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Doctrine of Holdover

Q: What is the doctrine of hold-over?

A: A public officer whose term has expired or services have

been terminated is allowed to continue holding his office until his
successor is appointed or chosen and had qualified. (Mechem)

Purpose of the Hold-Over Rule

Public interest. It is to prevent a hiatus in the

government pending the time when a successor may be
chosen and inducted into office.

Holding-Over Rules

(1) Where the law provides for it: The office does not become
vacant upon
the expiration
of the term if
there is no
elected and
qualified to
it. Incumbent
will hold-over
even if
beyond the
term fixed by

(2) Where the law is silent: Unless hold-over is

expressly or
may hold-

(3) Where the Constitution limits

the term of a public officer and
does not provide for hold-over: Hold-over is not permitted.

Furthermore, it should be considered that a

holdover is not technically an extension of the term
of the officer but a recognition of the incumbent as a de
facto officer, which is made imperative by the necessity
for a continuous performance of public functions. In
State v. Clark, the Supreme Court of Errors of
Connecticut held:
The claim of the respondent that it was his right and his duty to
hold over and exercise the duties and functions of the office after
the expiration of his term until his successor should be appointed
may be conceded. The public interest requires that such officers
shall hold over when no successor is ready and qualified to fill
the office x x x. The rule has grown out of the necessities of the
case, so that there may be no time when such offices shall be
without an incumbent. But such hold-over incumbent is not a
de jure officer. He is in for no term, but holds the office only
temporarily until the vacancy can be filled by competent
authority x x x.[if !supportFootnotes][20][endif] (Emphasis supplied.)

Law, Politics, and Philosophy

Tuguegarao City, Cagayan. Atty. MICHAEL JHON M.
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This paper discusses the three departments of the Philippine
Government (legislative, executive, and judicial department) and
three Constitutional Commissions, the principles and doctrines
underlying their structure and composition, and their respective
roles, powers, and functions. The paper basically discusses the
Constitution of Government.
At the end of the discussion, the students must be able to:
1. Explain the basic political law doctrines involving the Philippine
2. Explain and distinguish the three branches of the government;
3. Identify and compare the respective roles, functions and
composition of the branches of the government; and
4. Explain and distinguish the powers, functions, and jurisdiction
of the three Constitutional Commissions.

1. Definition of Government. Government has been defined as that
institution or collection of institutions through which a sovereign
society makes and implements law which enable men to live with
each other or which are imposed upon the people forming the
society by those who have the authority of prescribing them.
2. Definition of “Government of the Republic of the Philippines.”
Under Section 2(1) of the Administrative Code of the Philippines,
the “Government of the Republic of the Philippines” is defined as
“the corporate governmental entity through which the functions of
government are exercised throughout the Philippines, including,
save as the contrary appears from the context, the various arms
through which political authority is made effective in the
Philippines, whether pertaining to the autonomous regions, the
provincial, city, municipal, or barangay subdivisions, or other
forms of local government.” In other words, it refers to the
corporate institution which acts as an instrument through which the
people exercise their sovereignty. It is composed of the central or
national government and local government units.
3. Overview of the Structure of the Philippine Government. As
provided in Article II of the Constitution, the Philippine
Government is democratic and republican. It follows the separation
of powers, so that as provided in Articles VI, VII and VIII, it
divides itself into three branches: Legislative, Executive, and
Judicial. Although these branches have their own particular powers
and functions, they form only one coherent government with a
common purpose. Independent Constitutional Commissions were
also created as constitutional safeguards for the other aspects of
governance in the Philippines, such as audit of public funds,
conduct of elections, and maintenance of civil service. The
intricacies of Philippine bureaucracy are laid down in the
Constitution of Government, which will be discussed below.

