AMENDMENT is an isolated or piecemeal change merely by adding, deleting, or reducing without altering the basic principle involved. Whil...

AMENDMENT is an isolated or piecemeal change merely by adding, deleting, or reducing without altering the basic principle involved. While in REVISION, there is a revamp or rewriting of the whole instrument altering the substantial entirety of the Constitution.

Both amendment and revision signify change in the constitutional text. An amendment envisages of one or a few specific and isolated provisions of the Constitution. Its guiding original intention is to improve specific parts or to add new provisions or to suppress existing ones accordingly as addition or subtraction might be demanded by existing conditions.

In revision, the guiding intention and plan contemplate a re-examination of the entire document or an important cluster of provisions in the document to determine how and to what extent it should be altered. The end product of a revision can be an important structural change in the government or a change which affects several provisions of the Constitution.

A revision of the Constitution cannot be effected through initiative and referendum. The change authorized by Art. XVII, Sec. 2 through initiative and referendum can only be amendment. The main reason is that formulation of provisions revising the Constitution requires both cooperation and debate which can only be done through a collegial body.

TEST TO determine whether a proposed change is an amendment or a revision.
   1.   Quantitative test – asks whether the proposed change is so extensive in its provisions as to change directly the ‘substantial entirety’ of the Constitution by the deletion or alteration of numerous existing provisions. One examines only the number of provisions affected and does not consider the degree of the change.

   2.   Qualitative test – whether the change will accomplish such far reaching changes in the nature of our basic governmental plan as to amount to a revision. (Lambino v. Comelec, G.R. No. 174153, Oct. 25, 2006)

How the Constitution be amended or revised
1. Proposal
   a.   By Congress upon a vote of ¾ of all its members acting as Constituent Assembly (ConAss) (Occena vs. COMELEC, 104 SCRA 1).

While the substance of the proposals made by each type of ConAss is not subject to judicial review, the manner the proposals are made is subject to judicial review.

Since ConAss owes their existence to the Constitution, the courts may determine whether the assembly has acted in accordance with the Constitution.

    b.   By Constitutional Convention (ConCon)

Congress may call a ConCon:
1.   By a vote of 2/3 of all its members; or
2.   By a majority vote of all its members, submit such question to the electorate.

If Congress, acting as a ConAss, calls for a ConCon but does not provide details for the calling of such ConCon, Congress by exercising its ordinary legislative power may supply such details. But in so doing, the Congress (as legislature) should not transgress the resolution of Congress acting as a ConAss.

The manner of calling a ConCon is subject to judicial review because the Constitution has provided for voting requirements.

It should be noted that the choice of which ConAss or ConCon should initiate amendments and revisions is left to the discretion of Congress. In other words, it is a political question.

Congress, as a ConAss and the ConCon has no power to appropriate money for their expenses. Money may be spent from the treasury only pursuant to an appropriation made by law.
    c.    By People’s Initiative upon a petition of at least 12% of the total number of registered voters, of which every legislative district must be represented by 3% of the registered voters therein.

The Constitution may be amended not oftener than every 5 years through initiative.

2. Ratification
Amendments or revisions to the Constitution should be ratified by the majority in a plebiscite which should be held not earlier than 60 days nor later than 90 days after the approval of such amendment.

Doctrine of Proper Submission

Plebiscite may be held on the same day as regular election (Gonzales v. COMELEC, G.R. No. L28196, Nov. 9, 1967), provided the people are sufficiently informed of the amendments to be voted upon, to conscientiously deliberate thereon, to express their will in a genuine manner. Submission of piecemeal amendments is unconstitutional. All amendments must be submitted for ratification at one plebiscite only. The people have to be given a proper frame of reference in arriving at their decision. (Tolentino v. COMELEC, G.R. No. L34150, Oct. 16, 1971)

DISCLAIMER: The author is not lawyer nor an authority on this topic. It is a product of humble research and study of law. The information provided is not a legal advice and it should not be used  as a substitute for a competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer.

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