B. Houses of Congress; compositions and qualifications

Atty. Jericho Del Puerto

Atty. Jericho Del Puerto

Lawyer, Author, Mentor

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The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a:

1) a Senate; and

2) a House of Representatives

… except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and referendum. (Section 1, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

1. Senate

a. 24 Senators

The Senate shall be composed of twenty-four (24) Senators who shall be elected at large by the qualified voters of the Philippines, as may be provided by law. (Section 2, Article VI, Ibid.)f

b. Qualifications of a Senator

No person shall be a Senator unless:

1) S/he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;

2) At least thirty-five (35) years of age, on the day of the election;

3) Able to read and write;

4) A registered voter; and

5) A resident of the Philippines for not less than two (2) years immediately preceding the day of the election. (Section 3, Article VI, Ibid.)

NATURAL-BORN; REPATRIATION: Repatriation results in the recovery of the original nationality. This means that a naturalized Filipino who lost his citizenship will be restored to his prior status as a naturalized Filipino citizen. On the other hand, if he was originally a natural-born citizen before he lost his Philippine citizenship, he will be restored to his former status as a natural-born Filipino. (Bengson III v. HRET, En Banc, G.R. No. 142840, 07 May 2001)

RESIDENCE: For election law purposes, residence is used synonymously with domicile. (Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELC, En Banc, G.R. No. 119976, 18 September 1995)

SAME; The framers of the 1987 Constitution obviously adhered to the definition given to the term residence in election law, regarding it as having the same meaning as domicile. (Ibid.)

SAME; DOMICILE: For the exercise of civil rights and the fulfillment of civil obligations, the domicile of natural persons is the place of their habitual residence. (Article 50, Civil Code)

SAME; SAME; Domicile –  means an individual’s “permanent home”, “a place to which, whenever absent for business or for pleasure, one intends to return, and depends on facts and circumstances in the sense that they disclose intent.” Based on the foregoing, domicile includes the twin elements of “the fact of residing or physical presence in a fixed place” and animus manendi, or the intention of returning there permanently. (Romualdez-Marcos v. COMELC, supra.)

c. Statutes cannot add or modify constitutional requirements

Sec. 36(g) of R.A. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002) – which requires

mandatory drug testing of candidates for public office, such as senators – was declared unconstitutional. It is basic that if a law or an administrative rule violates any norm of the Constitution, that issuance is null and void and has no effect. The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution. In the discharge of their defined functions, the three departments of government have no choice but to yield obedience to the commands of the Constitution. Whatever limits it imposes must be observed. (Social Justice Society v. Dangerous Drugs Board, En Banc, G.R. Nos. 157870, 158633, 161658, 03 November 2008)

d. 6-Year Term of Office

The term of office of the Senators shall be six years and shall commence, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their election. (Section 4, Article VI, 1987 Constitution.)

2-CONSECUTIVE TERM BAN:  No Senator shall serve for more than two consecutive terms. (Paragraph 2, Section 4, Article VI, Ibid.)

SAME; RENUNCIATION: Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected. (Ibid.)

e. Elections

REGULAR ELECTION: Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election of the Senators shall be held on the second Monday of May. (Section 8, Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

SPECIAL ELECTION: In case of vacancy in the Senate, a special election may be called to fill such vacancy in the manner prescribed by law, but the Senator elected shall serve only for the unexpired term. (Section 9, Article VI, Ibid.)

f. Salaries

The salaries of Senators shall be determined by law. No increase in said compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full term of all the Members of the Senate approving such increase. (Section 10, Article VI, Ibid.)

2. House of Representatives

a. District representatives and questions of apportionment

1) 250 Members of the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty (250) members, unless otherwise fixed by law. (Section 5[1], Article VI, Ibid.)

The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum (20%) of the total number of the members of the House of Representatives including those under the party-list. (Section 11, R.A. 7941, Party-List System Act)

2) Elected from legislative districts and the Metropolitan area, and via party-list system

They shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations. (Section 5[1], Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT: Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact and adjacent territory.

PARTY-LIST SYSTEM: For more discussions, see below.

