Showing posts with label Philippine Constitution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Philippine Constitution. Show all posts

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)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Reason for Creating COMELEC

The growing public distrust and dissatisfaction upon the way the Secretary of the Interior were exercising their powers under the election laws, including their arbitrary resolutions as to the location of polling places, compelled the National Assembly to create, by constitutional amendments, an independent Commission on Elections.   (Cortez vs. COMELEC, et al., 79 Phil. 352)

By the very nature of their functions, the members of the Commission on Elections must be independent. They must be made to feel that they are secured in the tenure of their office and entitled to fixed emoluments during their incumbency (economic security), so as to make them impartial in the performance of their functions -- their powers and duties.

That independence and impartiality may be shaken and destroyed by a designation of a person or officer to act temporarily in the Commission on Elections. It would be more in keeping with the intent purpose and aim of the framers of the Constitution to appoint a permanent Commissioner than to designate one to act temporarily. (Cortez vs. COMELEC, et al., 79 Phil. 352)

Under the Constitution, the Commission on Elections is an independent body or institution (Article X), just as the General Auditing Office is an independent office (Art. XI). The membership of the Commission for a fixed period of nine years (now seven), except as to the first members appointed who were to hold office for nine, six and three years (now seven, five and three years). With these periods, it was the intention of the framers of the Constitution to have one position vacant every three years, so that no President can appoint more than one Commissioner, thereby preserving and safeguarding the independence and impartiality of the Commission. (The Nationalista Party vs. Solicitor General, G.R. No. L-3452, Dec. 7, 1949; XV, L.J. 163)

The main purpose behind the creation of the Commission on Elections, was to place the supervision and control of the conduct of the elections and the enforcement of the election laws in the hands of an independent body, composed of public-spirited men, who, with the consciousness of the high dignity of performing the duties of a constitutional office, shall administer the law justly, impartiality without any partisanship, and never countenance for any reason or consideration an illegality.

The creation of the new body was intended to remedy the unsatisfactory situation created by the general belief, among the majority and the minority parties, that the Secretaries of the Interior were administering the election laws not for the purpose of securing an honest and free elections, but to serve the political interests of the party in power to which the secretaries belonged. (Cortez vs. COMELEC, et al., 79 Phil. 352)

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