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[ARTURO M. TOLENTINO v. COMELEC](http://lawyerly.ph/juris/view/c587e?user=fbGU2WFpmaitMVEVGZ2lBVW5xZ2RVdz09)
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[ GR No. L-34150, Nov 04, 1971 ]

ARTURO M. TOLENTINO v. COMELEC +

RESOLUTION

149 Phil. 278

[ G.R. No. L-34150, November 04, 1971 ]

ARTURO M. TOLENTINO, PETITIONER, VS. COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS, AND THE CHIEF ACCOUNTANT, THE AUDITOR, AND THE DISBURSING OFFICER OF THE 1971 CONSTITU­TIONAL CONVENTION, RESPONDENTS, RAUL S. MANGLAPUS, JESUS G. BARRERA, PABLO S. TRILLANA III, VICTOR DE LA SERNA, MARCELO B. FERNAN, JOSE Y. FERIA; LEONARDO SI­GUION REYNA, VICTOR F. ORTEGA, AND JUAN V. BORRA, INTERVENORS.

R E S O L U T I O N

BARREDO, J.:

Submitted for resolution are the motion for reconsideration of the decision of this Court in this case, filed by the intervenors and adopted by respondent Com­mission on Elections, and the other motion to the same effect and practically on the same grounds of the re­spondents Chief Accounting Officer and Auditor of the Constitutional Convention of 1971, both seasonably answered by petitioner.

The decision sought to be reconsidered holds as null and void Organic Resolution No. 1 of the Conven­tion which proposes the amendment of Section 1 of Art­icle V of the Constitution by reducing the age require­ment for voters therein from 21 to 18 years, "without prejudice to other amendments that will he proposed in the future by the 1971 Constitutional Convention on other portions of the amended section or on other portions of the entire Constitution", and provides further that said proposed amendment shall be submitted for ratification or rejection by the people in a plebiscite to be held coincident with the forthcoming election of senators and local officials on November 8, 1971, and finally appropriates part of the funds of the Conven­tion for the purpose.  In brief, the said decision is based on the ground that, having in view the obvious reasons underlying the provisions of Section 1 of Art­icle XV of the Constitution which prescribe the proce­dure of amending the fundamental law, aside, of course, from the ordinary import of its language, the Court is convinced that said provisions do not permit the hold­ing of more than one "election" or plebiscite for the submission to the people of any and all of the amend­ments to be proposed by the present convention and this, We say, is without considering anymore the fact that the proposed amendment in question is expressly saddled with reservations which naturally impair, in great measure, its very essence as a proposed constitutional amendment.

Reconsideration of this decision is now sought on the following grounds:

(1)  That inasmuch as Congress, acting as a consti­tuent assembly, can submit to a plebiscite, whether, singly or together, the constitutional amendments it may propose, the Convention being at par with such con­stituent assembly must also be considered as having such power;

(2)  That the phrase "at an election" in Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution does not necessarily mean only one plebiscite but may be construed as signi­fying several plebiscites, because there is jurispru­dence holding that a word in singular in a statute or constitution may be understood in the plural;

(3)  That the question of whether or not the Convention should submit the amendments it may propose in a single plebiscite or otherwise is a matter that goes in­to the wisdom of the action of the Convention rather than to its authority or power, hence outside the pale of judicial review;

(4)  And that, in relation to the point in the deci­sion to the effect that the proposed amendment in ques­tion regarding the reduction of the voting age in the Philippines has no frame of reference on which the voters at the projected plebiscite may base their judgment as to its acceptability, there is no need of such frame of re­ference because the proposed amendment "is a simple fix­ing (lowering) of the minimum voting age from 21 to 18," and "it is difficult to conceive of any possible future amendments where (sic) this fixed voting age could be out of tune" and hard to "imagine how this amendment on this minimum voting age could conceivably be better understood if presented together with the various sub­stantial and fundamental amendments in the whole draft when concluded."

The rest of the motion of intervenors deals with the additional arguments discussed in the separate con­curring opinion of Justices J. B. L. Reyes, Zaldivar, Castro and Makasiar.

