In a comment, commenter Francis asked if anyone’s come up with a counter-signature campaign, a question seconded by commenter CJV. I’ve had such a plan, all the way since September-October last year, and even got legal advice from some lawyers. The problem is, none of the groups I presented it to, were keen on it, for logistical reasons. The primary reason being, no money to set up such an effort.
At the time, the code name given the effort was “Beauty Contest,” and as the primer will explain, the effort was designed to accomplish several things:
1. Enable the public to express its opinions in a legal, democratic manner.
2. Serve as a means to counter the political machinery of the administration.
3. Keep political engagement within what’s constitutional, to prevent public frustration from being channeled towards non-constitutional efforts.
4. Take the fight out of Metro Manila and undertake it on a nationwide basis where each province gets to be heard.
My view was to channel opposition to the President in terms of each province passing a resolution saying they want the President to go. The resolution could just as easily be a positive one -in favor of a Constitutional Convention, for example- as a negative one -against the present, Palace-sponsored “people’s initiative.”
Opposition from the many groups I consulted was based on the following arguments:
1. It engaged in a fight -numbers- the administration’s poised to win.
2. Those in favor of more extreme measures -transitional councils, etc.- felt it would impede their efforts.
3. Too expensive (those with organizational experience said such an effort would require something along the lines of 2.5 million pesos).
4. Too long.
5. Even if provinces pass a resolution, it has no real effect other than to express something everyone already knows.
The end result has been that it got nowhere, while a similar effort has been undertaken by the administration. I was proposing this effort as recently as last week, but people still aren’t keen. The experience has left me extremely frustrated, of course; I said time and again that if we wouldn’t even try, then we might as well fold up our tents, go home, and join in singing the President’s praises.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s the paper and the research. The details include what I felt was clearly coming at the time it was written last year. The research proposes two ways citizens could get involved: on an individual level, or according to their organizations (such as lawyers’ groups, etc.). Both would resort to the law on initiative and referendum. A proposed resolution would be filed with the provincial board or city council. If the resolution is rejected, the citizenry could then say it has the requisite number of signatures to require a referendum so that the entire city or provincial electorate could decide the question. At that point, the Comelec would begin the steps required to validate signatures and then schedule a referendum.
Primer on a “Beauty Contest”
Reclaim constitution and the law: the process is mandated by law, provided for by law, requires the participation, peacefully, of the people.
Define a new people power through legal power: direct democracy again, countering elite power, that is, the manifestations of support by mayors and governors.
Harness direct democracy and the preference for the ballot box over protests: people will vote. Nuns can strap themselves to the ballot boxes. Attempts to cheat can be thwarted on the local level.
Derail the Cha-cha schedule, particularly the Cha-Cha referendum, derailed by our own. Invade the Cha-cha commission meetings to solicit signatures.
Withdraw support from the provinces, culminating in Manila: the President will be forced to campaign for office again, and machinations can be exposed: every city she visits must be festooned with black mourning banners and wreaths to greet her. Every effort, whether by Comelec, Supreme Court, Congress, MalacaÃƒÂ±ang, or local kingpins pits national institutions against the local electorate.
Declare holidays as each province reaches its quota: peaceful, defiant, doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t inconvenience the unconcerned.
Declare holidays as each city and municipality in Metro Manila reaches its quota.
Declare a holiday when the referendum is won. By this time, it will be world news, and the world will know the President has been rejected by her people.
The people will lead. The clergy will provide moral support. The armed forces will simply watch.
II. Proposed Resolution
Whereas, under the Constitution the Republic of the Philippines, sovereignty resides exclusively in the people;
Whereas, under the Constitutions and the laws of the Republic, the citizenry has been empowered to initiate and approve resolutions as a basic means of expressing the sense and opinions of the people, whether on local or national issues;
Whereas, the President of the Philippines, by her actions and behavior, has disgraced her office, cast her position and legitimacy into disrepute, divided her people, and refused all reasonable petitions from the public to be held accountable for her actions;
Whereas, the time has come for the people to reclaim for themselves the power to be heard by those elected into office, from the humblest barangay official to the President of the land;
Now therefore be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, by the people of _________ that we wish it known that,
We, the sovereign Filipino people, do hereby resolve and make it known to all, that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo no longer enjoys the trust and confidence of the people, and that we, the people of _________, hereby withdraws our support from her administration.
