But I believe that even a ruling favorable to the Petitioners would not do them any good, nor the people who oppose them any harm, because there simply is no time to mount a National Plebiscite to ratify the proposal before a certain deadline.
As Sec. Ed Ermita admitted to reporters today, January 15, 2007 is a kind of drop dead date for Charter Change because that is the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy for the May, 2007 elections. In effect, the new Constitution will have to have been ratified in a national plebiscite by January 15, 2007, otherwise the 2007 midterm elections will be held as scheduled and chacha will die on the vine.
Now take a look at this provision of the 1987 Constitution:
ART. XVII Sec. 4(b) Any amendment under Section 2 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty days nor later than ninety days after the certification by the Commission on Elections of the sufficiency of the petition.January 15 is already less than ninety days from today. This means Comelec must certify the sufficiency of a people's initiative for plebiscite, assuming a favorable ruling from the Court, no later than November 15, 2007, or thereabouts, which is sixty days before January 15, 2007. In fact, such certification must really be final and executory before Nov. 15, 2007, because the earliest the plebiscite could then be held would be January 15, leaving no time to count and finalize it before the start of the regular midterm election season.
Even if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of Sigaw ng Bayan later today, October 23, 2006, there would have to be a 15 day period for Motions to Reconsider to be filed. That brings us to November 7. A final and executory ruling could conceivably emerge quickly, say a record of one week, which would surely be seen as hasty but never mind. It's already November 15 and Comelec still has to go about the certification, which has to be open to further Court and administrative challenge.
Moreover, it is inconceivable that the Supreme Court, even if it approves the petition, would have no requirements to impose on the Comelec to comply with in issuing its certification of sufficiency, for example to rectify obvious flaws in the signature collection campaign and various points of compliance with a putatively discovered enabling law.
Ironically, the Supreme Court could not possibly rule that the People's Initiative is so perfect that, in effect, the Comelec's statement "on the face it appears to be sufficient" constitutes a certification of sufficiency. Since that happened in the middle of August, the Plebiscite would have to be held no later than November 15 -- a patent absurdity.
CONCLUSION: Time has run out on the People's Initiative if Ed Ermita is right that January 15 is the drop dead date for a plebiscite to ratify the proposed unicameral Parliament. Given that the Supreme Court has not ruled at this late date, the November 15 deadline for a certification of sufficiency simply cannot be met in time to set up a plebiscite before the 2007 election becomes unstoppable. I think it already is ... and so the Palace's greatest fear, the emergence of a powerful, solidly Oppositionist Senate could make the potential for impeachment and conviction in 2007 a real possibility!
For reference, I reprint the 1987 provisions...
Article XVII - Amendments Or RevisionsThere is no more time for CON-ASS either, because the same time constraints apply.
Section 1. Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by:
(1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or
(2) A constitutional convention.
Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 2.
Amendments to this Constitution may likewise be directly proposed by the people through initiative upon a petition of at least twelve per centum of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by at least three per centum of the registered voters therein. No amendment under this section shall be authorized within five years following the ratification of this Constitution nor oftener than once every five years thereafter.
The Congress shall provide for the implementation of the exercise of this right.
Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 3.
The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention, or by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.
Article XVII - Amendments Or Revisions - Section 4.
Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution under Section 1 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty days nor later than ninety days after the approval of such amendment or revision.
Any amendment under Section 2 hereof shall be valid when ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite which shall be held not earlier than sixty days nor later than ninety days after the certification by the Commission on Elections of the sufficiency of the petition.