After full and serious consideration of the above grounds and the arguments adduced in support thereof, together with the answer thereto of petitioner, the Court does not find sufficient cause to alter or modify its rul­ings on the points covered by the motions for reconsider­ation.  Ironically for respondents and intervenors, as will be presently demonstrated, the points now being raised by them serve to reenforce rather than to destroy the bases of said rulings.

Importantly, before discussing the arguments of the parties, it is well to emphasize that respondents and in­tervenors impliedly, if not expressly, admit now that the provisions of Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, dealing with the procedure or manner of amending the fun­damental law, are binding upon the Convention and the other departments of the government.  It must be added that, as well pointed out by petitioner in his answer to the motions for reconsideration, they are no less binding upon the people.  The preamble of the Constitution says that the Constitution has been ordained by the "Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence." Section 1 of Article XV is nothing more than a part of the Constitution thus ordained by the people.  Hence, in con­struing said section, We must read it as if the people had said, "This Constitution may he amended, but it is our will that the amendment must be proposed and submitted to Us for ratification only in the manner herein provided." This is not to say that the people may not, in the exer­cise of their inherent revolutionary powers, amend the Constitution or promulgate an entirely new one otherwise, but as long as any amendment is formulated and submitted under the aegis of the present Charter, any resolution for the submission of any such amendment which is not in confor­mity with the letter, spirit and intent of the provisions of the Charter for effecting amendments, cannot receive the sanction of this Court.  Accordingly, the real issue here cannot be whether or not the amending process delineated by the present Constitution may be disregarded in favor of allowing the sovereign people to express their decision on the proposed amendments, if only because it is evident that the very idea of departing from the fundamental law is ana­chronistic in the realm of constitutionalism and repugnant to the essence of the rule of law; rather, it is whether or not the provisional nature of the proposed amendment and the manner of its submission to the people for rati­fication or rejection conform with the mandate of the peo­ple themselves in such regard, as expressed in the Consti­tution itself.  In other words, the inescapable function of the Court in this case is to determine what is the pro­per construction of Section 1 of Article XV, and, corolla­rily, to declare whether CC Organic Resolution No. 1 falls within or without said construction.

As already stated, movants claim that inasmuch as Congress, as a constituent assembly, has the power to submit amendments proposed by it in a piece-meal manner for ratification, it follows that the Convention, which is at par with said assembly, also has such power.  The fault in this posture lies in the simple fact that the factual truth and legal correctness of its major premise are assumed, and it happens that after mature study, We find that said premise suffers from inaccuracy, factual­ly and legally.

To begin with, in trying to draw a parallelism bet­ween the Convention, on the one hand, and the Congress, as a constituent assembly, on the other, movants would ignore, at the same time, the distinction, between Congress as the Legislature and Congress acting in its capacity as a, constituent body. Although Congress as the Legislature is a continuing body, factually and in contemplation of law, it is not so whenever it sits in its capacity as a constituent assembly.  In the latter instance, its juridical existence as such is coextensive only with the legal duration of the joint session assembled to perform any particular work of proposing amendments to the Constitution. Each of such joint sessions ad­journs finally after it has approved its proposal or proposals and becomes functus officio thereafter in order to give way to the submission of its proposal or proposals to the people. In the juridical sense, each such joint session is a constitutional convention in it­self, distinct and separate from the others of similar nature, and may be distinguished from the convention per se, like the current one, only in that the latter is constituted upon the election of delegates by the people, whereas the constituent assembly of Congress constitutes itself upon mere concurrent resolution of the two Houses to such effect passed by simple majority vote of the respective members thereof.  Consequently, while Congress may easily reconvene as another constituent body after it has finally adjourned as such, from the very nature of its existence, such cannot be done by a convention, since in the case of the latter, a new call for election of delegates who would compose a new Constitutional Convention would be needed.

It can thus be seen that the submission by Con­gress of proposed amendments after each final adjourn­ment of its joint constituent session, and not before such adjournment, is conclusive proof, not of the legal possibility of piece-meal submission of proposed amend­ments to the people by Congress, but, on the contrary, of the validity of the proposition that the constituent assembly has to become functus officio first before the Constitutional amendments it proposes may be submitted to the people for ratification.  Indeed, the holding of a plebiscite only after every joint constituent session of Congress has already approved all its proposed amendments to the Constitution is not in any sense a piece-meal submission of such amendments, but rather the whole­sale submission thereof, since they would be all that the particular assembly approving them wants to propose, irrespective of their actual number, whether one or more than one.

