Constitution of the Philippines

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Constitution of the Philippines
Created October 15, 1986
Ratified February 2, 1987
Location Legislative Archives of the House of Representatives,
Quezon City
Author(s) Constitutional Commission of 1986
Signatories 46 of the 50 delegates
Purpose National constitution to replace Presidential Proclamation No. 3
Coat of arms of the Philippines.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Philippines

The Constitution of the Philippines (Filipino: Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas), popularly known as the 1987 Constitution, is the constitution or the supreme law of the Republic of the Philippines. It was enacted in 1987, during the administration of President Corazon C. Aquino.[1]

Philippine constitutional law experts recognise three other previous constitutions as having effectively governed the country — the 1935 Commonwealth Constitution, the 1973 Constitution, and the 1986 Freedom Constitution.[2][3] Two further constitutions were drafted and adopted during two short-lived war-time governments, by the revolutionary forces during the Philippine Revolution with Emilio Aguinaldo as President and by the occupation forces during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines during World War II with José P. Laurel as President.

Background of the 1987 Constitution[edit]

In 1986, following the People Power Revolution which ousted Ferdinand E. Marcos as President, and following on her own inauguration, Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation 3, declaring a national policy to implement the reforms mandated by the people, protecting their basic rights, adopting a provisional constitution, and providing for an orderly transition to a government under a new constitution.[4]

President Aquino later issued Proclamation № 9, creating a Constitutional Commission (popularly known as the "ConCom") to frame a new charter to supersede the Marcos-era 1973 Constitution. Aquino appointed 50 members to the Commission; the members were drawn from varied backgrounds, including several former congressmen, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberto Concepción, Roman Catholic bishop Teodoro Bacani, and film director Lino Brocka. Aquino also deliberately appointed five members, including former Labour Minister Blas Ople, who had been allied with Marcos until the latter's ouster. After the Commission had convened, it elected Cecilia Muñoz-Palma as its president. Muñoz-Palma had emerged as a leading figure in the anti-Marcos opposition movement following her retirement as the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Commission finished the draft charter within four months after convening. Several issues were heatedly debated during the sessions, including on the form of government to adopt, the abolition of the death penalty, the continued retention of the Clark and Subic American military bases, and the integration of economic policies into the Constitution. Brocka would walk out of the Commission before its completion, and two other delegates would dissent from the final draft. The ConCom completed their task on October 12, 1986 and presented the draft constitution to President Aquino on October 15, 1986.

A plebiscite for the charter's ratification was held on February 2, 1987 after a nationwide information campaign. 76.37% (17,059,495 voters), or more than three-fourths of all votes cast, favored ratification versus 22.65% (or 5,058,714 voters) who voted against it.

On February 11, 1987, the new Constitution was proclaimed, ratified and made effective, with Aquino, her government, and the Services swearing allegiance to it later that day.[5]

Features of the 1987 Constitution[edit]

Preamble[edit]

The Preamble introduces the Constitution, identifies the author and the purposes of the fundamental law and aids the authorities in the interpretation of the Constitution since it lays down the visions of the government. The Preamble reads:

The Constitution is divided into 18 parts (excluding the Preamble) which are called Articles.

  • Article I - National Territory

Specifies that the Philippines is an archipelago, the Philippines territory consist of the islands and waters embraced therein, all other territories which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, and the terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains including the territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves and other submarine areas. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.

  • Article II - Declaration of Principles and State Policies

Sets down basic social and political creed of the country. particularly the implementation of the constitution, Set fort the objectives of the government, provide the interpretation of specific provisions of the fundamental law and help court in its decisions. Some of its provisions are

  • Philippines is a Democratic and Republican State (Section 1)
  • Renunciation of War (Section 2)
  • Supremacy of Civilian Authority (Section 3)
  • Services to be rendered by the Citizens (Section 4)
  • Separation of Church and State (Section 6)
  • Independent Philippine Foreign Policy (Section 7)
  • Freedom from Nuclear Weapon (Section 8)
  • Just and Dynamic Social order and Social Justice (Section 9 and 10)
  • Family as the Basic Autonomous Unit (Section 12)
  • Role of the Youth and Women in Nation-Building (Section 13 and 14)
  • The affirmation of labor "as a primary social economic force" (Section 14)
  • Article III - Bill of Rights

Enumerates the specific protections against State power. Many of these guarantees are similar to those provided in the American constitution and other democratic constitutions, including the:

The scope and limitations to these rights have largely been determined by Philippine Supreme Court decisions.

