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Mar 22, 2010

Constitutional Basis

ART. II, Sec. 1, 1987 Constitution: “The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.”

Q:Why make a distinction between “democratic” and “republican?”
A: There are two kinds of democracy: direct democracy (pure) and indirect democracy (representative/republican). The Philippines follows both forms of democracy – republican because the people express their sovereignty through the ballot, voting for candidates who will represent them in government, but also democratic because of initiative and referendum, which express the direct will of the people through plebiscite.

People vs. San Juan, 22 SCRA 505

“Each time the enfranchised citizen goes to the polls to assert this sovereign will, that abiding credo of republicanism is translated into living reality. If that will must remain undefiled at the starting level of its expression and application, every assumption must be indulged in and every guarantee adopted to assure the unmolested exercise of the citizen’s free choice. For to impede, without authority valid in law, the free and orderly exercise of the right of suffrage is to inflict the ultimate indignity on the democratic process. As numerous as they are insidious are long-standing techniques of terror and intimidation that have been conceived by man – in derogation of the right of suffrage – which we have repeatedly and unqualifiedly condemned. When the legislature provided in section 133 of the Revised Election Code an explicit and unequivocal guarantee of a voter’s free access to the polling place, it could have intended no purpose other than to maintain inviolate the right to vote by safeguarding the voter against all manner of unauthorized interference and travesty that surveyors of fear can devise. Every unlawful obstacle, by whatever means or method, interposed to the free entry of a voter into the polling place to cast his vote, strikes at the very heart of the right of suffrage.”

Philosophical Bases

Puno’s Separate Opinion, Macalintal vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 157013, July 10, 2003

PLATO - rejected democracy as “tyranny of the majority” (numerical superiority) and supported the “philosopher-king rule”

ARISTOTLE - democracy is desirable but only under certain conditions and of the upper class; “will of the enlightened many”

INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION - “social contract theory;” the people exercise their sovereignty and creates a government to which they consent

Who May Exercise the Right to Vote

ART. V, Sec. 1, 1987 Constitution: “Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year and in the place wherein they propose to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.”


Puno’s Dissenting Opinion, Tolentino v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 148334, Jan. 21, 2004

  • Citizenship - Suffrage is a political right appertaining to citizenship; reserved only to Filipinos whose allegiance to the country are undivided; each individual qualified to vote is a particle of popular sovereignty
  • Age (18 years) - Voting is an act of choice and involves prescience; familiarity and maturity
  • Residence - For the vote to be more meaningful, more than a passing acquaintance with the country’s problems and prospects is required

“One year residence in the Philippines” - refers to “domicile,” the place to which whenever absent for business or for pleasure, one intends to return

  1. Physical presence
  2. Animus manendi (intent to return permanently)

“Six months residence in the place where one intends to vote” - refers to “temporary domicile”

  • Determine the place where the voter will register
  • Determine the place where voter will vote

  1. Domicile of Origin - place of birth
  2. Domicile of Choice - replace the domicile of origin
  3. Domicile by Operation of Law - applies to infants, incompetents and other persons under disabilities that prevent them from acquiring a domicile of choice

Electoral System
- free and open party system; distinguished from a multi-party system because in free and open party system, a unicameral or bicameral system is possible (ART. IX (c) (6), Sec. 6, 1987 Constitution)


Plebiscite - a system by which the people exercise their sovereignty by approving or rejecting any amendments or revisions of the Constitution prepared by the legislative

Initiative - power of the people to propose amendments to the Constitution or to propose and enact legislation through an election called for the purpose

  1. The people must author and thus sign the entire proposal
  2. As an initiative upon a petition, the proposal must be embodied in a petition

Referendum - power of the electorate to approve or reject legislation

Amendment - changing a few provisions of the Constitution

  1. Constitutional convention
  2. Constitutional assembly (Congress)
  3. People on Initiative

Revision - a total overhaul of the Constitution; changing the substance

People’s initiative: the amendment must be directly proposed by the people

Lambino vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 174153, Oct. 25, 2006 (read digest)

An initiative petition is filed to change the 1987 Constitution, among such proposed changes is to shift the present Bicameral-Presidential system to Unicameral-Parliamentary form of government. The Supreme Court denied the petition on ground of failure to comply with the basic requirements of the Constitution for conducting a people’s initiative: the amendment must be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition.

