Office of the Local ________

Senate of the Philippines ____________

History of the Senate


The legislature in any society performs the important function of deliberating policies for the people and passing them in the form of statutes.

Although the Philippine Legislature was organized only in 1916, it had deep roots in the past. Long before the Spanish rulers came to the Philippines, the people in their barangays were already governed by a set of rules by their chief. Over the long span of Spanish and American rule, various forms of legislative structures were set up to perpetuate the colonial rulers’ desire to rule the country.

The Filipinos, just like other colonized people, fought for independence from colonial rule. During this struggle, they also recognized the critical role that a legislature could play in the movement for independence. After the victory over Spain, they established the Malolos Congress, based on their Constitution. The Philippine Legislature, composed of the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives, was created under the Philippine Autonomy Act, popularly known as the Jones Law, which was passed by the Congress of the United States and became law on August 29, 1916. It served as the legislative body of the Philippines from October 1916 to November 1935, until it was succeeded by the National Assembly upon the inauguration on November 15, 1935 of the Commonwealth provided in the Constitution of the Philippines.

With independence from America in 1946, the legislature was called the Philippine Congress which shared governmental powers with the executive and the judiciary.

In 1972, the President declared martial law and Congress was abolished. The bloodless coup of February 22-25, 1986, brought forth a new regime and restored the bicameral congress which is the present set-up of the Philippine Legislature.

The Spanish Period (1521-1898)

Under the Spanish rule, the legislative powers were shared by three entities: (1) the Governor-General who could promulgate executive decrees, edicts or ordinances with the force of the law; (2) the Royal Audencia, which passed laws in the form of autos accordados; and (3) the Crown of Spain acting through its councils.

Serving as chief legislator was a governor-general who was assisted by two advisory bodies where he stood as president. The other entity exercising legislative powers in the Philippines was the Royal Audencia which was the Spanish Supreme Court in the Philippines. The governor-general also stood as the president of this body.

Many historians observed, however, that the legislative function during the Spanish period was monopolized by a set of interlocking bodies, where the Chief Legislator, the governor-general, exercising unbounded powers, also stood as president and member of other bodies which were supposed to advise him. Filipino representation was also largely absent in the legislative bodies.

The Malolos Congress (1898-1900)

In the closing years of the Spanish regime, the revolutionary government of Emilio Aguinaldo inaugurated a Congress on September 15, 1898, at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan. This Congress was later on referred to as the Malolos Congress.

The Malolos Congress, also known as the Assembly of Representatives, was the lawmaking body of the First Republic. It was a unicameral body composed of representatives, one-third of whom were chosen by the officials of the municipalities under the control of the Revolutionary Government, and the others appointed by Aguinaldo to represent the areas under the American Army which could not send delegates. The Malolos Congress is best remembered for framing the Malolos Constitution. The functions and powers of the legislative branch of the First Republic was defined and enumerated by the Malolos Charter as follows:

  • To watch over the interest of the Philippine people;
  • To carry out the revolutionary laws and discuss the vote upon said laws;
  • To discuss and approve treaties and loans; and
  • To examine and approve the accounts presented annually by the Secretary of Finance, as well as “extraordinary and other taxes which may be here-after imposed."

Several reasons prompted the creation and convening of the Malolos Congress. Primarily, it was established to attract the country’s elite—the intellectuals and the wealthy—to join the revolution. Secondly, the creation of a representative government was given primarily to make good impression on foreign powers. A popular Assembly was deemed necessary in order to enhance the image of the new Republic

The delegates to the Congress constituted the cream of the country’s professionals and intellectuals. An official directory of the Malolos Assembly of Representatives listed a total of 201 members who had served the body at one time or another. Most historians, however, have placed the Assembly membership at only 130.

The Assembly, despite time constraints, turned out to be a prolific legislature. Its first official act was the ratification of the “Act of Declaration of Independence” on September 29, 1898. It also passed a number of important laws designed to protect the new Republic from incursiKoons of foreigners and to protect the local business and labor.

With the outbreak of the Philippine-American War in February, 1899, the Assembly’s activities were hampered by the emergency situation.

Philippine Commission (1900-1916)

When the U.S. assumed sovereignty over the Philip-pines after the Spanish-American War, a military government was set up, with the military governor exercising executive, legislative and judicial powers. In 1901, however, the legislative powers hitherto exercised by the military governor were transferred to the Philippine Commission. The legislative body was the Philippine Commission created by the President of the United States in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, which act was later ratified by the U.S. Congress in the Philippine Bill of 1902. This body served as the sole legislative body of the Philippines until 1907 when the First Philippine Assembly was convened and created pursuant to the Philippine Bill of 1902. The members of the Philippine Commission were appointed by the U.S. President with the consent of the U.S. Senate, while those of the Philippine Assembly were elected by qualified electors in their respective representative districts into which the country was divided.

The presiding officer of the Philippine Commission was also the head of government himself—the American governor-general. Its membership, starting in 1901, consisted of five Americans and three Filipinos. Then in 1913, there were five locals to only four Americans. The Commission commenced its legislative work on September 1, 1900, or barely three months after the civil government was established in the Philippines. It started with only five members, all Americans. The original members appointed by the U.S. President were Judge William Taft, chairman; and Dr. Dean Worcester, Mr. Luke Wright, Mr. Henry Ide, and Prof. Bernard Moses, members.

It was only in 1913 when the Filipinos finally obtained numerical majority in what was now a nine-man legislative body. This was made possible after Woodrow Wilson was elected president of the United States. The new president, through his new appointed Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison, assured the Filipinos that his administration would take steps to assure them of a majority in the appointive Commission. Other well-known Filipinos who were later tapped to serve the body were Gregorio Araneta, Juan Sumulong and Rafael Palma. This was maintained up to 1916, when it was replaced by the Philippine Senate, as provided for by the Jones Law.

As a legislative body, the Philippine Commission wielded broad powers and discharged vital functions. These included the power to make rules and orders having the effect of law, for raising revenue by means of taxes, customs and import duties. It also appropriated and spent public funds. It also enacted pieces of legislation largely of general application such as those establishing the country’s civil service system and judicial network, organizing the Philippine Constabulary and the police and creating the insular bureaus and offices, municipal and provincial governments.

Philippine Assembly (1907-1916)

The Philippine Assembly was convened at the old Manila Grand Opera House on October 16, 1907. Two dominant political groups—the Partido Nacionalista and Partido Nacional Progresista vied for positions in the Assembly. Minority parties also fielded their candidates as well as independent aspirants. The NP, the party that espoused “immediate and complete independence” headed by Sergio Osmeña, captured majority of the 80 – seat Assembly. However, a situation of conflict prevailed, for the legislative arm of government consisted of an elective Assembly composed of Filipinos and an appointive Commission (later to become the Senate), the majority of the members of which were Americans. Such conflicts, however, came to an end when the legislative powers were vested by the Jones Law in a bicameral legislature composed exclusively of Filipinos. From 1907 to 1916, the legislative power was vested in a legislature, with the Philippine Commission as the upper house and the Philippine Assembly as the lower house thereof.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Jones Law, the legislative set-up was changed. The Philippine Commission was abolished and the Philippine Legislature, inaugurated on October 16, 1916, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives was established. Thus, the history of Philippine Senate can be traced in relative term from the time the Americans colonized our country.

Philippine Legislature (1916-1935)

The Philippine Legislature, in whom legislative powers were vested, was a bicameral legislative body composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Jones Law gave the Philippine Legislature general legislative powers, with limitations that all laws affecting immigration, currency, coinage or tariff and those pertaining to lands of public domain, timber, mining are subject to the approval of the President of the United States of America. It also gave the Filipinos greater participation in government through the power of confirmation over the appointments of officers in the Executive and Judicial branches of the government.

