Responding to the open invitation to write at the Forum, Mr. Basilio submitted a timely article on the potential face-off between the Senate and the House of Representatives. Now that the Supreme Court has dismissed the petition of Lambino et.al., it’s expected that the same petitioners through the Presidentâ€™s allies in the Lower House would finally resort next to the other mode in the amendatory process, i.e. proposal by the Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its members.
Mr. Basilio believes that the pro-charter change group, notwithstanding the Lower Houseâ€™s superior numbers and their intention to disregard the Senate in the voting, is likely to face again another difficult challenge in their desire to have the Constitution amended. The issue of whether the two houses of Congress should vote jointly or separately would be brought before the Supreme Court. The case would be then titled the Senate of the Philippines vs. the House of Representatives, a monumental jurisprudential precedent.
With that, allow me to take a detour to discuss the “Off-line” article of Mr. Magno in today’s edition Philippine Star. Mr. Magno claims that the main decision in Lambino vs. COMELEC “did not adress the issue at bar” and that it “swam into all the peripheral issues”. He then stated that the “basic flaw of the Carpio decision is that it rules on the contentious facts, thereby overriding procedures and process that are in the jurisdiction of other authorities”.
What Mr. Magno is saying – that the SC is not a trier of facts – is the same complaint of Atty. Lambino. There’s a previous discussion in this site that the SC, in certain cases (like the “resignation” of former President Estrada and the ITF automation machines) may deal with questions of facts.
Still, Mr. Magno is correct that the SC “swam” into peripheral issues, but he is NOT correct that the main decision did not address the issue. One of the issues in that case is whether the petition for people’s initiative violates the Constitution. This issue is resolved in the affirmative by the majority: yes, the petition violates the Constitution because it constitutes a revision, and not merely an amendment. If the main decision stopped right there, it would still be enough.