Petitioner's well-reasoned discussion of this point, albeit confined to theoretical rationalization, could sufficiently refute movants' contentions, but a little bit of historical exposition should serve to lay the matter in issue at rest on more solid ground.  Incident ally, in the same manner that movants have not cited any specific factual basis for their pose, petitioner's answer is silent as to the facts extant in the Congressional records relative to the important issue under discussion.

What do the congressional records reveal in his regard?

Since its ratification on May 14, 1935, the Philip­pine Constitution has been amended three times, not counting, of course, the unsuccessful attempt in that direction caused by the rejection by the people of the two amendments proposed by the constituent Congress in 1967.  These amendments were approved in 1939, 1940 and 1947.

On August 7, 1939, the Congress of the United States passed the Tydings-Koscialkowski Bill providing for terms of the trade relation between the United States and the Philippines purportedly improving those contained in the Philippine Independence Act and requir­ing that, in order that said terms may become effective on January 1, 1940, the ordinance appended to the Cons­titution should be correspondingly amended to include them not later than January 1, 1940.  In the meanwhile, earlier in the same year 1939, agitations had started already for the possible extension of the term of Pre­sident Quezon which was to expire, under the original Constitution, in 1941.  The idea snowballed steadily, such that in the convention of the Nacionalista Party assembled on July 7 and 8, 1939, it was resolved to request the National Assembly to meet as a constituent body to propose three amendments to the Constitution, namely:  (1) to change the term of the President from six years without reelection to four years with one re­election; (2) to restore the bicameral system of legis­lature; and (3) to establish a constitutional commis­sion on elections. Taking advantage of the approval of the Tydings-Koscialkowski Act on August 8, 1939, Presi­dent Quezon called the National Assembly to a special session purposely to consider proposals to amend the Constitution, not only to comply with the said American law but also to act on the request contained in the above-mentioned resolution of the Nacionalista Party convention.  The response of the National Assembly was rather fast.  On September 15, 1939, all four proposed amendments were approved in two separate resolutions, Nos. 38 and 39, (a) the proposed amendment of the Or­dinance being embodied in Resolution No. 39 and (b) the three other proposals for amendment of the Constitution in Resolution No. 38. Four days later, on Sep­tember 19, 1939, the National Assembly, acting this time as the Legislature, approved Commonwealth Act 492, providing for the submission of the foregoing approved proposals to amend the Constitution to the people in two separate plebiscites, (a) Resolution No. 39 in the first to be held on October 24, 1939 and (b) Resolution No. 38 in the second scheduled to coincide with the following election of local officials in 1940.  However, inasmuch as strong public opinion developed against the submittal of the three amendments proposed in Resolution No. 38 in one single question, the National Assembly had to recon­vene as a constituent body to make the corresponding chan­ges in the wording of the proposals in such a way that the three proposed amendments could be embodied in three sepa­rate questions and thereby make it possible for any of them to be accepted or rejected independently of any of the other two.  Thus on April 11, 1940, the amendatory Resolution No. 73 was approved, and shortly thereafter, the Legislature enacted Commonwealth Act 517 correspondingly amending Com­monwealth Act 492 and advancing at the same time the second plebiscite to June 18, 1940.  The three amendment proposals were all ratified at this plebiscite.  In the meanwhile the proposed amendment of the Ordinance to the Constitution proposed in Resolution No. 39 was ratified by the people on the previously scheduled plebiscite on October 24, 1939.[1]

The third amendment ratified on March 11, 1947 was in connection with the added provision of the Ordinance appen­ded to the Constitution granting parity rights to the Ame­ricans.

In this historical account, it does appear that fact­ually, the National Assembly sought to submit several pro­posed amendments approved by it in a single session as a constituent body separately or "piece-meal" in two separate plebiscites or elections a little reflection will reveal that what actually happened in 1939 cannot be invoked to justify the proposed plebiscite now in question.

