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A. Legislative power

The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and 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. Scope and limitations


Broadly defined, the power of oversight embraces all activities undertaken by Congress to enhance its understanding of and influence over the implementation of legislation it has enacted. (Macalintal v. Commission on Elections, En Banc, G.R. No. 157013, 10 July 2003)

Clearly, oversight concerns post-enactment measures undertaken by Congress:

1) To monitor bureaucratic compliance with program objectives;

2) To determine whether agencies are properly administered;

3) To eliminate executive waste and dishonesty;

4) To prevent executive usurpation of legislative authority; and

5) To assess executive conformity with the congressional perception of public interest. (Ibid.)

The power of oversight has been held to be intrinsic in the grant of legislative power itself and integral to the checks and balances inherent in a democratic system of government. (Ibid.)

1) Categories of congressional oversight functions

The acts done by Congress purportedly in the exercise of its oversight powers may be divided into three categories, namely:

1) Scrutiny;

2) Investigation; and,

3) Supervision. (Ibid.)

a) Scrutiny

Congressional scrutiny implies a lesser intensity and continuity of attention to administrative operations. Its primary purpose is to determine economy and efficiency of the operation of government activities. In the exercise of legislative scrutiny, Congress may request information and report from the other branches of government. It can give recommendations or pass resolutions for consideration of the agency involved. (Ibid.)

b) Congressional Investigation

While congressional scrutiny is regarded as a passive process of looking at the facts that are readily available, congressional investigation involves a more intense digging of facts. The power of Congress to conduct investigation is recognized by the 1987 Constitution under section 21, Article VI. (Ibid.)

c) Legislative supervision

The third and most encompassing form by which Congress exercises its oversight power is thru legislative supervision. “Supervision” connotes a continuing and informed awareness on the part of a congressional committee regarding executive operations in a given administrative area. While both congressional scrutiny and investigation involve inquiry into past executive branch actions in order to influence future executive branch performance, congressional supervision allows Congress to scrutinize the exercise of delegated law-making authority, and permits Congress to retain part of that delegated authority. (Ibid.)

(1) Legislative veto

Congress exercises supervision over the executive agencies through its veto power. It typically utilizes veto provisions when granting the President or an executive agency the power to promulgate regulations with the force of law. These provisions require the President or an agency to present the proposed regulations to Congress, which retains a “right” to approve or disapprove any regulation before it takes effect. Such legislative veto provisions usually provide that a proposed regulation will become a law after the expiration of a certain period of time, only if Congress does not affirmatively disapprove of the regulation in the meantime. Less frequently, the statute provides that a proposed regulation will become law if Congress affirmatively approves it. (Ibid.)

Legislative veto is a statutory provision requiring the President or an administrative agency to present the proposed implementing rules and regulations of a law to Congress which, by itself or through a committee formed by it, retains a “right” or “power” to approve or disapprove such regulations before they take effect. As such, a legislative veto in the form of a congressional oversight committee is in the form of an inward-turning delegation designed to attach a congressional leash (other than through scrutiny and investigation) to an agency to which Congress has by law initially delegated broad powers. It radically changes the design or structure of the Constitution’s diagram of power as it entrusts to Congress a direct role in enforcing, applying or implementing its own laws. (ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers/Members v. Purisima, En Banc, G.R. No. 166715, 14 August 2008)

(a) No authority to approve implementing rules and regulations

From the moment the law becomes effective, any provision of law that empowers Congress or any of its members to play any role in the implementation or enforcement of the law violates the principle of separation of powers and is thus unconstitutional. Under this principle, a provision that requires Congress or its members to approve the implementing rules of a law after it has already taken effect shall be unconstitutional, as is a provision that allows Congress or its members to overturn any directive or ruling made by the members of the executive branch charged with the implementation of the law. (ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers/Members v. Purisima, En Banc, supra.)

Administrative regulations enacted by administrative agencies to implement and interpret the law which they are entrusted to enforce have the force of law and are entitled to respect. Such rules and regulations partake of the nature of a statute and are just as binding as if they have been written in the statute itself. As such, they have the force and effect of law and enjoy the presumption of constitutionality and legality until they are set aside with finality in an appropriate case by a competent court. Congress, in the guise of assuming the role of an overseer, may not pass upon their legality by subjecting them to its stamp of approval without disturbing the calculated balance of powers established by the Constitution. (Ibid.)

