According to Abraham Lincoln, he best described democracy as the "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." For that government to be "by the people," however, requires that the people decide who shall be their leaders. Without free and fair elections, there can be no democratic society, and without that constant accountability of government officials to the electorate, there can, in fact, be no assurance of any other rights. The right to vote, therefore, is not only an important individual liberty; it is also a foundation stone of free government.
Since the Republic of the Philippines is a democratic country, its people exercise the right to vote. As embedded in the Article 5 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, Section 1 states that, “suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines…” and suffrage as has been defined is “not a natural right of the citizen but merely a privilege to be given or withheld by the lawmaking power subject to limitations”. Suffrage then includes initiative and referendum.The general initiative and referendum were first adopted in the United States in South Dakota in 1898, and many states soon followed. The movement toward direct legislation did not grow from a desire of the people to exercise the legislative function directly. Rather, many people distrusted their legislative bodies, believing that large corporations and powerful groups of individuals were corrupting legislation. The power of referendum made most legislation subject to the will of the people.
INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM Initiative – the power of the people to propose amendment to the constitution or to propose and enact legislations (national or local legislations) through an election called for that purpose Referendum – the power of the electorate to approve or reject legislation through an election called for that purpose.
(a) Not less than one thousand (1,000) registered voters in case of provinces and cities, one hundred (100) in case of municipalities, and fifty (50) in case of Barangays, may file a petition with the Sanggunian concerned proposing the adoption, enactment, repeal, or amendment of an ordinance.
The referendum power is created by state constitutions and is conferred on the citizens of a state or a local subdivision of the state. Referendum provides the people with a means of expressing their opinion on proposed legislation before it becomes operative as a law. The power of referendum does not permit the people to invalidate a law that is already operative but suspends or annuls a law that has not yet gone into effect. The referendum along with the initiative, are the two forms of direct legislation adopted by many states during the direct democracy movement of the early twentieth century. Referendum allows the people to state their opinion on laws that have been enacted by the legislature, and the initiative allows the people to propose their own laws. Thus, in the states that have adopted the initiative and referendum, the people essentially form another branch of the legislature, having the ability both to enact laws and to overturn laws passed by the elected legislature but not yet in effect. An initiative or a referendum passed by the people has the same force and effect as any act of the legislature. A referendum may be challenged on constitutional grounds; on grounds that proper procedures were not followed in the referendum process and election, or on grounds that the referendum or initiative was outside the scope of authority granted by the state constitution.
Initiative and referendum
Ronelyn D. Jaectin
• Article 5 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, Section 1 states that, “suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines…”Article VI. The Legislative Department• Section 1. “The Legislative Power is vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision of initiative and referendum (Philippine 1987 Constitution).”• The general initiative and referendum were first adopted in the United States in South Dakota in 1898.
Local Initiative - the legal processwhereby the registered voters of alocal government unit may directlypropose, enact, or amend anyordinance. Local referendum - the legal process whereby the registered voters of the local government units may approve or reject any ordinance enacted by the Sanggunian..
Who May Exercise? The power of local initiative and referendum may be exercised by all registered voters of the provinces, cities, municipaliti es,and Barangays. Procedure in Local Initiative Local Government Unit Number of registered votersa) Provinces and Cities 1000 Municipalities (towns) 100 Barangays 50
(b) If no favorable action thereon istaken by the Sanggunian concernedwithin thirty (30) days from itspresentation, the proponents, throughtheir duly authorized and registeredrepresentatives, may invoke theirpower of initiative, giving noticethereof to the Sanggunian concerned.(c) The proposition shall be numbered serially starting from Romannumeral I. The Comelec or its designated representative shallextend assistance in the formulation of the proposition.(d) Two (2) or more propositions may be submitted in an initiative.(e) Proponents shall have ninety (90) days in case of provinces andcities, sixty (60) days in case of municipalities, and thirty (30) daysin case of Barangays, from notice mentioned in subsection (b)hereof to collect the required number of signatures.
(f) The petition shall be signed before theelection registrar, or his designatedrepresentatives, in the presence of arepresentative of the proponent, and arepresentative of the Sanggunian concerned in apublic place in the local government unit, as thecase may be. Stations for collecting signaturesmay be established in as many places as may bewarranted.(g) Upon the lapse of the period herein provided,the Comelec, through its office in the localgovernment unit concerned, shall certify as towhether or not the required number ofsignatures has been obtained. Failure to obtainthe required number defeats the proposition.
(h) If the required number of signatures isobtained, the Comelec shall then set a datefor the initiative during which theproposition shall be submitted to theregistered voters in the local governmentunit concerned for their approval withinsixty (60) days from the date ofcertification by the Comelec, as provided insubsection (g) hereof, in case of provincesand cities, forty-five (45) days in case ofmunicipalities, and thirty (30) days in caseof Barangays. The initiative shall then beheld on the date set, after which theresults thereof shall be certified andproclaimed by the Comelec.
Effectivity of Local PropositionsIf the proposition is approved by a majority of the votescast, it shall take effect fifteen (15) days after certificationby the Comelec as if affirmative action thereon had beenmade by the Sanggunian and local chief executiveconcerned. If it fails to obtain said number of votes, theproposition is considered defeated.
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 Sanggunians to enact.c) If at any time before the initiative is held, the Sanggunianconcerned adopts in to the proposition presented and the localchief executive approves the same, the initiative shall becanceled. However, those against such action may, if they sodesire, apply for initiative in the manner herein provided.
Limitations upon Sanggunians Any proposition or ordinance approved through the system of initiative and referendum as herein provided shall not be repealed, modified or amended by the Sanggunian concerned within six (6) months from the date of the approval thereof, and may be amended, modified or repealed by the Sanggunian within three (3) years thereafter by a vote of three-fourths (3/4) of all its members: Provided, That in case of Barangays, the period shall be eighteen (18) months after the approval thereof.
Authority of Courts (Chapter II, LGC of 1991)Nothing in this Chapter shall prevent or precludethe proper courts from declaring null and voidany proposition approved pursuant to thisChapter for violation of the Constitution or wantof capacity of the Sanggunian concerned toenact the said measure.
What is the difference between Initiative and Referendum?• Both initiative and referendum are powers givento the voters to accept or reject a piece oflegislation, though initiative allows people to getthe government to do what it should have and didnot, while referendum give people the power to getthe government “not” to do what they wanted todo.• Initiative starts with votes, whereas legislativereferendum initiates from the legislature and goesto the public, to approve or reject the proposedlegislation.