“Clearly, the framers of the Constitution intended that the draft of the proposed constitutional amendment should be ready and shown to the people before they sign such proposal. xxx The framers also envisioned that the people should sign on the proposal itself because the proponents must prepare that proposal and pass it around for signature.”

(1) The people must author and thus sign the entire proposal.
(2) As an initiative upon a petition, the proposal must be embodied in a petition.

“xxx Thus, an amendment is directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition only if the people sign on a petition that contains the full text of the proposed amendments.”


Registration of Voters (System of Continuing Registration)

WHEN: daily during office hours; at the office of the Election Officer; personally file application to register as voter; no registration 120 days before regular elections and 90 days before special elections (Sec. 1, RA 8189)

WHO MAY REGISTER: (Sec. 8, RA 8189)
  1. citizens
  2. not otherwise disqualified by law
  3. 1-yr. Residence in the Philippines
  4. 6-mo. Residence in the place where one will vote

  1. Sentenced by final judgment to suffer imprisonment of not less than 1 yr. (Auto-reacquire right to register upon expiration of 5 yrs. after service)
  2. Sentenced by final judgment of crime involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government (rebellion, sedition, violation of firearms laws, crimes against national security, etc.; auto-reacquire upon expiration of 5 yrs. after service)
  3. Insane or incompetent person

Challenges to Right to Register (sec. 18, RA 8189)

Q: Are there limitations to a person’s right to register?
A: Yes. The right to register to vote is not an absolute right but more of a privilege with limitations imposed by law. The COMELEC may motu propio or upon application of any voter challenging the right to register deny a person’s registration application. The Court (MTC), through inclusion or exclusion proceedings, may also limit a person’s right to register.

WHO CAN CHALLENGE: any voter, candidate or representative of a registered political party

WHAT: challenge to right to register in writing, under oath, attached to the application together with proof of notice of hearing to the challenger and applicant

Exclusion and Inclusion Proceedings (Sec. 33)

WHERE: MTC (EOJ), who shall determine the right of voter to be included or excluded in the list; decide within 10 days

APPEAL: within 5 days from judgment to the RTC who shall decide the issue within 10 days


PROCEDURE: (Sec. 32)
  1. file during office hours
  2. notice of place, date, time of hearing to the Board and the challenged voter
  3. refer to one precinct and Board impleaded as respondent
  4. no costs, EXCEPT: if it is found that the case was filed to harass the adverse party
  5. if the ground for challenging right to register is the person is fictitious, the non-appearance of such person said to be fictitious shall be considered as prima facie evidence
  6. decide within 10 days for both MTC and RTC upon appeal; should not be later than 15 days before the election

Nature and effect of proceedings: No Res Judicata

Domino vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 134015, July 19, 1999

Domino is running for representative of Province of Sarangani but is disqualified for lack of compliance with the 1-yr. residence requirement. Before this, Domino was declared by the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City in an exclusion proceedings that he was a resident of Sarangani and not of Quezon City. Domino contends that the MTC decision is conclusive upon the COMELEC. But the Supreme Court held otherwise because any fact established in an inclusion or exclusion proceedings only applies to that election and not to elections thereafter held. The decision of the MTC does not preclude the COMELEC, in the determination of the candidate’s qualification, to pass upon the issue of compliance with the residency requirement.

The proceedings for the exclusion or inclusion of voters in the list of voters are summary in character. “xxx Although the court in inclusion or exclusion proceedings may pass upon any question necessary to decide the issue raised including the question of citizenship and residence of the challenged voter, the authority to order the inclusion or exclusion from the list of voters necessarily carries with it the power to inquire into and settle all matters essential to the exercise of said authority. However, except for the right to remain in the list of voters or for being excluded therefrom for the particular election in relation to which the proceedings had been held, a decision in an exclusion or inclusion proceeding, even if final and unappealable, does not acquire the nature of res judicata. In this sense, it does not operate as a bar to any further action that a party may take concerning the subject passed upon in the proceeding. Thus, a decision in an exclusion proceeding would neither be conclusive on the voter’s political status, nor bar subsequent proceedings on his right to be registered as a voter in any other election.”


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