Political Law

Alex Almario vs Manuel Alba

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G.R. No. L-66088 – 127 SCRA 69 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Amendment to the Constitution – Doctrine of Complete Submission – Political Question

In January 1984, a plebiscite was to be held to allow the voters to either approve or reject amendments to the Constitution proposed by the Batasang Pambansa. The proposed amendments were embodied in four (4) separate questions to be answered by simple YES or NO answers.

Alex Almario and some other concerned groups sought to enjoin the submission in the said plebiscite of Questions No. 3 (“grant” as an additional mode of acquiring lands belonging to the public domain) and 4 (the undertaking by the government of a land reform program and a social reform program) to the people for ratification or rejection on the ground that there has been no fair and proper submission following the doctrine laid down in Tolentino v. COMELEC.

However, unlike in the case of Tolentino vs COMELEC, Almario et al do not seek to prohibit the holding of the plebiscite but only ask for more time for the people to study the meaning and implications of the said questions/proposals until the nature and effect of the proposals are fairly and properly submitted to the electorate.

ISSUE: Whether or not Questions 3 and 4 can be presented to the people on a later date.

HELD: No. This is a political question. The necessity, expediency, and wisdom of the proposed amendments are beyond the power of the courts to adjudicate. Precisely, whether or not “grant” of public land and “urban land reform” are unwise or improvident or whether or not the proposed amendments are unnecessary is a matter which only the people can decide. The questions are presented for their determination.

Assuming that a member or some members of the Supreme Court may find undesirable any additional mode of disposing of public land or an urban land reform program, the remedy is to vote “NO” in the plebiscite but not to substitute his or their aversion to the proposed amendments by denying to the millions of voters an opportunity to express their own likes or dislikes.

Further, Almario et al have failed to make out a case that the average voter does not know the meaning of “grant” of public land or of “urban land reform.”

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