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Tolentino vs COMELEC

Hence all of Comelec's acts in obedience thereof and tending to carry out the holding of the
plebiscite directed by said resolutions are null and void, on the ground that the calling and holding of
such a plebiscite is, by the Constitution, a power lodged exclusively in Congress, as a legislative
body, and may not be exercised by the Convention, and that, under Section 1, Article XV of the
Constitution, the proposed amendment in question cannot be presented to the people for ratification
separately from each and all of the other amendments to be drafted and proposed by the
Convention. On the other hand, respondents and intervenors posit that the power to provide for, fix
the date and lay down the details of the plebiscite for the ratification of any amendment the
Convention may deem proper to propose is within the authority of the Convention.

Indeed, the power to amend the Constitution or to propose amendments thereto is not included in
the general grant of legislative powers to Congress. It is part of the inherent powers of the people —
as the repository sovereignty in a republican state, such as ours

It is said that Senators and members of the House of Representatives act, not as members of
Congress, but as component elements of a constituent assembly. When acting as such, the
members of Congress derive their authority from the Constitution, unlike the people, when
performing the same function, (Of amending the Constitution) for their authority does not emanate
from the Constitution — they are the very source of all powers of government including the
Constitution itself.

Since, when proposing, as a constituent assembly, amendments to the Constitution, the members of
Congress derive their authority from the Fundamental Law, it follows, necessarily, that they do not
have the final say on whether or not their acts are within or beyond constitutional limits.

In short, the issue whether or not a Resolution of Congress — acting as a constituent assembly —
violates the Constitution is essentially justiciable not political, and, hence, subject to judicial review.
Upon principle, reason, and authority, we are clearly of the opinion that upon the admitted facts of
the present case, this court has jurisdiction over the Electoral Commission and the subject matter of
the present controversy for the purpose of determining the character, scope and extent of the
constitutional grant to the Electoral Commission as "the sole judge of all contests relating to the
election, returns and qualifications of the members of the National Assembly.

Issue:

Is it within the powers of the Constitutional Convention of 1971 to order, on its own fiat, the
holding of a plebiscite for the ratification of the proposed amendment reducing to eighteen
years the age for the exercise of suffrage

Held:

The ultimate question, therefore boils down to this: Is there any limitation or condition in Section 1 of
Article XV of the Constitution which is violated by the act of the Convention of calling for a plebiscite
on the sole amendment contained in Organic Resolution No. 1? The Court holds that there is, and
it is the condition and limitation that all the amendments to be proposed by the same
Convention must be submitted to the people in a single "election" or plebiscite. It being
indisputable that the amendment now proposed to be submitted to a plebiscite is only the
first amendment the Convention propose We hold that the plebiscite being called for the
purpose of submitting the same for ratification of the people on November 8, 1971 is not
authorized by Section 1 of Article XV of the Constitution, hence all acts of the Convention and
the respondent Comelec in that direction are null and void.

We are of the conviction that in providing for the questioned plebiscite before it has finished, and
separately from, the whole draft of the constitution it has been called to formulate, the Convention's
Organic Resolution No. 1 and all subsequent acts of the Convention implementing the same
violate the condition in Section 1, Article XV that there should only be one "election" or
plebiscite for the ratification of all the amendments the Convention may propose. We are not
denying any right of the people to vote on the proposed amendment; We are only holding that under
Section 1, Article XV of the Constitution, the same should be submitted to them not separately from
but together with all the other amendments to be proposed by this present Convention.

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition herein is granted. Organic Resolution No. 1 of
the Constitutional Convention of 1971 and the implementing acts and resolutions of the
Convention, insofar as they provide for the holding of a plebiscite on November 8, 1971, as
well as the resolution of the respondent Comelec complying therewith (RR Resolution No.
695) are hereby declared null and void.