In Our decision, We held that the legal objection to a piece-meal submission of the proposed amendment is that it does not provide the people with a frame of re­ference on the basis of which they can determine the acceptability of the proposal.  More specifically, since the proposed reduction of the voting age to eight­een years cannot apply to the forthcoming election, of November 8, 1971 and could hardly have any relevance to the framework and principles of the present Constitu­tion, considering that these are precisely being the subject also of proposed changes in the Convention, the result is that the proposed amendment is completely an isolated one which cannot even be related to the amend­ed or new constitution which the Convention will pro­pose, for the simple reason that, as things now stand in the Convention; no one can foretell what shape, color or size the other amendments will have.  Moreover, as indicated in Our decision, and as thoroughly dis­cussed in the deliberations of the Court, properly ana­lyzed, the proposed amendment in question cannot in truth be considered as a complete one, but merely as a fractional, provisional and incomplete proposal that hardly qualifies to be a part of the fundamental law of the land, which is the embodiment of permanence, defi­niteness, security and stability in all that it embra­ces, for the better protection and enjoyment of all the people under it, considering that the proposed amend­ment is coupled with express and implied reservations,[2] the specific extent and magnitude of which are not pos­sible to define, delimit and delineate, on the basis of what appears on the face of the Convention's reso­lution, in a manner that would give the voter a clear and definite idea of what the exact amendment would lat­er on turn out to be, and thus enable him to make an intelligent decision, which is what the Constitution con­templates as indispensable in any plebiscite for the amendment thereof.

All these shortcomings were absent in the 1939 proposals.  To begin with, there was no idea then of completely overhauling the Constitution outside of the specific areas of the presidency, Congress and the Commission on Elections covered by amendatory Resolution No. 73. Consequently, the existing Constitution was readily the frame of reference of all the proposed amendments, which could, therefore, be studied and judged in the light of the other parts of the whole Constitution.  Secondly, all the proposed amendments then were complete and in final form before they were submitted to the people, unlike the one here in ques­tion which, as already discussed, is fractional and conditional.  Thirdly, the proposed amendment related to the Ordinance appended to the Constitution was no less than an ineluctable imposition of the sovereign power, the United States of America, which imposition, if not yielded to, would cost the loss of preferential treatment of our country in the American trade market, something which our leaders at that time considered, rightly, or, wrongly, as essential to our national eco­nomy.  Indeed, in a sense, it was psychologically de­sirable that said imposition was separated from the op­tional proposals to avoid mistaking the latter as being also obligatory.  Besides, there was the element of time; the United States Congress gave the Philippines only up to January 1, 1940 to accept its offer of pre­ferential treatment; upon the other hand, more time was needed by the people to distill the effects and implications of the optional proposed amendments and the wise leaders of the country knew that, under the circumstan­ces, it was only fair and proper that the people be given sufficient opportunity to study them.  Further­more, in another sense, the submission of the amendment to the Ordinance might have been considered a formality because the American Government then still retained some measure of sovereignty over the Philippines.

Withal, looking at the matter from an alternative point of view, it can even be said that, in effect, the scheduling of the second plebiscite in Commonwealth Act 492 was reconsidered in favor of another separate cons­tituent session of the National Assembly which in actuality convened and forthwith approved Resolution No. 73 which became the one submitted for the ratification of the people on June 18, 1940 by virtue of the provi­sions of a law other than Commonwealth Act 492, namely, Commonwealth Act 517.  In other words, it can be said that Resolution No. 38 was abandoned and in a different constituent assembly, Amendatory Resolution No. 73 was approved.  Clearly, therefore, what happened in 1939 does not detract from the premises of Our decision in this case, nor has it established any precedent which can justifiably apply to the background circumstances of this case in the sense movants would perchance have such 1939 events understood.

It may be stated, at this juncture, that the real lessons from the above chapter of our Constitutional history seem to have escaped the intervenors.  As already observed, We did hold two separate plebiscites for the ratification of several amendments apparently proposed by the same constituent assembly, but it should be emphasized that, as explained above, Resolution No. 38 of the first assembly was disregarded and a new assembly approved Resolution No. 73, on the basis of which the June 18, 1940 plebiscite was set.  In any event, when the two plebiscites were scheduled or set all the amendments had already been approved in defi­nite and final form, hence the frame of reference of the people was likewise already fixed and clear, i.e., not only the other parts of the existing Constitution but also the proposed amendments taken toge­ther and in relation to each other.  Thus, in the view of some members of the Court, this writer included, articulated and discussed during the deliberations, the cause for the participation of the eighteen-year-olds in the plebiscite or election for the ratification of the amendatory Constitution to be proposed by the Con­vention is not precluded by the decision in this case, much less lost.  Said justices have expressed the opi­nion that once the Convention has completed all its work on the whole constitution, this proposal to allow the eighteen-year-olds to vote in the ratification plebiscite may be included among the transitory provi­sions thereof and a special advance plebiscite may be held for the sole purpose of submitting this particular transitory provision in favor of the eighteen­-year-olds for approval or rejection ahead of the main body of the new Constitution or the rest of the pro­posed final amendments to be approved by the Conven­tion.  In such an event, according to this view, the frame of reference would already be clear, and in that sense, the advance plebiscite can no longer be considered as piece-meal within the contemplation of Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution.

