V Historical Basis of the Philippine Constitution
The Philippine Constitution has its roots not only in the past
history of the Filipino people but also in the Spanish and
American political institutions. Thus, this constitution has
for its background two divergent civilizations ----the Latin
and the American; and two divergent systems of law ----the Roman
Civil Law and the Anglo-American Common Law. For over three
centuries the Filipino people were under Spain and for almost
fifty years under the United States. In spite the fact, however,
that the American regime was much shorter than the Spanish regime,
the American democratic institutions had to a great extent
overcome the more conservative and reactionary Spanish practices
of the government. While the constitution of the United States
did not automatically come into force in the Philippines, it
nevertheless exerted a great influence on the constitutional
ideas of the Filipino people.The genesis of the Philippine
Constitution may be traced directly to the three organic laws
that were enforced in the Islands prior to the passage of the
Tydings-McDuffie Law. These were the Instructions of President
McKinley to the second Philippine Commission on April 7, 1900;
the Philippine Bill of July 1, 1902; and, finally, the Jones Law
of August 29, 1916, which, of the three mentioned, was the nearest
approach to a written constitution. Side by side with these
organic laws, serving to develop further constitutional ideas in
the Philippines, were the judicial interpretations.
VI Innovations of the Philippine Constitution
The Philippine Constitution contains some innovations
among which are the following:
1.) The provisions for the declaration of principles,
aside from the preamble.
2.) The provisions for the creation of electoral tribunals
which would decide all contests relative to the election
returns and the qualifications of the members of each house
3.) The establishment of a permanent and independent
civil service system.
4.) The establishment of a General Auditing Office under
the direction and control of an Auditor General who,
like the president, can only be removed by impeachment.
5.) The election at large instead of by districts of
members of the Senate in order to elect to that body,
leaders of national stature.
6.) The creation of a Commission on Appointments composed
of 24 members from both Houses of Congress. The membership
of this commission is to be on the basis of the number
of members of the different political parties in both
7.) The provisions for an independent Commission on
Elections that will conduct and supervise elections
throughout the islands. The members of this commission,
like the Auditor General, can only be removed by impeachment.
8.) The provision concerning the national territory of
The inclusion of a provision defining state territory
is an unusual feature of the Philippine Constitution.
At first glance, such provisions create the wrong
impression that the Philippines cannot acquire or lose
territories without amending the constitution. Such is
not the case because the act of acquiring or losing
territories are inherited rights of every sovereign
state as a sanctioned by international law. This view
has been confirmed by the Supreme Court decision
sustaining the validity of the military bases agreement
between the Philippines and United States, whereby the
former waived in favor of the latter the right to exercise
jurisdiction over certain criminal cases committed within
Philippine territory inside or outside the military bases
established by the United States.
VII Basic Principles of the Philippine Constitution
The constitution of the Philippines provides for certain
fundamental principles upon which the creation, existence,
and operation of the Philippine Government may be said
1.) Recognition of Divine Providence
It gives a sort of religious or spiritual aspect to
2.) Declaration that the Philippines is a republican state.
3.) The presidential type of government established.
4.) The renunciation of war as an instrument of national
5.) The defense of the state as being a prime duty of
6.) Social justice in order to ensure the well being
of the people.
7.) The education of the youth which should receive the
aid and support of the government.
8.) The rule of the majority which is the real meaning of
9.) The supremacy of the civil authorities over the
military, thus making the president, Commander-in-Chief
of all the armed forces.
10.) The tacit acceptance of the government of laws
and not of men, which means that the law is supreme over
11.) The injection of the idea that a public office
is a public trust, which means that the public officials
must serve the purpose for which the government is
12.) The recognition of the police power of the state,
which is inherent in sovereignty but which, however,
can only be exercise for the promotion of welfare of
the people as a whole.
13.) Provides the power for eminent domain of the state.
VIII Declaration of Principles of the Philippine Constitution
One aspect, which makes the Philippine Constitution
unique, is that, aside from the preamble, it also
contains a Declaration of Principles. The provisions
of the principles are as follows:
1.) The Philippines is a republican state. Sovereignty
resides in the people and all government authority
emanates for them.
2.) The defense of the State is a prime duty of the
government, and in the fulfillment of this duty all
citizens may be required by law to render personal
military or civil service.
3.) The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of
national policy, and adopts the generally accepted
principles of international law as part of the law of
4.) The natural right and duty of parent in the rearing
of the youth for civic efficiency should receive the
aid and support of the government.
5.) The promotion of social justice to ensure the
well being and economic security of all the people
should be the concern of the state.