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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Nature of the Right of Suffrage

The dictionary defines ELECTIONS as "a choosing by vote", while SUFFRAGE as "a vote or voting"; "the right to vote", which make both terms somewhat synonymous. Suffrage is an important political right appertaining to citizenship. Each individual qualified to vote is a particle of popular sovereignty. (Santos vs. Paredes, G.R. No. 45906 (Sup. Ct); Moya vs. Del Fierro, 69 Phil. 199)

The right of suffrage is predicated upon the theory that the people who bear the burden of government should share in the privilege of choosing the officials of that government. This is the theory of a representative form of government. (Macolor vs. Amores, G.R. No. L-8306, Nov. 5, 1953)

The right to vote is a political right or privilege, to be given or withheld at the exercise of the lawmaking power of the sovereignty. It is not a natural right of the citizen, but a franchise dependent upon law, which it must be conferred to permit its exercise. It can emanate only from the people, either in their sovereign statement of the organic law or through legislative enactment which they have authorized. It is not included among the rights of property or of person. Neither is it an absolute unqualified right, but is altogether conventional. When once granted, it may be taken away by the exercise of sovereign power, and if taken away no vested right is violated or bill of attainder passed. For example, those to whom the right of suffrage is guaranteed by the constitution cannot be deprived of it by any act of the legislature. (White vs. Multnomab County, 13 0.317)

The fundamental principle of suffrage consists of two things: first -- that every man entitled to vote may vote; second, that his vote may be sent forward and counted and so he may exercise his part of sovereignty in common with his fellow-citizen. (Paine, Law of Election, p. 2)

The object of suffrage is the continuity of government and the preservation and perpetuation of its benefits.  The right to vote is not of necessity connected with citizenship.  The rights of the citizen are civil rights, such as liberty of person and of conscience, the right to acquire and possess property, all of which are distinguishable from the political privilege. (McCrary, Am. Law of Election, 4th Ed., p. 3)

And finally, our Constitution provides: "The Philippines is a democratic and republican State. Sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them." (Art. II, Sec. 1, Declaration of Principles, 1987 Constitution).

The officers are mere agents and not rulers of the people, where no one man or set of men has a proprietary or contractual right to an office, but where every officer accepts office pursuant to the provisions of the law and hold the office as a trust for the people whom he represents. (Cornejo vs. Gabriel and Prov. Board of Rizal, 41 Phil. 188)

1 comment:

  1. Assuming that a citizen is a registered voter, is there a violation if the citizen does not vote for the elections? What are the consequences if he does not exercise his right to vote?

    ReplyDelete

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