Political Law (Constitutional Law) – Article VI
ARTICLE VI – THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT
Sec. 1. The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and referendum.
Definition of Legislative Power:
The authority to make laws and to alter or repeal them.
Classification of legislative power: (O De CO)
- Original – Possessed by the people in their sovereign capacity
- Delegated – Possessed by Congress and other legislative bodies by virtue of the Constitution
- Constituent – The power to amend or revise the Constitution
- Ordinary – The power to pass ordinary laws
The original legislative power of the people is exercised via initiative and referendum. In this manner, people can directly propose and enact laws, or approve or reject any act or law passed by Congress or a local government unit.
Limits on the legislative power of Congress:
- Substantive – limitations on the content of laws. E.g. no law shall be passed establishing a state religion.
- Procedural – limitations on the manner of passing laws. E.g. generally a bill must go through three readings on three separate days.
Provided that these two limitations are not exceeded, Congress’ legislative power is plenary.
Corollaries of legislative power:
- Congress cannot pass irrepealable laws. Since Congress’ powers are plenary, and limited only by the Constitution, any attempt to limit the powers of future Congresses via an irrepealable law is not allowed.
- Congress, as a general rule, cannot delegate its legislative power. Since the people have already delegated legislative power to Congress, the latter cannot delegate it any further.
- Delegation of legislative power to local government units;
- Instances when the Constitution itself allows for such delegation [see Art. VI Sec. 23(2)]
What may Congress delegate:
Congress can only delegate, usually to administrative agencies, RULE-MAKING POWER or LAW EXECUTION. This involves either of two tasks for the administrative agencies:
- “Filling up the details” on an otherwise complete statute; or
- Ascertaining the facts necessary to bring a “contingent” law or provision into actual operation.
Sections 2-4. SENATE
24 senators who shall be elected at large by the qualified voters of the Philippines, as may be provided by law.
- Natural-born citizen;
- At least 35 years old on the day of election;
- Able to read and write;
- A registered voter; and
- Philippine resident for at least 2 years immediately preceding the day of the election.
Note: The qualifications of both Senators and Members of the House are limited to those provided by the Constitution. Congress cannot, by law, add or subtract from these qualifications.
Term of Office:
6 years, commencing (unless otherwise provided by law) at noon, 30 June next following their election.
- No Senator shall serve for more than 2 consecutive terms.
- Voluntary renunciation of office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.
Sections 5-7. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
- Not more than 25 members, unless otherwise fixed by law; and
- Party-list Representative
Election of 250 members
- They shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities and the Metropolitan Manila area.
- Legislative districts are apportioned in accordance with the number of inhabitants of each area and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio.
- Each district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact and adjacent territory;
- Each city with at least 250,000 inhabitants will be entitled to at least one representative.
- Each province will have at least one representative.
- Legislative districts shall be re-apportioned by Congress within 3 years after the return of each census. According to Jack, however, while the apportionment of districts is NOT a political question, the judiciary CANNOT compel Congress to do this.
- The standards used to determine the apportionment of legislative districts is meant to prevent ‘gerrymandering’, which is the formation of a legislative district out of separate territories so as to favor a particular candidate or party.
- Natural born citizen of the Philippines;
- At least 25 years old on the day of the election;
- Able to read and write;
- Registered voter in the district he seeks to represent; and
- A resident of such district for at least one year immediately preceding the day of the election.
Term of Office
- Each member of the House shall be elected for a term of three (3) years which shall commence (unless otherwise provided for by law) at noon on 30 June next following their election.
- Voluntary renunciation of office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.
No member of the House of Representatives shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms.
Distinctions between Term and Tenure
- Terms means the period during which the elected officer is legally authorized to assume his office and exercise the powers thereof.
- Tenure is the actual period during which such officer actually holds his position.
- Limitation/Possible Reduction
- Term CANNOT be reduced.
- Tenure MAY, by law, be limited. Thus, a provision which considers an elective office automatically vacated when the holder thereof files a certificate of candidacy for another elective office (except President and Vice-President) is valid, as it only affects the officers tenure and NOT his constitutional term.
- Constitute 20% of the total number of representatives, including those under the party-list system (thus a maximum of 50 party-list members of the House)
- However, for 3 consecutive terms from 2 February 1987 (i.e., the 1987-92, 92-95 and 95-98 terms), 25 seats shall be allotted to sectoral representatives. Under Art. XVIII, Sec. 7, the sectoral representatives are to be appointed by the President until legislation otherwise provides.
- Mechanics of the party-list system:
- Registered organizations submit a list of candidates in order of priority.
- During the elections, these organizations are voted for at large.
