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Notes taken from the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary by Joaquin Bernas, S.J.
1987 Constitution: Article 6 Legislative Department
(Sections 15 to 32)

Section 15

Regular session: 4
Monday of July (unless otherwise provided
by law)
Special session: May be called anytime by the President

Note: There shall be no session thirty days before the next
regular session (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal
holidays.) The number of regular sessions shall depend on the
discretion of the Congress.

Special session sessions called by the President when
Congress is in recess

Section 16

Officers of the Congress:
1. Senate President
2. Speaker of the House of Representatives
3. Any other officers elected by each house

Note: Because of separation of powers, the court cannot
intervene to the internal affairs of the legislature.

Disciplinary action not subject to judicial review; each House
is the sole judge of what discretionary behavior is

Purpose of Journal
1. to insure publicity of proceedings
2. to provide proof of what actually transpired in the legislature

Journal is conclusive upon the courts (upon seeing the
signature of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and
Senate President).

Section 17

Electoral Tribunal
- the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns
and qualifications of the members of each house of the
- composed of nine members each
a. House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET)
3 members of the Supreme Court (appointed by the Chief
6 House of Representatives members
b. Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET)
3 members of the Supreme Court (appointed by the Chief
6 members of the Senate
- members of each House are chosen based on their
proportional representation

When does COMELECs jurisdiction end? (Transfer the
jurisdiction to either HRET or SET)
1. when the winning candidate has been proclaimed
2. he has taken his oath
3. he has assumed office as member of the Congress

- Judicial power includes the determination whether or not
there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack
or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or
instrumentality of the government.
- All political parties are given proportional representation.
- Electoral Tribunals are independent bodies.
- The Supreme Court can only intervene with Electoral
Tribunals jurisdiction when:
a. there is denial of due process of law
b. there is an error or grave abuse of discretion

Section 18

Commission on Appointments (Composition)
a. 1 Senate President (by virtue of his office)
b. 12 House of Representatives members (by proportional
c. 12 Senate members

Commission on Appointments
- shall act on the appointments filed or submitted with thirty
session days of the Congress from their submissions
- shall rule on by majority vote of all its members

Note: The Court ruled that a full complement of 12 was not

Section 19

Electoral Tribunal and Commission on Appointments shall be
created within thirty days after the Senate and House of
Representatives shall have been organized.

Section 20 and 21

Legislative Investigation
- the power of inquiry (a legislative body cannot legislate
wisely or effectively in the absence of information)
- the power of investigation also includes the power to punish
a contumacious witness for contempt
- limitations:
a. must be in aid of legislation
b. must be in accordance with the duly published rules of the
c. rights of the person appearing or directly affected by such
inquiries shall be respected

Section 22

Question Hour purpose: to formalize the oversight function
of the Congress

Before the head of departments can appear in either house,
the consent of the President is needed.

Section 23

Declare the existence of war
- sole power of the Congress
- each house shall vote (at least 2/3; voting separately)

The Law Chic |
Notes taken from the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary by Joaquin Bernas, S.J.
In state of war or other national emergency:
The Congress may authorize the President to carry out a
declared national policy subject to limitations:
1. limited time only
2. subject to the restrictions made by the Congress

What kind of war is renounced? Offensive or Aggressive war.

Executive power
- may make war even in the absence of a declaration of war
(only when necessary)

Note: Emergency powers may be withdrawn by resolution of
the Congress (no need for the Presidents approval) or shall
cease upon the next adjournment.

Section 24

What are the bills that must originate solely from the House of
Representatives? Money bills.
a. appropriation bills
b. revenue or tariff bills
c. bills authorizing increase in public debts
d. bills of local application
e. private bills

What can the Senate do about the money bills? Concur or
propose amendments.