  • Article IV - Citizenship

Enumerates the citizenship of the Fiipinos, there are two kinds of citizens, namely:

  • Natural-born citizens - Citizens of the Philippines from birth and have the right to vote and right to run for public office.
  • Naturalized citizens - Foreigners who acquire, voluntarily or by operation of law, the citizenship of the Philippines
  • Article V - Suffrage

Specifies the qualification and right to vote by citizen, It also enumerates the system and secrecy of the ballot and absentee voting, and procedure to the disabled and the illiterates to vote.

  • Article VI- The Legislative Department

Enumerates the composition, qualification and term of office and function of the Senators and representatives. It also specifies the organization, procedure, election and leadership of officials and process of making law. Some of the power of Congress includes:

  • Power of investigation or inquiry in aid of legislation (Section 21)
  • Power to declare the existence of a State of war (Section 26)
  • Fiscal power (Section 25)
  • Inherent power:Police power (Section 1), Power of taxation (Section 28), and power of eminent domain (Section 9)
  • Article VII - Executive Department

The Philippines is a presidential system of government, The executive power is vested to the President, assisted by Vice president and heads of executive departments. The Article VII explains the qualification, term of office, election, power and functions of the officials within the executive branch. It also specifies the presidential line of succession.

  • Article VIII - Judicial Department

The power of interpretation and application of the law was entrusted to the Judicial branch. the Supreme Court occupies the highest judicial hierarchy,It has a jurisdiction over the lower courts that are part of the judicial branch. The article VIII enumerates the qualification, tenure, power and functions of courts within the Judicial department, including the organization of Judicial and Bar council.

  • Article IX - Constitutional Commission

Enumerates the qualification, tenure, power and functions and composition of three Constitutional commission. which includes the following:

  • Civil Service Commission
  • Commission on Election (COMELEC)
  • Commission on Audit
  • Article X - Local Government

The Constitution also establishes limited political autonomy to the local government units that act as the municipal governments for provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. Local governments are generally considered as falling under the executive branch, yet local legislation requires enactment by duly elected local legislative bodies. The Constitution mandated that the Congress would enact a Local Government Code. The Congress duly enacted Republic Act No. 7160, The Local Government Code of 1991.

  • Article XI - Accountability of Public Officers

Explains that the position entrusted by he people to the government officials are public in nature. the government position should be taken care of at all times. It specifies the process and grounds for Impeachment of the public officials. It also creates and describe the Office of the Ombudsman.

  • Article XII - National Economy and Patrimony
  • Article XIII - Social Justice and Human Rights
  • Article XIV - Education, Science and Technology, Arts, Culture and Sports
  • Article XV - The Family
  • Article XVI - General Provisions
  • Article XVII - Amendments or Revisions
  • Article XVIII - Transitory Provisions

The Constitution also contains several other provisions enumerating various state policies including, i.e., the affirmation of labor "as a primary social economic force" (Section 14, Article II); the equal protection of "the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception" (Section 12, Article II); the "Filipino family as the foundation of the nation" (Article XV, Section 1); the recognition of Filipino as "the national language of the Philippines" (Section 6, Article XVI), and even a requirement that "all educational institutions shall undertake regular sports activities throughout the country in cooperation with athletic clubs and other sectors." (Section 19.1, Article XIV) Whether these provisions may, by themselves, be the source of enforceable rights without accompanying legislation has been the subject of considerable debate in the legal sphere and within the Supreme Court. The Court, for example, has ruled that a provision requiring that the State "guarantee equal access to opportunities to public service" could not be enforced without accompanying legislation, and thus could not bar the disallowance of so-called "nuisance candidates" in presidential elections.[6] But in another case, the Court held that a provision requiring that the State "protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology" did not require implementing legislation to become the source of operative rights.[7]

Evolution of the Philippine Constitution[edit]

The 1897 Constitution of Biak-na-Bato[edit]

