The legislative power is vested in a bicameral body, the Congress of the Philippines, which is composed of two houses -- the Senate and the House Representatives. The Congress of the Philippines is the country's highest lawmaking body.

The Senate, headed by the Senate president and often referred toa s the "Upper House", is composed of 24 senators elected at-large (nationwide) by qualified voters for a period of six years. A senator cannot serve for more than two consecutive terms; but he may run for reelection after a break or interval. The senators term of office begins on December 30th following their election. The qualifications for becoming a senator are as follows:

  1. a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;
  2. a least 35 years of age;
  3. able to read and write; 
  4. a registered voter; and
  5. a resident of the Philippines for at least two years prior to his election.

The House of Representatives, on the other hand, shall be composed of not more than 250 members, with the Speaker as its chief officer. These seats are apportioned among the provinces, cities, and Metro Manila, according to population. Thus, heavily populated provinces are given as many as six or seven representatives or congressmen. However, the Philippine Constitution provides that each province -- no matter how sparsely provinces of the Philippines are represented in the Lower House of Congress. The congressmen are elected for a term of three years, but they cannot serve for more than three consecutive terms. To become a representative, a person must be:

  1. a natural-born citizrn of the Philippines;
  2. at least 25 years old; 
  3. able to read and write;
  4. a registered voter, and
  5. a resident of the province where he is running for at least one year immediately prior to the election.
The lawmaking function of Congress is very important. It passes laws that regulate the conduct of and relations between the private citizens and the government. It defines and punishes crimes against the state and against persons and their property. It determines the taxes people should pay for the maintenance of the government. It appropriates the money to be spent for public purposes. It can reorganize, create, or abolish offices under the civil service. And it can create and abolish courts, except the Supreme Court. Finally, it is only Congress which was given by the Philippine Constitution the sole power to declare war and to authorize the President - in case of national emergency or war - to issue executive orders embodying rules and regulations intended to carry out the natioal policy. 

The congress convenes in a regular session once a year, starting on the fourth Monday of July. This session may not exceed the prescribed 100 days, exclusive of Sundays. Special sessions may be called by the President to consider general legislations or any subjects which he may want to designate. However, these sessions may not exceed 30 days.

Here are the various steps in the passage of a bill:

1. First Reading - Any member of either house may present a proposed bill, signed by him, for First Reading and reference to the proper committee. During the First Reading, the principal author of the bill may propose the inclusion of additional authors thereof.

2. Referral to Appropriate Committee - Immediately after the First Reading, the bill is referred to the proper committee or committees for study and consideration. If disapproved in the committee, the bill dies a natural death unless the House decides other wise, following the submission of the report.

3. Second Reading - If the committee reports the bill favorably, the bills is forwarded to the Committee on Rules so that it may be calendared for deliberation on Second Reading. At this stage, the bill is read for the second time in its entirely, together with the amendments, if any, proposed by the committee, unless the reading is dispensed with by a majority vote of the House.

4. Debates - A general debate is then opened after the Second Reading and amendments may be proposed by any member of Congress. The insertion of changes or amendments shall be done in accordance with the rules of either House. The House may either "kill" or pass the bill.

5. Printing and Distribution - After approval of the bill on Second Reading, the bills is then ordered printed in its final form and copies of it are distributed among the members of the House three days before its passage, except when the bill was certified by the President. A bill approved on Second Reading shall be included in the calendar of bills for Third Reading.

6. Third Reading - At this stage, only the title of the bill is read. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto is allowed and the vote thereon is taken immediately thereafter, and yeas and nays entered in the journal. A member may abstain. As a rule, a majority of the members constituting a quorum is sufficient to pass a bill.

7. Referral to the Other House - If approved, the bill is then referred to the other House where substantially the same procedure takes place.

8. Submission to Joint Bicameral Committee - Differences, if any, between the House's bill and the Senate's amended version, and vice versa are submitted to a conference committee of members of both Houses for compromise. If either House accepts the changes made by the other, no compromise is necessary.

9. Submission to the President - A bill approved on Third Reading by both Houses shall be printed and forthwith transmitted to the President for his action - approval or disapproval. If the President does not communicate his veto of any bill to the House where it originated within 30 days from receipt thereof, it shall become a law as if he signed it. Bill repassed by Congress over the veto of the President automatically becomes a law.

Except in cases of treason, breaches of the peace, or felony, the members if both chambers of Congress are exempt from arrest during their attendance at the sessions and in going to and returning from the same. They may not be questioned in any other place for any speech they deliver in the hall of Congress.

The Philippine Constitution provides for the election of a Senate President and a Speaker of the House, who are both elected by a viva voce majority vote of all the members of their respective houses, at the beginning of the regular session. The two preside over the sessions in their houses, they also considered as legislative leaders; and they are often called to Malacanang Palace to discuss important legislative measures with the President.

In addition, the two houses may also appoint their respective secretaries and sergeants-at-arms. The most important function of a secretary is to keep the records of the proceedins, while the sergeant-at-arms is the peace officer of each house. Both officers are not members of Congress.