During its 19-year existence the country went through seven elections —from 1916 to 1934—to elect members of both chambers of the Legislature. In the first election, on the first Tuesday of October 1916, two senators were elected from each of the 12 senatorial districts—one for a term of six years; the other for three years. In the subsequent general elections, there was to be elected from each district one senator for six years. There were two appointive members for the Senate who were designated by the American governor-general to represent the non-Christian areas of the Archipelago. The elective Representatives served for three years, while the Senators, except half of the 22 who won in the first senatorial race in 1916, had a six-year tenure.

The 24-man Philippine Senate was represented by two Senators from each of the 12 senatorial districts into which the country was divided. Eleven of the districts were represented by Senators elected by qualified voters in their respective bailiwicks. The twelfth senatorial district, which was then generally inhabited by non-Christian Filipinos, was represented by two appointive Senators who had no fixed terms. The two appointive Senators were Joaquin A. Clarin and Jadji Butu representing the provinces in Mindanao, Mountain province and Baguio from 1916 to 1918, with the latter only being reappointed in 1926.

Altogether, there were 67 Senators who served in the Philippine Senate at one time or another from 1916 to 1935. Over half of these senior solons were reelected at least once. A number of them were elected several times, as in the case of Manuel L. Quezon who repeatedly served as Senator from 1916 to 1935, when he assumed the Presidency of the Philippine Commonwealth. Senate President Pro Tempore Sergio Osmeña who was first elected Senator in 1922 was also a multi-term Senator who later emerged as Vice-President.

Leadership at the top of the Senate hierarchy was quite firm during its existence through the strong stewardship of Senate President Quezon. Reelected three times in a row, he lorded it over the Senate since its founding and relinquished it only when he became President of the Commonwealth.

During its existence, the Philippine Legislature enacted altogether 1,619 laws, covering all subjects of legislation, except foreign affairs.

On May 1, 1934, it accepted the Tydings-McDuffie Law, which authorized the framing of the Philippine Constitution.

Commonwealth Congress (1935-1946)

The birth of the Commonwealth of the Philippines ushered another change in the legislative system when a uni-cameral National Assembly was convened as provided in the 1935 Constitution. But the return to unicameralism was short-lived. By virtue of a constitutional amendment in 1940, a two-chamber Congress was restored.

In accordance with the constitutional amendment of 1940, the Legislature returned to its pre-Commonwealth structure with the restoration of the Senate. Thus in the November, 1941 polls, more aspirants figured in what could be considered as the first synchronized balloting of the country.

Elected together with re-electionist President Quezon and Vice-President Sergio Osmeña, the Nacionalista Senate bets swamped the opposition. The NP candidates garnered not only the 24 senatorial seats at stake but also 70 of the 89 Lower House slots.

Of the 24 senators-elect, the first eight placers were to serve for 6 years, the next eight for 4 years and the last eight for 2 years. After the war, though, a number of those who were to serve for fewer years went on to assume their posts when Congress convened in June 1945. A number of top placers were not able to report for duty partly because some of them were charged or had died.

When the two chambers finally got organized in June 1945, the election of officers was given top priority. Senator Manuel A. Roxas, who had ranked second in the 1941 senatorial elections, was elected Senate President, while Senator Elpidio Quirino was chosen President Pro Tempore.

On January 4, 1946, the Congress met again in a special session to discuss the first postwar general elections. Three months later—on April 23, 1946—that law-making body gave way to the First Congress of the Third Republic.

Congress of the Philippines (1946-1972)

The post-Independence Congress became the first legislature of the Republic of the Philippines. That Congress’ first members were elected during the dying days of the Commonwealth in 1946, and the last barely a year before it gave way to martial law that ushered in the dictatorship in 1973. All told, that legislature consisted of seven Congresses of four years each except the final one, which lasted for only two year.

Like its immediate predecessor that emerged following the first amendments of the 1935 Constitution, the Congress of the Philippines had a Senate and a House of Representatives. The members of the Senate were elected at large or nationwide, unlike their predecessors who were elected by regions for a term of 6 years. The Senate was composed of 24 members elected by qualified voters of the country. Certain qualifications were required for an individual to become a senator: he had to be a natural-born citizen, 35 years of age upon election to the Senate, a qualified voter and a resident of the Philippines for at least 2 years prior to his election.

The election of the First Congress—16 for the Senate and 104 for the House—took place on April 23, 1946. The Liberal Party captured nine of the 16 senatorial seats. The rest went to the Nacionalista candidates and their allies. Senator Jose Avelino of Samar was elected as Senate President at that time.

In the 1947 polls, six LP bets—Lorenzo Tañada, Vicente Madrigal, Geronima Pecson, Emiliano Tirona, Fernando Lopez and Pablo David—were elected. Only two NPs were elected, namely, Camilo Osias and Eulogio Rodriguez.

However, a bitter rivalry ensued between newly installed President Elpidio Quirino and LP Senate President Avelino over party presidential nomination for the 1949 national elections. Although the Senate was dominated by the “Avelino Wing,” with 11 members including himself, the “Quirino LPs” joined forces with the NPs to oust Avelino as Senate President in early 1949. Senator Mariano Jesus Cuenco replaced Avelino.

Altogether, from 1949 to 1971, the last polls before the exit of that Congress, the political leadership shifted from one major political party to the other in both chambers.

The Congress of the Philippines followed a certain schedule for the session of both houses. They commenced their regular sessions every fourth Monday of January, although this could be changed as Congress saw fit. Every Congress had four regular sessions lasting for 100 days, excluding Sundays. Special sessions could also be called by the President to tackle major bills left unfinished during regular sessions.

Among the powers exercised by the Senate were:

  • Ratification of treaties entered into by the Executive; and
  • Confirmation of appointments made by the President.

The shifting of leadership in the Senate was quite active during this period. The power struggle started during the First Congress where Senate President Avelino, together with Melecio Arranz as President Pro Tempore, was ousted from the Senate helm four years later. In the Second Congress (1950-1953), Avelino tried to bounce back but Senator Mariano Cuenco replaced him for good following the former’s expulsion from the top.

When the Nacionalistas returned to power with Ramon Magsaysay’s overwhelming victory in the 1953 presidential elections, Eulogio Rodriguez of Rizal assumed the Senate presidency for the first time and remained as its President for nearly a decade. In the Fifth Congress, LP President Ferdinand E. Marcos, who had been elected Senator a few years earlier, toppled Rodrigue from the Senate presidency. Senator Arturo Tolentino of Manila took over from Marcos in 1966. In the 7th Congress, fellow NP Senator Gil J. Puyat of Pampanga and Manila assumed the Senate helm until it was abolished in early 1973.

Present Congress of the Philippines

The 1972 Constitution abolished the bicameral legislature and in its stead established a unicameral body under a parliamentary government. The legislative bodies created during the martial law were the Batasang Bayan, the Interim Batasang Bayan and the Batasang Pambansa. When the popular “people power” or EDSA revolution broke out in February, 1986, Corazon Aquino was installed as the new President. She issued a proclamation creating a Constitutional Commission to draft a new Constitution for the Philippines.

The said commission convened on June 1, 1986, and finished its work on October 15, 1986. A plebiscite, held on February 7, 1987, overwhelmingly ratified the present 1987 Constitution. The 1987 Constitution restored the presidential system of government together with the bicameral congress of the Philippines. Section 1, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution provides as follows:

The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines, which shall consist of the Senate and the House of Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and referendum.