2. Principle of non-delegability; exceptions


Congress has two options when enacting legislation to define national policy within the broad horizons of its legislative competence:

1) It can itself formulate the details; or

2) It can assign to the executive branch the responsibility for making necessary managerial decisions in conformity with those standards. (ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers/Members v. Purisima, En Banc, G.R. No. 166715, 14 August 2008)

In the latter case, the law must be complete in all its essential terms and conditions when it leaves the hands of the legislature.  Thus, what is left for the executive branch or the concerned administrative agency when it formulates rules and regulations implementing the law is to fill up details (supplementary rule-making) or ascertain facts necessary to bring the law into actual operation (contingent rule-making). (Ibid.)

Power should be delegated where there is agreement that a task must be performed and it cannot be effectively performed by the legislature without the assistance of a delegate or without an expenditure of time so great as to lead to the neglect of equally important business. Delegation is most commonly indicated where the relations to be regulated are highly technical or where their regulation requires a course of continuous decision. (Trade Unions of the Philippines and Allied Services (TUPAS-WFTU vs. Ople, En Banc, G.R. No. L-67573, 19 June 1985)


1) Applicable to all branches

The principle of non-delegation of powers is applicable to all the three major powers of the Government but is especially important in the case of the legislative power because of the many instances when its delegation is permitted. The occasions are rare when executive or judicial powers have to be delegated by the authorities to which they legally certain. In the case of the legislative power, however, such occasions have become more and more frequent, if not necessary. This had led to the observation that the delegation of legislative power has become the rule and its non-delegation the exception. (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. POEA, G.R. No. 76633, 18 October 1988)

2) Delegation to another branch

Congress may delegate to another branch of the Government the power to fill in the details in the execution, enforcement or administration of a law for the reasons stated above. Nevertheless, it is essential, to forestall a violation of the principle of separation of powers, that said law:

1) Be complete in itself — it must set forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate and;

2) Fix a standard — the limits of which are sufficiently determinate or determinable — to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions. (Ibid.)


GENERAL RULE: What has been delegated, cannot be delegated. Potestats delegata non delegari potest. (Rodrigo v. Sandiganbayan, supra.)

This doctrine is based on the ethical principle that such a delegated power constitutes not only a right but a duty to be performed by the delegate by the instrumentality of his own judgment acting immediately upon the matter of legislation and not through the intervening mind of another. (Ibid.)


1) Delegation of tariff powers to the President under Section 28 (2) of Article VI of the Constitution;

2) Delegation of emergency powers to the President under Section 23(2) of Article VI of the Constitution;

3) Delegation to the people at large;

4) Delegation to local governments; and

5) Delegation to administrative bodies. (BOCEA v. Teves, G.R. No. 181704, 06 December 2011)

1) What cannot be delegated

a) Legislative discretion on substantive contents of the law

Legislative discretion as to the substantive contents of the law cannot be delegated. What can be delegated is the discretion to determine how the law may be enforced, not what the law shall be. The ascertainment of the latter subject is a prerogative of the legislature. This prerogative cannot be abdicated or surrendered by the legislature to the delegate. (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. POEA, supra.)

b) Power to tax to the Cabinet

Not even Congress could constitutionally delegate to the Cabinet its power to tax. (Marc Donnelly and Associates, Inc. v. Agregado, En Banc, G.R. No. L-4510, 31 May 1954)


Administrative agencies possess two kinds of powers, the quasi-legislative or rule-making power, and the quasi-judicial or administrative adjudicatory power. (The Chairman and the Executive Director, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development v. Lim, G.R. No. 183173, 24 August 2016)

The first is the power to make rules and regulations that results in delegated legislation that is within the confines of the granting statute and the doctrine of non-delegability and separability of powers. (Ibid.)

The second is the power to hear and determine questions of fact to which the legislative policy is to apply and to decide in accordance with the standards laid down by the law itself in enforcing and administering the same law. The administrative body exercises its quasi-judicial power when it performs in a judicial manner an act that is essentially of an executive or administrative nature, where the power to act in such manner is incidental to or reasonably necessary for the performance of the executive or administrative duty entrusted to it. (Ibid.)

