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Jaya Keith Dela Cruz

on 3 March 2014

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Composition of the Philippine Congress
Article VI, Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that the Senate shall be composed of 24 senators elected at large. Twelve (12) senators are elected every 3 years. Each has a term of 6 years.
Composition of the Philippine Congress
The Congress of the Philippines (Filipino: Kongreso ng Pilipinas) is the national legislature of the Republic of the Philippines. It is a bicameralbody consisting of the Senate (upper chamber), and the House of Representatives (lower chamber) although commonly in the Philippines the term congress refers to the latter.

Congress As a Repository of Legislative Power
Congress is responsible for making enabling laws to make sure the spirit of the Constitution is upheld in the country and, at times, amend or change the constitution itself. In order to craft laws, the legislative body comes out with two main documents: Bills and Resolutions.
The qualifications for membership in the Senate are expressly stated in Section 3, Art. VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution as follows:

The age is fixed at 35 and must be possessed on the day of the elections, that is, when the polls are opened and the votes cast, and not on the day of the proclamation of the winners by the board of canvassers.
•No person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and on the day of the election, is at least 35 years of age, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.
• With regard to the residence requirements, it was ruled in the case of Lim v. Pelaez that it must be the place where one habitually resides and to which he, after absence, has the intention of returning.

• The enumeration laid down by the 1987 Philippine Constitution is exclusive under the Latin principle of expressio unius est exclusio alterius. This means that Congress cannot anymore add additional qualifications other than those provided by the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
Some of the common provisions applicable to both Senators and Congressmen include the following: parliamentary immunity, common obligations, prohibitions and disabilities; sessions; officers; rules; quorum; journal and record; adjournment.
A senator or any member of the House of Representatives enjoys freedom of arrest while Congress is in session to enable him to perform his work adequately. Thus, no member of the Congress can be questioned or held liable for any speech or debate in Congress or any of its working committees. This privilege, can be invoked when Congress is no longer in session and when the offense requiring arrest is punishable by more than 6 years of imprisonment.
The powers of the Congress of the Philippines may be classified as:

General Legislative Power
Inherent Power
Implied Power
Specific Legislative Power
Executive Power
Director/Supervisor Power
Electoral Power
Judicial Power
Miscellaneous Power
General Legislative Power
Inherent Power
Implied Power
Article VI, Section 1 of the Constitution state that legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
The House of Representative shall be composed of not more than 250 members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who shall be elected from legislative districts and through a party-list system.
- All members of Senate and the House of Representatives, upon assumption into office are required to make a full disclosure of their assets and liabilities. They are required to notify the House concerned of the potential conflict of interest that may arise from the filing of a proposed legislation of which they are the authors.
- No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may hold any other office or employment in the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries, during his term, without giving up his seat in Congress. The fundamental charter also prohibits a member of Congress to be appointed to any office, which may have been created or the emoluments increased during his term for which he was elected
- No Senator or Member of the House of Representatives may personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before Electoral Tribunals or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies. Neither shall he, directly or indirectly be interested in any contract with or in any of its franchises or special privileges granted by the Government or any of its subdivision or agencies.
- Congress shall convene once every year on the 4th Monday of July for its regular session, unless a different date is fixed by law, and shall continue in session for such number of days as it may determine until 30 days before the opening of its next regular session. Both chambers also have executive sessions in any of their working committees. Nonetheless, the President may call a special session at any time when needed owning to crises or emergencies to address.

- Both chambers of Congress elect their officers by a majority vote of all its respective members
- A majority of each House constitutes a quorum to do business. The rule observed in both house is one-half plus one. Thus, 13 senators constitutes the quorum for the senate and 126 congressmen, for the House of Representatives.
- Each chamber of Philippine Congress determines the rules of its proceedings, discipline members for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of 2/3 of its members, suspend or expel a member. Suspension, however should not exceed 60days.
- Each chamber of Congress is required to keep and publish a journal of its proceedings. Congress, likewise, obliges the two chambers to maintain a Record of its proceedings. The difference between a journal and a record is that the latter presents verbatim the actual proceedings in both chambers of Congress.
- Neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives during the sessions of Congress shall, without consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor move to any other place than that in which the two chambers are sitting.
It consists of the enactment of laws intended as a rule of conduct to govern the relation between individuals (i.e., civil laws, commercial laws, etc.) or between individuals and the state (i.e., criminal law, political law, etc
These are the powers which though not expressly given are nevertheless exercised by the Congress as they are necessary for its existence such as:
• to determine the rules of proceedings;
• to compel attendance of absent members to obtain quorum to do business;
• to keep journal of its proceedings; etc.
It is essential to the effective exercise of other powers expressly granted to the assembly.
Specific Legislative Power
It has reference to powers which the Constitution expressly and specifically directs to perform or execute. Powers enjoyed by the Congress classifiable under this category are:

• Power to appropriate;
• Power to act as constituent assembly; (The Senate and the House of Representatives must convene and vote on joint or separate session to do this
• Power to impeach; (to initiate all cases of impeachment is the power of the House of Representatives; To try all cases of impeachment is the power of the Senate.)
• Power to confirm treaties;(Only the Senate is authorized to use this power.)
• Power to declare the existence of war; (The Senate and the House of Representatives must convene in joint session to do this.)
• Power to concur amnesty; and
• Power to act as board of canvasser for presidential/vice-presidential votes.
(by creating a joint congressional committee to do the canvassing.)
• Power to contempt
• Blending of power
• Delegation of power
• Budgetary power
• Power to taxation

Executive Power
Powers of the Congress that are executive in nature are:
• Appointment of its officers;
• Affirming treaties;
• Confirming presidential appointees through the Commission on Appointments;
• Removal power; etc.