The present Congress is actually a reincarnation of the Senate of the Philippines under the 1940 amendment to the 1935 Constitution. As mandated by the new constitution, the upper chamber is composed of 24 members elected at large, who serve a term of six years. Senators cannot serve beyond two consecutive terms.

The Senate of the 15th Congress is currently headed by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III and Minority Leader Allan Peter "Compañero" S. Cayetano. It has thirty-six (36) permanent committees and five (5) Oversight committees to fuel the wheels of the legislative mill. The Senate or any of its committees may conduct formal inquiries or investigations in aid of legislation. The committees are classified into: (1) standing or permanent; (2) special or ad hoc; (3) joint; and (4) sub. Subcommittees are created to parcel the work of standing or special committees. The "special" committees are created for a particular purpose and dissolved after accomplishing such purpose. Joint committees are those that include members of both houses.

The following Senators have, at one time or another assumed the Senate helm: Manuel L. Quezon, 1916-1935; Manuel A. Roxas, 1945-1946; Jose Avelino, 1946-1949; Mariano Jesus Cuenco, 1949-1951; Eulogio Rodriguez, 1952-1963; Ferdinand Marcos, 1963-1965; Arturo Tolentino, 1966-1967; Gil J. Puyat, 1967-1973; Jovito Salonga, 1987-1992; Edgardo J. Angara, January 1993 - August 1995; Ernesto M. Maceda, October 1996 - January 1998; Neptali A. Gonzales, January 1992 - 1993; August 1995 - October 1996 and January 1998 to June 1998; Marcelo B. Fernan, July 1998 to July 1999; Blas F. Ople, July 1999 to April 2000; Franklin M. Drilon, April to November 2000; Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr., November 2000 to July 2001; Franklin M. Drilon, July 2001 to July 2006; Manny Villar, July 2006 to November 2008; Juan Ponce Enrile, November 2008 to June 2013; Franklin M. Drilon, July 2013 to July 2016; Aquilino "Koko" L. Pimentel IV, July 2016 to May 2018; and Vicente C. Sotto III, May 2018 to present.

Symbols of Authority

Seal of the Senate

A seal is defined as an impressed device attached to a paper for purposes of authentication, and the instrument, by which it is made is a seal press or a stamp. The seals of the Republic are the seals of office — not the man occupying the position — hence the text "Official Seal" on the circular border of the seal. Most seals of various government agencies feature symbols pertinent to and symbolic to the functions of the agency.

Historical Background

The Coat of Arms of the Republic, approved by Commonwealth Act No. 731, was the beginning of heraldic tradition in the Philippines where before there was none. What followed thereafter was the implementation of Executive Order No. 310 s. 1940 issued by then President Manuel L. Quezon creating the Philippine Heraldry Committee to make studies and recommend the adoption of coat of arms for the different government offices, semi-government corporations, provinces and chartered cities.

President Quezon, in issuing E.O. No. 310, created the Philippine Heraldry Committee to make studies and recommend ways and means for the adoption of coat of arms of the different government institutions, set the pattern of symbols to be used reflecting physical or geographical considerations, significant emblazonry as well as supporting documents, orders or grants.

To ensure that the coats of arms of the Republic are manifestations of the ideas and ideals of the offices or the people concerned, the Philippine Heraldry Committee, from the year of its reconstitution on January 7, 1946 to June 30, 1973, encouraged all concerned to submit the designs and the symbolism of the design of their coat of arms limiting the work of the Heraldry Committee to putting in the correct heraldic phraseology the designs submitted for an office, province or city.

The Heraldry Committee through the technical staff prepared the final design with the heraldic description for the approval of the President of the Philippines.

By coursing through the Office of the President the approval of all representative coats of arms, the duplication of particular symbols was avoided by various offices since most of these coats of arms were used for corporate or administrative seals to authenticate public documents.

It is important to indoctrinate all concerned the mechanics of heraldry principally in the division of the shield or escutcheon such as the: 1. Dexter side (right); 2. Sinister side (left); 3. The Chief (top); and 4. The Base (bottom). The positions of charges are: 5. Dexter Chief; 6. Sinister Chief; 7. Middle Chief; 8. Dexter Base; 9. Sinister Base; 10. Middle Base; and 11. Honor Point.

Coat of Arms

The official seal of the Senate of the Philippines is actually an adaptation of the Coat of Arms of the Republic, which was approved on July 15, 1950. This orientation is but inevitable, the Senate being the legislative body of the State. However, certain modifications were recommended to recognize the law-making function of the Senate.

As a symbol of the State, the coat of arms of the Republic represents three historical phases — Philippines, Spanish and American.

The Sun and the 3 Stars (the Chief)

The Philippine symbols are shown in the chief part of the coat of arms. These are the three mullets (5-pointed stars) and the eight-rayed Philippine Sun “in rayonnet” on the heraldic point of honor. The three five-pointed stars indicate the solidarity of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The eight rays of the sun represent the provinces of Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Morong, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite, which were declared under Martial Law by a decree of the Spanish government during the revolution of 1896. The three stars and the sun are one and inseparable. The national colors are preserved in tinctures of white (chief and heraldic points of honor); red (dexter base) and blue (sinister base).

The Sampaguita Flower

On the side of the coat of arms are garlands of sampaguita with six sampaguita buds on each side representing the 12 regions of the country. The sampaguita flower also symbolizes honor and dignity, characteristics, which likewise epitomize the Senate as an institution.

The Motto and the 24 Stars

Below the coat of arms is a scroll with the Latin inscription Legis Servitae Pax Fiat, which means "Law Serves Peace, Let It Be Done.” This Latin maxim embodies the ideals and aspirations of the Senate to pass relevant laws in order to attain peace in the country. The stars arranged in circle surrounding the coat of arms represent the 24 elected Senators of the Senate of the Philippines.

Mace of the Senate

The mace is the symbol of authority of the Senate. Its symbolism strongly holds for the authority of the President of the Senate. It is also the authority of the Sergeant-at-Arms when enforcing order in the Senate. The mace is an essential part of the regalia of the Senate. Without it, the Senate is not considered to be properly constituted. When the Senate is in session, the mace is displayed at the Senate President’s rostrum. Otherwise, it is kept under the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms.

The Sergeant-at-Arms, custodian of the mace, is charged with its use when necessary to preserve order. When the occasion calls for it, or when there is disorder in the session hall, he shall lift the mace from its pedestal and present it before an unruly member in order to restore order or quell boisterous behavior in the Chamber.

History of the Mace

During medieval times, the mace was a heavy weapon designed to break through strong armor. The bodyguards of the kings of France and England were thus equipped with this weapon to protect the king. In time, the mace became a symbol of the king’s authority.

The old mace during the Batasang Pambansa days used to bear only the coat of arms of the Philippines but was later renovated and refurbished in 1987 and now bears the official seal of the Senate of the Philippines.

The Gavel

The gavel is used by the President of the Senate for commanding attention whenever the Senate is in session.

Legislative Process

Preliminary Procedures

The procedures for introducing legislation and seeing it through committees are similar in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Legislative proposals originate in a number of different ways. Members of the Senate, of course, develop ideas for legislation. Technical assistance in research and drafting legislative language is available at the Senate Legislative Technical Affairs Bureau. Special interest groups—business, religious, labor, urban and rural poor, consumers, trade association, and the like—are other fertile sources of legislation. Constituents, either as individuals or groups, also may propose legislation. Frequently, a member of the Senate will introduce such a bill by request, whether or not he supports its purposes.

It must be noted also that much of the needed legislation of the country today considered by Congress originates from the executive branch. Each year after the President of the Philippines outlines his legislative program in his State-of-the-Nation Address, executive departments and agencies transmit to the House and the Senate drafts of proposed legislations to carry out the President’s program.

