The Congress of the Philippines (Filipino: Kongréso ng Pilipínas) is the national legislature of the Philippines. It is a bicameral body 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.
The Senate is composed of 24 senators half of which are elected every three years. Each senator, therefore, serves a total of six years. The senators are elected by the whole electorate and do not represent any geographical district.
The House of Representatives is composed of a maximum of 250 congressmen. There are two types of congressmen: the district and the sectoral representatives. The district congressmen represent a particular geographical district of the country. All provinces in the country are composed of at least one congressional district. Several cities also have their own congressional districts, with some composed of two or more representatives.
The sectoral congressmen represent the minority sectors of the population. This enables these minority groups to be represented in the Congress, when they would otherwise not be represented properly through district representation. Also known as party-list representatives, sectoral congressmen represent labor unions, rights groups, and other organizations.
The Constitution provides that the Congress shall convene for its regular session every year beginning on the 4th Monday of July. A regular session can last until thirty days before the opening of its next regular session in the succeeding year. The President may, however, call special sessions which are usually held between regular sessions to handle emergencies or urgent matters.
Congresses of the Philippines
Second Philippine Republic
Third Philippine Republic
Martial Law and Fourth Philippine Republic
Fifth Philippine Republic
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Period = from:09/15/1898 till:06/30/2010
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from:09/15/1898 till:11/13/1899 text:"Malolos Congress" color:abolished
from:03/04/1899 till:03/16/1900 text:"1st Philippine Commission" color:USA
from:03/16/1900 till:09/01/1901 text:"2nd Philippine Commission" color:USA
from:09/01/1901 till:10/16/1907 text:"Philippine Commission" color:USA
from:10/16/1907 till:05/20/1909 text:"1st Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:03/28/1910 till:02/06/1912 text:"2nd Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:10/16/1912 till:02/24/1916 text:"3rd Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:10/16/1916 till:02/08/1919 text:"4th Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:07/21/1919 till:02/14/1922 text:"5th Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:07/16/1922 till:02/08/1925 text:"6th Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:07/16/1925 till:11/09/1927 text:"7th Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:07/16/1928 till:11/07/1930 text:"8th Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:07/16/1931 till:05/05/1933 text:"9th Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:07/24/1933 till:11/21/1935 text:"10th Philippine Legislature" color:USA
from:11/25/1935 till:08/30/1938 text:"1st National Assembly" color:Common
from:01/24/1939 till:12/10/1941 text:"2nd National Assembly" color:Common
from:10/17/1943 till:02/02/1944 text:"National Assembly of the Second Republic" color:2nd
from:06/13/1945 till:12/20/1945 text:"1st Commonwealth Congress" color:Common
from:05/25/1946 till:07/04/1946 text:"2nd Commonwealth Congress" color:Common
from:07/05/1946 till:12/13/1949 text:"1st Congress" color:3rd
from:12/30/1949 till:12/08/1953 text:"2nd Congress" color:3rd
from:01/24/1954 till:12/10/1957 text:"3rd Congress" color:3rd
from:01/27/1958 till:12/13/1961 text:"4th Congress" color:3rd
from:01/22/1962 till:12/17/1965 text:"5th Congress" color:3rd
from:01/17/1966 till:06/17/1969 text:"6th Congress" color:3rd
from:01/26/1970 till:09/23/1972 text:"7th Congress" color:3rd
from:09/23/1972 till:06/11/1978 text:"Abolished (President exercised legislative powers)" color:abolished
from:06/12/1978 till:06/05/1984 text:"Interim Batasang Pambansa" color:4th
from:07/23/1984 till:03/25/1986 text:"Regular Batasang Pambansa" color:4th
from:03/25/1986 till:07/27/1987 text:"Abolished (President exercised legislative powers)" color:abolished
from:07/27/1987 till:06/11/1992 text:"8th Congress" color:5th
from:07/27/1992 till:06/30/1995 text:"9th Congress" color:5th
from:07/24/1995 till:05/28/1998 text:"10th Congress" color:5th
from:07/27/1998 till:06/30/2001 text:"11th Congress" color:5th
from:07/21/2001 till:06/11/2004 text:"12th Congress" color:5th
from:07/26/2004 till:06/08/2007 text:"13th Congress" color:5th
from:07/24/2007 till:end text:"14th Congress" color:5th
When the Philippines was under American colonial rule, the legislative body was the Philippine Commission which existed from 1900 to 1907. The President of the United States appointed the members of the Philippine Commission.
The Philippine Bill of 1902 mandated the creation of a bicameral or a two-chamber Philippine Legislature with the Philippine Commission as the Upper House and the Philippine Assembly as the Lower House. This bicameral legislature was inaugurated in 1907. Through the leadership of then Speaker Sergio Osmeña and then Floor Leader Manuel L. Quezon, the Rules of the 59th United States Congress was substantially adopted as the Rules of the Philippine Legislature.