3) Appportionment

Legislative apportionment – is the determination of the number of representatives which a State, county or other subdivision may send to a legislative body. It is the allocation of seats in a legislative body in proportion to the population; the drawing of voting district lines so as to equalize population and voting power among the districts. (Bagabuyo v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. No. 176970, 08 December 2008, citing Black’s Law Dictionary)

Reapportionment – is the realignment or change in legislative districts brought about by changes in population and mandated by the constitutional requirement of equality of representation. (Ibid.)

a) 1 representative: city with at least 250,000.00 or province

Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative. (Section 5[3], Article VI, Ibid.)

b) Reapportionment within 3 years after census

Within three years following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this section. (Section 5[4], Article VI, Ibid.)

c) No plebiscite requirement

The Constitution and the Local Government Code expressly require a plebiscite to carry out any creation, division, merger, abolition or alteration of boundary of a local government unit. In contrast, no plebiscite requirement exists under the apportionment or reapportionment provision. (Bagabuyo v. COMELEC, supra.)

d) Gerryamdering, prohibited

Gerrymandering – is a term employed to describe an apportionment of representative districts so contrived as to give an unfair advantage to the party in power. Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, defined “gerrymandering” as the formation of one legislative district out of separate territories for the purpose of favoring a candidate or a party. The Constitution proscribes gerrymandering, as it mandates each legislative district to comprise, as far as practicable, a contiguous, compact and adjacent territory. (Navarro v. Ermita, En Banc, G.R. No. 180050, 10 February 2010)

4) Qualifications of a Member of the House of Representative

No person shall be a Member of the House of Representatives unless:

1) S/he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;

2) At least twenty-five years of age, on the day of the election

3) Able to read and write;

4) A registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected, except the party-list representatives, a; and,

5) A resident thereof for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election. (Section 6, Article VI, Ibid.)

5) 3-Year Term of Office

The Members of the House of Representatives shall be elected for a term of three years which shall begin, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their election. (Section 7, Article VI, Ibid.)

3-CONSECUTIVE TERMS BAN: No member of the House of Representatives shall serve for more than three consecutive terms. (Paragraph 2, Section 7, Article VI, Ibid.)

RENUNCIATION: Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected. (Ibid.)

6) Elections

REGULAR ELECTION: Unless otherwise provided by law, the regular election of the Members of the House of Representatives shall be held on the second Monday of May. (Section 8, Article VI, Ibid.)

SPECIAL ELECTION: In case of vacancy in the House of Representatives, a special election may be called to fill such vacancy in the manner prescribed by law, but the Member of the House of Representatives thus elected shall serve only for the unexpired term. (Section 9, Article VI, Ibid.)

7) Salaries

The salaries of Members of the House of Representatives shall be determined by law. No increase in said compensation shall take effect until after the expiration of the full term of all the Members of the House of Representatives approving such increase. (Section 10, Article VI, Ibid.)

BAR EXAM QUESTION

(Question V, Political Law, 2018 Bar Exam)

State whether or not the following acts are constitutional: (2% each)

(b) A law requiring all candidates for national or local elective offices to be college degree holders;

Suggested Answer:

The law is unconstitutional with respect to national elective offices. Such a law is inconsistent with the 1987 Constitution which does not require a college degree as a qualification to run for national elective offices.

However, for local elective offices, such law is constitutional as qualifications for these positions are provided for by Statute via the Local Government Code. Accordingly, the Legislature may pass such a law to require such additional qualification.

b. Party-list system

1) Concept

Members of the House representatives shall be elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities, and the Metropolitan Manila area in accordance with the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio, and those who, as provided by law, shall be elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations. (Section 5[1], Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

The party-list system is a mechanism of proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives from national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof registered with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). (Section 3 R.A. 7941)

2) Sectoral representation

For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half (1/2) of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector. (Section 5[2], Article VI, Ibid.)

A sectoral party – refers to an organized group of citizens belonging to any of the sectors enumerated in Section 5 hereof whose principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concerns of their sector. (Section 3[d], R.A. 7941)

A sectoral organization – refers to a group of citizens or a coalition of groups of citizens who share similar physical attributes or characteristics, employment, interests or concerns. (Section 3[e], Ibid.)

A coalition – refers to an aggrupation of duly registered national, regional, sectoral parties or organizations for political and/or election purposes. (Section 3[f], Ibid.)

