Ramon Gonzales vs Commission on Elections
G.R. No. L-28196 – 21 SCRA 774 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – The Judiciary – Judicial Power – Amendment to the Constitution – Political Question vs Justiciable Question – The act of congress enacting a law proposing amendments to the constitution is a justiciable question
In June 1967, Republic Act 4913 was passed. This law provided for the COMELEC to hold a plebiscite for the proposed amendments to the Constitution. It was provided in the said law that the plebiscite shall be held on the same day that the general national elections shall be held (November 14, 1967). This was questioned by Ramon Gonzales and other concerned groups as they argued that this was unlawful as there would be no proper submission of the proposals to the people who would be more interested in the issues involved in the general election rather than in the issues involving the plebiscite.
Gonzales also questioned the validity of the procedure adopted by Congress when they came up with their proposals to amend the Constitution (RA 4913). In this regard, the COMELEC and other respondents interposed the defense that said act of Congress cannot be reviewed by the courts because it is a political question.
I. Whether or not the act of Congress in proposing amendments is a political question.
II. Whether or not a plebiscite may be held simultaneously with a general election.
I. No. The issue is a justiciable question. It must be noted that the power to amend as well as the power to propose amendments to the Constitution is not included in the general grant of legislative powers to Congress. Such powers are not constitutionally granted to Congress. On the contrary, such powers are inherent to the people as repository of sovereignty in a republican state. That being, when Congress makes amendments or proposes amendments, it is not actually doing so as Congress; but rather, it is sitting as a constituent assembly. Such act is not a legislative act. Since it is not a legislative act, it is reviewable by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has the final say whether or not such act of the constituent assembly is within constitutional limitations.
II. Yes. There is no prohibition to the effect that a plebiscite must only be held on a special election. SC held that there is nothing in this provision of the  Constitution to indicate that the election therein referred to is a special, not a general election. The circumstance that the previous amendment to the Constitution had been submitted to the people for ratification in special elections merely shows that Congress deemed it best to do so under the circumstances then obtaining. It does not negate its authority to submit proposed amendments for ratification in general elections.
Note: **Justice Sanchez and Justice JBL Reyes dissented. Plebiscite should be scheduled on a special date so as to facilitate “Fair submission, intelligent consent or rejection“. They should be able to compare the original proposition with the amended proposition.
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