Note: A resolution for a Constitutional Convention would do just as well.
III. Basis in law
Under R. A. No. 6735, initiative is the power to propose and enact legislation through an election called for the purpose. There are three (3) systems of initiative, namely:
a.1 Initiative on the Constitution which refers to a petition proposing amendments to the Constitution;
(With respect to proposing constitutional amendments by way of initiative, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Miriam Defensor Santiago v. COMELEC that R. A. No. 6735 was inadequate to conduct an initiative on amending the Constitution.)
a.2 Initiative on statutes which refers to a petition proposing to enact a national legislation; and
a.3 Initiative on local legislation which refers to a petition proposing to enact regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay law, resolution or ordinance,
Referendum, on the hand, is the power of the electorate to approve or reject a legislation through an election called for the purpose. It may be of two classes, namely:
c.1 Referendum on statutes which refers to a petition to approve or reject an act or law, or part thereof, passed by Congress; and
c.2 Referendum on local law which refers to a petition to approve or reject a law, resolution or ordinance enacted by regional assemblies and local legislative bodies.
FORM AND CONTENT OF INITIATIVE
The idea is essentially to put forth a statement of No Confidence on PGMA.Ã‚Â In that case, that statement of No Confidence should beÃ‚Â in the form of a resolution.
In the case of Garcia v. COMELEC (G. R. No. 111230, September 30, 1994), the issue in this case was whether a resolution can be the subject of an initiative and referendum.Ã‚Â The answer of the Court was that a resolution can be the subject of an initiative and referendum.Ã‚Â The Court used the congressional deliberations to justify the inclusion of resolutions as subject to initiative and referendum.
As stated in the case, and contrasting it with an ordinance, a resolution is Ã¢â‚¬Å“used whenever the legislature wishes to express an opinion which is to have only a temporary effect while an ordinance is intended to permanently direct and control matters applying to persons or things in generalÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Why emphasize a resolution? Because, a resolution does not have to beÃ‚Â issued for the purpose of amending or proposing any law or ordinance. As defined, a resolution is an expression of an opinion. The COMELEC, if it is adversarial to your cause, cannot compel you to justify the relevance of your resolution to any proposed national law. What graver opinion is there than for the entire citizenry to come up with a peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resolution stating we have no confidence on her.
Thus, the best form to express a No-Confidence Vote is by way of a resolution.
National or Local?
Instead of an all-out national initiative, consider taking a look at conducting a local initiative, i.e., onÃ‚Â a per-city, or per-municipality, or per-province basis and coming out with a resolution of no-confidence.
Of course, this would depend greatly on our ability to mount a nationwide referendum.Ã‚Â In addition, let us consider that the COMELEC may want to atone for their past sins, but if so, would it be the COMELEC as an institution and the Commissioners or to individual, regional COMELEC officers?
If we are referring to the institution as a whole and the Commissioners wanted to cleanse their image, then by all means, go national. At the very least, it would be the Commissioners themselves fighting to redeem their reputation and would obliquely be assisting us in the endeavor especially, the act of validating the signatures of the registered voters. We would assume that they will provide you the latest votersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ list used in the last elections or a more updated list since there is a continuous voters registration.
But if mounting a nationwide referendum would be difficult (although it would seem that in the PIRMA initiative, before they were stopped by the Supreme Court, they already had 4.2 million signatures out of the threshold 6 million or so required signatures.Ã‚Â Incidentally, they had 17 major donors to fund the campaign. The costs have gone up by now), then the clear alternative is to mount a city by city, by municipality and by province initiative.
Will a local initiative still cover a resolution? Absolutely. The Local Government only provides that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Initiative shall extend only to subjects or matters which are within the legal powers of the sanggunian to enactÃ¢â‚¬Â.Ã‚Â And under the Garcia ruling adverted to above, a resolution is within the legal powers of the sanggunian to enact.