Introduction of Bills

No matter where a legislative proposal originates, it can be introduced only by a member of Congress. In the Senate, a member may introduce any of several types of bills and resolutions by filing it with the Office of the Secretary.

There is no limit to the number of bills a member may introduce. House and Senate bills may have joint sponsorship and carry several members' names.

Major legislation is often introduced in both houses in the form of companion (identical) bills, the purpose of which is to speed up the legislative process by encouraging both chambers to consider the measure simultaneously. Sponsors of companion bills may also hope to dramatize the importance or urgency of the issue and show broad support for the legislation.

Types of Legislation

The type of measures that Congress may consider and act upon (in addition to treaties in the Senate) include bills and three kinds of resolutions. They are:


  • These are general measures, which if passed upon, may become laws. A bill is prefixed with S., followed by a number assigned the measure based on the order in which it is introduced. The vast majority of legislative proposals––recommendations dealing with the economy, increasing penalties for certain crimes, regulation on commerce and trade, etc., are drafted in the form of bills. They also include budgetary appropriation of the government and many others. When passed by both chambers in identical form and signed by the President or repassed by Congress over a presidential veto, they become laws.

Joint Resolutions

  • A joint resolution, like a bill, requires the approval of both houses and the signature of the President. It has the force and effect of a law if approved. There is no real difference between a bill and a joint resolution. The latter generally is used when dealing with a single item or issue, such as a continuing or emergency appropriations bill. Joint resolutions are also used for proposing amendments to the Constitution.

Concurrent Resolutions

  • A concurrent resolution is usually designated in the Senate as S. Ct. Res. It is used for matters affecting the operations of both houses and must be passed in the same form by both of them. However, they are not referred to the President for his signature, and they do not have the force of law. Concurrent resolutions are used to fix the time of adjournment of a Congress and to express the “sense of Congress” on an issue.

Simple Resolutions

  • It is usually designated with P. S. Res. A simple resolution deals with matters entirely within the prerogative of one house of Congress, such as adopting or receiving its own rules. A simple resolution is not considered by the other chamber and is not sent to the President for his signature. Like a concurrent resolution, it has no effect and force of a law. Simple resolutions are used occasionally to express the opinion of a single house on a current issue. Oftentimes, it is also used to call for a congressional action on an issue affecting national interest.

Bill Referrals

Once a measure has been introduced and given a number, it is read and referred to an appropriate committee. It must be noted that during the reading of the bill, only the title and the author is read on the floor. The Senate President is responsible for referring bills introduced to appropriate committees.

The jurisdictions of the Standing Committees are spelled out in Rule X, Section 13 of the Rules of the Senate. For example, if a bill involves matters relating to agriculture, food production and agri-business, it must be referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Food.

In Committee

The standing committees of the Senate, operating as “little legislatures,” determine the fate of most proposals. There are committee hearings scheduled to discuss the bills referred. Committee members and staff frequently are experts in the subjects under their jurisdiction, and it is at the committee stage that a bill comes under the sharpest scrutiny. If a measure is to be substantially revised, the revision usually occurs at the committee level.

A committee may dispose of a bill in one of several ways: it may approve, or reject, the legislation with or without amendments; rewrite the bill entirely; reject it, which essentially kills the bill; report it favorably or without recommendation, which allows the chamber to consider the bill at all. It must be noted that under Section 29, Rule XI of the Rules of the Senate, if the reports submitted are unfavorable, they shall be transmitted to the archives of the Senate, unless five Senators shall, in the following session, move for their inclusion in the Calendar for Ordinary Business, in which case the President shall so order.

Committee Reports

A committee report describes the purpose and scope of the bill, explains any committee amendments, indicates proposed changes in existing law and such other materials that are relevant. Moreover, reports are numbered in the order in which they are filed and printed.

Calendaring for Floor Debates: Consideration of, and Debates on Bills

Under Section 45 of Rule XVI of the Rules of the Senate, the Senate shall have three calendars, to wit:

  • A “Calendar for Ordinary Business," in which shall be included the bills reported out by the committees in the order in which they were received by the Office of the Secretary; the bills whose consideration has been agreed upon by the Senate without setting the dates on which to effect it; and also the bills whose consideration has been postponed indefinitely;
  • A “Calendar for Special Orders,” in which the bills and resolutions shall be arranged successively and chronologically, according to the order in which they were assigned for consideration; and
  • A “Calendar for Third Reading,” in which shall be included all bills and joint resolutions approved on second reading.

Thus, a bill which has a committee report can be referred to the “Calendar for Ordinary Business.” It may again be moved to its “Special Order of Business” for priority action.

On the other hand, the consideration and debate of bills and resolutions are spelled out in Rule XXV, Section 71 of the Rules of the Senate. It provides as follows:

Sec. 71. The Senate shall adopt the following procedure in the consideration of bills and joint resolutions:

  • (a) Second reading of the bill.
  • (b) Sponsorship by the committee chairman, or by any member designated by the committee.
  • (c) If a debate ensues, turns for and against the bill shall be taken alternately: Provided, however, That any committee member who fails to enter his objection or to make of record his dissenting vote after it shall have been included in the Order of Business and read to the Senate in accordance with the second paragraph of Section 24 hereof, shall not be allowed to speak against the bill during the period of general debate although he may propose and speak or vote on amendments thereto.
  • (d) The sponsor of the bill or author of the motion shall have the right to close the debate.
  • (e) With the debate closed, the consideration of amendments, if any, shall be in order.
  • (f) After the period of amendments, the voting of the bill on Second Reading.
  • (g) Bills shall be submitted to final vote by yeas and nays after printed copies thereof in final form have been distributed to the Members at least three (3) days prior to their passage, except when the President of the Philippines certifies to the necessity of their immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency, in which case the voting on Third Reading may take place immediately after second reading.

After the bill is approved on Third Reading, it will be submitted to the House of Representatives for consideration. A bill passed by the Senate and transmitted to the House usually goes to a committee, unless a House bill on the same subject has already been reported out by the appropriate committee and placed on the calendar.

Under normal procedures, therefore, a bill passed by one chamber and transmitted to the other is referred to the appropriate committee, from which it must follow the same route to passage as a bill originating from that chamber.

Amendments may be offered at both the committee and floor action stages, and the bill as it emerges from the second chamber may differ significantly from the version passed by the first. A frequently used procedure when this occurs is for the chamber that acts last to bring up the other chamber’s bill and substitute its own version, then retaining only the latter’s bill number. That numbered bill, containing the Senate and House version, is then sent to a conference committee to resolve all differences.

Conference Committee Action
Calling a Conference

Either chamber can request a conference once both have considered the same legislation. Generally, the chamber that approved the legislation first will disagree to the amendments made by the second body and will make a request that a conference be convened. Sometimes, however, the second body will ask for a conference immediately after it has passed the legislation, assuming that the other chamber will not accept its amendments.

Selection of Conferees

Under the Rules of the Senate (Rule XII, Section 34), the Senate President shall designate the members of the Senate panel in the conference committee with the approval of the Senate. The Senate delegation to a conference can range in size from three to a larger number, depending on the length and complexity of the legislation involved.

Authority of Conferees

The authority given to the Senate conferees theoretically is limited to matters in disagreement between the two chambers. They are not authorized to delete provisions or language agreed to by both the House and the Senate as to draft entirely new provisions.

In practice, however, the conferees have wide latitude, except where the matters in disagreement are very specific. Moreover, conferees attempt to reconcile their differences, but generally they try to grant concession only insofar as they remain confident that the chamber they represent will accept the compromise.

