By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Considering the paramount importance of the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution, Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu has batted for the passage of a bill seeking to strengthen the system of people’s initiative and referendum.
The House leader cited the need for Congress to come up with an enabling law that would ensure the full implementation of Republic Act 6735, otherwise known as the “Initiative and Referendum Act. ”
He said the Supreme Court en banc decision in the case of Miriam Defensor Santiago et al. vs Commission on Election (G.R. No. 127325, March 9, 1997), states that the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative would remain entombed in the cold niche of the Constitution untill Congress provides for its implementation.
Abu sought the passage of House Bill 5724 to amend RA 6735.
RA 6735 was approved on August 4, 1989 to provide for system of initiative and referendum to directly propose, enact, approve or reject, in whole or in part, the Constitution, laws, ordinances or resolutions passed by any legislative body.
“Considering the paramount importance of the right of the people to directly propose amendments to the Constitution through the system of initiative under Section 2 of Article XVII of the 1987 Constitution, this bill seeks to full in the insufficiency of R.A. No. 6735, otherwise known as “The Initiative and Referendum Act”, and to come up with an enabling law sufficient enough to provide for the implementation of the exercise of such right,” Abu said.
“Hence, the urgency of the passage of this Bill is a must to put into reality the Latin maxim, “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” or “the voice of the people is the voice of God”,” he said.
Under HB 5724, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) shall call and supervise the conduct of initiatives or referendum.
It provides that upon receipt of the petition amending the Constitution, the Comelec shall determine the sufficiency of the petition within 30 days and publish the same in Filipino and English at least twice in newspapers of general and local circulation and set the date of the initiative or referendum which shall be held not earlier than 60 days but not later than 90 days after the certification by the Comelec of the sufficiency of the petition.
The measure empowers the Comelec to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purpose of the proposed Act.
Abu’s bill provides that the proposed amendment of the Constitution shall be submitted to and approved by a majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite.
The proposition in the people’s initiative on the amendment of the Constitution approved by a majority of the votes cast in the plebiscite shall become effective as to the day of the plebiscite, according to the measure.