In 1916, the Jones Law changed the legislative system. The Philippine Commission was abolished, and a new bicameral Philippine Legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate was established.
The legislative system was changed again in 1935. The 1935 Constitution established a unicameral National Assembly. But in 1940, through an amendment to the 1935 Constitution, a bicameral Congress of the Philippines consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate was created.
Upon the inauguration of the Republic of the Philippines in July 4, 1946, Republic Act No. 6 was enacted providing that on the date of the proclamation of the Republic of the Philippines, the existing Congress would be known as the First Congress of the Republic.
The 1973 Constitution abolished the bicameral Congress and created a unicameral Batasang Pambansa in a parliamentary system of government.
The 1987 Constitution restored the presidential system of government together with a bicameral Congress of the Philippines.
The powers of the Congress of the Philippines may be classified as:
General legislative power
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.)
It is the essential to the effective exercise of other powers expressly granted to the assembly.
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; and etc.
Specific legislative powers
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;
- Power to impeach;
- Power to confirm treaties;
- Power to declare the existence of war;
- Power to concur amnesty; and
- Power to act as board of canvasser for presidential/vice-presidential votes.
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; and etc.
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; and etc.
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.
This power of Congress will enable it to pass judgement upon certain parties/courses of action and falling under this category are the following:
- To expel and suspend its erring members;
- To initiate contempt proceeding in the Congress;
- 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.
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.
Preparation of the bill
The Member or the Bill Drafting Division of the Reference and Research Bureau prepares and drafts the bill upon the Member's request.
- The bill is filed with the Bills and Index Service and the same is numbered and reproduced.
- Three days after its filing, the same is included in the Order of Business for First Reading.
- On First Reading, the Secretary General reads the title and number of the bill. The Speaker refers the bill to the appropriate Committee/s.
Committee consideration / action
- The Committee where the bill was referred to evaluates it to determine the necessity of conducting public hearings.
- *If the Committee finds it necessary to conduct public hearings, it schedules the time thereof, issues public notices and invites resource persons from the public and private sectors, the academe and experts on the proposed legislation.
- *If the Committee finds that no public hearing is not needed, it schedules the bill for Committee discussion/s.
- Based on the result of the public hearings or Committee discussions, the Committee may introduce amendments, consolidate bills on the same subject matter, or propose a substitute bill. It then prepares the corresponding committee report.
- The Committee approves the Committee Report and formally transmits the same to the Plenary Affairs Bureau.
- The Committee Report is registered and numbered by the Bills and Index Service. It is included in the Order of Business and referred to the Committee on Rules.
- The Committee on Rules schedules the bill for consideration on Second Reading.
- On Second Reading, the Secretary General reads the number, title and text of the bill and the following takes place:
- *Period of Sponsorship and Debate
- *Period of Amendments
- *Voting, which may be by
- #viva voce
- #count by tellers
- #division of the House
- #nominal voting
- The amendments, if any, are engrossed and printed copies of the bill are reproduced for Third Reading.
- The engrossed bill is included in the Calendar of Bills for Third Reading and copies of the same are distributed to all the Members three days before its Third Reading.
- On Third Reading, the Secretary General reads only the number and title of the bill.
- A roll call or nominal voting is called and a Member, if he desires, is given three minutes to explain his vote. No amendment on the bill is allowed at this stage.
- *The bill is approved by an affirmative vote of a majority of the Members present.
- *If the bill is disapproved, the same is transmitted to the Archives.
Transmittal of the approved bill to the Senate
The approved bill is transmitted to the Senate for its concurrence.
Senate action on approved bill of the House
The bill undergoes the same legislative process in the Senate.
- A Conference Committee is constituted and is composed of Members from each House of Congress to settle, reconcile or thresh out differences or disagreements on any provision of the bill.
- The conferees are not limited to reconciling the differences in the bill but may introduce new provisions germane to the subject matter or may report out an entirely new bill on the subject.
- The Conference Committee prepares a report to be signed by all the conferees and the Chairman.
- The Conference Committee Report is submitted for consideration/approval of both Houses. No amendment is allowed.
Transmittal of the bill to the President
Copies of the bill, signed by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and certified by both the Secretary of the Senate and the Secretary General of the House, are transmitted to the President.
Presidential action on the bill
If the bill is approved the President, the same is assigned an RA number and transmitted to the House where it originated.
Action on approved bill
The bill is reproduced and copies are sent to the Official Gazette Office for publication and distribution to the implementing agencies. It is then included in the annual compilation of Acts and Resolutions.
Action on vetoed bill
The message is included in the Order of Business. If the Congress decides to override the veto, the House and the Senate shall proceed separately to reconsider the bill or the vetoed items of the bill. If the bill or its vetoed items is passed by a vote of two-thirds of the Members of each House, such bill or items shall become a law.
The vote requirements in the Congress of the Philippines are as follows:
- Majority vote
- Two-thirds vote
- One-third vote
- One-fifth vote
- Three-fourths vote