The Conference Report

When the conferees have reached agreement on a bill, the conference committee staff writes a conference report indicating changes made in the bill and explaining each side’s actions.

Once a conference committee completes its works, it can now be submitted to the floor for its approval. Debate on conference reports is highly privileged and can interrupt most other business.

Approval of the conference report by both houses, along with any amendments on disagreement, constitutes final approval of the bill.

Final Legislative Action

After both houses have given final approval to a bill, a final copy of the bill, known as the “enrolled bill,” shall be printed, and certified as correct by the Secretary of the Senate and the Secretary General of the House of Representatives. After which, it will be signed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.

A bill may become a law, even without the President’s signature, if the President does not sign a bill within 30 days from receipt in his office. A bill may also become a law without the President’s signature if Congress overrides a presidential veto by two-thirds vote.


The following is a summary of how a bill becomes a law:

  • Filing/Calendaring for First Reading

A bill is filed in the Office of the Secretary where it is given a corresponding number and calendared for First Reading.

  • First Reading

Its title, bill number, and author’s name are read on the floor, after which it is referred to the proper committee.

  • Committee Hearings/Report

Committee conducts hearings and consultation meetings. It then either approves the proposed bill without an amendment, approves it with changes, or recommends substitution or consolidation with similar bills filed.

  • Calendaring for Second Reading

The Committee Report with its approved bill version is submitted to the Committee on Rules for calendaring for Second Reading.

  • Second Reading

Bill author delivers sponsorship speech on the floor. Senators engage in debate, interpellation, turno en contra, and rebuttal to highlight the pros and cons of the bill. A period of amendments incorporates necessary changes in the bill proposed by the committee or introduced by the Senators themselves on the floor.

  • Voting on Second Reading

Senators vote on the second reading version of the bill. If approved, the bill is calendared for third reading.

  • Voting on Third Reading

Printed copies of the bill’s final version are distributed to the Senators. This time, only the title of the bill is read on the floor. Nominal voting is held. If passed, the approved Senate bill is referred to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

  • At the House of Representatives

The Lower Chamber follows the same procedures (First Reading, Second Reading and Third Reading).

  • Back to the Senate

If the House-approved version is compatible with that of the Senate’s, the final version’s enrolled form is printed. If there are certain differences, a Bicameral Conference Committee is called to reconcile conflicting provisions of both versions of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. Conference committee submits report on the reconciled version of the bill, duly approved by both chambers. The Senate prints the reconciled version in its enrolled form.

  • Submission to Malacañang

Final enrolled form is submitted to Malacañang. The President either signs it into law, or vetoes and sends it back to the Senate with veto message.

Source: Pastrana and Raval, Essentials and Dynamics of the Senate, 2001;
Update of the Legislative Group 2001



  • Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon)
  • Accounts
  • Agrarian Reform
  • Agriculture and Food
  • Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies
  • Civil Service and Government Reorganization
  • Constitutional Amend-ments, Revision of Codes and Laws
  • Cooperatives
  • Cultural Communities
  • Economic Affairs
  • Education, Arts and Culture
  • Energy
  • Environment and Natural Resources
  • Ethics and Privileges
  • Finance
  • Foreign Relations
  • Games, Amusement and Sports
  • Government Corporations and Public Enterprises
  • Health and Demography
  • Justice and Human Rights
  • Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development
  • Local Government
  • National Defense and Security
  • Peace, Unification and Reconciliation
  • Public Information and Mass Media
  • Public Order and Illegal Drugs
  • Public Services
  • Public Works
  • Rules
  • Science and Technology
  • Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development
  • Tourism
  • Trade and Commerce
  • Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement
  • Ways and Means
  • Youth, Women and Family Relations

  • Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations (Blue Ribbon)

Jurisdiction: All matters relating to, including investigation of, malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance in office by officers and employees of the government, its branches, agencies, subdivisions and instrumentalities; implementation of the provision of the Constitution on nepotism; and investigation of any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of the Senate. Rule X, Section 13 (36

  • Committee on Accounts

Jurisdiction: All matters relating to the auditing and adjustment of all accounts chargeable against the funds for the expenses and activities of the Senate. Rule X, Section 13 (3)

  • Committee on Agrarian Reform

Jurisdiction: All matters relating to agrarian reform, landed estates, and implementation of the agrarian land reform provisions of the Constitution. Rule X, Section 13 (20)



Terms of Office and Privilages

Seal of the Senate

A seal is defined as an impressed device attached to a paper for purposes of authentication, and the instrument, by which it is made is a seal press or a stamp. The seals of the Republic are the seals of office — not the man occupying the position — hence the text "Official Seal" on the circular border of the seal. Most seals of various government agencies feature symbols pertinent to and symbolic to the functions of the agency.


Term of Office of Senators
Privileges of Senators
Parliamentary Immunities
Privilege from Arrest
Privilege of Speech and Debate
Bases of the Privilege
Purpose of the Privilege
Precedents and Practices
Scope of Privilege Speech
Suspension and Disqualification
Manner of Imposing Discipline
Inhibitions and Disqualifications
Conflict of Interests
Incompatible and Forbidden Offices

Term of Office of Senators

The term of the members of the Senate is expressly provided in Articles VI and XVIII respectively of the Constitution:

Sec. 4. 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.

Sec. 2. The Senators, members of the House of Representatives, and the local officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30, 1992.

Of the Senators elected in the election in 1992, the first twelve obtaining the highest number of votes shall serve for six years and the remaining twelve for three years.

It must be remembered that the 24 Senators first elected under the 1987 Constitution on May 2, 1987 served only for five years ending on June 30, 1992. Of the senators elected in 1992, the first 12 obtaining the highest number of votes served for the full term of six years expiring in 1998, and the last 12 served only three years and ended in 1995. After which, the 12 Senators elected in 1995 shall serve the full term of six years or until year 2001. Those 12 to be elected in 1998 shall also serve the full term of six years. In fine, beginning 1992, 12 Senators shall be elected every three years, so that unlike in the House of Representatives, the Senate shall not at anytime be completely dissolved. One-half of the membership is retained as the other half is replaced or reelected every three years.

The purpose of the continuity of the life of the Senate is intended to encourage the maintenance of Senate policies as well as guarantee that there will be experienced members who can help and train newcomers in the discharge of their duties. In addition, in case of resignation, death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President and Vice-President, the Senate President shall act as President.

Moreover, the Constitution, in Section 4, Article VI, provides limits to the extent a member of the Senate can run for reelection. It provides as follows:

No Senator shall serve for more than two consecutive terms. Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an inter-ruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected.

Privileges of Senators


The salaries of members of the Senate is governed by Article VI of the Constitution as follows:

Sec. 10. The salaries of Senators and 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 Senate and the House of Representatives approving such increase.

Sec. 20. The records and books of accounts of Congress shall be preserved and be open to the public in accordance with law, and such books shall be audited by the Commission on Audit which shall publish annually an itemized list of amounts paid to and expenses incurred for each Member.

It must be noted that in accordance with the above provisions, there is no prohibition against the receipt of allowances by the members of Congress. The second section, on the other hand, seeks to avoid the recurrence of the abuses committed by the members of the Old Congress in allotting themselves fabulous allowances the amount of which they refused to divulge to the people. It is now provided under the Constitution that the books of accounts of Congress shall be open to public inspection and must be audited by the Commission on Audit. Moreover, every member of Congress’ itemized expenditures, including allowances, shall be published annually for the information of the people.