Meaning of the Doctrine
The Doctrine of Separation of Powers entails: first, the division of
the powers of the government into three, which are legislative,
executive, and judicial; and second, the distribution of these
powers to the three major branches of the government, which are
the Legislative Department, Executive Department, and the
Judicial Department. Basically, it means that the Legislative
Department is generally limited to the enactment of the law and
not to implementation or interpretation of the same; the Executive
Department is generally limited to the implementation of the law
and not to the enactment or interpretation of the same; and the
Judicial Department is generally limited to the interpretation and
application of laws in specific cases and not to the making or
implementation of the same.
Purpose of the Doctrine
Prevention of Monopoly of Power. Separation of powers is said to
be an attribute of republicanism, in that, among other reasons, it
seeks to prevent monopoly or concentration of power to one person
or group of persons, and thereby forestalls dictatorship or
despotism. Sovereignty resides in the people, and it should remain
that way. Government officials, who are the representatives of the
people, must exercise the powers of their office in the interest of
the public. While representational exercise of power brings out the
essence of republicanism, too much concentration of power rips it
apart, as was experienced some administrations.
Separation not Exclusive
Important to understand is the meaning of “separation” not as
exclusivity but as “collaboration.” While each of the Departments
exercises its respective power, it does so in collaboration with the
other Departments because in the end they all belong to one
unified government with a common purpose. Appointment, for
example, of Members of the Supreme Court by the President must
be upon the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council. In
here before the President, who belongs to the executive branch,
appoint a Supreme Court justice, a recommendation must first be
given to him by the JBC, which is an independent body in the
judiciary. Another example would be the use of public funds. In
here, the President prepares the budget, on the basis of which the
Congress enacts an appropriations bill which will then be
submitted and approved by the President.
Checks and Balances
From the examples above one can understand the corollary
doctrine of “checks and balances.” Under the doctrine, there is no
absolute separation of the three branches of the government, but to
maintain their coequality each department checks the power of the
others. Generally, the departments cannot encroach each others’
power, but constitutional mechanisms allow each one of them to
perform acts that would check the power of others to prevent
monopoly, concentration, and abuse of power. For example, the
Judicial and Bar Council recommends nominees to the President so
that the latter will not capriciously appoint someone whom he can
easily convert into a puppet and thereby become his medium to
control the judiciary. In the same way, the disbursement of public
funds cannot depend solely upon the discretion of the President,
but must be based on legislation by the Congress.
Presidential System
The Philippines has a presidential form of government because it
observes the principle of separation of powers. The ordinary
connotation of presidential system is that it is headed by a
president, as distinguished from a parliamentary system which is
headed by a prime minister. The real essence, however, of the
presidential system and that which distinguishes it from the
parliamentary is its strict observance of the separation of powers.
Under the presidential system, any governmental act in violation of
the said doctrine is null and void. The government is divided into
three branches and each is limited to the power delegated to it. On
the contrary, under the parliamentary form, the legislative and
executive branches are “coordinate branches” so that the two
organs are fused together as one body performing both legislative
and executive functions. The Prime Minister, for example, is
chosen from among the lawmakers in the parliament to become the
head of the state. His term is at the pleasure of the parliament, thus,
making the executive branch intrinsically merged with the
Legislative Power
1. Meaning. The word “legislative” is derived from the Latin “lex”
which means “law.” In general, legislative power refers to the
power to make and unmake laws. Laws are rules or collection of
rules, whether written or unwritten, prescribed under the authority
of a political society for the common good. The “Legislative
Department” (Legislature) is the law-making branch of the
2. Delegation to the Congress. Fundamentally, legislative power is
an attribute of sovereignty, in that the Constitution itself, the
fundamental law of the State, is a legislation of the sovereign
people. However, through the Constitution, the people “delegated”
the legislative power to the Congress of the Philippines. Section 1,
Article VI states that “Legislative power shall be vested in the
Congress of the Philippines…” The delegation of power entails a
surrender of authority to the representatives, or in the case of
legislative power, to the Congress. Thus, law-making can only be
performed by the Congress, even if the law it enacts involves the
3. Reservation to the People. The Constitution, however, makes a
reservation as to the delegation, in that it explicitly states: “…
except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on
initiative and referendum.” In other words, there is no complete
delegation of law-making power to the Congress, as the power is
reserved to the people in cases of initiative and referendum. Thus,
laws are made or unmade, first, by the Congress in the form of
“statutes,” and second, by the people in initiatives and
referendums; legislative power is exercised by the Congress and
the sovereign Filipino people.
4. Legislative Power as Exercised by Congress. Legislative power
as exercised by Congress manifests itself more specifically in the
Constitution as “power of appropriation,” “power of taxation,” and
“power of concurrence.”
(a) Power of Appropriation. Section 29 (1), Article VI speaks of
the power to appropriate. It states, “No money shall be paid out of
the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by
law.” Appropriation means the authorization by law for the use of
a certain sum of the public funds. An appropriations law is
necessary before public funds may be spent by the government for
its projects. The government needs money in all its activities and
projects so that the power of appropriation, also known as the
“power of the purse,” is said to be one of the most important
prerogatives of the Congress.
(b) Power of Taxation. The power, which is one of the inherent
powers of the state, is generally exercised by the legislative
department. The Constitution limits such power as follows: “The
rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress shall
evolve a progressive system of taxation.” As was discussed in
Chapter 4, taxation must be uniform, equitable, and progressive.
Any law passed by the Congress contrary to this provision is null
and void.
(c) Power of Concurrence. Section 21, Article VII states that “no
treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless
concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the
Senate.” This refers to the power of concurrence of the Congress in
which no treaty can become binding and effective as a domestic
law without the two-thirds concurrence of the Members of the
Non-Delegation of Powers
1. Meaning and Explanation. The Congress cannot further delegate
the power delegated to it by the people. This is in keeping with the
principle of non-delegation of powers which is applicable to all the
three branches of the government. The rule states that what has
been delegated cannot further be delegated – potestas delegata non
delegari potest. A delegated power must be discharged directly by
the delegate and not through the delegate’s agent. It is basically an
ethical principle which requires direct performance by the delegate
of an entrusted power. Further delegation therefore constitutes
violation of the trust reposed by the delegator on the delegate. The
people, through the Constitution, delegated lawmaking powers to
the Congress, and as such, it cannot as a rule delegate further the
same to another.
2. Exceptions. In order to address the numerous and complex
demands of legislative function, the Constitution provides
exceptions to the rule. Further delegation is permitted in the
following cases:
(a) Delegation to the people at large. The Congress further
delegates its legislative power by allowing direct legislation by the
people in cases of initiative and referendum;
(b) Delegation of emergency powers to the President. Section 23
(2), Article VI of the Constitution states that “in times of war or
other national emergency, the Congress may, by law, authorize the
President, for a limited period and subject to such restrictions as it
may prescribe, to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry
out a declared national policy.” Emergency powers are delegated
to the President by the Congress to effectively solve the problems
caused by war or other crisis which the Congress could not
otherwise solve with more dispatch than the President;
(c) Delegation of tariff powers to the President. Section 28 (2),
Article VI of the Constitution states that “the Congress may, by
law, authorize the President to fix within specified limits, and
subject to such limitations and restrictions as it may impose, tariff
rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and
other duties or imposts within the framework of the national
development program of the Government.” Tariff powers are
delegated to the President by the Congress to efficiently and
speedily solve economic problems posed by foreign trade which
the Congress could not otherwise address with more dispatch than
the President;
(d) Delegation to administrative bodies. The Congress delegates
the so called “power of subordinate legislation” to administrative
bodies. Due to the growing complexity of modern society, it has
become necessary to allow specialized administrative bodies to
promulgate supplementary rules, so that they can deal with
technical problems with more expertise and dispatch than the
Congress or the courts. Regulations or supplementary rules passed
by the administrative bodies are intended to fill-in the gaps and
provide details to what is otherwise a broad statute passed by
Congress. For the rules and regulations to be valid and binding,
they must be in accordance with the statute on which they are
based, complete in themselves, and fix sufficient standards. If any
of the requirements is not satisfied, the regulation will not be
allowed to affect private rights; and
(e) Delegation to the local governments. This delegation is based
on the principle that the local government is in better position than
the national government to act on purely local concerns.
Legislative power is therefore given to them for effective local
Bicameralism and Composition of Congress
1. Bicameralism in the Congress. The Constitution prescribes
bicameralism in the Congress. Congress, to whom legislative
power is vested, “shall consist of a Senate and a House of
Representatives.” Bicameralism is a traditional form of legislative
body consisting of two chambers or houses, one representing
regional interests and the other representing national interests. The
Congress of the Philippines is said to be bicameral because it
consists of two houses: the House of Representatives, which is
concerned with local issues, and the Senate, which is concerned
with national issues. These two are co-equal branches and their
primary function is law-making.
2. The Senate. The Senate and its members are described in the
Constitution as follows:
(a) Composition. The Senate is “composed of twenty-four Senators
who shall be elected at large by the qualified voters of the
Philippines, as may be provided by law.” It is said to be the
training ground of future Presidents because membership in the
Senate requires national constituency and demands a broad
circumspection of the issues and problems of the country.
(b) Qualifications of a Senator. To be a senator, one must be a
“natural-born citizen of the Philippines and, on the day of the
election, is at least thirty-five 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.”
(c) Term. Each Senator shall have a term of six years and he shall
serve for not more than two consecutive terms.
3. The House of Representatives. The House and its members are
described in the Constitution as follows:
(a) Composition. The House of Representatives is composed of
“District Representatives” and “Party-list Representatives.” On the
one hand, district representatives or congressmen as they are
commonly called, whose number is now fixed by law, are elected
from the “legislative districts” in provinces and cities. On the other
hand, party-list representatives are elected at large through a party-
list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or
organizations. Twenty percent of the total number of all the
members of the House of Representatives constitutes the party-list
(b) Qualifications of a Member. To be a member of the House of
Representatives, one must be “a natural-born citizen of the
Philippines and, on the day of the election, is at least twenty-five
years of age, able to read and write, and, except the party-list
representatives, a registered voter in the district in which he shall
be elected, and a resident thereof for a period of not less than one
year immediately preceding the day of the election.”
(c) Term. Each Member has a term of three years and shall serve
for not more than three consecutive terms.
4. The Officers of the Congress are the Senate President, who
heads the sessions in the Senate, and the House Speaker, who
heads the House of Representatives. They are elected by majority
vote of all their respective members. If it deems necessary, each
House can choose other officers.
Party-list Representation
1. Meaning and Purpose. The party-list system aims at establishing
representation of the underprivileged. It is a social justice tool
designed not just to make the underprivileged mere beneficiaries of
law but to make them lawmakers themselves. It opens up the
political system to the prejudiced and underrepresented sectors of
the society. Under the present rule, however, party-list
representatives need not represent only the marginalized and the
underrepresented; national political parties can participate through
their sectoral wings provided they are registered separately in the
COMELEC. Party-list representatives after all may represent not
just a marginalized or underrepresented sectors but also
“ideologies” germane to democracy.
2. Parameters for Allocation of Seats. As to the allocation of seats
of party-list representatives in the House of Representatives, the
parameters are:
(a) Twenty percent allocation in the House (Sec. 5(2), Art. VI);
(b) To qualify to a seat, at least two percent of the votes is casted
on the party;
(c) A qualified party is entitled to a maximum of three seats; and
(d) Proportional representation as to the number of additional seats
vis-à-vis the total number of votes cast.
Sessions and Quorum