But with respect to its content such as a no-vote confidence vote on the president which seems to be national in scope, It is still justifiable. We have instances of provincial, municipal or city resolutions praising the president or honoring someone who brought glory to our country. We also have local resolutions showing support for the president.Ã‚Â If these resolutions can contain matters of national scope, there is no reason why they could not be used to show our dissatisfaction with the president.
But if in the highly unlikely event that it will not be allowed, the loophole, is for the resolution to be couched in a manner linking the no-confidence vote to the difficult economic hardships, or the diminishing peace and order of that particular placeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.just about any woe they are suffering from can be conceivablyÃ‚Â related to the continued stay of the president.
In the national initiative andÃ‚Â referendum, the initial requirement is that: Ã¢â‚¬Å“at leastÃ‚Â tenÃ‚Â per centumÃ‚Â (10%)Ã‚Â ofÃ‚Â theÃ‚Â totalÃ‚Â numberÃ‚Â of the registered voters,Ã‚Â ofÃ‚Â whichÃ‚Â everyÃ‚Â legislative districtÃ‚Â is represented by at least three per centum (3) of the registered voters thereof, shall sign a petitionÃ‚Â for the purpose and register the same with the Commission.Ã¢â‚¬Â (Sec. 5 [a] of R. A. 6735)
The CommissionÃ‚Â shallÃ‚Â callÃ‚Â and supervise the conduct of initiative or referendum. WithinÃ‚Â aÃ‚Â period of thirty (30) days from receipt of the petition, theÃ‚Â CommissionÃ‚Â shall,Ã‚Â upon determiningÃ‚Â the sufficiency of the petition, publish the same in Filipino and English at leastÃ‚Â twiceÃ‚Â in newspapersÃ‚Â ofÃ‚Â general and local circulation and set the date of the initiativeÃ‚Â orÃ‚Â referendumÃ‚Â which shallÃ‚Â notÃ‚Â beÃ‚Â earlierÃ‚Â thanÃ‚Â forty-fiveÃ‚Â (45)Ã‚Â daysÃ‚Â butÃ‚Â notÃ‚Â laterÃ‚Â thanÃ‚Â ninetyÃ‚Â (90)Ã‚Â daysÃ‚Â fromÃ‚Â the determination by the Commission of the sufficiency of the petition.
In a local initiative and referendum, the initial requirement is: minimum ofÃ‚Â 1,000 people in provinces or cities, 100 for municipalities can file a petition to propose a resolution before the local legislature and if not acted upon within 30 days, the people will inform the local legislature of their intent to use the power of initiative in which case, you have 90 days for cities and provinces to secure their signatures, 60 days for municipalities and 30 days for barangays. You are required to secure the same number of signatures as the national initiative and referendum.
If the required number of signatures is obtained, the COMELEC shall then set a date for the initiative during which the proposition shall be submitted to the registered voters in the local government unit concerned for their approval within sixty (60) days from the date of certification by the COMELEC, as provided in subsection (g) hereof, in case of provinces and cities, forty-five (45) days in case of municipalities, and thirty (30) days in case of barangays. The initiative shall then be held on the date set, after which the results thereof shall be certified and proclaimed by the COMELEC. (Sec. 122 (h) of the Local Government Code of 1991 [R. A. No. 7160])
Q. Can a resolution be a subject of an initiative?
A: Yes, under the case of Garcia v Comelec (G. R. No. 111230, September 30, 1994) where the Supreme Court ruled that a resolution can be a subject of an initiative. As basis, they cited the congressional debates on R. A. No. 6735.
Q: Can we propose a resolution even without relation to any local law?
A: Yes, as defined under Sec. 3(a.3) of R. A. No. 6735, initiativeÃ‚Â onÃ‚Â localÃ‚Â legislationÃ‚Â refersÃ‚Â toÃ‚Â aÃ‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“petition proposing toÃ‚Â enact regional, provincial, city, municipal, orÃ‚Â barangay law, resolution or ordinanceÃ¢â‚¬Â
Q: How is it different from referendum on a local law?
