Constitution of the Philippines
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The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines is the fundamental law establishing, defining and governing the Fourth Philippine Republic and its government. Ratified in 1987, it was preceeded by the 1986 Freedom Constitution and the 1973 Constitution.
The 1987 Constitution primarily returns the presidential form of government with a bicameral Congress from the parliamentary form espoused by the 1973 Constitution, with the inclusion of several check-and-balance mechanisms among the three branches of government: judiciary, executive and legislative. These include allowing the president to proclaim martial law or suspend the writ of habeas corpus, but the suspension may not exceed 60 days and can be revoked by the a Congress majority. Meanwhile, the judiciary (via the Judicial and Bar Council) needs to submit a list of nominees for the president to choose from when appointing members of the Supreme Court as well as the lower courts.
The 1987 Constitution also created the two autonomous regions in the country—the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR)--as well as several government agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights, the Judicial and Bar Council, and the Office of the Ombudsman. Filipino was declared as the national language.
After Marcos' overthrow in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, there was a need to replace the 1973 Constitution which was in use during the dictatorship. President Corazon C. Aquino then issued Proclamation No. 9 on 23 April 1986, ordering the formation of a Constitutional Commission (ConCom). Chaired by Cecilia Munoz Palma, the ConCom commenced work on 2 June 1986 at the Batasang Pambansa.
In the meantime, the Aquino administration used the 1986 Freedom Constitution, which was actually a set of major amendments to the 1973 Constitution.
The new constitution was completed on 12 October 1986. The draft was presented to Aquino three days later, marking the start of a massive nationwide information campaign. A plebiscite for its ratification was held on 2 February 1987, with around 17 million voters in favor while only 5 million were against its ratification. The new constitution was then proclaimed as ratified and in effect on 11 February 1987, with the government and the military pledging their allegiance.
However, the plebiscite date of 2 February 1987 is taken as the official date of ratification due to the Supreme Court ruling in the De Leon vs. Esguerra (153 SCRA 602) case on the term of several barangay officials in Brgy. Dolores, Taytay, Rizal. In the ruling, the Supreme Court took the plebiscite date as the basis for ruling in favor of the petitioners.
“We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.”
- Article I: National Territory
- Article II: Declaration of Principles and State Policies
- Article III: Bill of Rights
- Article IV: Citizenship
- Article V: Suffrage
- Article VI: Legislative Department
- Article VII: Executive Department
- Article VIII: Judicial Department
- Article IX: Constitutional Commissions
- Article X: Local Government
- Article XI: Accountability of Public Officers
- 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
One criticism aimed at the 1987 Constitution is over the issue of clarity. Columnist Isagani Cruz says that “it should be re-examined and rewritten to make it, for one thing, less talkative like a high school valedictory” for the Constitution must be “definite” and its provisions “self-executing, mandatory and prospective unless otherwise specifically provided.”
However, there have been some conflicting rulings by the Supreme Court on the self-executing nature of some provisions, such as in the case of Pamatong vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 161872). In the ruling, the provision which requires the State to “guarantee equal access to opportunities to public service” cannot be enforced without additional legislation; in this case, the Omnibus Election Code and COMELEC Resolution No. 6452.
Contrary to this was the Supreme Court ruling on Oposa et al. vs. Fulgencio (G.R. No. 101083), where a provision requiring the State to “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology” was ruled as not requiring legislation for its implementation.
- Main article: Charter Change
There have been initiatives to amend the 1987 Constitution under every presidential administration since Aquino.
First termed as Charter Change, or Cha-Cha, the proposed amendments under the Ramos administration revolved around the shift from a presidential to a parliamentary form of government. Estrada's CONCORD, meanwhile, proposed revisions to allow foreign ownership of land. Arroyo's Constitutional Assembly or ConAss, also involved shifting to a parliamentary style of government.
The Ramos and Estrada initiatives did not push through because of unfavorable public opinion. Arroyo's ConAss, meanwhile, has talled due to the inaction of the Senate as well as the start of the campaign period for the 2010 elections.
- The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines – Filipiniana.net. Accessed 15 February 2010.
- Pamatong vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 161872). Accessed 17 February 2010.
- -- Oposa et al. v. Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. et al. (G.R. No. 101083). Accessed 15 February 2010.
- “Separate Opinion: Re-examining the 1987 Constitution” by Isagani Cruz – Inquirer.net. Accessed 15 February 2010.
- “Cha-cha almost hopeless, House leader admits” – GMANews.tv. Accessed 17 February 2010.
- “Shelving of Concord applauded” – Philippine Daily Inquirer on GoogleNews. Accessed 15 February 2010.
- [http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/letterstotheeditor/view/20080830-157669/Fidel-Ramos-consistent-on-Charter-change Fidel Ramos consistent on Charter change
- “Viewpoint: Judas Odds” by Juan Mercado – Inquirer.net. Accessed 17 February 2010.
- Constitution of Biak-na-Bato
- Malolos Constitution
- 1935 Constitution of the Philippines
- 1945 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines
- 1973 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines
- Freedom Constitution
- To learn more about the Philippine legal system, visit the Philippine Legal Database of Filipiniana.net Digital Library.
- The 1897 Constitution of Biak-na-Bato full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007
- The 1899 Political Constitution of the Republic full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007
- The 1935 Constitution of the Philippines (original version) full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007
- The 1935 Constitution of the Philippines (amended version) full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007
- The 1943 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007
- The 1973 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines (original version) full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007
- The 1973 Constitution, as amended full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007
- The 1986 Provisional Freedom Constitution full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007
- The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines full text. Filipiniana.net. Accessed on 22 September 2007