The Katipunan revolution led to the Tejeros Convention where, at San Francisco de Malabón, Cavite, on March 22, 1897, the first presidential and vice presidential elections in Philippine history were held—although only the Katipuneros (members of the Katipunan) were able to take part, and not the general populace. A later meeting of the revolutionary government established there, held on November 1, 1897 at Biak-na-Bato in the town of San Miguel de Mayumo in Bulacán, established the Republic of Biak-na-Bato. The republic had a constitution drafted by Isabelo Artacho and Félix Ferrer and based on the first Cuban Constitution.[citation needed] It is known as the "Constitución Provisional de la República de Filipinas", and was originally written in and promulgated in the Spanish and Tagalog languages.[8]

The 1899 Malolos Constitution[edit]

Main article: Malolos Constitution

The Malolos Constitution was the first republican constitution in Asia.[9] It declared that sovereignty resides exclusively in the people, stated basic civil rights, separated the church and state, and called for the creation of an Assembly of Representatives to act as the legislative body. It also called for a parliamentary republic as the form of government. The president was elected for a term of four years by a majority of the Assembly.[10] It was titled "Constitución política", and was written in Spanish following the declaration of independence from Spain,[11] proclaimed on January 20, 1899, and was enacted and ratified by the Malolos Congress, a Congress held in Malolos, Bulacan.[12][13]

The Preamble reads:

(We, the Representatives of the Filipino people, lawfully convened in order to establish justice, provide for common defence, promote the general welfare, and insure the benefits of liberty, imploring the aid of the Sovereign Legislator of the Universe for the attainment of these ends, have voted, decreed, and sanctioned the following)

Acts of the United States Congress[edit]

The Philippines was a United States Territory from December 10, 1898 to March 24, 1934[14] and therefore under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government of the United States. Two acts of the United States Congress passed during this period can be considered Philippine constitutions in that those acts defined the fundamental political principles and established the structure, procedures, powers and duties of the Philippine government.

Philippine Organic Act of 1902[edit]

The Philippine Organic Act of 1902, sometimes known as the "Philippine Bill of 1902", was the first organic law for the Philippine Islands enacted by the United States Congress. It provided for the creation of a popularly elected Philippine Assembly, and specified that legislative power would be vested in a bicameral legislature composed of the Philippine Commission (upper house) and the Philippine Assembly (lower house). Its key provisions included a bill of rights for the Filipinos and the appointment of two non-voting Filipino Resident Commissioner of the Philippines to represent the Philippines in the United States House of Representatives.

Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916[edit]

The Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916, sometimes known as "Jones Law", modified the structure of the Philippine government by removing the Philippine Commission as the legislative upper house and replacing it with a Senate elected by Filipino voters, creating the Philippines' first fully elected national legislature. This act also explicitly stated that it was and had always been the purpose of the people of the United States to end their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands and to recognise Philippine independence as soon as a stable government can be established therein.

Tydings–McDuffie Act (1934)[edit]

Though not a constitution itself, the Tydings–McDuffie Act of 1934 provided authority and defined mechanisms for the establishment of a formal constitution via a constitutional convention.

The 1935 Constitution[edit]

The 1935 Constitution was written in 1934, approved and adopted by the Commonwealth of the Philippines (1935–1946) and later used by the Third Republic (1946–1972). It was written with an eye to meeting the approval of the United States Government as well, so as to ensure that the U.S. would live up to its promise to grant the Philippines independence and not have a premise to hold onto its possession on the grounds that it was too politically immature and hence unready for full, real independence.

The Preamble reads:

The original 1935 Constitution provided for unicameral National Assembly and the President was elected to a six-year term without re-election. It was amended in 1940 to have a bicameral Congress composed of a Senate and House of Representatives, as well the creation of an independent electoral commission. The Constitution now granted the President a four-year term with a maximum of two consecutive terms in office.

A Constitutional Convention was held in 1971 to rewrite the 1935 Constitution. The convention was stained with manifest bribery and corruption. Possibly the most controversial issue was removing the presidential term limit so that Ferdinand E. Marcos could seek election for a third term, which many felt was the true reason for which the convention was called. In any case, the 1935 Constitution was suspended in 1972 with Marcos' proclamation of martial law, the rampant corruption of the constitutional process providing him with one of his major premises for doing so.

The 1943 Constitution[edit]

José P. Laurel, President of the Second Philippine Republic, addresses the National Assembly at what is now the Old Congress Building to approve the 1943 Constitution.

The 1943 Constitution was drafted by a committee appointed by the Philippine Executive Commission, the body established by the Japanese to administer the Philippines in lieu of the Commonwealth of the Philippines which had established a government-in-exile. In mid-1942 Japanese Premier Hideki Tōjō had promised the Filipinos "the honor of independence" which meant that the commission would be supplanted by a formal republic.