1. Kinds of Session. The Congress has regular sessions and special
sessions. On the one hand, the regular sessions are conducted once
a year starting on the fourth Monday of July and continue as long
as the Congress deems it necessary but only until thirty days before
the next regular session. On the other hand, special sessions are
conducted anytime upon the call of the President on subjects he
wishes to consider. This can last for as long as the Congress wants.
2. Quorum. In order to transact business during its regular or
special sessions, each House must meet the quorum or majority of
the body. One half of the members plus one is the majority. No law
can be passed or a legislative function discharged unless the
quorum is reached. In determining the quorum, however, members
who are abroad, suspended or otherwise prevented from
participating are not counted. Only those who are in the
Philippines and on whom the Congress has coercive power to
enforce its authority and command are counted. For example, if
one of the members of the Senate is outside the Philippines, the
base number is twenty three because the Senator abroad is not
counted. The quorum is therefore twelve since it is the majority of
twenty three.
3. Recess. Thirty days before the next regular sessions, the
Congress shall have its compulsory recess or adjournment. But
each House can adjourn for a voluntary recess provided that the
consent of the other House is obtained if the adjournment is for
three days or to any other place than that to which the two Houses
are sitting.
Parliamentary Immunities
1. Meaning. Parliamentary immunity refers to the privilege given
to Members of the Congress intended to ensure their effective
discharge of legislative functions and maintenance of
representation in the Congress.
2. Two Kinds of Immunity. The Constitution provides two kinds of
immunities: “immunity from arrest” and “privilege of speech and
debate.” Section 11, Article VI states: “A Senator or Member of
the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by
not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest
while the Congress is in session. No Member shall be questioned
nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the
Congress or in any committee thereof.”
(a) Immunity from arrest refers to the freedom of Senators and
Members of the House of Representative from arrest while the
Congress is in session, whether regular or special, from the time it
convenes until its final adjournment. The offense, however, of
which the arrest is made must not be punishable for more than six
years of imprisonment. For example, if Senator Pedro is charged
for the crime of simple theft while the Congress is still in session,
he cannot be arrested because simple theft is not punishable for
more than six years of imprisonment. But if he is charged for rape,
he may be arrested even though the Congress is in session because
rape is punishable by more than six years imprisonment.
(b) Privilege of speech and debate refers to the freedom of
Senators and Members of the House of Representatives from being
questioned or held liable in any place for any speech or debate in
the Congress or in any committee thereof. This is to give leeway to
the members of the Congress to express their ideas without fear of
being held liable in the courts of justice for the effective discharge
of their duties. It must be noted, however, that the privilege is
effective only in speeches and debates made in the Congress or in
those uttered by the legislator in his capacity as member of the
Congress. Moreover, although the legislator cannot be held liable
before the courts, he could be held liable in the Congress itself for
words or conduct unbecoming of a member. For example, if
Congressman Pedro, during his speech before the House, uttered
unsavory remarks against a fellow member, he cannot be charged
for libel before the courts but he can be made liable in the House
itself for words or conduct unbecoming of a member of the House.
Restrictions and Disqualifications
1. Conflict of Interest. The Constitution demands transparency in
the Congress, particularly in the financial and business interests of
its members, in order for the legislature to be aware of a “potential
conflict of interest.” Potential conflict of interest happens when a
legislator derives financial advantage from a law which he
legislates or was legislated during his term and the body was not
notified of such conflict. It constitutes betrayal of public trust in
that the personal interest of the legislator is placed over that of the
public. Note however that the legislator can still propose a law
even if there is a potential conflict of interest for as long as he has
notified the body about it. The purpose therefore of this
requirement is to allow the House to better examine the legislation
vis-à-vis the legislator.
2. Incompatible Office. In keeping with doctrine of separation of
powers, the Constitution provides that “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
forfeiting his seat.” This disqualification refers to the
“incompatible office” which is any other office in the government
that if held by a member of the Congress would result to the
forfeiture of his seat in the Congress. The provision allows a
member to hold an incompatible office but the result is the
automatic forfeiture of his seat. For example, if during the term of
Senator Pedro he becomes the head of a government-owned and
controlled corporation, he will no longer be Senator because of the
automatic forfeiture, the GOCC being an incompatible office.
3. Forbidden Office. Another disqualification involves the so-
called “forbidden offices” or offices which have been created or
the emoluments of which were increased while the legislator was a
member of the Congress. The purpose of this disqualification is to
prevent legislators to create an office or to increase its emoluments
for personal gain. Pursuant to this disqualification, a Senator, for
example, cannot be appointed to a civil or military office which
was created while he was still a senator. The disqualification lasts
for the entire six-year term even if the member resigns before the
end of his term.
Independent Bodies
1. The Constitution creates two independent bodies in the Congress
especially to perform non-legislative functions and to check the
appointing power of the Chief Executive, to wit: (a) the Electoral
Tribunals and (b) Commission on Appointments. Although
majority of their members come from the Congress, they
considered independent bodies in that they have the exclusive right
to prescribe their own rules of procedure, they have their own set
of employees who are under their control and supervision, and they
have their own function distinct from that of the Congress.
2. Electoral Tribunal. To ensure fairness and impartiality in
deciding election contests involving members of the Congress,
each House in the Congress shall have an Electoral Tribunal: the
“Senate Electoral Tribunal” in the Senate, and “House of
Representatives Electoral Tribunal” in the House of
Representatives. Each Electoral Tribunal shall be the sole judge of
all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of
their respective Members. Each shall be composed of nine
members, three are Justices of the Supreme Court, and six are
members of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case
may be. The Chairman shall be the senior Justice. While the
member Justices are designated by the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court, the six other legislator members are chosen on the
basis of proportional representation from political parties and
party-list organizations (duly registered under the party-list
system) in the Congress. Thus, if there is an election contest, for
instance, involving the qualifications of Congressman Juan, the
case shall be decided by the House of Representatives Electoral
Tribunal which is the sole judge of election contests involving the
Members of the House of Representatives.
3. Commission on Appointments. Another independent body in the
Congress is the Commission on Appointments which was created
to check the appointing power of the President, specifically in
appointments to importance offices in the government. It consists
of twenty five members: the Senate President, as ex officio
Chairman, twelve Senators, and twelve Members of the House of
Representatives. The Senators and Members of the House are
elected by their respective Houses based on proportional
representation from the political parties and party-list organizations
(duly registered under the party-list system) in the Congress. The
function of the Commission is to approve or disapprove the
nominations submitted to it by the President to appointments that
require its approval. For example, before a Cabinet Member may
be appointed, the President must first submit his nomination for
approval to the Commission on Appointments. With the approval,
there could be no appointment.
Procedure of How a Bill Becomes a Law
1. Bill vs. Statute. Among the most important things studied in
Article VI, The Legislative Department, is the procedure of how a
bill becomes a law. A bill is a proposed law. As such, it is not yet
binding nor does it confer or affect the rights and duties of
individuals. It becomes a law only after it has gone through all the
formalities and solemnities of the legislation process as prescribed
in the Constitution. The law enacted by the Congress is called a
2. The procedure is as follows:
(a) A bill is introduced by any Member of the Senate or the House
of Representatives by filing it with the Office of the Secretary
where it is calendared for the First Reading. Some bills, however
must originate exclusively from the House of Representatives,
such as the appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing
increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private
bills, although the Senate may propose or concur with
(b) During the first reading the number, title, and name/s of
author/s are read. The subject of the bill as expressed in its title
must only be one in order to avoid hodge-podge or log-rolling
legislation which entails insertion of many unrelated subjects. The
bill is referred to an appropriate committee for study. Public
hearings or consultations may be conducted by the committee
before it recommends the bill for approval, with or without
amendments, or for consolidation with similar bills, or for
disapproval. If it is disapproved, the bill is said to be “killed.” If
approved or reported out, it will calendared for the second reading.
(c) During the second reading, which is the start of the most
important stage, the bill is read in its entirety, together with the
amendments introduced by the committee, if there are any. The bill
will thereafter be debated upon and amended if the members deem
it necessary.
(d) The approved bill in the second reading is printed in its final
form and copies of it are furnished to the members three days
before the third reading. During the third reading, only the title of
the bill is read, and immediately after, the Members will vote
thereon and their votes (yeas and nays) will be entered in the
journal. No further amendments are allowed.
(e) The approved bill is referred to the other house where it also
undergoes three readings on three separate days. If compromise or
reconciliation of conflicting provisions is necessary because of the
differences in the House Bill and Senate Bill version, the bill shall
be submitted to a joint bicameral committee.
(f) After the bill has been approved on third reading on both
Houses it shall be submitted to the President for his action. He
approves by signing the bill; he disapproves by vetoing and
returning the bill with his objections to the House of origin. In
order to override the veto of the President, two-thirds of all the
Members of each house voting separately must agree to pass the
bill. If the President will not act on the bill in thirty days, the bill
shall become a law as if signed by him. “Pocket veto” is not
allowed under the laws.
(g) The enrolled bill or bill as printed and approved by the
Congress and the President shall be published in a newspaper of
general circulation or in the Official Gazette of the Government
and shall become binding fifteen days following its publication
unless another date is provided therein.
3. Three Readings on Three Separate Days. What is important to
remember in all these steps is the rule of “three readings on three
separate days.” Except when the President certifies to the necessity
of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or
emergency, no bill can become a law unless it passes three
readings on three separate days in both Houses of the Congress.
Non-legislative and other Powers of Congress
1. Non-Lawmaking Powers. Aside from lawmaking, Congress
performs non-lawmaking functions, such as initiation and holding
of impeachment (Art. XI, Sec. 2), acting as a constituent assembly
(Article XVII, Sec. 1), declaration of existence of war (Art. VI,
Sec. 1), approval of Presidential appointments through the
Commission on Appointments (Art. VI, Sec. 17), and deciding
election cases involving its members (Art. VI, Sec. 16).
2. Power to Declare the Existence of War. Section 23 (1), Article
VI states that “the Congress, by a vote of two-thirds of both
Houses in joint session assembled, voting separately, shall have the
sole power to declare the existence of a state of war.” This means
that when the Philippines is under attack by foreign invaders, the
Congress by means of enacting a law, affirms that the Philippines
is already at war with the enemy. War is not solely controlled by
the President who is the commander in chief of the military; it is
likewise controlled by the legislature because it has power over the
money used in the war.
3. Legislative Inquiries. The Congress also conducts legislative
inquiries which power is necessarily implied in its power to
legislate. Legislative inquiry is a process held in the Congress
especially conducted to compulsorily obtain requisite information
from witnesses in aid of legislation. The process and the requite
information taken are necessary to legislate wisely and effectively.
The Constitution provides limitations, to wit: (1) the inquiries must
be in aid of legislation; (2) it must be in accordance with the duly
published rules of procedure of the Congress; and (3) the rights of
persons appearing shall be respected.
4. Question Hour. Inquiries may also be conducted to obtain
information from the heads of departments on matters pertaining to
how laws are implemented. This is called the question hour. The
manner of obtaining information, however, is not compulsory
because of the doctrine of separation of powers. The heads of the
departments are alter egos of the President; to maintain the co-
equality of the executive and legislative branch, either House of
Congress may only request for the appearance of the department
heads. Conversely, the department heads may appear but the
Congress is not obliged to hear them. Question hour is different
from legislative inquiry in that appearance in the former is not
compulsory, while appearance in the latter is compulsory;
information derived in the former is in exercise of “oversight
functions,” while informative derived in the latter is in aid of
legislation; and the former is not among the traditional processes of
a presidential government, while the latter is an inherent legislative
power under a presidential government.