- The number of seats that each organization gets out of the 20% allotted to the system depends on the number of votes they get.
- Natural born citizen of the Philippines
- At least 25 years of age on the day of the election
- Able to read and write
Sec. 9. In case of vacancy in the Senate or in the House of Representatives, a special election may be called to fill such vacancy in the manner prescribed by law, but the Senator or Member of the House of Representatives thus elected shall serve only for the unexpired term.
Sec. 10. Salaries of Senators and Members of the House
Determination of Salaries:
Salaries of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives shall be determined by law.
Rule on increase in salaries:
No increase in their salaries shall take effect until after the EXPIRATION OF THE FULL TERM (NOT TENURE) OF ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES APPROVING SUCH INCREASE.
Note: Since the Constitution ‘provides for rules on “salaries” and not on ‘emoluments,’ our distinguished legislators can appropriate for themselves other sums of money such as travel allowances, as well as other side ‘benefits.’
Sec. 11: CONGRESSIONAL IMMUNITIES
1.) Immunity from arrest:
- Legislators are privileged from arrest while Congress is “in session” with respect to offenses punishable by up to 6 years of imprisonment. Thus, whether Congress is in regular or special session, the immunity from arrest applies.
- If Congress is in recess, members thereof may be arrested.
- The immunity is only with respect to arrests and NOT to prosecution for criminal offenses.
2.) Legislative privilege:
- No member shall be questioned or held liable in any forum other than his/her respective Congressional body for any debate or speech in the Congress or in any Committee thereof.
- Limitation on the privilege:
(i) Protection is only against forum other than Congress itself. Thus for inflammatory remarks which are otherwise privileged, a member may be sanctioned by either the Senate or the House as the case may be.
(ii) The ‘speech or debate’ must be made in performance of their duties as members of Congress. This includes speeches delivered, statements made, votes cast, as well as bills introduced, and other activities done in performance of their official duties.
(iii) Congress need NOT be in session when the utterance is made, as long as it forms part of ‘legislative action,’ i.e. part of the deliberative and communicative process used to participate in legislative proceedings in consideration of proposed legislation or with respect to other matters with Congress’ jurisdiction.
Sec. 12. All Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives shall, upon assumption of office, make a full disclosure of their financial and business interests. They shall notify the House concerned of a potential conflict of interest that may arise from the filing of a proposed legislation of which they are authors.
Sec. 13-14: CONGRESSIONAL DISQUALIFICATIONS:
|1. Senator/Member of the House cannot hold any other office or employment in the Government or any subdivision, agency or Instrumentality thereof, including GOCCS or their subsidiaries.||During his term. If he does so, he forfeits his seat.|
|2. Legislators cannot be appointed to any office.||IF the office was created or the emoluments thereof increased during the term for which he was elected.|
|3. Legislators cannot personally appear as counsel before any court of justice, electoral tribunal, quasi-judicial and administrative bodies.||During his term of office.|
|4. Legislators cannot be financially interested directly or indirectly in any contract with or in any franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including any GOCC or its subsidiary.||During his term of office.|
|5. Legislators cannot intervene in any matter before any office of the government.||When it is for his pecuniary benefit or where he may be called upon to act on account of his office.|
Sec. 15: REGULAR AND SPECIAL SESSIONS
1.) Congress convenes once every year on the 4th Monday of July (unless otherwise provided for by law)
2.) Continues in session for as long as it sees fit, until 30 days before the opening of the next regular session, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.
Called by the President at any time when Congress is not in session.
Sec. 16. Officers:
1.) Senate President;
2.) Speaker of the House; and
3.) Each House may choose such other officers as it may deem necessary.
Election of Officers
By a majority vote of all respective members.
Quorum to do business:
- Majority of each House shall constitute a quorum.
- A smaller number may adjourn from day to day and may compel the attendance of absent members.
- In computing a quorum, members who are outside the country and thus outside of each House’s coercive jurisdiction are not included.
- Each House shall determine its own procedural rules.
- Since this is a power vested in Congress as part of its inherent powers, under the principle of separation of powers, the courts cannot intervene in the implementation of these rules insofar as they affect the members of Congress.
- Also, since Congress has the power to make these rules, it also has the power to ignore them when circumstances so require.
- Concurrence of 2/3 of ALL its members and
- Shall not exceed 60 days.
- Concurrence of 2/3 of ALL its members.
Congressional Journals and Records:
1.) The Journal is conclusive upon the courts.
2.) BUT an enrolled bill prevails over the contents of the Journal.
3.) An enrolled bill is the official copy of approved legislation and bears the certifications of the presiding officers of each House. Thus where the certifications are valid and are not withdrawn, the contents of the enrolled bill are conclusive upon the courts as regards the provision of that particular bill.