A: As defined under Sec. 3(c.2) of R. A. No. 6735, referendum on local law refers to Ã¢â‚¬Å“a petition to approve or rejectÃ‚Â aÃ‚Â law, resolutionÃ‚Â orÃ‚Â ordinanceÃ‚Â enactedÃ‚Â byÃ‚Â regional assemblies andÃ‚Â localÃ‚Â legislative bodiesÃ¢â‚¬Â
The procedure for conducting an initiative and referendum was fleshed out in Comelec Resolution No. 2300 issued on January 16, 1991.Ã‚Â This resolution was issued in line with R. A. No. 6735 or the Initiative and Referendum Law.
A reading of the Comelec Resolution suggests that a proponent can file a petition for initiative even while the signatures are yet to be gathered and completed.Ã‚Â While there are minor differences between a local and a national initiative, the thrust of both procedures encouraged the filing of a petition even without the required signatures.
However, that procedure was declared void in the case of Defensor Santiago v. Comelec (270 SCRA 106). The Supreme Court ruled in that case that:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 6735, a petition for initiative on the Constitution must be signed by at least 12% of the total number of registered voters of which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein.Ã‚Â The Delfin Petition does not contain signatures of the required number of voters.Ã‚Â Delfin himself admits that he has not yet gathered signatures and that the purpose of his petition is primarily to obtain assistance in his drive to gather signatures.Ã‚Â Without the required signatures, the petition cannot be deemed validly initiated.
The COMELEC acquires jurisdiction over a petition for initiative only after its filing.Ã‚Â The petition then is the initiatory pleading.Ã‚Â Nothing before its filing is cognizable by the COMELEC, sitting en banc.Ã‚Â The only participation of the COMELEC or its personnel before the filing of such petition are (1) to prescribe the form of the petition; (2) to issue through its Election Records and Statistics Office a certificate on the total number of registered voters in each legislative district; (3) to assist, through its election registrars, in the establishment of signature stations; and (4) to verify, through its election registrars, the signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, votersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ affidavits, and votersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ identification cards used in the immediately preceding election.Ã¢â‚¬Â
While this case declared unconstitutional the procedure of initiative in revising the Constitution, the general principle that the petition must be accompanied by the required signatures applies to local initiative as well because Sec. 4(d) of R. A. No. 6735 provides that like a national initiative, a local initiative is
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ deemedÃ‚Â validlyÃ‚Â initiatedÃ‚Â if the petitionÃ‚Â thereforÃ‚Â is signed by at least ten per centum (10%) of the registered voters inÃ‚Â the province orÃ‚Â city,Ã‚Â of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three perÃ‚Â centumÃ‚Â (3%)Ã‚Â of theÃ‚Â registeredÃ‚Â votersÃ‚Â thereinÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦..Ã¢â‚¬Â
Since the definition of national and local initiative under R. A. No. 6735 are similar in that both are deemed validly initiated only upon the required signatures, this means we cannot file a petition for initiative until we acquire the necessary number of signatures.Ã‚Â Once we acquire the required number, we can file the petition with or without the verification from the election supervisor. The certification can come later but we run the risk of having the initiative dismissed if the supervisor rejects most of the votersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ signatures. Hence, the proponents or their representatives must be vigilant in observing the verification.
The safe course is to encourage as many people to sign the petition within the 90 day period even if the signatures already exceed the required number. Since, the supervisors will verify the signatures during the 90 day period, we will immediately know if we reached the threshold or not.Ã‚Â If we reached it and the signatures have already been verified, we can proceed with the filing.Ã‚Â If not, we mobilize and exhaust the 90 day period.
1. There is a one-year limitation on initiatives.Ã‚Â Similar to an impeachment case, you can only file one initiative a year.Ã‚Â So, if the initiative snowballs, the governors of other provinces or pro-GMA congressmenÃ‚Â can immediately stymie the process by coming up with their own resolution supporting the president or just come out with any initiative in order to suspend the initiative process for at least one year.
To prevent the process from being hijacked by the other side, the proponents should immediately secure the 1,000 voters to sign the petition.Ã‚Â Since the provincial board has 30 days to decide, we can use those 30 days to consolidate the supporters in that province.