Executive Power
1. Meaning. Executive power includes, first, the power to
implement and administer the law, and, second, other powers
necessary to carry out the same. Section 1, Article VII provides
that “the executive power shall be vested in the President of the
Philippines,” so that his primary role is to ensure that the laws are
faithfully executed. That executive power is given to the President
alone makes him the most potent official in the government. But
while much is given to him, much is also expected. The limits of
his awesome powers are structurally provided in the Constitution
to prevent irresponsible and despotic exercise thereof.
2. Doctrine of Qualified Political Agency. While executive power
is given only to the President, the President can appoint “Members
of his Cabinet” whom the law considers as his “alter egos”
(extensions of himself). Under the doctrine of qualified political
agency, the acts of the Members of the Cabinet are deemed to be
the acts of the President unless reprobated or altered by him. The
Cabinet Members are political agents of the President who help
him discharge his powers and duties which alone he cannot
efficiently perform. They are the heads of the departments who
serve as presidential advisers. Just as the President has the power
of control over them, he also has the power to remove them, him
being still the chief of administration.
Presidential Privileges
1. Meaning. Presidential privilege refers to an immunity or
privilege granted to the President intended for the effective
performance of his executive functions and duties.
2. Kinds. The President is granted the privilege of immunity from
suit and executive privilege.
(a) Immunity from suit means that the President cannot be sued, if
he invokes such privilege, for any civil or criminal action during
his tenure. In one case, the Court said that “the rationale for the
grant of the privilege of immunity from suit is to assure the
exercise of the Presidential duties and functions free from any
hindrance or distraction, considering that being the Chief
Executive of the Government is a job that, aside from requiring all
of the office-holder’s time, also demands undivided attention.”
After his tenure, however, the President can no longer invoke
immunity for non-official acts.
(b) Executive privilege refers to the power of the President to
withhold confidential information from the other branches of the
Government and the public. Among these types of information
covered by the privilege are: (i) conversations and correspondence
between the President and the public officials (covered by E.O.
464); (ii) military, diplomatic, and other national security matters
which in the interest of national security should not be divulged;
(iii) information between inter-government agencies prior to the
conclusion of treaties and executive agreements; (iv) discussion in
close-door Cabinet meetings; and (v) matters affecting national
security and public order. These types of information are closed or
withheld from the other branches and the public because they are
crucial for the exercise of executive functions and to prevent the
potential harm resulting from the disclosure of the same. Thus, the
President and the Cabinet Members, for instance, can invoke
executive privilege even in the Congress during legislative
Qualifications, Manner of Election, and Term
1. The President. The Constitution provides the qualifications,
manner of election, and term of the President as follows:
(a) Qualifications. Section 2, Article VII of the Constitution
provides the qualifications of a President, to wit: (i) he must be a
natural-born citizen of the Philippines; (ii) a registered voter; (iii)
able to read and write; (iv) at least forty years of age on the day of
the election; and (v) a resident of the Philippines for at least ten
years immediately preceding such election.
(b) Manner of Election. He is elected at large by the direct vote of
all qualified citizens.
(c) Term. His term is six years, for which he cannot seek for
reelection. He may be removed from office through
2. The Vice-President. Section 3, Article VII states that the Vice-
President has “the same qualifications and term of office as the
President,” for the reason that his primary role is to succeed the
President in case of vacancy due to the latter’s death, permanent
disability, or resignation. He may also be removed from office in
the same manner as the President. However, the Vice-President
may serve for two consecutive terms.
3. When Qualifications must be Present. It must be noted that the
qualifications must be present on the day of the election and not on
the day of filing the Certificate of Candidacy or the day of
proclamation of the President-elect. Thus, one can still run for
President even if he is still thirty nine years old on the day of
filling the certificate of candidacy, for as long as he is forty years
old on the day of the election. Worthy of note also is the
Constitutional limitation on the term of the President, that is, he
cannot seek for reelection. The manifest purpose of this is to
prevent despotism and to protect the highest public official from
being consumed by the overwhelming powers of Presidency.
Presidential Succession
1. Two Rules on Presidential Succession. Section 7 and Section 8,
Article VII prescribe the rules for presidential succession or the
manner of filling a vacancy in the presidency. Section 7 talks of
succession when vacancy happens at the start of the term of the
President-elect, while Section 8 talks of succession when vacancy
happens at the mid part of the term of the incumbent President.
These rules are important because they provide immediate remedy
for filling the vacancy in the highest and most crucial seat of the
2. Succession at the Start of the Term. Under Section 7, Article
VII, the rule is:
(a) The Vice-President becomes the Acting President in the event
that the President-elect fails to qualify, or when no President was
(b) The Vice-President becomes the President in the event that the
President-elect dies or becomes permanently disabled; and
(c) The Senate President or, in case of his inability, the House
Speaker, becomes the Acting President on the event that no
President and Vice-President are chosen or qualified, or where
both died or become permanently disabled.
In the first case, the Vice-President acts as President until a
President-elect is qualified and chosen. In the second case, the
Vice-President does not only act as President but becomes the
President. And in the third case, the Senate President or, in his
inability, the House Speaker acts as President until a President or a
Vice-President are chosen and qualified.
3. No Presidential Hold-Over. Note well that the former President,
whose term already expired, has no right of “hold-over.” So as not
to repeat the dictatorship of the past, the Constitution is strict with
the six-year term limit. No extensions are allowed, not even in a
hold-over capacity. Thus, if no President assumes office after the
election, the former President is not allowed to continue
discharging the functions of the presidency.
4. Succession at the Mid-Part of the Term. Under Section 8, Article
VII, the rule is:
(a) the Vice-President becomes the President for the unexpired
term in case of the latter’s death, permanent disability, removal
from office, or resignation; and
(b) if the same happens to both the President and the Vice-
President, then the Senate President or, in case of his inability, the
House Speaker, will act as President until the President or Vice-
President will be elected and qualified.
5. Vacancy in the Office of the Vice-President. If the Office of the
Vice-President is vacant as a consequence of presidential
succession, the President shall nominate a Vice-President from
among the Members of Congress who shall assume office upon
confirmation of the Members of Congress. For example, when
former President Joseph Estrada was ousted from Malacanang
through People Power, he was succeeded by then Vice- President
Gloria Arroyo. As a matter of course, the Office of the Vice-
President became vacant. Thus, the new President, Gloria Arroyo,
nominated then Senator Teofisto Ginggona for Vice-President
whose nomination was confirmed by the Members of Congress.
Note that President Arroyo could have nominated any Member of
the Congress, that is, either a Senator or a Member of the House of
Representatives for Vice-Presidency.
6. Temporary Disability of the President. And lastly, Presidential
succession also happens when the President is “temporarily
disabled.” The temporary disability of the President, of which the
public must be informed, is determined by:
(a) the President himself through a written declaration transmitted
to the Senate President and House Speaker, in which case the Vice-
President becomes the Acting President;
(b) majority of Cabinet Members through a written declaration
transmitted to the two officials, in which case the Vice-President
becomes the Acting President; and
(c) 2/3 vote of both Houses of Congress, voting separately, in case
there is a dispute between the President and the Cabinet Members,
in which case the Vice-President also becomes the Acting
Presidential incapacity is said to be terminated when the President
or his Cabinet Members transmit to the Congress that the inability
no longer exists, or in case the temporary disability was declared
by the Congress, when both Houses by 2/3 vote, each voting
separately, declare the termination of presidential incapacity.
Inhibitions and Disqualifications
The Constitution provides many inhibitions and disqualifications
on the President, Vice-President, Cabinet Members, and their
deputies and assistants. The subjects of the inhibitions and
disqualifications are: (1) increase in their salaries and emoluments;
(2) the holding of other offices; (3) appointment of relatives; and
(4) midnight appointment.
1. Inhibition on Salary. The Congress fixes by law the salaries of
the President and Vice-President. The salaries cannot be decreased
during their tenure, but the same can be increased. The increase
takes effect only after the expiration of the term of the President
and Vice-President during whose term the increase was approved.
2. Disqualification on Holding Other Offices. They cannot also
receive during their tenure any other compensation or allowances
from the Government or any other source. The reason for this is
that they cannot hold any other office or employment, unless
otherwise provided in the Constitution. Their office, being very
important and crucial in the government, demands their full time
and attention. The disqualification also prevents them from
extending special favors to their own private business which comes
under their official jurisdiction, and assures the public that they
will be faithful and dedicated in the performance of their functions.
Public office is public trust, so that it cannot be used for personal
benefit and familial advantage. Thus, they shall strictly avoid
conflict of interest in the conduct of their office.
It should be noted that the Vice-President can be appointed as
Member of the Cabinet and his appointment need not go through
the Commission on Appointments. This is an exception to the
above prohibition, of which its purpose is to give due reverence to
the second highest office of the land and more importantly to give
him a function other than being a mere President Reserve.
3. Prohibition against Appointment of Relatives. Nepotism is
prohibited by the Constitution. Nepotism happens when the
President, during his tenure, appoints his spouse and relatives by
consanguinity or affinity within the fourth civil degree as Members
of the Constitutional Commissions, or the Office of the
Ombudsman, or as Secretaries, Undersecretaries, chairmen or
heads of bureaus or offices, including government-owned or
controlled corporations and their subsidiaries. Public office is not a
property, nor can it be shared and passed as a matter of right to
family members. The Philippines is not the kingdom of the
President; his office is only entrusted to him by the people who are
the sovereign rulers of the country and to whom he must serve with
utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency.
4. Prohibition against Midnight Appointments. Midnight
appointments are also prohibited by the Constitution. Midnight
appointment refers to presidential appointment after election but
before assumption to office of the next President. Section 15,
Article VII provides that “two months immediately before the next
presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or
Acting President shall not make appointments.” This is essentially
a limitation to the appointing power of the President. The purpose
of the prohibition is to avoid using the Presidency for partisan
considerations and for vote buying. It is also rude and
unstatesman-like for an outgoing President to appoint within the
said period so as to prevent the incoming President to exercise his
prerogative of selecting his own set of officers.
Powers of the President
The President of the Philippines has specific powers provided in
the Constitution, to wit: (1) appointing power; (2) power of control
and supervision; (3) military power; (4) pardoning power; (5)
diplomatic power; (6) residual power; (7) delegated power; and (8)
veto power.
1. Power of Appointment.
(a) Meaning. Appointment is one mode of putting a person in
office in which an appointing authority selects a person to
discharge the functions of an appointive office. The power is
exercised by the President, although legislative and judicial
officials can also appoint their respective personnel.
(b) Types of Appointment. There are four types of presidential
(i) Appointment by an Acting President ;
(ii) Temporary appointment ;
(iii) Regular appointment ; and
(iv) Ad interim appointment.
(c) Appointments Distinguished from Each Other. Appointment by
an Acting President may be revoked by the elected President
within ninety days from his assumption or reassumption of office.
If it were not revoked, the appointment remains effective, as if it
were the President-elect who made the appointment. Temporary
appointment is appointment made prior a presidential election that
is subject to a possible cancellation or revocation of the President-
elect. As an exception to midnight appointments, temporary
appointments may be extended by an outgoing President to
executive positions when continued vacancies therein will
prejudice public service or endanger public safety. Regular
appointment is presidential appointment made with or without the
consent of the Commission on Appointments. And Ad interim
appointment is appointment made during the recess of the
Congress, whether voluntary or compulsory, which is effective
until disapproved by the Commission on Appointments or until the
next adjournment of the Congress.
(d) Ad Interim Appointment vs. Regular Appointment. Ad interim
