SC junks petition seeking ruling on charter change voting

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2018 07:29 PM

MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday junked a law professor’s plea for the court to address the impasse in Congress on how voting shall be done on moves to amend the 1987 Constitution. 

Voting unanimously, the High Court dismissed the petition of Arturo De Castro, associate dean of the University of Manila College of Law, for lack of jurisdiction and for being a request for advisory opinion.

The Supreme Court said it has no original jurisdiction over the declaratory relief sought by De Castro and that such jurisdiction rests with the regional trial courts.

As for advisory opinions, the High Court’s internal rules prohibits such issuance, it said. 

“Its (SC) jurisdiction is limited to appellate review of Declaratory Relief judgments rendered by the trial courts. The court (SC) also noted that the petition effectively sought an advisory opinion from the court on the manner of voting of Congress in amending the Constitution, which it does not render as its role is to settle actual controversies and not give advisory opinions,” Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te said in a press briefing.

In his petition, De Castro said “unless the issue is resolved soon, an impending constitutional crisis looms in the horizon that may lead to another People Power revolution and the establishment of a Revolutionary government supported by the people."

He cited the refusal of the Senate to heed the call of the House for a joint constituent assembly, and the insistence of the House to go ahead with proceedings to amend the organic law even without the participation of the other chamber.

“The [SC], as the final arbiter of constitutional questions, is called upon to resolve the constitutional issue of whether the House of Representatives alone may propose amendments to the Constitution,” De Castro’s petition read.

De Castro explained that a final and definitive resolution on the matter would diffuse ongoing tensions and “maintain stability” in the country’s political system. 

Last month, leaders of the House and the Senate met and agreed to focus first on the substance of the proposed amendments and set aside the impasse.