In this connection, the writer of this opinion recalls that under the second sentence of Section 1 of Article V of the Constitution as approved on February 8, 1935, woman suffrage was to be allowed by law only if in a plebiscite which shall be held within two years after the adoption of the Constitution, that is, after its ratification by the people, not less than three hundred thousand women possessing the necessary qualifications should vote in its favor.  This means that in a sense, there were actually two plebiscites held separately to ratify the Constitution, the first to approve or reject the whole of it and the second, to ratify the extension of woman suffrage, albeit the latter was participated in only by women.  Otherwise stated, it is not strange that a particular provision of the Constitution is submitted to the people separately from the whole, provided the latter is already complete.

Further, those of Us holding the view just dis­cussed, see no constitutional objection to the Con­vention itself fixing the dates of the respective plebiscites.  While no definite consensus has been reached yet as to whether the rest of the amendment process is exclusively within the legislative juris­diction of Congress or belongs concurrently to the Convention and Congress, because some justices do not see the necessity of deciding said issue here, the Court is unanimous in not seeing any reason for apprehension of failure in the funding of a separate plebiscite or of any plebiscite, for that matter, even if it were held that the power belongs exclu­sively to Congress.[3] The Court does not share the argument of distrust in the sense of duty and respon­sibility of Congress which movants so heavily rely upon, even if this were conceived, as it must be, in the interest of the independence of the Convention.

The reason for this position of the Court is simple. In the main, the organic part of the Consti­tution has, by necessity, to allocate powers and du­ties among the different departments, branches and offices of the government.  These powers are stated either in black and white in its provisions or are necessarily inferable therefrom.  In the legal sense, the definition and allocation are made by the people.  It is neither reasonable nor fair to assume that any of the departments, branches, or offices upon which any duties afire imposed by the Constitution would ignore and evade the mandate of the people.  In their motion for reconsideration, movants give assurances that if this Court should recognize some powers as belonging to the Convention, the high sense of re­sponsibility of its members will not permit the abusive exercise of said powers.  This the Court readily concedes, but at the same time, the Court feels it cannot concede any less to the other depart­ments of the government.  Here, as in any other constitutional democracy, as contrasted to a totalitarian or authoritarian government, every department must ne­cessarily rely not only on its powers and indepen­dence but also on its interdependence upon and the sense of duty and responsibility of the other depart­ments.

In the words of this Court in Abueva vs. Wood, 45 Phil. 612:

"x x x If the Courts could in­tervene in the administration of the other independent departments of government, or vice versa, they would break away from those checks and balances of government which are meant, under our system of government, to be checks of cooperation and not of antagonism or mastery, and would concentrate in their own hands something, at least, of the power which the people, either di­rectly or by the action of their representatives, decided to entrust to the other departments of the government.  Under the form of govern­ment established by the United States in the Philippine Islands, one department of the government has no power or authority to inquire into the acts of another, which acts are performed within the discretion of the other department.  The absur­dity of any other rule is manifest upon the slightest meditation.  The judicial and executive and legisla­tive departments of government are distinct and independent, and neither is responsible to the other for the performance of its duties, and nei­ther can enforce the performance of the duties of the other.  The dangers and difficulties which would grow out of the adoption of a contrary rule would be destructive of the harmonious relations of the differ­ent departments of government, and lead to confusion and disorder.  Each of the three departments of government has separate and dis­tinct functions to perform.  No one department of the government can or ever has claimed a greater zeal than the others in its desire to promote the welfare of the individual citizen and to protect his rights. No one department of the government can claim that it has a monopoly of these benign purposes of the government."