appointment is different from regular appointment, in that the
purpose of the former is to prevent hiatus or lull in government
offices, while that of the latter is to simply fill an office in the
ordinary course of business; an ad interim appointee immediately
assumes office, while a regular appointee does not, since
confirmation by the Commission on Appointments is still required.
Moreover, an ad interim appointment is different from temporary
appointment. Although the former is subject to the revocation of
the Congress (through the Commission on Appointments), it is not
temporary because it takes effect immediately and cannot be
revoked or withdrawn by the President if the ad interim appointee
is qualified. In fact, ad interim appointment is permanent and its
subsequent disapproval does not change its nature. Lastly, an ad
interim appointment is different from appointment in acting
capacity, in that the former requires confirmation of the
Commission on Appointments, while the latter does not; the
former is permanent, while the latter is temporary; and the former
is made during recess, while the latter in made either during recess
or not.
(e) Appointments Requiring Confirmation. Section 16, Article VII
provides an exclusive list of Presidential appointees whose
appointments require the confirmation of the Commission on
Appointments. These officials are: (1) the department secretaries,
ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; (2) officers of the
armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain; (3) other
officers whose appointments are vested in him in the Constitution;
(4) all other officers of the Government whose appointments are
not otherwise provided for by law, and those whom he may be
authorized by law to appoint; and (5) the heads of departments,
agencies, commissions, boards, those lower in rank in the
President. Members of the Constitutional Commissions and regular
members of the Judicial and Bar Council are officers whose
appointments are vested in him in the Constitution. The list is
exclusive, thus, other appointments by the President do not require
consent of the Commission on Appointments.
The appointees are subject to the control of the President in line
with the doctrine of the qualified political agency. The President
has the power to change and set-aside their acts.
2. Power of Control and Supervision.
(a) Control. The President has control over all executive
departments, bureaus, and offices; as chief administrator, he has
the primary duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.
Power of control refers to the power of the President, being the
Chief Executive, to alter, modify or set aside the acts of his
subordinates and substitute his judgment for that of the latter. His
subordinates include the Cabinet Members or heads of the
executive departments, heads of bureaus and offices, and their
subordinates and assistants. The Cabinet Members are alter egos of
the President as enunciated in the doctrine of qualified political
agency; thus, the President has the power to alter or set aside their
acts. Moreover, the power of control is connected to the appointing
power of the President. Just as he can put people to appointive
positions, he can also investigate, discipline, suspend, and remove
them when they become inefficient or corrupt.
(b) Supervision. The power of control includes the power of
supervision. The power of supervision refers to the authority to
oversee a subordinate officer and to see to it that he performs his
functions and duties in accordance with law. It generally includes
the power to investigate. It must be noted that the power of control
is broader than the power of supervision, since the former includes
the latter. The President has power of supervision over local
government units, in which he can investigate and see to it that
they perform their duties in accordance to established laws. He
does not, however, have power of control over them, so that he
cannot change their acts or substitute his judgment for their
3. Military Powers.
The President is granted military powers, the primary purpose of
which is to maintain civilian supremacy over the military. The
power includes: (a) calling-out power; (b) power to suspend the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; and (c) power to declare
martial law.
(a) President as Commander-in-Chief. Section 18, Article VII
states that the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed
forces of the Philippines, and whenever it becomes necessary, he
may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless
violence, invasion or rebellion. As the highest civilian officer, the
President is also the highest military authority. This is so because
civilian authority should, at all times, be supreme over the military
in the democratic, republican Philippines. The military is the single
most power institution equipped by law to use violence and force.
Thus, to prevent military takeover, the fundamental law makes a
civilian the commander-in-chief of the military. Although the
President lacks military training, the ideals of democracy dictate
that he should possess the tremendous power of controlling and
directing the military even in times of war. While he may delegate
to, and ask advice from, military men, the ultimate authority to
direct and call out the armed forces is with him. Not even the
courts can question him in exercise of this prerogative of calling
the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion
or rebellion.
(b) Suspension of the Privilege of Habeas Corpus. Section 18,
Article VII also expressly gives the President the power to suspend
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The writ of habeas
corpus is a written order issued by the court directing a person
detaining another to produce (habeas) the body (corpus) of the
latter and to explain before the court his authority for detaining the
latter. Habeas corpus is a special proceeding which provides
speedy remedy for the immediate release of an unlawfully detained
person. Thus, a person who was arrested and detained without a
valid warrant may file a petition for habeas corpus for his
immediate release, after the judge determines that there is no valid
ground for his detention. Under Section 18, this “privilege” of
habeas corpus may be suspended by the President in case of
invasion or rebellion, and when public safety requires it. The
rationale for such power is to allow the President to expediently
reestablish peace and order by detaining apparent offenders
without the hindrance or threat of their immediate release. Note,
however, that what is suspended is the “privilege,” not the right to
file the petition for habeas corpus. Thus, even when the President
suspends the privilege, persons unlawfully detained may still file a
petition for habeas corpus. Only the privilege of immediate release
is suspended.
(c) Martial Law. The power to declare martial law is likewise
expressly granted in Section 18. Martial law, within the
Constitutional context, means temporary military rule especially
declared not to replace civilian authority but to help it recover in
case of invasion or rebellion, and when public safety requires it.
Martial law, unlike a military takeover, does not suspend the
operation of the Constitution and guarantee for respect of human
rights. It is not permanent; it is declared only for a limited duration,
that is, for not more than sixty days. In addition, the President must
also report in writing to the Congress within forty eight hours from
proclamation, and the Congress may conduct special sessions even
without the call of the President. As far as the courts are
concerned, the military courts do not acquire jurisdiction over
cases involving civilians if civil courts are still able to function.
These constitutional limitations are intended to uphold democracy
and civilian supremacy in the Philippines, as well as to prevent the
rise of an abusive military regime that does not respect due process
and takes for granted the liberties of the sovereign people.
(d) Comparison of the Military Powers. To compare the military
powers of the President, it must be noted that the power to declare
martial law and the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus are the greater powers since it curtails the freedoms
and civil liberties of the citizens. The calling out power is said to
be lesser or benign power, in that it has no such effect. Thus, the
Constitution limits the former powers by making them susceptible
to review by the courts, whereas the calling out power is exercised
by the President with full discretion and wisdom as the
commander-in-chief of armed forces, not subject to judicial
4. Pardoning Power.
The pardoning power of the President refers to the exercise of
executive clemency. It includes: (a) pardon; (b) commutation; (c)
reprieve; (d) amnesty; and (e) parole.
(a) Pardon is an act of grace which exempts an individual from
serving his sentence or punishment which the law inflicts for the
crime he committed. It forgives the offender by not letting him pay
for the crime he committed. For pardon to be given, a person must
first be declared guilty of a crime by final judgment of the court,
and the President thereafter extends pardon. Instead of making him
serve his sentence, the President exempts him through his personal
act of grace. What the convict is exempted from is criminal
liability not civil liability.
There are two kinds of pardon: absolute and conditional. Absolute
pardon is one that absolves the convict from criminal liability
without any conditions whatsoever, while condition pardon
absolves the convict from criminal liability under the penalty of
recommitment to prison in case any condition provided is violated.
It must be remembered, however, that pardon cannot be granted in
cases of impeachment; or in violations of election laws without
favorable recommendation of the COMELEC; or in cases of
legislative contempt or civil contempt; or can it restore forfeited
public offices.
(b) Commutation refers to reduction or mitigation of the penalty.
For example, instead of serving ten years of imprisonment,
reduction has the effect of reducing the penalty to five years, for
instance, at the discretion of the President.
(c) Reprieve refers to the postponement of sentence or stay of
execution. This was applicable when death penalty was still
effective. For instance, the execution of a death convict may be
postponed by the President to another date if he extends reprieve.
(d) Parole is probational release from imprisonment. It is given to a
convict who has served the minimum sentence of his penalty and
has acted in good behavior inside the penal institution. Parole does
not fully restore the freedom of the parolee since he is still in the
custody of the law although not in confinement.
(e) Amnesty is an act of grace by the President extended to groups
of persons who committed political offenses. It requires the
concurrence of the legislature and puts into oblivion the offense
itself. It is distinguished from pardon, in that: the former forgives
political offenses (such as treason and rebellion) deemed expedient
for the public welfare than prosecution of the same, while the latter
forgives crimes against the peace of the state (such as homicide
and murder); the former is usually given to groups of offenders,
whereas the latter is given to an individual; the former requires
concurrence of the Congress, while the latter does not; the former
is a public act which the courts takes judicial notice, whereas the
latter is a private act of the President which must be pleaded by the
person pardoned for the court to take judicial notice; and the
former looks backward and abolishes the criminal and civil
liability of the offenders, while the latter looks forward and
relieves only the criminal liability of the offender.
5. Diplomatic Powers.
The President has diplomatic powers because, as the head of the
State, he is the spokesman of the nation on matters of external
affairs. “He may deal with foreign states and governments, extend
or withhold recognition, maintain diplomatic relations, enters into
treaties, and otherwise transact with the business of foreign
relations,” The Constitution, however, limits this power of the
President, as it expressly states “no treaty or international
agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at
least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.” Thus, if the
President, for instance, enters into an international agreement with
the United States of America for the establishment of civilian
rights mutually benefiting the citizens of both countries, then on
the part of the Philippines, least two-thirds of all the Members of
the Senate must concur with the said international agreement.
6. Residual Powers.
The President, as the head of the State, is given residual powers.
Under the presidential system, the President is not a mere symbolic
head; he is the chief executive granted with powers, so broad to
include even those not mentioned in the Constitution. “The powers
of the President are not limited to what are expressly enumerated
in the article on Executive Department and in scattered provisions
of the Constitution.” He has unstated powers called “residual
powers” which are implied from the grant of executive powers and
necessary for the exercise of his duties under the Constitution. It is
called “residual” because it is whatever power which the
legislature or the judiciary does not possess and which the
President could, thus, legitimately exercise consistent with his
functions. This is not to foster another dictatorship or an unbridled
exercise of power as was experienced during the Marcos
administration; nor is it a violation of the Constitutional intent to
limit the specific powers of the President to avoid another abusive
regime (since appropriate measures are already provided in the
new Constitution). The grant of residual powers, rather, is just in
recognition of the general grant of executive power to the
7. Delegated Powers.
As previously discussed, the Congress can delegate legislative
powers to the President, among which are emergency powers
(Section 23(2), Article VI) and tariff powers (Section 28(2),
Article VI).
8. Veto Power.
The President exercises veto power in relation to his role of
checking the power of the Congress. If he thinks that a bill enacted
by Congress should be disapproved, he exercises his veto power
and returns the same with his objections to the House of origin. As
a general rule, the veto must pertain to the entire bill, so that he is
not allowed to veto separate items of the bill. The exception,
however, is “item veto” allowed in case of appropriation, revenue
and tariff bill. The Constitution expressly provides that “President
shall have the power to veto any particular item or items in an
appropriation, revenue, or tariff bill, but the veto shall not affect
the item or items to which he does not object.”