3) COMELEC Registration

Any organized group of persons may register as a party, organization or coalition for purposes of the party-list system by filing with the COMELEC not later than ninety (90) days before the election a petition verified by its president or secretary stating its desire to participate in the party-list system as a national, regional or sectoral party or organization or a coalition of such parties or organizations, attaching thereto its constitution, by-laws, platform or program of government, list of officers, coalition agreement and other relevant information as the COMELEC may require: Provided, That the sectors shall include labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, elderly, handicapped, women, youth, veterans, overseas workers, and professionals. (Section 5, Ibid.)

a) Manifestation to Participate in the Party-List System

Any party, organization, or coalition already registered with the Commission need not register anew. However, such party, organization, or coalition shall file with the Commission, not later than ninety (90) days before the election, a manifestation of its desire to participate in the party-list system. (Section 4, Ibid.)

b) Refusal and/or Cancellation of Registration

The COMELEC may, motu propio or upon verified complaint of any interested party, refuse or cancel, after due notice and hearing, the registration of any national, regional or sectoral party, organization or coalition on any of the following grounds:

1) It is a religious sect or denomination, organization or association, organized for religious purposes;

2) It advocates violence or unlawful means to seek its goal;

3) It is a foreign party or organization;

4) It is receiving support from any foreign government, foreign political party, foundation, organization, whether directly or through any of its officers or members or indirectly through third parties for partisan election purposes;

5) It violates or fails to comply with laws, rules or regulations relating to elections;

6) It declares untruthful statements in its petition;

7) It has ceased to exist for at least one (1) year; or

8) It fails to participate in the last two (2) preceding elections or fails to obtain at least two per centum (2%) of the votes cast under the party-list system in the two (2) preceding elections for the constituency in which it has registered. (Section 6, Ibid.)

c) Certified List of Registered Parties

The COMELEC shall, not later than sixty (60) days before election, prepare a certified list of national, regional, or sectoral parties, organizations or coalitions which have applied or who have manifested their desire to participate under the party-list system and distribute copies thereof to all precincts for posting in the polling places on election day. The names of the part y-list nominees shall not be shown on the certified list. (Section 7, Ibid.)

2) Party-List

a) Nomination of Party-List Representatives

Each registered party, organization or coalition shall submit to the COMELEC not later than forty-five (45) days before the election a list of names, not less than five (5), from which party-list representatives shall be chosen in case it obtains the required number of votes. (Section 8, Ibid.)

NOMINATION IN ONE LIST ONLY: A person may be nominated in one (1) list only. Only persons who have given their consent in writing may be named in the list. The list shall not include any candidate for any elective office or a person who has lost his bid for an elective office in the immediately preceding election. No change of names or alteration of the order of nominees shall be allowed after the same shall have been submitted to the COMELEC except in cases where the nominee dies, or withdraws in writing his nomination, becomes incapacitated in which case the name of the substitute nominee shall be placed last in the list. Incumbent sectoral representatives in the House of Representatives who are nominated in the party-list system shall not be considered resigned. (Paragraph 2, Section 8, Ibid.)

b) Qualifications of Party-List Nominees

No person shall be nominated as party-list representative unless he is a:

1) Natural-born citizen of the Philippines;

2) A registered voter;

3) A resident of the Philippines for a period of not less than one (1)year immediately preceding the day of the election;

4) Able to read and write;

5) A bona fide member of the party or organization which he seeks to represent for at least ninety (90) days preceding the day of the election, and is at least twenty-five (25) years of age on the day of the election. (Section 9, Ibid.)

In case of a nominee of the youth sector, he must at least be twenty-five (25) but not more than thirty (30) years of age on the day of the election. Any youth sectoral representative who attains the age of thirty (30) during his term shall be allowed to continue in office until the expiration of his term. (Paragraph 2, Section 9, Ibid.)

c) Manner of Voting

Every voter shall be entitled to two (2) votes: the first is a vote for candidate for member of the House of Representatives in his legislative district, and the second, a vote for the party, organizations, or coalition he wants represented in the house of Representatives: Provided, That a vote cast for a party, sectoral organization, or coalition not entitled to be voted for shall not be counted: Provided, finally, That the first election under the party-list system shall be held in May 1998. (Section 10, Ibid.)

The COMELEC shall undertake the necessary information campaign for purposes of educating the electorate on the matter of the party-list system. (Paragraph 2, Section 10, Ibid.)

d) Term of Office

Party-list representatives shall be elected for a term of three (3) years which shall begin, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their election. No party-list representatives shall serve for more than three (3) consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity his service for the full term for which he was elected. (Section 14, Ibid.)

e) Change of Affiliation; Effect

Any elected party-list representative who changes his political party or sectoral affiliation during his term of office shall forfeit his seat: Provided, That if he changes his political party or sectoral affiliation within six (6) months before an election, he shall not be eligible for nomination as party-list representative under his new party or organization. (Section 15, Ibid.)

f) Vacancy

In case of vacancy in the seats reserved for party-list representatives, the vacancy shall be automatically filled by the next representative from the list of nominees in the order submitted to the COMELEC by the same party, organization, or coalition, who shall serve for the unexpired term. If the list is exhausted, the party, organization coalition concerned shall submit additional nominees. (Section 16, Ibid.)

g) Rights of Party-List Representatives

Party-List Representatives shall be entitled to the same salaries and emoluments as regular members of the House of Representatives. (Section 17, Ibid.)

