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DATU MICHAEL ABAS KIDA v.

SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES


G.R. No. 196271 | October 18, 2011 | Brion, J.

FACTS:
 On June 30, 2011, Republic Act (RA) No. 10153, entitled An Act Providing for the
Synchronization of the Elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao
(ARMM) with the National and Local Elections and for Other Purposes was enacted.
 The law reset the ARMM elections from the 8 of August 2011, to the second Monday of
th

May 2013 and every three (3) years thereafter, to coincide with the countrys regular
national and local elections. The law as well granted the President the power to appoint
officers-in-charge (OICs) for the Office of the Regional Governor, the Regional Vice-
Governor, and the Members of the Regional Legislative Assembly, who shall perform the
functions pertaining to the said offices until the officials duly elected in the May 2013
elections shall have qualified and assumed office.

HISTORY
 On August 1, 1989 or two years after the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution, Congress
acted through Republic Act (RA) No. 6734 entitled An Act Providing for an Organic Act
for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. A plebiscite was held on November 6,
1990 as required by Section 18(2), Article X of RA No. 6734, thus fully establishing the
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The initially assenting provinces
were Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-tawi. RA No. 6734 scheduled the first
regular elections for the regional officials of the ARMM on a date not earlier than 60 days
nor later than 90 days after its ratification.
 RA No. 9054 (entitled An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act No.
6734, entitled An Act Providing for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as
Amended) was the next legislative act passed. This law provided further refinement in
the basic ARMM structure first defined in the original organic act, and reset the regular
elections for the ARMM regional officials to the second Monday of September 2001.
 Congress passed the next law affecting ARMM RA No. 9140 - on June 22, 2001. This
law reset the first regular elections originally scheduled under RA No. 9054, to
November 26, 2001. It likewise set the plebiscite to ratify RA No. 9054 to not later than
August 15, 2001.
 RA No. 9054 was ratified in a plebiscite held on August 14, 2001. The province of
Basilan and Marawi City voted to join ARMM on the same date.
 RA No. 9333 was subsequently passed by Congress to reset the ARMM regional
elections to the 2 Monday of August 2005, and on the same date every 3 years
nd

thereafter. Unlike RA No. 6734 and RA No. 9054, RA No. 9333 was not ratified in a
plebiscite.
 Pursuant to RA No. 9333, the next ARMM regional elections should have been held on
August 8, 2011. COMELEC had begun preparations for these elections and had
accepted certificates of candidacies for the various regional offices to be elected.But on
June 30, 2011, RA No. 10153 was enacted, resetting the ARMM elections to May 2013,
to coincide with the regular national and local elections of the country. (end of history)
 On September 13, 2011, the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the
implementation of RA No. 10153 and ordering the incumbent elective officials of ARMM
to continue to perform their functions should these cases not be decided by the end of
their term on September 30, 2011.
ISSUE/S:
 I. Whether the 1987 Constitution mandates the synchronization of elections? YES.
 II. Whether the passage of RA No. 10153 violates Section 26(2), Article VI of the 1987
Constitution? NO.
 III. Whether the passage of RA No. 10153 requires a supermajority vote and plebiscite
o A. Does the postponement of the ARMM regular elections constitute an
amendment to Section 7, Article XVIII of RA No. 9054? NO.
o B. Does the requirement of a supermajority vote for amendments or revisions to
RA No. 9054 violate Section 1 and Section 16(2), Article VI of the 1987
Constitution and the corollary doctrine on irrepealable laws? YES.
o C. Does the requirement of a plebiscite apply only in the creation of
autonomous regions under paragraph 2, Section 18, Article X of the 1987
Constitution? YES.
 IV. Whether RA No. 10153 violates the autonomy granted to the ARMM? NO.
 V. Whether the grant of the power to appoint OICs violates:
o A. Section 15, Article X of the 1987 Constitution? NO.
o B. Section 16, Article X of the 1987 Constitution? NO.
o C. Section 18, Article X of the 1987 Constitution? NO.
 VI. Whether the proposal to hold special elections is constitutional and legal? YES.

HELD:
 We resolve to DISMISS the petitions and thereby UPHOLD the constitutionality of RA
No. 10153.
I. Synchronization as a recognized constitutional mandate
 The respondent Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) argues that the Constitution
mandates synchronization, and in support of this position, cites Sections 1, 2 and 5,
Article XVIII (Transitory Provisions) of the 1987 Constitution, which provides:
o Section 1. The first elections of Members of the Congress under this Constitution
shall be held on the second Monday of May, 1987.
o The first local elections shall be held on a date to be determined by the
President, which may be simultaneous with the election of the Members of the
Congress. It shall include the election of all Members of the city or municipal
councils in the Metropolitan Manila area.
o Section 2. The Senators, Members of the House of Representatives and the local
officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30,
1992. Of the Senators elected in the election in 1992, the first twelve obtaining
the highest number of votes shall serve for six year and the remaining twelve for
three years.
o Section 5. The six-year term of the incumbent President and Vice President
elected in the February 7, 1986 election is, for purposes of synchronization of
elections, hereby extended to noon of June 30, 1992.
 The first regular elections for President and Vice-President under this Constitution shall
be held on the second Monday of May, 1992.
 We agree with this position.
 While the Constitution does not expressly state that Congress has to synchronize
national and local elections, the clear intent towards this objective can be gleaned from
the Transitory Provisions (Article XVIII) of the Constitution, which show the extent to
which the Constitutional Commission, by deliberately making adjustments to the terms of
the incumbent officials, sought to attain synchronization of elections
II. The President's Certification on the Urgency of RA No. 10153
 The Court, in Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance, explained the effect of the President’s
certification of necessity in the following manner:
o The presidential certification dispensed with the requirement not only of printing
but also that of reading the bill on separate days. The phrase "except when the
President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment, etc." in Art. VI,
Section 26[2] qualifies the two stated conditions before a bill can become a law:
[i] the bill has passed three readings on separate days and [ii] it has been printed
in its final form and distributed three days before it is finally approved.
o That upon the certification of a bill by the President, the requirement of
three readings on separate days and of printing and distribution can be
dispensed with is supported by the weight of legislative practice. For
example, the bill defining the certiorari jurisdiction of this Court which, in
consolidation with the Senate version, became Republic Act No. 5440, was
passed on second and third readings in the House of Representatives on the
same day [May 14, 1968] after the bill had been certified by the President as
urgent.