Director/Supervisor Power
The Congress of the Philippines exercises considerable control and supervision over the administrative branch - e.g.:
• To decide the creation of a department/agency/office;
• To define powers and duties of officers;
• To appropriate funds for governmental operations;
• To prescribe rules and procedure to be followed; etc.

Electoral Power
Considered as electoral power of the Congress of the Philippines are the Congress' power to:

• Elect its presiding officer/s and other officers of the House;
• Act as board of canvassers for the canvass of presidential/vice-presidential votes; and
• Elect the President in case of any electoral tie to the said post.

Judicial Power
Constitutionally, each house has judicial powers:

• To punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its Members, suspend or expel a Member
• To concur and approve amnesty declared by the President of the Philippines;
• To initiate, prosecute and thereafter decide cases of impeachment; and
• To decide electoral protests of its members through the respective Electoral Tribunal.

Miscellaneous Power
The other powers of Congress mandated by the Constitution are as follows:

• To authorize the Commission on Audit to audit fund and property;
• To authorize the President of the Philippines to fix tariff rates, quotas, and dues;
• To authorize the President of the Philippines to formulate rules and regulations in times of emergency;
• To reapportion legislative districts based on established constitutional standards;
• To implement laws on autonomy;
• To establish a national language commission;
• To implement free public secondary education;
• To allow small scale utilization of natural resources;
• To specify the limits of forest lands and national parks;
• To determine the ownerships and extent of ancestral domain; and
• To establish independent economic and planning agency.

Electoral Tribunal and the Commission On Appointment
Section 22. Representation of the House. The House contingent in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Appointments composed of six (6) and twelve (12) Members respectively, who shall be chosen on the basis of proportional representation of the political parties and parties or organizations registered under the partylist system represented therein, shall be constituted within thirty (30) days after the election of the Speaker.
Section 23. Election of Members. The motion or resolution to elect Members to the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and Commission on Appointments shall not be subject to a division of the House.

Section 24. Vacancy. Any vacancy in the House contingent in the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Appointments shall be filled through a motion or resolution presented to the House in accordance with Sections 22 and 23 hereof. In case a vacancy occurs during a recess of Congress, the Speaker may fill the vacancy temporarily with a Member belonging to the same party or organization as the former incumbent upon nomination of the parties or organizations concerned.
Section 25. Rules and Regulations. The House recognizes the power of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Appointments to adopt their own rules and regulations.
1. To initiate the law-making process, the proposed bill is signed by its author and filed with the Secretary of the either the Lower House (for congressmen) or the Senate (for senators).
2. The bill will go through three readings. On the First Reading, the number and title of the bill is read, followed by its referral to the appropriate committee for study.
3. On the Second Reading, the bill is read in full along with amendments proposed by the committee who studied it. The bill is then subjected to debates and discussion by the members of the House where it was filed. After extensive discussion, the bill will be voted on. If approved, it would go through a third reading.
4. On Third Reading, the bill will be submitted for a final vote. If approved again, it shall be transmitted to the other House for concurrence. The other House will go through the same process of having three readings.
5. If the other House introduces amendments and the House from which the bill originated does not approve of the amendments, the differences will be settled by a meeting of the Conference Committees of both Houses, whose recommendations will have to be approved by both Houses.

6. Once the bill is approved, it is transmitted to the President of the Philippines for signature. The President may then either sign the bill to indicate approval, or veto the bill to indicate disapproval. If approved, the bill officially becomes a law.
7. If the President decides to exercise his veto powers, the Congress may re-pass the vetoed bill if two-thirds of both Houses, voting separately, approve its enactment. In this case, the bill also officially becomes a law.
Introduction of the Bill
Bills are signed by the author and filed in 4 copies, delivered to the Secretary of the Chamber of origin.
A bill number is assigned by the Secretariat
The bill is calendared for introduction and first reading. This is done within the first three session days from the day it is filed.
Lawmakers file bills on issue of their concern, although bills on international agreements and treaties are traditionally initiated by the Senate.
A bill is an outline of a proposed law from the time it is introduced in either chamber of Congress.
After research and studies have been conducted by the staff and the legislators themselves, the bill goes through the legislative mill and has to pass three readings before it becomes a law.
-Legislative Branch
Government of the Philippines
The Government of the Philippines, also known as the Philippine National Government is the national government of the unitary state of the Republic of the Philippines. It is a presidential, representative, and democratic republic where the President of the Philippines is both the head of state and the head of government within a pluriform multi-party system. The government has three interdependent branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch.
A bill passed by Congress can become a law in THREE WAYS:

A bill becomes a law the moment the President stamps her signature of approval.
- If the President fails to act on the bill within 30 days from its receipt, the bill automatically becomes a law.
-By 2/3 votes of all members of the Senate and House of Representatives, Congress can override the presidential veto of a proposed legislation.
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