The Preparatory Committee for Philippine Independence tasked with drafting a new constitution was composed in large part, of members of the prewar National Assembly and of individuals with experience as delegates to the convention that had drafted the 1935 Constitution. Their draft for the republic to be established under the Japanese Occupation, however, would be limited in duration, provide for indirect, instead of direct, legislative elections, and an even stronger executive branch.

Upon approval of the draft by the Committee, the new charter was ratified in 1943 by an assembly of appointed, provincial representatives of the Kalibapi, the organization established by the Japanese to supplant all previous political parties. Upon ratification by the Kalibapi assembly, the Second Republic was formally proclaimed (1943–1945). José P. Laurel was appointed as President by the National Assembly and inaugurated into office in October 1943. Laurel was highly regarded by the Japanese for having openly criticised the US for the way they ran the Philippines, and because he had a degree from Tokyo International University.

The 1943 Constitution remained in force in Japanese-controlled areas of the Philippines, but was never recognized as legitimate or binding by the governments of the United States or of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and guerrilla organizations loyal to them. In late 1944, President Laurel declared a state of war existed with the United States and the British Empire and proclaimed martial law, essentially ruling by decree. His government in turn went into exile in December 1944, first to Taiwan and then Japan. After the announcement of Japan's surrender, Laurel formally dissolved the Second Republic.

The Preamble reads:

The 1943 Constitution provided strong executive powers. The Legislature consisted of a unicameral National Assembly and only those considered to be anti-US could stand for election, although in practice most legislators were appointed rather than elected.

Until the 1960s, the Second Republic and its officers, were not viewed as a legitimate Philippine government or as having any standing, with the exception of the Supreme Court, whose decisions, limited to reviews of criminal and commercial cases as part of a policy of discretion by Chief Justice José Yulo continued to be part of the official records. This was made easier by the Commonwealth government-in-exile never constituting a Supreme Court, and the formal vacancy in the position of Chief Justice for the Commonwealth with the execution of José Abad Santos by the Japanese). It was only during the Macapagal administration that a partial political rehabilitation of the Japanese-era republic took place, with the official recognition of Laurel as a former president and the addition of his cabinet and other officials to the roster of past government officials. However, the 1943 Constitution was not taught in schools, and the laws of the 1943-44 National Assembly never recognised as valid or relevant.

The 1973 Constitution[edit]

The 1973 Constitution, promulgated after Marcos' declaration of martial law, but having been in the planning process for years before this, was supposed to introduce a parliamentary-style government. Legislative power was vested in a unicameral National Assembly whose members were elected for six-year terms. The President was ideally elected as the symbolic and purely ceremonial head of state chosen from amongst the Members of the National Assembly for a six-year term and could be re-elected to an unlimited number of terms. Upon election, the President ceased to be a Member of the National Assembly. During his term, the President was not allowed to be a member of a political party or hold any other office.

Executive power was meant to be exercised by the Prime Minister who was also elected from amongst the sitting Assemblymen. The Prime Minister was to be the head of government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This constitution was subsequently amended four times (arguably five, depending on how one considers Proclamation № 3 of 1986, see below).

From 16–17 October 1976, a majority of barangay voters (also called "Citizen Assemblies") approved that martial law should be continued and ratified the amendments to the Constitution proposed by President Marcos.[17]

The 1976 amendments were:

  • an Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP) substituting for the Interim National Assembly;
  • the President would also become the Prime Minister and he would continue to exercise legislative powers until such time as martial law was lifted.

The Sixth Amendment authorized the President to legislate on his own on an "emergency" basis:

Whenever in the judgement of the President there exists a grave emergency or a threat or imminence thereof, or whenever the Interim Batasang Pambansa or the regular National Assembly fails or is unable to act adequately on any matter for any reason that in his judgment requires immediate action, he may, in order to meet the exigency, issue the necessary decrees, orders or letters of instructions, which shall form part of the law of the land.

