F. Process of law-making

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1. House of Representatives

a. Rules

ORIGIN OF BILLS RULE: GENERAL RULE: All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives. (Section 24, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

SAME; SAME; QUALIFICATION: …but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. (Ibid.)

ONE-SUBJECT RULE: Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof. (Section 26[1], Article VI, Ibid.)

THREE-READINGS RULE: GENERAL RULE: No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage. (Section 26[2], Article VI, Ibid.)

SAME; EXCEPTION: … except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. (Ibid.)

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question X-B, Political Law, 2017 Bar Exam)

Sec. 26(2), Art. VI of the Constitution provides that no bill passed by either House of Congress shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days and printed copies of it in its final form have been distributed to the Members of the House three days before its passage.

Is there an exception to the provision? Explain your answer. (3%)

Suggested Answer:

Yes. Under the 1988 Constitution, the exception the three-reading rule is when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency.

SAME; LAST READING AND VOTE: Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal. (Section 26[2], Article VI, Ibid.)

b. Enrolled bill doctrine

Under the enrolled bill doctrine, the signing of a bill by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President and the certification of the Secretaries of both Houses of Congress that it was passed are conclusive of its due enactment. (ABAKADA Guro Party List v. Ermita, En Banc, G.R. No. 168056 01 September 2005)

1) Withdrawal of the signatures of the Senate President and the President

In one case involving the withdrawal of the signature of the Senate President and President on a bill which then passed into law, it was held to be valid resulting in the bill being not duly enacted and therefore did not become law. (Astorga v. Villegas, En Banc, En Banc, G.R. No. L-23475 30 April 1974)

Such a bill was not duly enacted and therefore did not become law. Both the President of the Senate and the Chief Executive did withdrew their signatures therein. In the face of the manifest error committed and subsequently rectified by the President of the Senate and by the Chief Executive, for this Court to perpetuate that error by disregarding such rectification and holding that the erroneous bill has become law would be to sacrifice truth to fiction and bring about mischievous consequences not intended by the law-making body. (Ibid.)

2) Not absolute

The Court emphasized that no claim has been made that the “enrolled bill” rule is absolute. In fact in one case the Court “went behind” an enrolled bill and consulted the Journal to determine whether certain provisions of a statute had been approved by the Senate in view of the fact that the President of the Senate himself, who had signed the enrolled bill, admitted a mistake and withdrew his signature, so that in effect there was no longer an enrolled bill to consider.

But where allegations that the constitutional procedures for the passage of bills have not been observed have no more basis than another allegation that the Conference Committee “surreptitiously” inserted provisions into a bill which it had prepared, we should decline the invitation to go behind the enrolled copy of the bill. To disregard the “enrolled bill” rule in such cases would be to disregard the respect due the other two departments of our government. (Ibid.)

3) Conclusive upon the courts

The enrolled bill is conclusive upon the courts as regards the tenor of the measure passed by Congress and approved by the President. If there has been any mistake in the printing of the bill before it was certified by the officers of Congress and approved by the Executive – on which the Court cannot speculate, without jeopardizing the principle of separation of powers and undermining one of the cornerstones of our democratic system – the remedy is by amendment or curative legislation, not by judicial decree. (Casco Philippine Chemical Co., Inc. v. Gimenez, En Banc, G.R. No. L-17931, 28 February 1963)

The enrolled bill doctrine, as a rule of evidence, is well established. (Arroyo v. De Venecia, En Banc, G.R. No. 127255, 14 August 1997)

4) Separation of powers

It may be noted that the enrolled bill theory is based mainly on “the respect due to coequal and independent departments,” which requires the judicial department “to accept, as having passed Congress, all bills authenticated in the manner stated.” Thus it has also been stated in other cases that if the attestation is absent and the same is not required for the validity of a statute, the courts may resort to the journals and other records of Congress for proof of its due enactment. (Astorga v. Villegas, En Banc, En Banc, G.R. No. L-23475 30 April 1974)