Judicial Power
1. Meaning in General. In a broad sense, judicial power refers to
the power of the different courts of justice to interpret and apply
the laws in particular cases. Interpretation, on the one hand, refers
to the process by which the court discovers the true meaning of the
language used by the law. Its purpose is to give effect to the intent
or spirit of the law. The application of the law, on the other, refers
the process by which the court relates the pertinent legal provisions
to the set of facts of a particular case.
2. Strict Meaning. In a strict sense, the Constitution provides that
“judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle
actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable
and enforceable, and to determine 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.” The definition includes two aspects of judicial
power: (a) duty to settle actual controversies; and (b) authority to
determine if there is grave abuse of discretion.
(a) The first aspect, settlement of actual controversies, is the
traditional meaning of judicial power. In here, there exists an
“actual controversy” which, if properly filed, the court has duty to
settle. For an actual controversy to exist there must be a legally
demandable or enforceable right which is violated by another who,
in turn, has the correlative duty to respect it. If the other party
asserts an opposite legal claim, then it becomes susceptible of
judicial adjudication. A right is legally demandable or enforceable
if it is recognized by law and enforceable before the courts. A right
which has no basis in law cannot be enforced in the courts and
violation of which does not produce an actual controversy. Thus,
while a woman has a right to demand for financial support from
the father of her son, she does not have the right to demand for
marriage from a person who impregnated her because the right has
no basis in law; the first can give rise to an actual controversy,
while the other cannot.
(b) The second aspect, determination of grave abuse of authority, is
the expanded part of judicial power. It is said to be expanded
because traditionally the courts cannot question the “political acts”
of the other departments of the government (executive and
legislative – political departments). The courts can only settle
justiciable questions or questions involving rights and laws, and
not political questions or questions addressed to the wisdom or
discretion of political departments. But with the expanded
authority, the courts can now determine if the political departments
gravely abused the exercise of their discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction. Grave abuse of discretion refers to “such
capricious and arbitrary exercise of judgment as is equivalent, to
the eyes of the law, to lack of jurisdiction” and for it to be covered
by judicial power, abuse of discretion must be palpably grave.
Thus, the President and the Congress cannot escape the authority
of the courts in determining whether or not their political acts are
void, even if they invoke that their political acts are matters of
political question. This is manifestly in line with the principle of
checks and balances, and consequently, with the doctrine of
separation (in the sense of collaboration) of powers.
For example, the President is given the so-called calling out power
which is a discretionary power solely vested in him. Generally, the
courts cannot inquire in this and substitute it for its own decision
since this is a political question. But if it can be shown that there is
a grave abuse of discretion on the part of the President, it will be
subject to judicial review. This is now the effect of the expanded
power of the judiciary.
3. Who Exercises Judicial Power. Section 1, Article VIII, states
that judicial power is vested in one Supreme Court and in such
lower courts as may be established by law. This means that the
power to interpret and apply the laws in actual controversies is
given to, first, the Supreme Court, and, second, to other/lower
4. Supreme Court and Other Lower Courts. There could only be
one Supreme Court, and its supremacy puts finality to all legal
disputes. The other courts are all lower than it, thus, they are
referred as lower courts. Lower courts are also called “statutory
courts” because they are created by the act of Congress. The only
Constitutional court is the Supreme Court, while statutory courts
include the Court of Appeals, Regional Trial Court, Metropolitan
Trial Court, Municipal Trial Court, Municipal Circuit Trial Court,
Sandiganbayan, and Court of Tax Appeals, among others. The
Court of Appeals, Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan Trial Court,
Municipal Trial Court, and Municipal Circuit Trial Court are
“regular courts” created by the Judiciary Reorganization Law (as
amended). Sandiganbayan and the Court of Tax Appeals are
“special courts” respectively created by P.D. No. 1606 and R.A.
No. 1125 (as amended). These courts comprise the judicial
department which exercises judicial power.
Power of Judicial Review
1. Meaning. The courts also have the power of judicial review or
the power to test the validity or constitutionality of the legislative
and executive acts, such as treaty, international or executive
agreement, law, presidential decree, proclamation, order,
instruction, ordinance, or regulation. It is an aspect of judicial
power, in that it is essentially derived from the duty of the court to
settle controversies between conflicting parties by applying the
appropriate law. The applicable law may be the Constitution or
some appropriate statute; in case of conflict between the two, the
Constitution must prevail, and the statute which is not in
accordance with it must be stricken out, or at least some parts of it.
The Constitution is the fundamental law and therefore all the acts
or laws passed by the government must be in accordance with it.
2. Requisites. The requisites of judicial review are: (a) there must
be an actual controversy; (b) the question of constitutionality must
be raised by the proper party; (c) the question is raised at the
earliest opportune time; and (d) the resolution of the constitutional
question is the main issue.
3. Explanatory Example. Pedro is running for reelection for his
third term as congressman. However, the Congress passed a law
prohibiting reelection for the third term. Apparently, the statute is
in conflict with the Constitution which allows reelection of a
congressman for his third term. He questions the validity of the
statute. Judicial review is proper in this case. There is an actual
controversy between Pedro and the government. He likewise has a
legal standing because he has a personal and substantial interest in
the case such that he will be directly benefited or injured by the
decision to the case. The question was raised in the earliest
possible time and the resolution of the constitutional question is the
main issue.
Judicial Independence
The Judicial Department plays an indispensable role in the
government as the administrator of justice. The government and
consequently the State will not survive without the judiciary. It
preserves the cohesiveness of the different governmental organs,
always seeing to it that they function in accordance with the
Constitution. And inasmuch as the Philippines is a government of
laws and not of men, the judiciary protects the very essence of
democracy being guardian of rights and legal processes. Thus, in
order for the judiciary to function effectively and impartially, the
Constitution provides safeguards for its independence, to wit:
(1) The Supreme Court, as a constitutional body, cannot be
abolished by law passed by the Congress;
(2) Members of the Supreme Court can only be removed through
(3) The Supreme Court cannot be deprived of its minimum and
appellate jurisdiction; appellate jurisdiction may not be increased
without its advice or concurrence;
(4) The Supreme Court has administrative supervision over all
inferior courts and personnel;
(5) It has exclusive power to discipline judges/justices of inferior
(6) Members of the judiciary have security of tenure;
(7) Members of the judiciary may not be designated to any agency
performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions;
(8) Salaries of judges may not be reduced;
(9) The judiciary enjoys fiscal autonomy;
(10) The Supreme Court alone can initiate the Rules of Court;
(11) It alone may order temporary detail of judges; and
(12) It can appoint all officials and employees of the judiciary.
1. Meaning. Jurisdiction is the power and authority of the court to
hear and decide cases. Judicial power is exercised by the various
courts within their respective jurisdictions, so that if judicial power
is exercised without or in excess of jurisdiction, then the decisions
of the courts are said to be null and void.
2. Role of Congress. The various courts have their respective
jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction is defined, prescribed, and
apportioned by the Congress, except that of the Supreme Court
whose jurisdiction (as enumerated in Section 5, Article VIII) is
Constitutionally prescribed so that it cannot be lessened or taken
away by the Congress.
3. Kinds of Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction could be “general or limited,”
“original or appellate,” and “exclusive or concurrent.” On the one
hand, a court has a general jurisdiction when it is empowered to
hear and decide all disputes filed before it except those falling in
the jurisdiction of other courts; on the other hand, a court is said to
have a limited jurisdiction if it can hear and decide specific cases
only. Example of a court of general jurisdiction is the Regional
Trial Court, and an example of a court of limited jurisdiction is the
Court of Tax Appeals. Moreover, a court has an original
jurisdiction, on the one hand, if it is empowered to hear and decide
cases filed for the first time, whereas a court has appellate
jurisdiction, on the other, if it can review a decision rendered by a
lower court. The Municipal Trial Court, for instance, has original
jurisdiction over forcible entry cases, while the Regional Trial
Court has appellate jurisdiction to review the decisions of the
Municipal Trial Court. And lastly, a court has exclusive
jurisdiction if it alone has authority to hear and decide a case filed
before it, while it has concurrent jurisdiction if other courts can
hear and decide a case which could be filed before it. For example,
a Regional Trial Court acting as Family Courts has exclusive
jurisdiction over family cases, whereas it (Regional Trial Court)
has current jurisdiction with the Court of Appeals and Supreme
Court over habeas corpus cases.
Qualifications and Tenure
1. Qualifications of Members of the Supreme Court. Section 7(1),
Article VIII provides the qualifications of a Member of the
Supreme Court or any lower collegiate court: (a) he must be a
natural-born citizen of the Philippines; (b) at least forty years of
age; (c) must have been a judge of a lower court or engaged in the
practice of law in the Philippines for fifteen years or more; and (d)
must be a person of proven competence, integrity, probity, and
independence. The qualifications of judges in lower courts shall be
prescribed by Congress, but the qualifications must include
Philippine citizenship and membership in the Philippine Bar.
2. Tenure. Justices and judges can hold office until they reach the
age of seventy or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of
their office. They must be in good behavior during their tenure;
otherwise they (judges) may be disciplined or dismissed by the
Supreme Court (sitting en banc).
Composition of the Supreme Court
1. Composition. The Supreme Court is composed of fifteen
members: a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. Any
vacancy must be filled within ninety days from its occurrence.
2. How Cases are Heard. In hearing cases, the Supreme Court may
either sit en banc or in division of three, five, or seven Members.
On the one hand, if it sits en banc, majority of the members who
actually took part in the deliberations of the case must concur or
come up with the same vote, in order to resolve the case. En banc
cases include those involving constitutionality of a treaty,
international or executive agreement, or law, those involving the
constitutionality, application, or operation of presidential decrees,
proclamations, orders, instructions, ordinances, and other
regulations. Also, only the Court sitting en banc can modify or
reverse a doctrine or principle which it itself laid down. Discipline
and dismissal of judges are likewise decided by the Court sitting en
On the other hand, if the Court sits in division, at least three
members must take part in the deliberations and hearings of the
case, and must have the same vote thereon in order to resolve the
case. If the required number is not obtained, the case shall be
decided en banc. For example, if the Court sits in division of
seven, then at least three of the members must actually deliberate
the case and have the same stand thereon. If only two concurred or
have the same vote, then the case will now be decided by the Court
en banc, meaning majority of all the fifteen Justices must take part
in the deliberations and majority of those who took part must have
the same stand on the case. Nonetheless, if Court sits in division of
three, all the members must take part in the deliberations and come
up with the same vote in order to resolve the case. This is because
the “at least three members” requirement must also be followed.
3. Prohibitions. It must be noted that the Members of the Supreme
Court and the lower courts cannot be designated to any agency
performing quasi-judicial or administrative functions. An agency is
said to perform a “quasi-judicial” function if it acts like a court in
that it hears and decides cases even if it is not a court.
Administrative agencies are under the executive branch and may
be delegated quasi-judicial powers in deciding specific cases which
it could competently and efficiently resolve. Justices and judges
cannot be designated to these agencies in accordance with the
principle of separation of powers. If they are allowed to be