It is interesting to note that the Constitution in Section 17, Article XVIII, provides the corresponding salaries of Senators, to wit:

Until the Congress provides otherwise, the President shall receive an annual salary of three hundred thousand pesos; the Vice-President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, two hundred forty thousand pesos each; the Senators, the members of the House of Representatives, the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and the Chairmen of the Constitutional Commissions, two hundred four thousand pesos each; and the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, one hundred eighty thousand pesos each.

However, under Joint Resolution No. 1, the salaries of the members of the Senate is increased to salary grade 33 with monthly equivalent rate of P35,000.00. The Senate President, on the other hand, is raised to salary grade 34 with a monthly basic salary of P40,000.00.

Parliamentary Immunities

A. Privilege from Arrest

One of the privileges that a member of Congress enjoys is the privilege from arrest. In this regard, Section 11, Article VI, of the Constitution provides as follows:

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 Congress or in any committee thereof.

This privilege is intended to insure representation of the constituents by the members of Congress. In Vera vs. Avelino, the Supreme Court, quoting a decision of the United States Supreme Court, explained for whose benefit the right to parliamentary immunity is secured:

These privileges are thus secured not with the intention of protecting the members against prosecutors for their own benefit, but to support the rights of the people, by enabling their representatives to execute the function of their office without fear of prosecution, civil or criminal.

A member of Congress could only be suspended by the House of which he is a member and only for the purpose of self-preservation or self-protection. To protect a member of Congress from oppression, even this power has been circumscribed by the 1935 Constitution and further limited by the 1987 Constitution.

The rationale for this was expressed by the Supreme Court as early as 11 September 1924 in Alejandrino vs. Quezon:

It is noteworthy that the Congress of the United States shall not in all its long history suspend a member. And the reason is obvious. Punishment by way of reprimand or fine vindicates the outraged dignity of the House without depriving the constituency of representation; expulsion, when permissible, likewise vindicates the honor of the legislative body while giving to the constituency an opportunity to elect anew; but suspension deprives the electoral district of representation without that district being afforded any means by which to fill the vacancy. By suspension, the seat remains filled, but the occupant is silenced.

B. Privilege of Speech and Debate

1. Bases of the Privilege

1.1. Constitutional Basis

Privilege speech is a parliamentary privilege enjoyed by a Member of Congress provided for in Section 11, Article VI of the Constitution. It states as follows:

Sec. 11. A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses be 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 Congress or in any committee thereof.

1.2 Rules of the Senate

This is contained in Section 110, Rule XL, Rules of the Senate, which provides as follows:

Sec. 110. After the consideration of the matters contained in the Calendar for Special Orders, a Senator may forthwith request for and avail of the privilege to speak for one (1) hour on any matter of public interest.

If more than one (1) Senator wish to avail of the same privilege, the Senator who first announced his intention shall be given priority.

The period of time allowed in this section may, upon motion of the Senator on the floor be extended for such time as may be necessary for him to finish his speech unless a majority of all the Senators vote against such extension.

2. Purpose of the Privilege

Members of Congress cannot be prosecuted for any words spoken in debate or in connection with voting or used in written reports or with things generally done in a session of either House in relation to the business before it. This protection is extended to them during the session on the occasion of the exercise of their functions either in their respective chambers or in joint assembly, or in committees or commission. The purpose of this privilege of speech or debate is not to protect the members against prosecutions for their own benefit but to enable them as representatives of the people to execute the functions of their office without fear of prosecution, civil or criminal. As held in the case of Osmeña v. Pendatun, the Supreme Court took the occasion of defining the purpose of the privilege. It ruled:

Our Constitution enshrines parliamentary immunity which is a fundamental privilege cherished in every legislative assembly of the democratic world. As old as the English Parliament, its purpose is to enable and encourage a representative of the public to discharge his public trust with firmness and success for it is indispensably necessary that he should enjoy the fullest liberty of speech, and that he should be protected from the resentment of every one, however, powerful, to whom the exercise of that liberty may occasion. Such immunity has come to this country from the practices of Parliament as construed and applied by the Congress of the United States. Its extent and application remain no longer in doubt insofar as related to the question before us. It guarantees the legislator complete freedom of expression without fear of being made responsible in criminal or civil actions before the courts or any other forum outside of the Congressional hall. But it does not protect him from responsibility before the legislative body itself whenever his words and conduct are considered by the latter disorderly or unbecoming to a member thereof.

3. Precedents and Practices

The following are some of the precedents and practices observed in the previous sessions of Congress concerning the privilege speech:

3.1. When It Can and When It Cannot

It has been ruled that the privilege granted under this section cannot be availed of when the House has already proceeded to transact its business, such as the consideration of bills. But in a certain case, when the House was already considering unfinished business or business for the day, a member was permitted, through a motion unanimously approved, to deliver a short speech on an important case in his province. A member availing himself of such a privilege was entitled to one full hour. Having the floor on the privilege hour, he could not be forced to yield to interpellations.

The one-hour privilege not having expired yet, a member, who requested only 10 minutes in order to deliver his speech, was allowed to use the rest of the hour. He could not be precluded from continuing with his speech until the one hour was consumed.

3.2. On Request for Reservation

On point of order whether preference be given to a member who requests a previous reservation over any member who stands up on the floor ahead of the former, it has been held that an unwritten rule, sanctioned by immemorial practice, establishes such a preference. A request for reservation to use the privilege hour on a future date made on the floor by a member is recorded in the Journal.

The time of a member automatically expires the moment he takes his seat and, consequently, he cannot answer questions unless an extension of his time is granted by unanimous consent. The one-hour privilege can be extended only by unanimous consent.

3.3. Decorum on Speech

A member, availing himself of the privilege hour, may refuse interpellations, but he may be advised by the Chair not to use any improper language. He should use a language in conformity with the decorum and dignity of the House.

The Chair entertained a motion to delete from the Record a portion of a member’s speech under the privilege hour as unparliamentary for being against the dignity and integrity of the members, and when submitted by the Chair to the House, the motion was approved.

When a member attacks the leadership of the House, he may be declared out of order and deprived further use of the privilege hour.

A member should, during the privilege hour, refrain from making personal allusions to any member. In availing himself of the privilege hour, a member may, under his own responsibility, speak against an absent fellow member. It is indecorous of the Senate during a privilege speech.

In the exercise of his one- hour privilege, a member can speak on any subject of national interest, and he may even criticize the President on the appointment of certain persons to the government. But delivering speeches attacking the Chief Executive constitutes disorderly conduct for which a member may be suspended or expelled from the House as a disciplinary action. The Chair sustained a point of order which asked for deletion from the Record, as unparliamentary, parts of the privilege speech attacking the Catholic religion.

3.4. Interpellation

A member having the floor to avail himself of the privilege hour may refuse to yield to interpellation or yield for information. He cannot be forced to yield to another so that, in turn, the latter can answer questions.

It is in order for a member interpellating to lay the premises of his question. He may interpellate in the manner he so desires and use any of the official languages even if different from that used by the member who has the floor.

A member on the floor using the remaining portion of the privilege hour may stop yielding to further interpellations.

The time consumed by interpellation is counted against a member who has the floor; that is the reason why he has the option to yield or not to questions.

3.5. Precedence and Interruption

The House sustained the Chair that after the reading of the order of business, the one-hour privilege has precedence over any other matters, such as question of privilege.

A member availing himself of the one-hour privilege may yield to further interpellation, but he cannot be interrupted except by a point of order. He cannot be deprived of the floor except with his consent, and he may deliver his speech in such manner as he pleases as long as he speaks with due decorum. The Chair did not entertain a motion referring a one-hour privilege speech to a committee on the ground that while a member is enjoying the privilege, he cannot be deprived of the floor except by a point of order.