Other officers of Congress are the pro-tempore and floor leaders. The Pro-tempore Officers are elected in the same manner as the Senate President and the House Speaker. They usually belong to the same political party as the heads of the Senate and the House. They preside over sessions in the absence of the Senate President and House Speaker. On the other hand, the Floor Leaders (majority and minority) are the spokespersons of their respective parties. They usually lead the members of their parties in the discussions of bills or resolutions. They also decide the priority of bills to be discussed on the floor since the majority floor leader usually given the chairmanship of the Committee on Rules. They steer the discussions and debates on the floor with an endview of promoting the legislative agenda of their parties in both Houses.

The Commission on Appointments consists of 12 Senators and 12 Congressmen.

The Senate, The Commission on Appointments, The Senate Electoral Tribunal, The House of Representatives.

THE SENATE 4th Floor, Executive House, P. Burgos Drive, Cor. Finance Street and Taft Avenue, Ermita, 1000, Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-44-52/527-12-05/527-93-93 Fax No. : 832-06-51

Senate President - Hon. Ernesto M. Maceda 2nd Floor, OMI Bldg., 2oth Street Bonifacio Drive, Port Area, 1002, Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-44-53/527-44-64 Fax No. : 527-02-38/527-44-63

Senate President Pro-Tempore - Blas F. Ople Majority Floor Leader - Francisco S. Tatad Assistant Majority Floor Leader - Franklin M. Drilon Minority Floor Leader - Neptali A. Gonzales Assistant Minority Floor Leader - Alberto G. Romulo Secretary of the Senate - Lorenzo E. Leynes, Jr. Sergeant at-Arms - Col. Alberto M. De Castro


Heherson T. Alvarez Rm. 1202, Gotesco Towers, Concepcion St., Ermita Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-77-71/527-77-74 Fax No. : 527-14-09

Edgardo J. Angara 2nd Floor, Marbella Bldg., 2071 Roxas Blvd., 1300, Pasay City Tel. Nos. : 526-08-04/526-59-01 Fax No. : 526-08-09

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Rm. 301, 3rd Floor, Velco Centre, Chicago Cor. 13th Streets Port Area, Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-25-45/47/48 Fax No. : 527-24-76

Anna Dominique M. L. Coseteng Rm. 1202 Sunset View Condominium, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City Tel. Nos. : 833-12-68/891-77-84 to 85 Fax No. : 891-77-83

Franklin M. Drilon Rm. 310, Velasco Centere, Chicago Cor. 13th Streets, Port Area Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-24-58/527-24-63/527-25-49 Fax No. : 527-25-49/527-25-60

Juan Ponce Enrile Rm. 401, Marsman Bldg., Muelle de San Francisco Gate 1 , Port Area, Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-66-26/27/29 Fax No. : 527-48-39/527-66-28

Marcelo S. Fernan Rm. 1405, 14th Floor, Marbella Building 2071, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City Tel. Nos. : 831-68-38/831-68-97 Fax No. : 831-21-21/831-68-38

Juan M. Flavier 3rd Floor Velco Centre, Chicago Cor. 13th Streets, Port Area Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-24-27/528-00-43/528-01-06 Fax No. : 527-25-61

Neptali A. Gonzales 539 San Joaquin St., Mandaluyong City Tel. Nos. : 532-00-53/532-03-18 Fax No. : 532-08-31

Ernesto F. Herrera 2nd Floor Marbella Building 2071 Roxas Blvd., Manila Tel. Nos. : 525-34-79/536-05-98 Fax No. : 522-07-58

Gregorio T. Honasan Rm. 311, Velco Centre, Chicago Cor. 13th Streets Port Area Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-24-75/528-01-94 Fax No. : 527-25-36

Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr. Rm. 422, PICC Bldg., CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Manila Tel. Nos. : 833-13-38/833-16-74/833-17-54 Fax No. : 833-09-76/79

Orlando S. Mercado 3rd Floor, Velco Centre, Chicago, Cor. 13th Streest Port Area Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-01-09/527-24-20/527-25-34 Fax No. : 528-01-10

Blas F. Ople 2nd Floor. Marbella Bldg. II CCP Complex, 2071, Roxas Blvd., Manila Tel. Nos. : 526-02-59 to 60/526-08-03 Fax No. : 521-06-77

Sergio R. Osmena III BF Homes Condominium, Aduanan, Cor., Solano, Intramuros, Manila Tel. Nos. : 527-62-88/527-63-88/527-64-88 Fax No. : 893-67-88

Ramon B. Revilla Rms. 237-240, Marbella Building 2071, Roxas Boulevard, Manila Tel. Nos. : 521-19-71/526-02-58 Fax No. : 521-06-30

Raul S. Roco 4th Floor, PAL Building, 1500 Roxas Boulevard, Manila Tel. Nos. : 526-07-90/57-36-31 to 34 Fax No. : 5267-07-91

Alberto G. Romulo 4th Floor, JMT Building, ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Pasig City Tel. Nos. : 632-07-01 to 04 Fax No. : 632-91-75