designated to administrative agencies, then they are likewise
performing executive function, thus violating the said principle.
Judicial and Bar Council
1. Meaning. The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) is a constitutional
body under the supervision of the Supreme Court that has the
principal function of recommending appointees to the Judiciary.
As was previously discussed, the Justices or Members of the
Supreme Court and judges of the lower courts are among the
officials who are appointed by the President. For their
appointments to be valid, they must first be nominated by the JBC.
For every vacant seat in the judiciary, the Council prepares a list of
at least three nominees from which the President shall select and
appoint. Manifestly, this is form of constitutional check on the
appointing power of the President which is already deemed
sufficient even without the confirmation of the Commission on
Appointments. Thus, if there is a vacancy for judgeship in a court,
the JBC must first provide a list of at least three nominees. From
the list the President shall select whom he shall appoint.
2. Composition. The JBC is composed of seven members: (a) the
Chief Justice as ex officio Chairman; (b) the Secretary of Justice as
an ex officio member; (c) a representative of the Congress as ex
officio member; (d) a representative of the Integrated Bar; (e) a
professor of law; (f) a retired Member of the Supreme Court; and
(g) a representative of the private sector. The ex officio members
are the Chief Justice, Secretary of Justice, and representative of the
Congress. The four others are called regular members. The ex
officio members, on the one hand, are those who by reason of their
office are also members of the Council. The regular members, on
the other, are appointed by the President for a term of four years
with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. The
Secretary of the Council, who shall be in-charge with the records
keeping, is the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
Powers of the Supreme Court
The powers of the Supreme Court are expressly provided in
Section 5, Article VIII. Its powers are classified into: (1) its
original jurisdiction; (2) its appellate jurisdiction; (3) power to
temporarily assign judges; (4) power to change venue; (5) rule-
making power; (6) power to appoint court personnel; and (7)
administrative supervision over lower courts.
1. Original jurisdiction means the authority to settle cases filed for
the first time. Among the cases which can be filed and settled for
the first time in the Supreme Court are, first, cases affecting
ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and, second,
petitions for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, and
habeas corpus.
The first set of cases involves diplomatic agents, who under
international law are considered representatives of the States where
they are nationals. An ambassador, being a representative or
extension of a sovereign State, has immunity from suits in the
receiving state. The immunity is based on the international law
doctrine of State immunity and the equality of sovereign states. For
example, the ambassador of U.S. cannot be sued for a criminal
offense committed in the Philippines, unless the immunity or
privilege is waived. In here the Philippines is the receiving State
and the ambassador is a representative of U.S. Note, however,
Filipino ambassadors are not immune from suits here in the
Philippines. A consul, likewise, although a diplomatic agent, has
no diplomatic immunity. Nevertheless, all cases involving these
diplomats, ambassadors, public ministers and consuls, may be
heard for the first time in the Supreme Court.
The second set of cases involves special civil actions (certiorari,
prohibition, mandamus, and quo warranto) and a special
proceeding (habeas corpus). The Rules of Court provide for their
definition and the manner of their filing.
(a) Certiorari is a special civil action which is filed by a person
who is aggrieved by any tribunal, board or officer exercising
judicial or quasi-judicial functions that had acted without or in
excess of its or his jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction, and there is no plain
and speedy remedy in the ordinary course of law. Its purpose is to
invalidate a judgment rendered without or in excess of authority or
(b) Prohibition is a special civil action filed by a person aggrieved
in the proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or
person, whether exercising judicial, quasi-judicial or ministerial
functions, which proceedings are without or in excess of its or his
jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or
excess of jurisdiction, and there is no plain and speedy remedy in
the ordinary course of law. Its purpose is to stop a tribunal or
person from further engaging in proceedings done without or in
excess of authority or jurisdiction.
(c) Mandamus is a special civil action filed by a person aggrieved
by any tribunal, corporation, board, officer or person, who
unlawfully neglects the performance of an act which the law
specifically enjoins as a duty resulting from office, trust, or station,
or unlawfully excludes another from the use and enjoyment of a
right or office to which such other is entitled, there is no plain,
adequate, and speedy remedy in the ordinary course of law. Its
purpose is to compel the performance of a ministerial duty or duty
mandated by law to be performed under certain circumstances.
(d) Quo Warranto is a special civil action instituted by the
Philippine Government against a person, public officer, or
association which usurps, unlawfully holds, intrudes into an office,
position, or franchise. Its purpose is to recover an office or position
from a usurper or from an officer, who has forfeited his office, and
a franchise from a false corporation (one without legal
(e) Habeas corpus is a special proceeding the purpose of which is
to grant speedy remedy for the release of a person illegally
confined or detained, or for the grant of rightful custody over a
child or person to someone from whom the custody is withheld or
to whom it rightfully belongs.
2. Appellate jurisdiction refers to the authority to review decisions
of a lower court. The Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction
over final judgments and orders of lower courts in:
(a) All cases in which the constitutionality or validity of any treaty,
international or executive agreement, law, presidential decree,
proclamation, order, instruction, ordinance, or regulation is in
(b) All cases involving the legality of any tax, impost, assessment,
or toll, or any penalty imposed in relation thereto.
(c) All cases in which the jurisdiction of any lower court is in
(d) All criminal cases in which the penalty imposed is reclusion
perpetua or higher.
(e) All cases in which only an error or question of law is involved.
The review of cases involves the right to appeal. As a general rule,
the right to appeal is only “statutory,” meaning it is the Congress,
by means of a statute, that determines whether a person can appeal
an adverse decision of a lower court to a higher court. However,
the present provision dealing with the appellate jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court is not statutory but constitutional, meaning the
Congress cannot diminish or lessen the Court’s jurisdiction and
consequently prevent a person from appealing thereto. Thus,
persons adversely affected by final judgments and decrees of lower
courts involving the above enumerated cases may file an appeal or
certiorari in the Supreme Court if all the requirements are met.
It could be gleaned also from the present provision that the power
of judicial review is exercised also by lower courts. The
constitutionality or validity of laws and decrees may be passed
upon by the lower courts whose decisions may be subjected to
review by the Supreme Court upon filing of the proper party.
Important to note also that only cases involving error or question
of law are appealable to the Supreme Court, except some cases. If
it involves questions of fact or a mixture of fact and law, the case
cannot be elevated to Supreme Court. On the one hand, a case
involves a question of fact if it requires the determination of the
truth or falsity of a fact in dispute as alleged in the pleadings of the
parties. For example, if the issue of the case is whether or not the
document is genuine, then it involves a question of fact. On the
other hand, a case involves a question of law if it does not involve
the determination of the truth or falsity of a fact but only a question
of validity or applicability of a law. An example is a case involving
the constitutionality of a statute. Under the Rule of Court, the
mode of appeal to the Supreme Court appropriate in cases
involving purely question of law is certiorari under Rule 45.
3. Temporary Assignment of Judges. The Supreme Court also has
the power to “assign temporarily judges of lower courts to other
stations as public interest may require. Such temporary assignment
shall not exceed six months without the consent of the judge
concerned.” This power reinforces the independence of the
Supreme Court from the Executive Department as well as balances
the powers of the government. Even if he is the appointing
authority, the President has no power to temporarily assign or
transfer at his pleasure judges to other courts. Under the law and
the present rules, only the Supreme Court has the power to do so
and under the conditions that the temporary assignment results to a
better administration of justice, faster disposition of cases, and
impartial decision making.
4. Change of Venue. The Court is empowered to order a change of
venue or place of trial to avoid a miscarriage of justice. Venue
refers to the place where the trial is conducted. The Rules of Court
provide the rules on venue, which are clearly intended for the
speedy, impartial, and convenient disposition of cases. If instead of
being convenient, venue causes miscarriage of justice, the Supreme
Court has the power to change the venue. Even if venue is
jurisdictional in criminal cases, the Supreme Court still has the
power to change the same. For example, venue maybe changed by
the Supreme Court to allow a witness to give an objective
testimony without fear of retaliation from the adverse party. The
venue may also be changed when there is danger to the life of the
5. Rule-Making Power. The Court has the power to promulgate
rules concerning:
(a) The protection and enforcement of constitutional rights;
(b) Pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts;
(c) The admission to the practice of law;
(d) The Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and
(e) Legal assistance to the under-privileged.
Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure
for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts
of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify
substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-
judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the
Supreme Court.
This power of the Supreme Court is the basis for making the Rules
of Court.
6. Power to Appoint Its Own Personnel. The Court has the power
to appoint all officials and employees of the Judiciary in
accordance with the Civil Service Law. Although the power to
appoint is vested in the President, the Supreme Court has the
power to appoint officials and employees of the Judicial
Department. However, the appointment must be in accordance
with the Civil Service Law.
7. Administrative Supervision. Section 6, Article VIII states that
the Supreme Court has administrative supervision over all courts
and its personnel. This is one of the constitutional safeguards for
the independence of the judiciary. During the effectivity of the
1935 Constitution, the Department of Justice had administrative
supervision over the lower courts which compromised the
independence of the courts as their decisions were often swayed by
the executive department. But with the transfer of supervision to
the Supreme Court, courts are empowered and freed from the
political pressures of the executive branch.
Decisions of the Supreme Court
1. Consultation. The Supreme Court is a collegiate court, in that it
is composed of many members and its decisions are reached
through consultation or thorough deliberation of its members.
Consultation is necessary before the case is assigned to a member
for the writing of the opinion of the Court. Justices of the Court
must discuss with each other and vote on the settlement of the case
before a certification is given assigning the writing of the opinion
to a member. For members who did not participate, abstained, or
dissented from a decision or resolution, they must explain and state
their reason for it. The same requirements must also be observed
by lower collegiate courts.
2. Constitutional Requirement. In rendering a decision, the Court
must express clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which
the decision is based. The purpose of this constitutional
requirement is to inform the parties, most especially the adversely
affected party, the reasons why the judgment is rendered as such.
The Court must, therefore, state the factual and legal basis of its
decision. In the same way, resolutions refusing a petition for
review or denying a motion for reconsideration of a court decision
must state the legal basis for it.
3. Period for Rendering Judgments. After the trial and parties
already submitted the case for decision, the court is duty bound to
render the decision within a certain period of time. A case or
matter is deemed submitted for decision or resolution upon the
filing of the last pleading, brief, or memorandum required by the
Rules of Court or by the court itself. From date of submission, the
Supreme Court must decide the case or resolve any matter within
twenty-four months, and lower courts must decide and resolve
within twelve months, unless reduced by the Supreme Court. If the
court fails to render a decision within the applicable mandatory
period, it must still decide or resolve the case or matter without
further delay and without prejudice to such responsibility incurred
because of the delay.