Note: The Senate can completely overhaul such bills by:
a. amendment of parts
b. amendment by substitution

Section 25

General appropriations bills
- appropriations may not be increased by the Congress
- form, content and manner of preparation must be
prescribed by law
- no riders allowed

Special appropriation bills
- shall specify the purpose for which it is intended
- shall be supported by funds available

Who are authorized to augment any item in the general
appropriations bill (transfer of funds)
a. President
b. Senate President
c. Speaker of the House of Representatives
d. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
e. Heads of Constitutional Commissions

Section 26

Requirements of Bills:
1. shall embrace one subject only expressed on the title
2. shall pass three readings on separate days
3. printed copies shall be distributed to the members (three
days before its passage)

Section 27

How does a bill become a law?

1. when the President approves it
2. when the President takes no action on the bill submitted
within thirty days (executive inaction)
3. if the President vetoes it and returns the bill (together with
objections) to the house where it originated and 23 of such
house votes to approve it

When does the Constitution require the voting of yeas and
nays of the members of each House?
a. upon the last and third readings of a bill
b. at the request of 1/5 of the members present
c. in re-passing a bill over the veto of the President

Conference Committee
- resolves the conflict between the two houses of the Congress

Note: The following bills are the only ones where the President
can exercise item-veto
a. revenue bills
b. appropriation bills
c. tariff bills

General rule: The President cannot veto a part of the bill (its
all or nothing)
Exception: The bills mentioned above

- Publication of laws is indispensable. Failure to do it is a denial
of the due process of law because people will not be
informed of what laws to obey.
- A condition in an appropriation bill may not be vetoed
without vetoing the item to which it is attached.

Item (in budgetary legislation)
- means an indivisible sum of money dedicated to a stated
- NOT some general provision of law which happens to be put
into an appropriation bill

Doctrine of Inappropriate Provision
- a provision that is constitutionally inappropriate for an
appropriation bill may be singled out for veto even if it is not
an appropriation or revenue item
- the President may veto riders in an appropriation bill
- intent of the doctrine: to prevent the legislature from forcing
the President to veto an entire appropriation law thereby
paralyzing the government

Executive Impoundment
- refusal of the President to spend funds already allocated by
Congress for a specific purpose

Section 28

Rule of Taxation
- shall be uniform and equitable (tax must operate with the
same force and effect in every place where the subject of it is
to be found)
- progressive system the rate increases as the tax base
increases (more equitable distribution of wealth)
The Law Chic |
Notes taken from the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary by Joaquin Bernas, S.J.
- must not be oppressive

Power to tax
- purpose: to raise revenue or to regulate
- limitation: shall only be exercised for a public purpose

- The power to tax may be delegated by the legislative to the
- The Congress (delegating authority) has the right to impose
restrictions and limitations on the taxation power delegated to
the President.

Institutions exempt from taxation:
a. charitable institutions
b. churches
c. parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto
d. mosques
e. non-profit cemeteries
f. all lands, buildings and improvements actually, directly and
exclusively used for religious, charitable or education purposes

Note: No law granting any tax exemption shall be passed
without the concurrence of a majority of all the members of
the Congress.

Section 29

- has the control of the expenditure of public funds
- no money shall be paid out of the treasury except in
pursuance of an appropriation made by law [Congress]

Public money can be appropriated only for public purpose. It
cannot be appropriated, applied, pair or employed for (direct
or indirect) use, benefit or support of any:
a. sect
b. church
c. denomination
d. sectarian institution
e. system of religion

Section 30

The Congress can increase the appellate jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court only with the advice and concurrence of the
Supreme Court itself.

Reason: to prevent the overburdening of the Supreme Court

Section 31

The Constitution prohibits the State from granting:
a. title of royalty
b. title of nobility

Section 32

The Congress shall provide: system of initiative and referendum
- the Congress does not have the exclusive right to pass laws
- the people can also legislate through initiative and
a. directly propose and enact laws
b. approve or reject any law or a part of it

Registration of petition:
- required
- shall be signed by:
a. at least 10% of the total number of registered voters
b. every legislative district must be represented with at least 3%
of the registered voters thereof

See: Republic Act 6735 The Initiative and Referendum Law

Notes compiled by The Law Chic. Taken from The 1987
Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary
by Joaquin Bernas, S.J.