1.) Neither House can adjourn for more than 3 days during the time Congress is in session without the consent of the other House.
2.) Neither can they adjourn to any other place than that where the two houses are sitting, without the consent of the other.
Section 17: THE ELECTORAL TRIBUNAL
The Senate and the House shall each have an Electoral Tribunal which shall be composed of:
- 3 Supreme Court Justices to be designated by the Chief Justice; &
- 6 Members of the Senate or House, as the case may be.
The senior Justice in the Electoral Tribunal shall be its Chairman.
Note: The congressional members of the ET’s shall be chosen on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and party-list organizations.
1.) Each ET shall be the sole judge of all CONTESTS relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective members. This includes determining the validity or invalidity of a proclamation declaring a particular candidate as the winner.
2.) An ‘election contest’ is one where a defeated candidate challenges the qualification and claims for himself the seat of a proclaimed winner.
3.) In the absence of an election contest, the ET is without jurisdiction. However, the power of each House to expel its own members or even to defer their oath-taking until their qualifications are determined may still be exercised even without an election contest.
Issues regarding the Electoral Tribunals:
1.) Since the ET’s are independent constitutional bodies, independent even of the House from which the members are respectively taken, neither Congress nor the Courts may interfere with procedural matters relating to the functions of the ET’s, such as the setting of deadlines or filing their election contests with the respective ETs.
2.) The ETs being independent bodies, its members may not be arbitrarily removed from their positions in the tribunal by the parties which they represent. Neither may they be removed for not voting according to party lines, since they are acting independently of Congress.
3.) The mere fact that the members of either the Senate or the House sitting on the ET are those which are sought to be disqualified due to the filing of an election contest against them does not warrant all of them from being disqualified from sitting in the ET. The Constitution is quite clear that the ET must act with both members from the SC and from the Senate or the House. If all the legislator-members of the ET were to be disqualified, the ET would not be able to fulfill its constitutional functions.
4.) Judicial review of decisions of the ETs may be had with the SC only insofar as the decision or resolution was rendered without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion constituting denial of due process.
Section 18: THE COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENTS
1.) Senate President as ex-officio chairman;
2.) 12 Senators; and
3.) 12 Members of the House.
Note: The 12 Senators and 12 Representatives are elected on the basis of proportional representation from the political parties and party-list organizations.
1.) The chairman shall only vote in case of a tie.
2.) The CA shall act on all appointments within 30 session days from their submission to Congress.
3.) The Commission shall rule by a majority vote of all the Members.
1.) CA shall confirm the appointments by the President with respect to the following positions:
- Heads of the Executive Departments (except if it is the Vice-President who is appointed to the post).
- Ambassadors, other public ministers or consuls.
- Officers of the AFP from the rank of Colonel or Naval Captain: and
- Other officers whose appointments are vested in him by the Constitution (e.g. COMELEC members).
2.) Congress CANNOT by law prescribe that the appointment of a person to an office created by such law shall be subject to confirmation by the CA.
3.) Appointments extended by the President to the above-mentioned positions while Congress is not in session shall only be effective until disapproval by the CA or until the next adjournment of Congress.
Meetings of the CA
1.) CA meets only while Congress is in session.
2.) Meetings are held either at the call of the Chairman or a majority of all its members.
3.) Since the CA is also an independent constitutional body, its rules of procedure are also outside the scope of congressional powers as well as that of the judiciary.
Note: The ET and the CA shall be constituted within 30 days after the Senate and the House of Representative shall have been organized with the election of the President and the Speaker.
Sections 21-22: LEGISLATIVE INQUIRIES
- Either House or any of their committees may conduct inquires ‘in aid of legislation’.
- “In aid of legislation” does not mean that there is pending legislation regarding the subject of the inquiry. In fact, investigation may be needed for purposes of proposing future legislation.
- If the stated purpose of the investigation is to determine the existence of violations of the law, the investigation is no longer ‘in aid of legislation’ but ‘in aid of prosecution’. This violates the principle of separation of powers and is beyond the scope of congressional powers.
- Since experience has shown that mere requests for information does not usually work, Congress has the inherent power to punish recalcitrant witnesses for contempt, and may have them incarcerated until such time that they agree to testify.
- The continuance of such incarceration only subsists for the lifetime, or term, of such body. Once the body ceases to exist after its final adjournment, the power to incarcerate ceases to exist as well. Thus, each ‘Congress’ of the House lasts for only 3 years. But if one is incarcerated by the Senate, it is indefinite because the Senate, with its staggered terms, is a continuing body.