Independence of the Commissions
The three Constitutional Commissions are the Civil Service
Commission, Commission on Elections, and Commission on
Audit. They are independent bodies not under the jurisdiction of
any department in the government. To ensure their independence,
the Constitution provides for the following safeguards:
(1) They are created by the Constitution and cannot therefore be
abolished by a statute passed by Congress;
(2) Each has powers and functions which cannot be diminished by
(3) The Constitution expressly describes them as independent;
(4) The Chairmen and members of the Commissions have a fairly
long term of seven years;
(5) The Chairmen and members can only be removed through
(6) The Chairmen and members cannot be reappointment or
appointed in an acting capacity;
(7) Salaries of Chairmen and members cannot be decreased;
(8) The Commissions enjoy fiscal autonomy;
(9) Each Commission can promulgate its own rules;
(10) Disqualifications are provided to strengthen the integrity of
the Commissions; and
(11) The Commissions may appoint their own officials and
personnel in accordance with the Civil Service Law.
Powers and Functions of Each Commission
1. The Civil Service Commission is the central personnel agency
of the Government. As such, it has the following powers and
(a) Establish a career service and adopt measures to promote
morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness, and
courtesy in the civil service;
(b) Strengthen the merit and rewards system, integrate all human
resources development programs for all levels and ranks; and
(c) Institutionalize a management climate conducive to public
2. The Commission on Elections is a constitutional creature which
safeguards the core of republicanism and democracy by being an
effective instrument for ensuring the secrecy and sanctity of ballots
being the expression of the will of the people. It shall exercise the
following powers and functions:
(a) Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the
conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and
(b) Decide, except those involving the right to vote, all questions
affecting elections, including determination of the number and
location of polling places, appointment of election officials and
inspectors, and registration of voters.
(c) Deputize, with the concurrence of the President, law
enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the Government,
including the Armed Forces of the Philippines, for the exclusive
purpose of ensuring free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible
(d) Register, after sufficient publication, political parties,
organizations, or coalitions which, in addition to other
requirements, must present their platform or program of
government; and accredit citizens’ arms of the Commission on
(e) File, upon a verified complaint, or on its own initiative,
petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters; investigate
and, where appropriate, prosecute cases of violations of election
laws, including acts or omissions constituting election frauds,
offenses, and malpractices.
(f) Recommend to the Congress effective measures to minimize
election spending, including limitation of places where propaganda
materials shall be posted, and to prevent and penalize all forms of
election frauds, offenses, malpractices, and nuisance candidacies.
(g) Recommend to the President the removal of any officer or
employee it has deputized, or the imposition of any other
disciplinary action, for violation or disregard of, or disobedience
to, its directive, order, or decision.
(h) Submit to the President and the Congress, a comprehensive
report on the conduct of each election, plebiscite, initiative,
referendum, or recall.
3. The Commission on Audit is the watchdog of the financial
operations of the government. It sees to it that government funds
are well accounted for and that they are spent in accordance with
the appropriations law. As such it has the following powers and
(a) Examine, audit, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue
and receipts of, and expenditures or uses of funds and property,
owned or held in trust by, or pertaining to, the Government;
(b) Keep the general accounts of the Government and preserve the
vouchers and other supporting papers pertaining thereto;
(c) Define the scope of its audit and examination, establish the
techniques and methods required therefor; and
(d) Promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations,
including those for the prevention and disallowance of irregular,
unnecessary, excessive, extravagant, or unconscionable
expenditures or uses of government funds and properties.
Jurisdiction of the Commissions
1. The Civil Service Commission has jurisdiction over all
branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities, and agencies of the
Government, including government-owned or controlled
corporations with original charters as far as civil service is
concerned. Civil service refers to that part of public service
composed of professional men and women working for the
government as their lifetime career basically governed by the so-
called merit system.
2. The Commission on Elections has exclusive original jurisdiction
over all contests relating to the elections, returns, and
qualifications of all elective regional, provincial, and city officials.
It has appellate jurisdiction over all contests involving elective
municipal officials decided by trial courts of general jurisdiction,
or involving elective barangay officials decided by trial courts of
limited jurisdiction.
3. The Commission on Audit has auditing authority over the
Government, or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or
instrumentalities, including government-owned or controlled
corporations with original charters. It also has post auditing
authority over (a) constitutional bodies, commissions and offices
that have been granted fiscal autonomy under this Constitution; (b)
autonomous state colleges and universities; (c) other government-
owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries; and (d)
such non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity,
directly or indirectly, from or through the Government.
Review of Final Orders, Resolutions, and Decisions
1. Final orders, resolutions, and decision of the CSC may be
appealed to the Court of Appeals under rule 43 of the Rules of
2. Final orders, resolutions, and decision of the COMELEC may be
reviewed by way of petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court
under Rule 65 in relation to Rule 64 of the Rules of Court.
3. Final orders, resolutions, and decision of the COA may be
reviewed by way of petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court
under Rule 65 in relation to Rule 64 of the Rules of Court.
Guide Questions:
1. Explain the structure of the government using the doctrine of
separation of powers.
2. Briefly compare the powers of the branches of the government.
Then explain how they are related with each other.
3. What is meant by a bicameral legislature? Give at least three
advantages of bicameralism.
4. If there are 200 District Representatives, how many Party-List
Representatives are required to complete the Members of the
House of Representatives?
5. If there are 215 Members of the House of Representatives, and
15 are abroad, what would constitute the quorum?
6. A Bill of Local Application was submitted by Senator Wade to
the Senate Secretary. It has passed three readings in the Senate and
then in the Congress. Thereafter, it was presented to the President
for approval, but the same was disapproved. The President
vehemently objected to the validity of the entire process.
Is the President correct?
7. What are congressional disqualifications? Give examples.
8. Concisely discuss the steps of how a bill becomes a law
9. Enumerate at least five powers of the President and briefly
discuss each power.
1o. When the president dies, is permanently disabled, is
impeached, or resigns, the Vice-President becomes President for
the unexpired term. However, if both the President and Vice-
President die, become permanently disabled, are impeached, or
resigned, the Senate President shall act as President until the
President or VP shall have been elected and qualified.
If the Senate President becomes disabled, who will succeed?
11. Juan Dela Cruz was nominated by President Pedro Santos to
the rank of naval captain in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
His nomination has been confirmed by the Commission on
Appointments, and his appointment (by President Siuagan)
followed thereafter. Juan Dela Cruz have accepted the nomination
with great pride and honor. The President reconsidered his
appointment after discovering that Mr. Dela Cruz has a criminal
record. The President withdrew his appointment. Is this allowed?
12. President Juan Masipag filed an application for appropriation,
and in pursuance thereof money was paid out of the National
Treasury. It must be noted that the appropriation is for a public
purpose, and it is not for any specific sect, church, denomination.
Is there something wrong with the presidential appropriation?
13. Discuss briefly the hierarchy of courts in the Philippine
14. What is judicial review?
15. Concisely compare and distinguish the powers and functions of
the three Constitutional Commissions.
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This entry was posted on August 2, 2014 by tamayaocsu in
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