3) Allocation of Seats

a) Number of party-list: 20% of Members of House of Representative

The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum (20%) of the total number of representatives including those under the party list. (Section 5[2], Article VI, 1987 Constitution)

The party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum (20%) of the total number of the members of the House of Representatives including those under the party-list. (Section 11, R.A. 7941)

b) Procedure for seat allocation

In determining the allocation of seats for the second vote, the following procedure shall be observed:

1) The parties, organizations, and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they garnered during the elections.

2) The parties, organizations, and coalitions receiving at least two percent (2%) of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one seat each: Provided, That those garnering more than two percent (2%) of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes: Provided, finally, That each party, organization, or coalition shall be entitled to not more than three (3) seats. (Paragraph 3, Section 11, Ibid.)

c) COMELEC procedure

PROCEDURE IN ALLOCATING SEATS: The COMELEC shall tally all the votes for the parties, organizations, or coalitions on a nationwide basis, rank them according to the number of votes received and allocate party-list representatives proportionately according to the percentage of votes obtained by each party, organization, or coalition as against the total nationwide votes cast for the party-list system. (Section 12, Ibid.)

HOW CHOSEN: Party-list representatives shall be proclaimed by the COMELEC based on the list of names submitted by the respective parties, organizations, or coalitions to the COMELEC according to their ranking in said list. (Section 13, Ibid.)

4) Sectoral Representation

3 DIFFERENT GROUPS: Three different groups may participate in the party-list system:

1) National parties or organizations;

2) Regional parties or organizations; and

3) Sectoral parties or organizations. (Atong Paglaum Inc. v. COMELEC, En Banc, G.R. Nos. 203766 etc., 02 April 2013)

NATIONAL AND REGIONAL PARTIES; VS SECTORAL PARTIES: National parties or organizations and regional parties or organizations do not need to organize along sectoral lines and do not need to represent any “marginalized and underrepresented” sector. (Ibid.)

SAME; NO DISQUALIFICATION IF SOME NOMINEES ARE DISQUALIFIED: National, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations shall not be disqualified if some of their nominees are disqualified, provided that they have at least one nominee who remains qualified. (Ibid.)

POLITICAL PARTIES; REQUIRED TO REGISTER: Political parties can participate in party-list elections provided they register under the party-list system and do not field candidates in legislative district elections. (Ibid.)

SAME; PARTICIPATION; VIA SECTORIAL WING: A political party, whether major or not, that fields candidates in legislative district elections can participate in party-list elections only through its sectoral wing that can separately register under the party-list system. The sectoral wing is by itself an independent sectoral party, and is linked to a political party through a coalition. (Ibid.)

SECTORAL PARTIES; MARGINALIZED, UNDERREPRESENTED, OR LACKING IN WELL-DEFINED POLITICAL CONSTITUENCIES: Sectoral parties or organizations may either be “marginalized and underrepresented” or lacking in “well-defined political constituencies.” It is enough that their principal advocacy pertains to the special interest and concerns of their sector. (Ibid.)

SAME; COVERAGE: The sectors that are “marginalized and underrepresented” include labor, peasant, fisherfolk, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, handicapped, veterans, and overseas workers. The sectors that lack “well-defined political constituencies” include professionals, the elderly, women, and the youth. (Ibid.)

SAME; MAJORITY BELONGS TO SECTOR BEING REPRESENTED: A majority of the members of sectoral parties or organizations that represent the “marginalized and underrepresented” must belong to the “marginalized and underrepresented” sector they represent. (Ibid.)

SAME; LACK WELL-DEFINED CONSTITUENCIES: Similarly, a majority of the members of sectoral parties or organizations that lack “well-defined political constituencies” must belong to the sector they represent. (Ibid.)

a) Qualifications of Nominee

The nominees of sectoral parties or organizations that represent the “marginalized and underrepresented,” or that represent those who lack “well-defined political constituencies,” either:

1) Must belong to their respective sectors; or

2) Must have a track record of advocacy for their respective sectors. (Ibid.)

The nominees of national and regional parties or organizations must be bona-fide members of such parties or organizations. (Ibid.)

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