It would therefore mean expanding our spheres of testing. I am not so sure that they will even ignore the first few provinces or cities anymore since the president is on the defensive and she needs the public display of support.
2. On the province level, if the provincial election supervisor is close to the governor, the supervisor can reject the votersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ signature or that the signature of the voter appears more than once in the same forms.Ã‚Â Hence, vigilance is vital.
3. Since COMELEC in Manila will be informed of the initiative, assuming it is a hostile party, the Comelec or an opponent can oppose the petition in order to:
a. delay the issuance of the certificate of the total numbers of voters in a legislative district;
b. rule that the resolution expressing withdrawal of support from the president is not a valid subject for a resolution (this position is untenable because there are only 2 prohibited measures, namely, the initiative cannot cover more than one subject and statutes involving emergency measures which are reserved only to Congress. Still they may be used);
c. deny the initiative on the ground that the Comelec has yet to issue new rules on initiative in the light of the Defensor Santiago case declaring Comelec Resolution No. 2300 void. (This is not true. The Supreme Court did not declare the entire Comelec Resolution void, only those parts touching on the Constitution;
4. Since the signing of the petition will largely depend on the voters going to the signature stations, the proponents must mobilize the electorate on four occasions: (1) on the first 1000 voters; (2) on the signing of the petition in order for it to go forward; (3) during the special registration to be held 3 weeks before the initiative; and (4) the day of the initiative.
5. The proponents must also watch out that there are no Ã¢â‚¬Å“flying signersÃ¢â‚¬Â. The proponents may be lulled into believing the big turnout of signers only to discover that the petition was dismissed because of falsified signatures.
6. Lastly, even before the initiative gets going, identify and form the legal team in each province that will fight all the legal dilatory tactics that may be employed.
A. ABBREVIATED PROCEDURE FOR A PROVINCIAL INITIATIVE
1. Secure signatures of 1,000 registered voters in case of province and 2,000 registered voters in autonomous regions;
2. File before the Provincial Board a petition proposing the resolution;
3. If no action or unfavorable action by the board, proponents notify the board that it is invoking the power of initiative;
4. Within 90 days from notice to the Board, secure the required number of signatures, which is 10% of the registered voters of the province, with each legislative district having at least 3% of the registered voters signing the petition;
5. As soon as required number of signatures are secured, file with the election registrar, the Petition for Initiative, witnessed by proponent and a provincial board member or their respective representatives;
The petition shall contain as follows:
(a) The preliminary requirement as to the number of signatures of registered voters for the petition;
(b) The submission of the petition to the local legislative body concerned;
(c) The effect of the legislative body’s failure to favorably act thereon, and the invocation of the power of initiative as a consequence thereof;
(d) The formulation of the proposition;
(e) The required period within which to gather the signatures;
(f) Proof of compliance with the required signatures obtained within the mandated period
6. The COMELEC verifies the signatures based on the registry list of voters, voters’ affidavits and voters’ identification cards used in the immediately preceding election. If sufficient in form, COMELEC certifies;
7. COMELEC sets a date for the initiative within 60 days from the date of COMELEC certification;
8. At least 3 weeks before scheduled initiative, COMELEC sets a special registration day;
9. If the resolution is approved by a majority of the votes cast, it shall take effect fifteen (15) days after certification by the COMELEC;
Limitations on Local Initiatives.
a. The power of local initiative shall not be exercised more than once a year.
b. Initiative shall extend only to subjects or matters which are within the legal powers of the provincial board to enact.
c. If at any time before the initiative is held, the provincial board in toto the proposition presented and the governor approves the same, the initiative shall be canceled. However, those against such action may, if they so desire, apply for initiative in the manner herein provided.
Limitation on the Provincial BoardÃ‚Â (Sec. 125 – LGC)
The resolution cannot not be repealed, modified or amended by the provincial board within six (6) months from approval, and may be amended, modified or repealed by the board within three (3) years thereafter by a vote of 3/4 of all the provincial board members.