  BAR EXAM QUESTION (Question X-A, Political Law, 2017 Bar Exam)   Under the enrolled bill doctrine, the signing of a bill by both the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate and the certification by the secretaries of both Houses of Congress that the bill was passed on a certain date are conclusive on the bill’s due enactment. Assuming there is a conflict between the enrolled bill and the legislative journal, to the effect that the enrolled bill signed by the Senate President and eventually approved by the President turned out to be different from what the Senate actually passed as reflected in the legislative journal.   (a) May the Senate President disregard the enrolled bill doctrine and consider his signature as invalid and of no effect? (2.5%)   (b) May the President thereafter withdraw his signature? Explain your answer. (2.5%)   Suggested Answer:   (a) Yes. Under jurisprudence, in one case involving the withdrawal of the signature of the Senate President in an enrolled bill which then passed into law after signing by the President, it was held to be valid resulting in the bill being not duly enacted and therefore did not become law.   (b) Yes. Under the same jurisprudence earlier mentioned, the withdrawal of the signature of the President on a bill which became a law was held to be valid resulting in the same not having passed and thus did not become a law. It was stated therein that perpetuating the error would be to sacrifice truth to fiction and bring about mischievous consequences not intended by the law-making body.  

c. Presentation of bill to the President

Every bill passed by the Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President. (Section 27[1], Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

APPROVE OR VETO: If he approves the same, he shall sign it; otherwise, he shall veto it and return the same with his objections to the House where it originated, which shall enter the objections at large in its Journal and proceed to reconsider it. (Ibid.)

SAME; VETO; EFFECT: The 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. (Section 27[2], Article VI, Ibid.)

1) 2/3 vote to override veto

If, after such reconsideration, two-thirds (2/3) of all the Members of such House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of all the Members of that House, it shall become a law. (Section 27[1], Article VI, Ibid.)

In all such cases, the votes of each House shall be determined by yeas or nays, and the names of the Members voting for or against shall be entered in its Journal. The President shall communicate his veto of any bill to the House where it originated within thirty days after the date of receipt thereof; otherwise, it shall become a law as if he had signed it. (Ibid.)

2. General Appropriatons Bill

a. Limitations

1) Exclusively originates in the House of Representative

All appropriation, revenue or tariff bills, bills authorizing increase of the public debt, bills of local application, and private bills shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. (Section 24, Article VI, Ibid.)

2) No increase of proposed National Budget by the President

The Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government as specified in the budget. The form, content, and manner of preparation of the budget shall be prescribed by law. (Section 25[1], Article VI, Ibid.)

The President shall submit to the Congress within thirty days from the opening of every regular session, as the basis of the general appropriations bill, a budget of expenditures and sources of financing, including receipts from existing and proposed revenue measures. (Section 22, Article VI, Ibid.)

3) Provision should relate to some particular appropriation

No provision or enactment shall be embraced in the general appropriations bill unless it relates specifically to some particular appropriation therein. Any such provision or enactment shall be limited in its operation to the appropriation to which it relates. (Section 25[2], Article VI, Ibid.)

4) Follows procedure for other departments and agencies

The procedure in approving appropriations for the Congress shall strictly follow the procedure for approving appropriations for other departments and agencies. (Section 25[3], Article VI, Ibid.)

5) Special appropriation bill to specify purpose

A special appropriations bill shall specify the purpose for which it is intended, and shall be supported by funds actually available as certified by the National Treasurer, or to be raised by a corresponding revenue proposed therein. (Section 25[4], Article VI, Ibid.)

6) No transferring of appropriations – with exception

GENERAL RULE: No law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations. (Section 25[5], Article VI, Ibid.)

EXCEPTION: … however, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations. (Ibid.)

  BAR EXAM QUESTION (Question VI-B, Political Law, 2017 Bar Exam)   The Executive Department has accumulated substantial savings from its appropriations. Needing ₱3,000,000.00 for the conduct of a plebiscite for the creation of a new city but has no funds appropriated soon by the Congress for the purpose, the COMELEC requests the President to transfer funds from the savings of the Executive Department in order to avoid a delay in the holding of the plebiscite.   May the President validly exercise his power under the 1987 Constitution to transfer funds from the savings of the Executive Department, and make a cross-border transfer of ₱3,000,000.00 to the COMELEC by way of augmentation? Is your answer the same if the transfer is treated as aid to the COMELEC? Explain your answer. (4%)   Suggested Answer:   (a) No. Answer   Under the 1987 Constitution, transferring of appropriations is prohibited. However, by way of exception, the President, and other certain officials, by law, is authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations. Rule   In the case at bar, the President intends to transfer appropriations outside of the Executive Department and into a Constitutional Commission – the COMELEC. This is not permitted under the 1987 Constitution. Apply   Thus, the president may not validly exercise his power under the 1987 Constitution to transfer funds from savings of the Executive Department to the COMELEC by way of augmentation. Conclusion   (b) My answer is the same even if it is treated as aid to the COMELEC. This is because such cross-border transfer of funds is expressly prohibited by the 1987 Constitution.  