The 1973 Constitution was further amended in 1980 and 1981. In the 1980 amendment, the retirement age of the members of the judiciary was extended to 70 years. In the 1981 amendments, the false parliamentary system was formally modified into a French-style semi-presidential system:

  • executive power was restored to the President;
  • direct election of the President was restored;
  • an Executive Committee composed of the Prime Minister and not more than 14 members was created to "assist the President in the exercise of his powers and functions and in the performance of his duties as he may prescribe;" and the Prime Minister was a mere head of the Cabinet.
  • Further, the amendments instituted electoral reforms and provided that a natural born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his citizenship may be a transferee of private land for use by him as his residence.

The last amendments in 1984 abolished the Executive Committee and restored the position of Vice-President (which did not exist in the original, unamended 1973 Constitution).

While the 1973 Constitution ideally provided for a true parliamentary system, in practise, Marcos had made use of subterfuge and manipulation in order to keep executive powers for himself, rather than devolving these to the Assembly and the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister. The end result was that the final form of the 1973 Constitution – after all amendments and subtle manipulations – was merely the abolition of the Senate and a series of cosmetic rewordings. The old American-derived terminology was replaced by names more associated with parliamentary government: for example, the House of Representatives became known as the "Batasang Pambansâ" (National Assembly), Departments became "Ministries", and their cabinet secretaries became known as "cabinet ministers", with the President's assistant – the Executive Secretary – now being styled the "Prime Minister". Marcos' purported parliamentary system in practise functioned as an authoritaritan presidential system, with all real power concentrated in the hands of the President but with the premise that such was now constitutional.

The 1986 Freedom Constitution[edit]

Immediately following the 1986 People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos, President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation № 3 as a provisional constitution. It adopted certain provisions from the 1973 Constitution while abolishing others. It granted the President broad powers to reorganise government and remove officials, as well as mandating the President to appoint a commission to draft a new, more formal Constitution. This document, described above, supplanted the "Freedom Constitution" upon its ratification in 1987.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines". October 15, 1986. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  2. ^ Isagani Cruz (1993). Constitutional Law. Quezon City, Philippines: Central Lawbook Publishing Co., Inc. p. 19. ISBN 971-16-0184-2. 
  3. ^ Joaquin Bernas, S.J. (1996). The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary. Manila, Philippines: Rex Book Store. pp. xxxiv–xxxix. ISBN 971-23-2013-8. 
  4. ^ "1986 Provisional "Freedom" Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines". March 25, 1986. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  5. ^ Manila Standard - Google News Archive Search
  6. ^ "Pamatong vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 161872)". Supreme Court of the Philippines. April 13, 2004. Retrieved 2007-06-09. 
  7. ^ "Oposa et al. v. Fulgencio (G.R. No. 101083)". Supreme Court of the Philippines (requoted by Lawphil.net). July 30, 1993. Retrieved 2007-06-09. 
  8. ^ "1897 Biac-na-Bato Constitution". Corpus Juris. November 1, 1897. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  9. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2009). The encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars: a political, social, and military history. ABC-CLIO. p. 364. ISBN 978-1-85109-951-1. 
  10. ^ Guevara, Sulpico, ed. (2005). The laws of the first Philippine Republic (the laws of Malolos) 1898-1899.. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Library (published 1972). pp. 104–119. Retrieved 2008-03-26. . (English translation by Sulpicio Guevara)
  11. ^ Guevara 2005, p. 88.
  12. ^ Guevara 2005, p. 104.
  13. ^ Tucker 2009, pp. 364–365
  14. ^ On December 10, 1898, the Treaty of Paris transferred sovereignty from Spain to the United States. On March 24, 1934 the United States passed the Tydings–McDuffie Act that allowed the nation to have self-government through a ten-year transitional period in preparation for full independence. The United States recognized Philippine independence in the Treaty of Manila on July 4, 1946.
  15. ^ Summary: Sanidad vs. Commission on Elections (GR L-44640, 12 October 1976), berneguerrero.com.
  16. ^ G.R. No. L-44640 October 12, 1976, lawphil.net.
  17. ^ In Sanidad vs. Comelec, L-44640, October 12, 1976 the Supreme Court ruled that on the basis of absolute necessity both the constituent power (the power to formulate a Constitution or to propose amendments or revision to the Constitution and to ratify such proposal, which is exclusively vested to the National Assembly, the Constitutional Convention, and the electorate) and legislative powers of the legislature may be exercised by the Chief Executive.[15][16]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cruz, Isagani (1995). "The Nature of the Constitution". Constitutional Law. Philippines: Central Lawbook Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 18–20. ISBN 971-16-0333-0. 

External links[edit]