Miriam Defensor-Santiago 30 Examiner St., Cor. T. Benitez, West Triangle, Quezon City Tel. Nos. : 921-25-33/921-45-66 Fax No. : 921-25-38

Leticia Ramos Shahani 5th Floor, PICC Bldg., CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Manila Tel. Nos. : 832-03-09/832-50-88 Fax No. : 832-05-18

Vicente C. Sotto, III Rm. 306, Diplomat Building, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City Tel. Nos. : 831-41-26/831-41-82/832-30-56 Fax No. : 831-41-94

Francisco S. Tatad 2nd Floor, Marbella Building, 2071 Roxas Blvd., Manila Tel. Nos. : 526-02-56 Fax No. : 526-02-55

Freddie N. Webb 4th Floor, Ramon Magsaysay Center, Roxas Blvd., Manila Tel. Nos. : 521-31-66/526-10-73 Fax No. : 522-15-28

What's New??

The Senate leaders rallied their colleagues to immediately approve the Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (Senate Bill 1683), which for the first time imposes stiff penalties on travel and recruitment agencies that resort to passport fraud.

The proposed bill would correct a hiatus of five decades that had seen no passport law enacted since July 4, 1946, when the USA government abandoned colonial rule of the country.

Commission on Appointments Delegation Bldg., Pasay City Tel. Nos. : 831-15-41/831-18-24/831-34-76 Fax No. : 833-70-52

This is a constitutional body which operates a distinct entity - legislative in composition, but executive in function. It confirms of rejects appointments submitted to it by the President of the Philippines. It acts on all such appointments by a majority vote of all the members, within 3--session days of Congress form their submission.

The Commission is composed of 12 senators and 12 congressmen, elected by each House on the basis of proportional representation of the political parties. The Senate President acts as the exofficio chairman, voting only when ther is a tie. 

Chairman - Sen. Ernesto M. Maceda
Vice Chairman - Cong. Raul V. Del Mar
Majority Floor Leader - Cong. Miguel Romero
Assistant Majority Floor Leaders - Sen. Franklin M. Drilon and Sen Vicente C. Sotto Minority Floor Leader - Sen. Anna Dominique M. L. Coseteng
Assistant Minority Floor Leader - Cong. Rufino S. Javier

Members -- 

Senators: Heherson Alvarez; Juan Ponce-Entile; Ernesto Herrera; Blas Ople; Sergio Osmena III; Raul Roco; Leticia Ramos-Shahani; and Francisco Tatad.

Congressmen: JOse D. Aspiras; Antonio V. Cuenco; Rodolfo V. Del Rosario; Oscar C. Garin; Carlos D. R. Imperial; Maria Clara L. Lobregat; Carmelo J. Locsin; Eric D. Singson; and Wigberto E. Tanada.

What's New??

The Commission on Appointments confirmed recently the appointment of 31 military officials to ranks ranging from colonel to lieutenant general.

Leading the newly confirmed promotees were Clemente Mariano and Jaime Ileto, Jr., who were both promoted to lieutenant general.

Senate Eletoral Tribunal (SET) COA-NCR Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City Tel. Nos. : 931-75-88/931-75-97 Fax No. : 931-76-85

SET's main function is to adjudicate electoral contests involving members of the Senate.

Chairman - Justice Teodoro Padilla

Members -- Alberto G. Romulo, Freddie N. Webb, Juan M. Flavier, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Miriam D. Santiago.

What's New??

Financial and other problems are hounding SET, virtually dooming the bid of former Senator Aquilino Pimentel to gain seat in the chamber before 2001.

SET chairman Justice Teodoro Padilla said that they have uncovered "irregularities" in the course of the recount of votes in connection with Pimentel's protest. However, he added that they have not yet arrived at a definite conclusion as to whether the irregularities are suffieciently massive to alter the results of the proclamation.

Despite the problems, Padilla was hopeful that the Pimentel protest would be resolved by January 1998. But he admitted that the recount would falter when funds dry up.

The House of Representatives Batasang Pambansa Complex Constitutional Hills, 1119, Quezon City Tel. Nos. : 923-05-01/931-50-01 to 09/931-59-42

Speaker of the House - Jose C. De Venecia Batasang Pambansa Complex, Constitutional Hills, 119, Quezon City Tel. Nos. : 931-50-17/931-67-26 Fax No. : 931-64-37

Speakers Pro-Tempore - Hernando B. Perez (Luzon) Raul A. Daza (Visayas) Simeon A. Datumanong (Mindanao)

Majority Floor Leader - Rodolfo B. Albano, Jr. Minority Floor Leader - Hernando B. Perez Secretary-General - Camilo L. Sabio Sergeant at-Arms - Bayani N. Fabic

What's New??

House leades denied shelving the 1997 budget of the Presidential Commission Against Graft and Corruption (PCAGC), but admitted that some congressmen had wanted its approval deferred.

Speaker Jose De Venecia said the PCAGC's P16.54-million budget for 1997 was passed on second reading in the wee hours of October 18, the day after Congress officially went on a two-week recess.

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