Political Law

Arturo Tolentino vs Commission on Elections (1971)

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G.R. No. L-34150 – 41 SCRA 702 – Political Law – Constitutional Law – Amendment to the Constitution – Doctrine of Proper Submission

The Constitutional Convention of 1971 scheduled an advance plebiscite concerning only the proposal to lower the voting age from 21 to 18. This was even before the rest of the draft of the Constitution (then under revision) had been approved. Arturo Tolentino then filed a motion to prohibit such plebiscite.

ISSUE: Whether or not the petition will prosper.

HELD: Yes. If the advance plebiscite will be allowed, there will be an improper submission to the people. Such is not allowed.

The proposed amendments shall be approved by a majority of the votes cast at an election at which the amendments are submitted to the people for ratification. Election here is singular which meant that the entire constitution must be submitted for ratification at one plebiscite only. Furthermore, the people were not given a proper “frame of reference” in arriving at their decision because they had at the time no idea yet of what the rest of the revised Constitution would ultimately be and therefore would be unable to assess the proposed amendment in the light of the entire document. This is the “Doctrine of Proper Submission” which means that all the proposed amendments to the Constitution shall be presented to the people for the ratification or rejection at the same time, NOT piecemeal.

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