Thus, Congress would be inutile with its power to appropriate unless the Executive can be relied upon to disburse the appropriated sums; the Executive would be helpless in issuing orders the other officials will not give effect to; even this Court would better not exist if it cannot depend on the Executive to enforce its decisions and the Congress to abide by its inter­pretation and construction of the laws and the Consti­tution.  In other words, as this Court has already re­peatedly held, in earlier decisions, and as movants themselves posit, the possibility of abuse is no rea­son for the denial of power.  Briefly then, whether it is the Convention or the Congress that should appro­priate the funds for the plebiscite, there is no cause to fear there would be failure in that respect.

Less concern should there be according to the same justices, about the apparent hugeness of the amount needed for a plebiscite separate from an election of officials whether local or national.  Granted the importance of giving the youth of the country a more meaningful participation in the exercise of the people's sovereign power in step with other nations of the world, it is a matter of public knowledge that bigger amounts have been spent or thrown to waste for many lesser objectives.  All previous plebiscites for the ratification of the proposed constitutional amendments have almost invariably been held separately from such elections, mid in the solitary case when Congress provided for coincidence, six members of this Court, only two short of the required constitutional number, voted to declare the practice unconstitutional.[4] Surely, the amount of seventeen million pesos or even more is not too much a price to pay for fealty and loyalty to the Constitution and the cause movants and many other segments of the country are so assiduously espousing. Withal, consideration should also be give to the fact that even some members of the Convention have gone on record as to their doubts on whether or not there is sufficient time by November 8, 1971 for our people to study seriously and adequately the pro­posed amendments, even as they complained of the many short cuts and virtual "log rolling" procedure adopt­ed within the Convention in the course of the passage of, the resolution in question, not to mention the apprehension, not without basis, that the manner in which Comelec is undertaking its constitutional and statutory duties in the premises, and the way the proposed plebiscite is to be funded, may not be within the contemplation of the Constitution and the provisions of the election laws.

The second ground of movants deserves scant consi­deration.  To begin with, it is based on the erroneous factual premise that Our decision was based only or mainly on a grammatical analysis of the phrase "an election" as exclusively signifying only one plebiscite under any circumstances.  The truth of the matter is that the Court did not merely read and interpret the constitutional provision in question, but went further and construed it, by going behind the actual words used in the provision and ascertaining the purpose and in­tent of die framers of the Constitution.  It was on this basis that We held that there can be no piece-meal sub­mission of amendments proposed and to be proposed by the Convention.  Nothing in what We said denies the possibility that the phrase "an election" may compre­hend more than one plebiscite; what We held in effect was that as between two possible interpretations, the one more consistent with the spirit of the provisions, is that which proscribes piece-meal submission before the whole draft of the new Constitution or all the amendments to be proposed by the Convention have been finally approved by that body, considering that before that there could be no safe frame of reference for in­telligent voting, specially because the particular amendment proposed is subject to many undefined reser­vations which it is in the power of the Convention to approve at any time before or after the ratification of their final handiwork.

As to the third ground of intervenors' motion for reconsideration, suffice it to say that it is ob­vious that movants have confused wisdom of the ques­tioned action taken by the Convention with the wisdom of the provisions of Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution which is applicable thereto.  What We discussed in Our decision is not whether or not the Convention acted wisely; We simply held that for the reasons given in the decision, We see wisdom in the construction that piece-meal submission, before all the proposed Constitutional amendments as a whole have been approved, is not allowed by the Constitution.

Finally, movants contend that the proposed amend­ment in question does not need any frame of reference because it refers solely and only to the reduction of the voting age.  As already indicated earlier in this resolution and as discussed in the decision, We con­sider movants' position to be a shortsighted view.  The right to vote is not as simple as it might appear to be when considered in relation to the form of government, the fundamental principles and the educational policies, inter alia, that the other amendments to the Constitution may adopt and pursue.  Besides, We reiterate that in the way the proposal is worded, read together with the reservations tacked to it by the Convention thru Section 3 of the questioned resolution, it is too much of a speculation to assume hat exactly the amendment would really amount to in the end.  All in all, as already pointed out in Our discussion of movants' first ground, if this kind of amendment is allowed, the Philippines will appear before the world to be in the absurd position of being the only country with a constitution containing a provision so ephemeral no one knows until when it will be actually in force.  Incidentally; in this connection, the writer of this resolution is persuaded that had the Convention clearly and definitely provided that the proposed amendment was intended solely to enable 18 to 20-year- olds to vote in the plebiscite for ratification or rejection of the Constitution as to be finally amended by the Convention and proposed for ratification, his vote now could have been in favor of respondents.[5]