3.6. Extension of Time

After a member has consumed the privilege hour, no extension of time for the privilege can be granted if there is an objection to the motion for such extension.

An objection to a motion for extension of the one-hour privilege is not debatable.

The one-hour privilege can no longer be extended when, after its delivery, the member using the privilege sits down, thereby forfeiting his right to continue. When a member sits down after the expiration of his one-hour privilege, his time can no longer be extended.

A member who has the privilege hour may yield a portion of it to another member. When a member ceded a portion of his one-hour privilege, such a portion could not, without his consent, be extended to more than the number of minutes agreed upon.
A member using the remaining portion of the privilege hour may refuse any interpellation in order to save the time left for him.

3.7. Reference Speech

The Chair entertained a motion to refer a privilege speech to a committee after it had been delivered on the floor.

3.8. Stricken Off the Record

On motion approved by the House, the whole speech including interpellations, was stricken off the record for being unparliamentary.

During the privilege hour, the Chair motu proprio ordered stricken off the record the word "dishonorable" uttered with reference to the members of the House by the member interpellating.

4. Relevance

4.1. No assured government by the people unless their representatives possess this privilege.

There could be no assured government by the people, unless their representatives had unquestioned possession of this privilege. Thus, only the House of Commons was concerned in its vindication, and only in its connection with that House could it be a matter of constitutional importance. The Lords, of course, possess the right equally with the Commons, and thus it is considered one of the common privileges of Parliament. But it seems never to have been an issue with the Lords. As Stubbs says, "he would have been a bold King indeed who had attempted to stop discussion in the House of Lords."

4.2. To protect independence and integrity of Congress and to reinforce separation of powers.

In U.S. vs. Johnson, Justice John Marshall Harlan said that the purpose of the speech or debate clause is prophylactic, that it was adopted by the Constitutional Convention (without discussion or opposition) because of the English experience with the intent to protect the independence and integrity of Congress and to reinforce the separation of powers by preventing an unfriendly executive and a hostile judiciary appointed by the executive from reaching a congressional activity for evidence of criminality.

4.3. Basis of corrective legislative measures.

In practice, many subjects of privilege speeches are the bases of consequent appropriate committee investigations of legislative bodies, and these may result to corrective measures being filed on the basis of such committee investigations. It appears to be co-extensive with the range of legislative power, like the range of legislative inquiry together with its limitations.

4.4. To voice out dissent, the essence of democracy.

It is the best outlet of the people and of the opposition to ventilate anomalies in govern-ment and misgovernment, to express their concerns and sentiments thru their representatives in legislative bodies. In short, to voice out dissent is the essence of democracy.

5. Scope of Privilege Speech:

Personal and Collective

A question of privilege consists of a question affecting the rights of the Senate collectively or of its members individually including its privileges, reputation, conduct, decorum, dignity and integrity of proceedings.

A Senator may rise to a question of personal privilege at any time, but he cannot interrupt or take another Senator from the floor for that purpose without the latter’s consent. However, the reading of the Journal cannot be interrupted by a question of personal privilege neither can a question of privilege be raised when there is no quorum or when the roll is being called.

Under this provision, a member of the Senate may raise a question of privilege by a statement or remark on the floor and if sustained by the Chair, the member is entitled to speak.

After the privilege speech of a Senator, another member was recognized on a question of personal privilege to clarify certain matters in which he participated and which was left out in the privilege speech of the former.

A member rose to speak on a question of personal privilege as his name was linked in a news item which was considered as a malicious publication.

Franking Privilege

Republic Act No. 69 remains a good law. It expressly grants members of Congress the transmission free of charge within the Philippines of mail matters. Sections 1 and 2 of this law provide as follows:

All mail matter of Senators and of members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, addressed for delivery within the Philippines, shall be received, transmitted and delivered in the mails of the Philippines free of postage: Provided, That each such mail matter when addressed to persons or offices other than government officers or offices shall not exceed one hundred and twenty grams in weight.

The envelope or wrapper of such mail matter shall bear on the left upper corner the name and official designation of the official sending the mail matter, and the words "Senate of the Philippines," or "House of Representatives," as the case may be, and on the right upper corner the words "Penalty for private or unauthorized use to avoid payment of postage, P500.00."

Suspension and Disqualification

Manner of Imposing Discipline

Section 16(3), Article VI of the Constitution provides the manner in which members of the Senate may be disciplined, suspended or expelled. It provides as follows:

Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two-thirds of all its Members, suspend or expel a Member. A penalty of suspension, when imposed, shall not exceed sixty days.

Rules of proceedings are needed for the orderly conduct of the sessions of Congress. Unless such rules violate fundamental or individual rights, they are within the exclusive discretion of each House to formulate and interpret and may not be judicially reversed.

Without the above provision, the authority to discipline its members can still be exercised by each House as an inherent power, with the concurrence of a majority vote, conformably to the general rule on the will of the majority. With this provision, the disciplinary power is not so much expressly conferred as limited because of the specific conditions laid down for its proper exercise.

Thus, the courts may annul any expulsion or suspension of a member that is not concurred in by at least two-thirds of the entire body or any suspension meted out by the legislature, even with the required two-thirds vote, as to any period in excess of the 60-day maximum duration. These are procedural matters and therefore justiciable.

But the interpretation of the phrase "disorderly behavior" is the prerogative of Congress and cannot as a rule be judicially reviewed. The matter comes in the category of a political question. Accordingly, the Supreme Court did not interfere when the legislature declared that the physical assault by one member against another, or the delivery of a derogatory speech which the member was unable to substantiate, constituted "disorderly behavior" and justified the adoption of disciplinary measures.

Other disciplinary measures besides expulsion and suspension are deletion of unparliamentary remarks from the record, fine, imprisonment and censure, sometimes called "soft impeachment."

Inhibitions and Disqualifications

The Constitution provides in Section 14, Article VI the grounds of inhibitions and disqualifications for members of Congress.

It provides as follows:

No Senator or member of the House of Representatives may personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies. Neither shall he, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office. He shall not intervene in any matter before any office of the Government for his pecuniary benefit or where he may be called upon to act on account of his office.

Appearance of the legislator is now barred before all courts of justice, regardless of rank, composition, or jurisdiction. The disqualification also applies to the revived Electoral Tribunal and to all administrative bodies, like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Labor Relations Commission. Courts martial and military tribunals, being administrative agencies, are included.

The purpose of the disqualifications is to prevent the legislator from exerting undue influence, deliberately or not, upon the body where he is appearing. The pressure may not be intended; normally, the appearance is enough, considering the powers available to the legislator which he can exercise to reward or punish a judge deciding his case or, in the case of the Electoral Tribunal, his close association with its members. This is the reason the prohibited appearance must be personal. The lawyer-legislator may still engage in the practice of his profession except that when it comes to trials and hearings before the bodies above-mentioned, appearance may be made not by him but by other members of his law office.

In Puyat v. De Guzman, a legislator entered his appearance as counsel for one of the parties to an intracorporate dispute before the Securities and Exchange Commission. He desisted when his representation was challenged under the above-mentioned section. Thereafter, he purchased P200 worth of stocks in the corporation from the faction he was representing and sought to intervene in the said dispute, this time as a stockholder. The Supreme Court did not allow him to do so as his evident purpose was to circumvent the constitutional prohibition. Justice Melencio Herrera declared:

Under those facts and circumstances, we are constrained to hold that there has been an indirect appearance as counsel before xxx an administrative body’ and in our opinion, that is circumvention of the constitutional prohibition. The intervention was an afterthought to enable him to appear actively in the proceeding in some other capacity. To believe the avowed purpose, that is, to enable him eventually to vote and to be elected as Director in the event of an unfavorable outcome of the SEC case, would be pure naivete. He would still appear as counsel indirectly.

