular provisions embodied in Sections 2, 4, 5, and par. 1 of 8(a). Petitioner Manuel B. Imbong impugns the constitutionality of only par. I of Sec. 8(a) of said R.A. No. 6132 practically on the same grounds advanced by petitioner Gonzales.


WON the apportionment of delegates to the convention made by congress is valid


Unlike in the apportionment of representative districts, the Constitution does not expressly or impliedly require such apportionment of delegates to the convention on the basis of population in each congressional district. Congress, sitting as a Constituent Assembly, may constitutionally allocate one delegate for, each congressional district or for each province, for reasons of economy and to avoid having an unwieldy convention. If the framers of the present Constitution wanted the apportionment of delegates to the convention to be based on the number of inhabitants in each representative district, they would have done so in so many words as they did in relation to the apportionment of the representative districts.

The apportionment provided for in Sec. 2 of R.A. No. 6132 cannot possibly conflict with its own intent expressed therein; for it merely obeyed and implemented the intent of Congress acting as a Constituent Assembly expressed in Sec. 1 of Res. No. 4, which provides that the 320 delegates should be apportioned among the existing representative districts according to the number of their respective inhabitants, but fixing a minimum of at least two delegates for a representative district. The presumption is that the factual predicate, the latest available official population census, for such apportionment was presented to Congress, which, accordingly employed a formula for the necessary computation to effect the desired proportional representation.

The fact that the lone and small congressional district of Batanes, may be over-represented, because it is allotted two delegates by R.A. No. 6132 despite the fact that it has a population very much less than several other congressional districts, each of which is also allotted only two delegates, and therefore under-represented, vis-a-vis Batanes alone, does not vitiate the apportionment as not effecting proportional representation. Absolute proportional apportionment is not required and is not possible when based on the number of inhabitants, for the population census cannot be accurate nor complete, dependent as it is on the diligence of the census takers, aggravated by the constant movement of population, as well as daily death and birth. It is enough that the basis employed is reasonable and the resulting apportionment is substantially proportional. Resolution No. 4 fixed a minimum of two delegates for a congressional district.

While there may be other formulas for a reasonable apportionment considering the evidence submitted to Congress by the Bureau of Census and Statistics, we are not prepared to rule that the computation formula adopted by, Congress for proportional representation as, directed in Res. No. 4 is unreasonable and that the apportionment provided in R.A. No. 6132 does not constitute a substantially proportional representation.

In the Macias case, relied on by petitioner Gonzales, the apportionment law, which was nullified as unconstitutional, granted more representatives to a province with less population than the provinces with more inhabitants. Such is not the case here, where under Sec. 2 of R.A. No. 6132 Batanes is allotted only two delegates, which number is equal to the number of delegates accorded other provinces with more population. The present petitions therefore do not present facts which fit the mould of the doctrine in the case of Macias et al. vs. Comelec, supra.

The impossibility of absolute proportional representation is recognized by the Constitution itself when it directs that the apportionment of congressional districts among the various provinces shall be “as nearly as may be according to their respective inhabitants, but each province shall have at least one member” (Sec. 5, Art. VI, Phil. Const., emphasis supplied). The employment of the phrase “as nearly as may be according to their respective inhabitants” emphasizes the fact that the human mind can only approximate a reasonable apportionment but cannot effect an absolutely proportional representation with mathematical precision or exactitude.


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