Posted at the SC Website: November 21, 2006
By Jay B. Rempillo
It’s final. The people’s initiative petition of petitioners Raul Lambino, et al. is dead.
Maintaining its 8-7 vote, the Supreme Court today denied with finality the motions for reconsideration of its October 25, 2006 decision dismissing the said petition to amend the 1987 Constitution through a people’s initiative.
In a four-page resolution, the Court held that the basic issues raised had already been duly passed upon and that no substantial arguments were presented to warrant the reversal of the October 25, 2006 decision. The assailed decision, penned by Justice Antonio T. Carpio, upheld the Commission on Elections’ August 31, 2006 resolution denying due course to an initiative petition to amend the Constitution by petitioners.
Ten justices however reiterated their earlier opinions that RA 6735 is sufficient and adequate as an enabling to amend the Constitution through a people’s initiative. Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban and Justices Consuelo Ynares-Santiago and Adolfo S. Azcuna joined their dissenting colleagues — Senior Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, and Justices Leonardo A. Quisumbing, Renato C. Corona, Dante O. Tinga, Minita V. Chico-Nazario, Cancio C. Garcia, and Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. — in ruling that RA 6735 suffices as an enabling law to implement the constitutional provision on people’s initiative.
The Court also resolved by a unanimous vote to deny for utter lack of merit the motion to inhibit filed by the counsel for intervenor Sulongbayan Movement Foundation, Inc. that sought the inhibition of Chief Justice Panganiban and Justice Carpio.
This Court cannot betray its primordial duty to defend and protect the Constitution. The Constitution, which embodies the people sovereign will, is the bible of this Court. This Court exists to defend and protect the Constitution. To allow this constitutionally infirm initiative, propelled by deceptively gathered signatures, to alter basic principles in the Constitution is to allow a desecration of the Constitution. To allow such alteration and desecration is to lose this Court raison detre, said the Court in the October 26 decision.
Justice Carpio was joined in the majority vote by Chief Justice Panganiban, Justices Santiago, Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez, Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez, Conchita Carpio Morales, Romeo J. Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna. Chief Justice Panganiban, Justices Santiago, Gutierrez, Callejo, and Azcuna wrote separate concurring opinions.
The dissenters led by Senior Associate Justice Puno argued for a remand of the Lambino Petition to the Comelec for verification of the over six million signatures for an initiative petition to change the 1987 Constitution. No one voted to grant the Lambino prayer to reverse the Comelec and immediately submit the proposed constitutional changes to a plebiscite. Joining Puno were Justices Quisumbing, Corona, Tinga, Nazario, Garcia, and Velasco. Justices Quisumbing, Tinga, Corona, Nazario, and Velasco also wrote separate dissenting opinions. (Min. Res., GR No. 174153, Lambino and Aumentado v. Comelec; GR No. 174299, Binay, et al. v. Comelec, et al.; November 21, 2006)