In the end, We see no plausible reason to alter the judgment in this case.  As We see it, the consti­tutional provision in question presents no doubt which may be resolved in favor of respondents and intervenors.  We do not believe such doubt can exist only because it is urged that the end sought to be achieved is to be desired.[6] Paraphrasing no less than the President of the Constitutional Convention of 1934, Claro M. Recto, let those who would put aside, invoking grounds at best controversial, any mandate of the fundamental law purportedly in order to attain come laudable objective bear in mind that someday somehow others with purport­edly more laudable objectives may take advantage of the precedent and continue the destruction of the Constitu­tion, making those who laid down the precedent of justi­fying deviation from the requirements of the Constitu­tion the victims of their own folly.[7]

WHEREFORE, the motions for reconsideration are denied.

Zaldivar and Castro, JJ., concur.
Concepcion, C.J., concurs in a separate opinion.
Reyes, J.B.L., J., concurs with the opinions of Justice Barredo, Chief Justice Concepcion, and Justice Teehankee.
Teehanke, J., concurs in the opinion and that of the Chief Justice and add a separate concurrence.
Villamor, J., concurs in the above opinion and in the separate opinions of the Chief Justice and Justice Teehankee.
Makasiar, J., concurs fully in the opinion of Mr. Justice Barredo and in the concurring opinions of Chief Justice Concepcion and Justice Teehankee.
Makalintal and Fernando, JJ., dissent in a separate opinion.



[1] The historical narration is based on details found in Aruego, Know Your Constitution, Revised Edition, pp. 59-76.

[2] The continued existence of the Convention is in it­self the most pervasive reservation, for it lies in its power, while it exists, to make any alteration or modification it may conceive in any and all as­pects of the proposed amendment, all present nega­tive intentions on the matter notwithstanding.

[3] The writer is personally more inclined to the view that the power lies concurrently in the Convention and Congress, similarly, as in the case of the pow­er of Congress sitting as a constituent assembly to call a constitutional convention, as held in Imbong vs. Comelec, 35 SCRA 28, L-32432, Sept. 11, 1970.

[4] Gonzales vs. Comelec, L-28??96, Nov. 9, 1967, 21 SCRA 774.

[5] Justices Zaldivar and Castro would join in this view provided the plebiscite contemplated were held sepa­rately from the election of officials.

[6] In sharing this conclusion, I have not failed to consider the appeals addressed to the Court and to its members individually by scores of persons, young and adult, singly and in groups, urging Us to reconsider Our stand.  Unfortunately, even if the Court dis­regarded the impropriety, in the light of traditional norms, of appeals made to it outside of the pleadings and by persons other than the parties directly invol­ved, I find that there are graver considerations that compel Us not to yield.  As I see it, the Constitution is clear; if I had entertained any doubts as to its meaning, I would have hesitatingly given the benefit thereof to respondents.  And since anyway, as suggested in the opinion, there could be valid ways of pursuing and effecting the objective which the questioned resolution intends to accomplish, why should the Sup­reme Court sanction something that at best could be of dubious constitutionality It is my considered opinion that while the financial costs of a separate plebiscite may be high, it can never be as much as the dangers in­volved in disregarding clear mandates of the Constitution, no matter how laudable the objective.  As Justice Laurel, one of the most distinguished members of the 1934 Constitutional Convention would put it, "Of greater import than the damage caused by the illegal expenditures of public funds as the mortal wound in­flicted upon the fundamental by the enforcement of an invalid statute." (People vs. Vera, 65 Phil. 56, at p. 89.) Conversely, no consideration of financial costs should deter Us from adherence to the requirements of the Constitution.

[7] Claro M. Recto, on Our Constitution, Constitutional Amendments and the Constitutional Convention of 1971 by Vicente L. Pastrana, p. 31.



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