‘Plebiscite alongside midterm elections unconstitutional’

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
�Plebiscite alongside midterm elections unconstitutional�
Romulo Macalintal
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — As lawmakers bicker over when to hold a plebiscite on Charter change, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said synchronizing it with the 2025 midterm elections is definitely a no-no as it would be unconstitutional.

“With all due respect to President Marcos, his position to hold a plebiscite to amend the Constitution alongside the 2025 national and local elections (NLE) is not tenable or of doubtful constitutionality,” Macalintal said in a statement yesterday.

He explained that the 1987 Constitution mandates that the ratification of any amendment or revision should be done “in a plebiscite.”

“Said provision does not say that the ratification shall be done in an election, nor in an election and plebiscite,” he pointed out.

According to Macalintal, a plebiscite on amendment or revision of the Constitution must be undertaken independently as ruled by the Supreme Court.

Macalintal said a majority of the justices of the SC said that in deciding amendatory proposals, “the people must be free from consideration of extraneous matters, such as the choice of national and local officials.”

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia said, however, that a plebiscite on Cha-cha would proceed side by side with the May 2025 elections, unless prohibited by the SC.

“Again, until and unless there is a restraining order from the Supreme Court, the Comelec will proceed with simultaneous plebiscite and regular national elections,” he said.

Garcia noted that a plebiscite done simultaneously with the midterm polls would mean billion-peso savings for the government.

“No additional expenses because we will be using the same teachers, the same ballots,” he said.

Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco, for his part, said the poll body would abide by any decision of Congress, sitting as constituent assembly.

“The plebiscite, by and large, will depend on the decision of Congress – it being a political act, Comelec defers thereto,” Laudiangco said. — Delon Porcalla

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