- BUT, in order for a witness to be subject to this incarceration, the primary requirement is that the inquiry is within the scope of Congress’ powers. i.e. it is in aid of legislation.
- The materiality of a question is determined not by its connection to any actually pending legislation, but by its connection to the general scope of the inquiry.
- The power to punish for contempt is inherent in Congress and this power is sui generis. It cannot be exercised by local government units unless they are expressly authorized to do so.
- The inquiry must be conducted in accordance with the ‘duly published rules of procedure’ of the House conducting the inquiry; and
- The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected. Ex. The right against self-incrimination.
Appearance by department heads before Congress:
- Since members of the executive department are co-equals with those of the legislative department, under the principle of separations of powers, department heads cannot be compelled to appear before Congress. Neither may the department heads impose their appearance upon Congress.
- Department heads may appear before Congress in the following instances.
- Upon their own initiative, with the consent of the President (and that of the House concerned); or
- Upon the request of either House (which cannot compel them to attend)
- The appearance will be conducted in EXECUTIVE SESSION when:
- Required by the security of state or required by public interest; and
- When the President so states in writing
Sections 23-24. DECLARATION OF WAR/EMERGENCY POWERS
Vote requirement: (to declare the existence of a state of war)
- 2/3 of both Houses, in joint session
- Voting separately
- During times of war or other national emergency, Congress may, BY LAW, authorize the President to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy.
- Powers will be exercised for a limited period only; and
- Powers will be subject to restrictions prescribed by Congress
- Expiration of emergency powers
- By resolution of Congress or
- Upon the next adjournment of Congress
Sections 24-27, 30-31 LEGISLATION
Bills that must originate from the House of Representatives (Section 24)
CODE: A R T Pu Lo P
- Appropriation bills
- Revenue bills
- Tariff bills
- Bills authorizing the increase of public debt
- Bills of local application
- Private bills
Note: The Senate may, however, propose or concur with amendments.
- The primary and specific aim of an appropriation bill is to appropriate a sum of money from the public treasury.
- Thus, a bill enacting the budget is an appropriations bill.
- BUT: A bill creating a new office, and appropriating funds therefor is NOT an appropriation bill.
- A revenue bill is one specifically designed to raise money or revenue through imposition or levy.
- Thus, a bill introducing a new tax is a revenue bill, but a provision in, for instance, the Videogram Regulatory Board law imposing a tax on video rentals does not make the law a revenue bill.
Bills of local application
A bill of local application, such as one asking for the conversion of a municipality into a city, is deemed to have originated from the House provided that the bill of the House was filed prior to the filing of the bill in the Senate even if, in the end, the Senate approved its own version.
- For appropriation bills:
- Congress cannot increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government as specified in the budget.
- Each provision or enactment in the General Appropriations Bill must relate specifically to some particular appropriation therein and any such provision or enactment must be limited in its operation to the appropriation to which it relates.
- The procedure in approving appropriations for Congress shall strictly follow the procedure for approving appropriations for other departments and agencies.
- A special appropriations bill must specify the purpose for which it is intended and must be supported by funds actually available as certified by the National Treasurer or to be raised by a corresponding revenue proposal therein.
- Transfer of appropriations:
- Rule: No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations
- BUT the following may, BY LAW, be authorized to AUGMENT any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations
– President of the Senate
– Speaker of the House of Representatives
– Chief of Justice of the Supreme Court
– Heads of the Constitutional Commissions
- Discretionary funds appropriated for particular officials shall be:
- Disbursed only for public purposes;
- Should be supported by appropriate vouchers; and
- Subject to guidelines as may be prescribed by law.
- If Congress fails to pass General Appropriations Bill (GAB) by the end of any fiscal year:
i. The GAB for the previous year is deemed reenacted
ii. It will remain in full force and effect until the GAB is passed by Congress.
- For law granting tax exemption
It should be passed with the concurrence of a MAJORITY of ALL the members of Congress.
- For bills in general
- Every bill shall embrace only one (1) subject, as expressed in the title thereof
i. As a mandatory requirement
ii. The title does not have to be a complete catalogue of everything stated in the bill. It is sufficient if the title expresses the general subject of the bill and all the provisions of the statute are germane to that general subject.
iii. A bill which repeals legislation regarding the subject matter need not state in the title that it is repealing the latter. Thus, a repealing clause in the bill is considered germane to the subject matter of the bill.
- In order to become a law, each bill must pass three (3) readings in both Houses.
- General rule: Each reading shall be held on separate days & printed copies thereof in its final form shall be distributed to its Members three (3) days before its passage.