Sec. 11. Indirect Initiative. -
Any duly accredited people’s organization may file a petition for indirect initiative with the provincial board.
The petition shall contain a summary of the chief purposes and contents of the resolution that the organization proposes;
The legislature procedure on the initiative bill shall be the same as any legislative measure except that the initiative bill shall have precedence over the other pending legislative measures on the committee.
(Sec. 11 of R. A. 6735 in relation to Santiago et al., v. COMELEC et al., G. R. No. 127325, March 19, 1997 where it held that indirect initiative applies likewise to local legislative bodies)
Indirect Initiative is far simpler than an initiative if we can assume that we have a friendly provincial board. It does away with signatures provided that we can secure an accredited people’s organization.Ã‚Â The beauty of an indirect initiative is that the initiative takes precedence over other local bills. The bad thing about it is even if the law says it can take precedence, an unfriendly majority whip can still delay the passage.
a. Pre-October 1 – Secure the signatures of 1,000 registered voters
b. October 1 – Filing of petition for a proposed resolution with the provincial board.
c. October 31 – If no action by the provinicial board, file notice with it that you are invoking the right to a people’s initiative.
d. November 1 to January 29 – 90 days within which to collect the required signatures. This is the maximum period.
e. Unknown time it will take COMELEC to verify and authenticate the signatures.Ã‚Â If signatures are in order, COMELEC will certify.
f. Initiative will be held 60 days from COMELEC certification
g. But 3 weeks before initiative, COMELEC will hold a special registration.
B. PROCEDURE FOR A PROVINCIAL INITIATIVE (DETAILED VERSION)
1. At least one thousand (1,000) registered voters in case of provinces and cities or at least 2,000 registered votes in autonomous regions file a petition with the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (“provincial board” for ease) proposing the resolution; (Sec. 122(a) – R. A. 7160 [Local Government Code of 1991 `LGC')
2. When no action or favorable action is taken by the provincial board within 30 days from its presentation, the proponents, through their duly authorized and registered representatives, invoke the power of initiative by notifying the provincial board; (Sec. 122(b) - LGC)
3. The proponents have 90 days from the last day of the provincial board's non-action (60 days for cities) to collect the required number of signatures, which is 10% of the registered voters of the province or city, with each legislative district having at least 3% of the registered voters signing the petition; (Sec. 122(e) - LGC in relation to Sec. 5(d) of R. A. 6735 [Initiative & Referendum Law])
4. Upon compliance with the required number of signatures and within the required period, 90 days in case of provinces, the proponents shall file the Petition for Initiative in front of an election registrar, or his designated representatives, witnessed by a representative of the proponents, a representative of the provincial board in a public place in the province;
The petition shall contain as follows:
(g) The preliminary requirement as to the number of signatures of registered voters for the petition;
(h) The submission of the petition to the local legislative body concerned;
(i) The effect of the legislative body’s failure to favorably act thereon, and the invocation of the power of initiative as a consequence thereof;
(j) The formulation of the proposition;
(k) The required period within which to gather the signatures;
(l) Proof of compliance with the required signatures obtained within the mandated period (Sec. 122(f) – LGC in relation to Santiago et al., v. COMELEC et al., G. R. No. 127325, March 19, 1997)
5. The COMELEC will verify the signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters’ affidavits and voters’ identification cards used in the immediately preceding election and certify whether the required number of signatures has been obtained. (Sec. 122(g) LGC in relation to Sec. 7 of R. A. 6735)
6. If the required number of signatures is obtained, COMELEC shall set a date for the initiative during which the resolution shall be submitted to the registered voters in the province for their approval within sixty (60) days from the date of certification by the COMELEC in case of provinces and cities. (Sec. 122(h) – LGC)
7. The Commission on Elections shall set a special registration day at least three (3) weeks before a scheduled initiative or referendum. (Sec. 6 of R. A. 6735)
8. The initiative shall then be held on the date set, after which the results thereof shall be certified and proclaimed by the COMELEC.Ã‚Â (Sec. 122(h) – LGC)
9. If the resolution is approved by a majority of the votes cast, it shall take effect fifteen (15) days after certification by the Comelec as if affirmative action had been made by the provincial board and the governor.Ã‚Â If it fails to obtain said number of votes, the proposition is considered defeated. (Sec. 123 – LGC)
Limitations on Local Initiatives. (Sec. 124 – LGC)
d. The power of local initiative shall not be exercised more than once a year.
e. Initiative shall extend only to subjects or matters which are within the legal powers of the provincial board to enact.
f. If at any time before the initiative is held, the provincial board in toto the proposition presented and the governor approves the same, the initiative shall be canceled. However, those against such action may, if they so desire, apply for initiative in the manner herein provided.
