Monday, December 04, 2006

That "Grand Deception"

The Supreme Court's decision in Lambino v. Commission on Elections is consistent with my prediction I posted last October. In that decision, a bare majority of the Court held that the Commission on Elections did not abuse its discretion when it voted to dismiss Sigaw ng Bayan's petition for initiative.

The Court denied a motion for reconsideration on November 21, 2006 with the same vote but added that:

Ten justices however reiterated their earlier opinions that RA 6735 is sufficient and adequate as an enabling law 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 opining that RA 6735 suffices as an enabling law to implement the constitutional provision on people’s initiative.

In my earlier post, I wrote:

A majority of the Justices may reverse Santiago but they can still dismiss the case on any or a combination of the following grounds:
1. the manner in which the signatures were gathered was irregular or falls short of the minimum required by law; or
2. people’s initiative cannot be used to revise the Constitution but only to amend it. It can rule that the proposed shift to a parliamentary form of government constitutes a revision of the Constitution; or because
3. it will become evident to the Court that the initiative is driven by the Arroyo administration not the people.

These are the reasons why the Court denied Lambino. The battle is not net over as Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban is set to retire on December 6, giving the Arroyo administration an opportunity to tilt the vote in its favor.

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