- Exception: If a bill is certified as urgent by the President as to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency, the 3 readings can be held on the same day.
- First reading – only the title is read; the bill is passed to the proper committee
Second reading – Entire text is read and debates are held, and amendments introduced.
Third reading – only the title is read, no amendments are allowed. Vote shall be taken immediately thereafter and the yeas and nays entered in the journal.
Veto power of President:
- Every bill, in order to become a law, must be presented to and signed by the President.
- If the President does not approve of the bill, he shall veto the same and return it with his objections to the House from which it originated. The House shall enter the objections in the Journal and proceed to reconsider it.
- The President must communicate his decision to veto within 30 days from the date of receipt thereof. If he fails to do so, the bill shall become a law as if he signed it.
- This rule eliminates the ‘pocket veto’ whereby the President would simply refuse to act on the bill.
- To OVERRIDE the veto, at least 2/3 of ALL the members of each House must agree to pass the bill. In such case, the veto is overriden and becomes a law without need of presidential approval.
- Item veto
- The President may veto particular items in an appropriation, revenue or tariff bill.
- This veto will not affect items to which he does not object.
- Definition of item
TYPE OF BILL ITEM
1. Revenue/tax bill Subject of the tax and the tax rate imposed thereon
2. Appropriations bill Indivisible sum dedicated to a stated purpose
- Veto of RIDER
- A rider is a provision which does not relate to a particular appropriation stated in the bill.
- Since it is an invalid provision under Section 25(2), the President may veto it as an item.
Specific limitations on legislation
- No law shall be enacted increasing the Supreme Court’s appellate jurisdiction without the SC’s advice and concurrence.
- No law shall be enacted granting titles of royalty or nobility.
Section 28. POWER TO TAX
1) The rule of taxation should be UNIFORM
2) It should be EQUITABLE
3) Congress should evolve a PROGRESSIVE system of taxation.
4) The power to tax must be exercised for a public purpose because the power exists for the general welfare
5) The due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution should be observed.
Delegation of power to fix rates
1) Congress may, BY LAW, authorize the President to fix the following:
a) Tariff rates
b) Import and Export Quotas
c) Tonnage and wharfage dues
d) Other duties and imposts
Within the framework of the national development program of the Government
2) The exercise of such power by the President shall be within the specified limits fixed by Congress and subject to such limitations and restrictions as it may impose.
Constitutional tax exemptions:
1) The following properties are exempt from REAL PROPERTY taxes
(CODE: Cha Chu M- CA)
a) Charitable institutions
b) Churches, and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto
d) Non-profit cemeteries; and
e) All lands, buildings and improvements actually, directly and exclusively used for religious, charitable, or educational purposes.
2) All revenues and assets of NON-STOCK NON-PROFIT EDUCATIONAL institutions are exempt from taxes and duties PROVIDED that such revenues and assets are actually, directly and exclusively used for educational purposes. (Art. XIV Sec 4 (3))
3) Grants, endowments, donations or contributions used actually, directly and exclusively for educational purposes shall be exempt from tax. This is subject to conditions prescribed by law. (Art. XIV. Sec 4 (4))
Section 29. Power of the Purse
1) No money shall be paid out of the National Treasury EXCEPT in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.
a) This places the control of public funds in the hands of Congress.
b) BUT: This rule does not prohibit continuing appropriations. e.g. for debt servicing. This is because the rule does not require yearly, or annual appropriation.
a) Appropriations must be for a PUBLIC PURPOSE
b) Cannot appropriate public funds or property, directly or indirectly, in favor of
(i) Any sect, church, denomination, or sectarian institution or system of religion or
(ii) Any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary as such.
EXCEPT if the priest, etc is assigned to:
– the Armed Forces; or
– any penal institution; or
– government orphanage; or
c) BUT the government is not prohibited from appropriating money for a valid secular purpose, even if it incidentally benefits a religion, e.g. appropriations for a national police force is valid even if the police also protects the safety of clergymen.
d) ALSO, the temporary use of public property for religious purposes is valid, as long as the property is available for all religions
3) Special Funds
a) Money collected on a tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only.
b) Once the special purpose is fulfilled or abandoned, any balance shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government
Section 32. INITIATIVE AND REFERENDUM
1) Through the system of initiative and referendum, the people can directly propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof passed by the Congress or local legislative body.
2) Required Petition
a) Should be signed by at least 10% of the total number of registered voters
b) Every legislative district should be represented by at least 3% of the registered voters
c) Petition should be registered
Political Law (Constitutional Law) Reviewer & Memory Aid
Ateneo Central Bar Operations 2001
Louie, Carrie, Evelyn, Thel, Gem, Ronald