Limitation on the Provincial BoardÃ‚Â (Sec. 125 – LGC)
The resolution approved shall not be repealed, modified or amended by the provincial board within six (6) months from the date of the approval thereof, and may be amended, modified or repealed by the board within three (3) years thereafter by a vote of three-fourths (3/4) of all the provincial board members.
Sec. 11. Indirect Initiative. -
Any duly accredited people’s organization, as defined by law, may file a petition for indirect initiative with the provincial board. The petition shall contain a summary of the chief purposes and contents of the bill that the organization proposes to be enacted into law by the legislature. The procedure to be followed on the initiative bill shall be the same as the enactment of any legislative measure before the provincial board except that the said initiative bill shall have precedence over the other pending legislative measures on the committee.
(Sec. 11 of R. A. 6735 in relation to Santiago et al., v. COMELEC et al., G. R. No. 127325, March 19, 1997 where it held that indirect initiative applies likewise to local legislative bodies)
A. how to hasten the verification process of the Comelec.
Under the law, Comelec is supposed to verify the signatures upon filing of the petition.Ã‚Â But if there are sympathetic regional Comelec officers, they can be asked to authenticate the signatures on a piece-meal basis (an agreed minimum number of secured signatures) while the required number of signatures is being completed.Ã‚Â So that once the petition is filed, the signatures to be authenticated will be less by then.
Incidentally, as to the issue whether resolution is the subject of an initiative, Isee the relevant portion of the Initiative and Referendum Law, to wit:Ã‚Â “a.3Ã‚Â InitiativeÃ‚Â onÃ‚Â localÃ‚Â legislationÃ‚Â whichÃ‚Â refersÃ‚Â toÃ‚Â aÃ‚Â petition proposing toÃ‚Â enact regional, provincial, city, municipal, or barangay law, resolution or ordinance”. Clearly, an initiative can be conducted to propose a resolution.
What is being conducted is an initiative and not a referendum because local referendum, on the other hand, deals with the “petition toÃ‚Â approve or rejectÃ‚Â aÃ‚Â law, resolutionÃ‚Â orÃ‚Â ordinanceÃ‚Â enactedÃ‚Â byÃ‚Â regionalÃ‚Â assemblies andÃ‚Â localÃ‚Â legislative bodies.”Ã‚Â That is not the purpose of this exercise.
The Comelec bible for initiative is COMELEC Resolution No. 2300 adopted last Jan. 16, 1991.
However, in the case of Defensor Santiago v. Comelec penned by Davide, the Comelec, under that resolution, can verify the signatures already even before the petition is filed. The pertinent portion of the case:
“The COMELEC acquires jurisdiction over a petition for initiative only after its filing.Ã‚Â The petition then is the initiatory pleading.Ã‚Â Nothing before its filing is cognizable by the COMELEC, sitting en banc.Ã‚Â The only participation of the COMELEC or its personnel before the filing of such petition are:
(1) to prescribe the form of the petition;
(2) to issue through its Election Records and Statistics Office a certificate on the total number of registered voters in each legislative district;
(3) to assist, through its election registrars, in the establishment of signature stations; and
(4) to verify, through its election registrars, the signatures on the basis of the registry list of voters, voters’ affidavits, and voters’ identification cards used in the immediately preceding election.”
In effect, it is possible hasten the verification of the signatures well before the petition is filed. And even while the provincial board is deliberating on the proposed resolution, an inquiry with the Comelec can be made with respect to item (2) and seek their assistance with respect to item (3).