7) Discretionary funds disbursed only for public purpose

Discretionary funds appropriated for particular officials shall be disbursed only for public purposes to be supported by appropriate vouchers and subject to such guidelines as may be prescribed by law. (Section 25[6], Article VI, Ibid.)

8) Re-enactment if no General Appropriations bill is passed

If, by the end of any fiscal year, the Congress shall have failed to pass the general appropriations bill for the ensuing fiscal year, the general appropriations law for the preceding fiscal year shall be deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect until the general appropriations bill is passed by the Congress. (Section 25[7], Article VI, Ibid.)

9) Payment by Treasury only pursuant to appropriation by law

No money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law. (Section 29[1], Article VI, Ibid.)

10) No establishment of religion with public funds

No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium. (Section 29[2], Article VI, Ibid.)

  BAR EXAM QUESTION (Question VII, Political Law, 2017 Bar Exam)   Give the limitations on the power of the Congress to enact the General Appropriations Act? Explain your answer. (5%)   Suggested Answer: 1) The General Appropriations Act should exclusively originate in the House of Representative. Under the 1987 Constitution, all general appropriations bill shall originate exclusively in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments. 2) The Congress may not increase of proposed National Budget by the President. Under the 1987 Constitution, the Congress may not increase the appropriations recommended by the President for the operation of the Government as specified in the budget. The form, content, and manner of preparation of the budget shall be prescribed by law. 3) A provision should relate to some particular appropriation. Under the 1987 Constitution, no provision or enactment shall be embraced in the general appropriations bill unless it relates specifically to some particular appropriation therein. Any such provision or enactment shall be limited in its operation to the appropriation to which it relates. 4) The procedure for approving appropriations by Congress should follow procedure for other departments and agencies. Under the 1987 Constitution, the procedure in approving appropriations for the Congress shall strictly follow the procedure for approving appropriations for other departments and agencies. 5) Special appropriation bills should specify intended purpose. Under the 1987 Constitution, a special appropriations bill shall specify the purpose for which it is intended, and shall be supported by funds actually available as certified by the National Treasurer, or to be raised by a corresponding revenue proposed therein. 6)  There should be no transferring of appropriations Under the 1987 Constitution, no law shall be passed authorizing any transfer of appropriations. However, the President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the heads of Constitutional Commissions may, by law, be authorized to augment any item in the general appropriations law for their respective offices from savings in other items of their respective appropriations. 7) Discretionary funds should be disbursed only for public purposes. Under the 1987 Constitution, discretionary funds appropriated for particular officials shall be disbursed only for public purposes to be supported by appropriate vouchers and subject to such guidelines as may be prescribed by law. 8) The previous General Appropriations Act shall be re-enacted if no new bill is passed. Under the 1987 Constitution, if, by the end of any fiscal year, the Congress shall have failed to pass the general appropriations bill for the ensuing fiscal year, the general appropriations law for the preceding fiscal year shall be deemed reenacted and shall remain in force and effect until the general appropriations bill is passed by the Congress. 9) Payment by the Treasury shall only be pursuant to appropriation made by law. Under the 1987 Constitution, no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law. 10) No public funds should be used for establishment of religion. Under the 1987 Constitution, no public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium.  


3. Tax Bills

a. Uniform and equitable; Progressive system of taxation

The rule of taxation shall be uniform and equitable. The Congress shall evolve a progressive system of taxation. (Section 28[1], Article VI, Ibid.)

b. Tax rate fixing ma be delegated to the President

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. (Section 28[2], Article VI, Ibid.)

c. Institutions exclusive for religious, charitable, or educational purposes

Charitable institutions, churches and parsonages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and all lands, buildings, and improvements, actually, directly, and exclusively used for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation. (Section 28[3], Article VI, Ibid.)

NON-ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE: No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium. (Section 29[2], Article VI, Ibid.)

d. Tax exemption

No law granting any tax exemption shall be passed without the concurrence of a majority of all the Members of the Congress. (Section 28[4], Article VI, Ibid.)

e. Special fund

All money collected on any tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only. If the purpose for which a special fund was created has been fulfilled or abandoned, the balance, if any, shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government. (Section 29[3], Article VI, Ibid.))

  BAR EXAM QUESTION (Question III, Political Law, 2018 Bar Exam)   What and whose vote is required for the following acts: (2% each)   (a) the repeal of a tax exemption law;   Majority of all members of Congress  

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