III. A. RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 are not amendments to RA No. 9054
 Neither RA No. 9333 nor RA No. 10153 amends RA No. 9054. As an examination of
these laws will show, RA No. 9054 only provides for the schedule of the first ARMM
elections and does not fix the date of the regular elections. A need therefore existed for
the Congress to fix the date of the subsequent ARMM regular elections, which it did by
enacting RA No. 9333 and thereafter, RA No. 10153. Obviously, these subsequent laws
RA No. 9333 and RA No. 10153 cannot be considered amendments to RA No. 9054
as they did not change or revise any provision in the latter law; they merely filled in
a gap in RA No. 9054 or supplemented the law by providing the date of the subsequent
regular elections.

III. B. Supermajority voting requirement unconstitutional for giving RA No. 9054 the
character of an irrepealable law
 Section 16(2), Article VI of the Constitution provides that a majority of each House shall
constitute a quorum to do business. In other words, as long as majority of the members
of the House of Representatives or the Senate are present, these bodies have the
quorum needed to conduct business and hold session. Within a quorum, a vote of
majority is generally sufficient to enact laws or approve acts.
 In contrast, Section 1, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 requires a vote of no less than
two-thirds (2/3) of the Members of the House of Representatives and of the
Senate, voting separately, in order to effectively amend RA No. 9054. Clearly, this
2/3 voting requirement is higher than what the Constitution requires for the passage of
bills, and served to restrain the plenary powers of Congress to amend, revise or repeal
the laws it had passed.
 Thus, while a supermajority is not a total ban against a repeal, it is a limitation in excess
of what the Constitution requires on the passage of bills and is constitutionally obnoxious
because it significantly constricts the future legislators room for action and flexibility.

III. C. Section 3, Article XVII of RA No. 9054 excessively enlarged the plebiscite
requirement found in Section 18, Article X of the Constitution
 Section 18, Article X of the Constitution states that the plebiscite is required only for the
creation of autonomous regions and for determining which provinces, cities and
geographic areas will be included in the autonomous regions. While the settled rule is
that amendments to the Organic Act have to comply with the plebiscite requirement in
order to become effective, questions on the extent of the matters requiring ratification
may unavoidably arise because of the seemingly general terms of the Constitution and
the obvious absurdity that would result if a plebiscite were to be required for every
statutory amendment.

IV. The synchronization issue, V. The Constitutionality of RA No. 10153 & VI. Other
Constitutional Concerns
 To achieve synchronization, Congress necessarily has to reconcile the schedule of the
ARMMs regular elections (which should have been held in August 2011 based on RA
No. 9333) with the fixed schedule of the national and local elections (fixed by RA No.
7166 to be held in May 2013).
 During the oral arguments, the Court identified the three options open to Congress in
order to resolve this problem. These options are:
o (1) to allow the elective officials in the ARMM to remain in office in a hold over
capacity, pursuant to Section 7(1), Article VII of RA No. 9054, until those elected
in the synchronized elections assume office;
o (2) to hold special elections in the ARMM, with the terms of those elected to
expire when those elected in the synchronized elections assume office; or
o (3) to authorize the President to appoint OICs, pursuant to Section 3 of RA No.
10153, also until those elected in the synchronized elections assume office.
 Admittedly, the grant of the power to the President under other situations or where the
power of appointment would extend beyond the adjustment period for synchronization
would be to foster a government that is not democratic and republican. For then, the
people's right to choose the leaders to govern them may be said to be systemically
withdrawn to the point of fostering an undemocratic regime. This is the grant that would
frontally breach the elective and representative governance requirement of Section 18,
Article X of the Constitution.
 But this conclusion would not be true under the very limited circumstances contemplated
in RA No. 10153 where the period is fixed and, more importantly, the terms of
governance both under Section 18, Article X of the Constitution and RA No. 9054 will not
systemically be touched nor affected at all. To repeat what has previously been said,
RA No. 9054 will govern unchanged and continuously, with full effect in accordance with
the Constitution, save only for the interim and temporary measures that synchronization
of elections requires.
 On the general claim that RA No. 10153 is unconstitutional, we can only reiterate the
established rule that every statute is presumed valid.Congress, thus, has in its favor the
presumption of constitutionality of its acts, and the party challenging the validity of a
statute has the onerous task of rebutting this presumption.Any reasonable doubt about
the validity of the law should be resolved in favor of its constitutionality.