1) Rationale for allowing delegation to administrative bodies

The reason is the increasing complexity of the task of government and the growing inability of the legislature to cope directly with the myriad problems demanding its attention. The growth of society has ramified its activities and created peculiar and sophisticated problems that the legislature cannot be expected reasonably to comprehend. Specialization even in legislation has become necessary. To many of the problems attendant upon present-day undertakings, the legislature may not have the competence to provide the required direct and efficacious, not to say, specific solutions. These solutions may, however, be expected from its delegates, who are supposed to be experts in the particular fields assigned to them. (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. POEA, G.R. No. 76633, supra.)

With the growing complexity of modern life, the multiplication of the subjects of governmental regulation, and the increased difficulty of administering the laws, there is a constantly growing tendency toward the delegation of greater powers by the legislature, and toward the approval of the practice by the courts. (Rodrigo v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 125498, 02 July 1999).

In the face of the increasing complexity of modern life, delegation of legislative power to various specialized administrative agencies is allowed as an exception to this principle. Given the volume and variety of interactions in today’s society, it is doubtful if the legislature can promulgate laws that will deal adequately with and respond promptly to the minutiae of everyday life. Hence, the need to delegate to administrative bodies — the principal agencies tasked to execute laws in their specialized fields — the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to implement a given statute and effectuate its policies. All that is required for the valid exercise of this power of subordinate legislation is that the regulation be germane to the objects and purposes of the law and that the regulation be not in contradiction to, but in conformity with, the standards prescribed by the law. These requirements are denominated as the completeness test and the sufficient standard test. (Gerochi v. Department of Energy, G.R. No. 159796, 17 July 2007)

2) Power of subordinate legislation

The reasons given above for the delegation of legislative powers in general are particularly applicable to administrative bodies. With the proliferation of specialized activities and their attendant peculiar problems, the national legislature has found it more and more necessary to entrust to administrative agencies the authority to issue rules to carry out the general provisions of the statute. This is called the “power of subordinate legislation.” (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. POEA, supra.)

With this power, administrative bodies may implement the broad policies laid down in a statute by “filling in” the details which the Congress may not have the opportunity or competence to provide. This is effected by their promulgation of what are known as supplementary regulations, such as the implementing rules issued by the Department of Labor on the new Labor Code. These regulations have the force and effect of law. (Ibid.)


Two (2) tests determine the validity of delegation of legislative power:

1) The completeness test; and

2) The sufficient standard test. (BOCEA v. Teves, G.R. No. 181704, 06 December 2011)

Both tests are intended to prevent a total transference of legislative authority to the delegate, who is not allowed to step into the shoes of the legislature and exercise a power essentially legislative. (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. POEA, supra.)

1) The completeness test

A law is complete when it sets forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate. It lays down a sufficient standard when it provides adequate guidelines or limitations in the law to map out the boundaries of the delegate’s authority and prevent the delegation from running riot. (BOCEA v. Teves, supra.)

Under the first test, the law must be complete in all its terms and conditions when it leaves the legislature such that when it reaches the delegate the only thing he will have to do is enforce it. (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. POEA, supra.)

Where Congress delegates the formulation of rules to implement the law it has enacted pursuant to sufficient standards established in the said law, the law must be complete in all its essential terms and conditions when it leaves the hands of the legislature. And it may be deemed to have left the hands of the legislature when it becomes effective because it is only upon effectivity of the statute that legal rights and obligations become available to those entitled by the language of the statute. Subject to the indispensable requisite of publication under the due process clause, the determination as to when a law takes effect is wholly the prerogative of Congress. As such, it is only upon its effectivity that a law may be executed and the executive branch acquires the duties and powers to execute the said law. Before that point, the role of the executive branch, particularly of the President, is limited to approving or vetoing the law. (ABAKADA Guro Party List Officers/Members v. Purisima, En Banc, supra.)

2) The sufficiency standard test

To be sufficient, the standard must specify the limits of the delegate’s authority, announce the legislative policy and identify the conditions under which it is to be implemented. (BOCEA v. Teves, supra.)

Under the sufficient standard test, there must be adequate guidelines or stations in the law to map out the boundaries of the delegate’s authority and prevent the delegation from running riot. (Eastern Shipping Lines, Inc. v. POEA, supra.)

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