Legislators are prohibited from being financially interested in any contract with the government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by any of these during their term of office, because of the influences they can easily exercise in obtaining these concessions. The idea is to prevent abuses from being committed by the members of Congress to the prejudice of the public welfare and particularly of legitimate contractors with the government who otherwise might be placed at a disadvantageous position vis-Ă -vis the legislator.

It should be noted, though, that not every transaction with the government is barred by this provision. The contracts referred to here are those involving "financial interest," that is, contracts from which the legislator expects to derive some profit at the expense of the government. An illustration is a contract for public works or the sale of office equipment or supplies to the government. By contrast, it cannot be said that the legislator will profit financially from a contract of carriage with a government instrumentality like the PAL since it is the carrier that will benefit from the passenger’s fare.

The last sentence restores an inhibition originally imposed by the 1935 Constitution. Although this provision has never been judicially interpreted, it may be surmised that the rule shall apply to the case, say, of the chairman of the committee on banks serving as legislative consultant for a private bank.

Conflict of Interests

The provisions in Section 12, Article VI of the Constitution are intended to ensure the probity and objectivity of the members of Congress.

There are some persons who may be tempted to run for Congress not because of a desire to serve the people but precisely for the protection or even enhancement of their own interests. By requiring them to make known at the outset their financial and business connections or investments, it is hoped that their potential for self-aggrandizement will be reduced and they will be prevented from using their official positions for ulterior purposes. In some countries, businessmen are required to unload their stockholdings as these might affect their official acts or at least lead to suspicion of chicanery or impropriety in the discharge of their duties in the government.

Incompatible and Forbidden Offices

Under Section 13, Article VI of the Constitution, it states some other disqualifications by which a member of Congress may hold office, to wit:

Sec. 13. 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. Neither shall he be appointed to any office which may have been created or the emoluments thereof increased during the term for which he was elected.

The first part of this section refers to what are known as incompatible offices, which may not be held by the legislator during his tenure in Congress. The purpose is to prevent him from owing loyalty to another branch of the government, to the detriment of the independence of the legislature and the doctrine of separation of powers.

The prohibition against the holding of an incompatible office is not absolute; what is not allowed is the simultaneous holding of that office and the seat in Congress. In the case of the rest of the legislators, any of them may hold another office or employment in the government provided he forfeits, as a result, his position in Congress.

Forfeiture of the legislator’s seat, or cessation of his tenure, shall be automatic upon the holding of the incompatible office. Thus, a congress-man who was elected provincial governor was deemed to have automatically forfeited his seat in the House of Representatives when he took his oath for the provincial office. No resolution was necessary to declare his legislative post vacant.

In Adaza v. Pacana, the petitioner and the respondent were elected governor and vice-governor, respectively, of Misamis Oriental. Both subsequently ran for the Batasang Pambansa, but only the petitioner won. Adaza then qualified as a member of the lawmaking body, whereupon Pacana assumed the governorship as statutory successor. Adaza challenged Pacana’s takeover, contending that under the parliamentary system a legislator could concurrently serve as governor; hence, there was no vacancy in the governorship that Pacana could fill. Through Justice Escolin, the Court unanimously rejected this argument and held that Adaza automatically forfeited the governorship the moment he took his oath as a member of the Batasang Pambansa.

The constitutional prohibition against a member of the Batasang Pambansa from holding any other office or employment in the government during his tenure is clear. Section 10, Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution provides as follows:

Sec. 10. A Member of the National Assembly shall not hold any other office or employment in the government or any subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof, including government-owned or controlled corporations, during his tenure, except that of prime minister or member of the cabinet. xxx

The language used in the above-cited section is plain. The only exceptions mentioned therein are the offices of prime minister and cabinet member. The wisdom or expediency of the said provision is a matter which is not within the province of the Court to determine.

A public office is a public trust. It is created for the interest and the benefit of the people. As such, a holder thereof is subject to such regulations and conditions as the law may impose and he cannot complain of any restrictions which public policy may dictate on his holding of more than one office. It is therefore of no avail to petitioner that the system of government in other states allows a local elective official to act as an elected member of the parliament at the same time. The dictate of the people in whom legal sovereignty lies is explicit. It provides no exceptions save the two offices specifically cited in the above-quoted constitutional provision. Thus, while it may be said that within the purely parliamentary system of government no incompatibility exists in the nature of the two offices under consideration, as incompatibility herein present is one created by no less than the Constitution itself. In the case at bar, there is no question that petitioner has taken his oath of office as an elected Mambabatas Pambansa and has been discharging his duties as such. In the light of the oft-mentioned constitutional provision, this fact operated to vacate his former post and he cannot now continue to occupy the same, nor attempt to discharge its functions.

But not every other office or employment is to be regarded as incompatible with the legislative position. For example, membership in the Electoral Tribunal is permitted by the Constitution itself. Moreover, if it can be shown that the second office is an extension of the legislative position or is in aid of legislative duties, the holding thereof will not result in the loss of the legislator’s seat in Congress.

Accordingly, the chairmen of the Senate and House committees on education retain their seats in Congress while sitting concurrently as ex-officio members in the U.P. Board of Regents. Legislators who serve as treaty negotiators under the President of the Philippines continue to sit in Congress, where they can better work for the approval of the treaty and the passage of the needed implementing legislation.

But even if a member of Congress is willing to forfeit his seat therein, he may not be appointed to any civil office in the government that has been created or the emoluments thereof have been increased while he was incumbent in the legislature. Such a position is a forbidden office.

The purpose is to prevent trafficking in public office. Were the rule otherwise, certain legislators, especially those not sure of reelection, might be able to work for the creation or improvement of lucrative positions and, in combination with the President, arrange for their appointment thereto in order to provide for their future security at the expense of the public service.

Notably, this provision does not apply to elective offices, which are filled by the voters themselves.

The appointment of a member of Congress to the forbidden office is not allowed only during the term for which he was elected, when such office was created or its emoluments were increased. After such term, and even if the legislator is reelected, the disqualification no longer applies and he may therefore be appointed to the office.


OFFICERS OF The Senate Secretariat

Atty. Myra Marie D. Villarica

Senate Secretary

Atty. Myra Marie D. Villarica

Senate Secretary

MGen Rene C Samonte AFP (Ret)


Atty. Edwin B. Bellen

Deputy Secretary for Legislation

Atty. Arnel Jose S. Bañas

Deputy Secretary for Administrative and Financial Services

Atty. Maria Valentina S. Santana-Cruz

Senate Legal Counsel

Enrique Luis D. Papa

Deputy Secretary for External Affairs and Relation

Eireen R. Palanca

Director General, Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office

Atty. Rodelio T. Dascil, MNSA

Director General, Senate Tax Study and Research Office

Antonio G. de Guzman Jr.

Director General, Office of the International Relations and Protocol

Atty. Rodolfo Noel S. Quimbo

Director General, Blue Ribbon Oversight Office Management

Ronald R. Golding

Director General, Senate Economic Planning Office

Lino S. Ong

Director General, Senate Public Assistance Office

  • Irah Ruth B. Borinaga, Director IV
  • Jocelyn A. Yuzon, Director III
  • Aren J. Aguila, Director III
  • Rodrigo R. Duterte

OFFICE OF The Senate Secretary

Atty. Myra Marie D. Villarica

Senate Secretary

  • Irah Ruth B. Borinaga, Director IV
  • Jocelyn A. Yuzon, Director III
  • Aren J. Aguila, Director III
  • Carlito G. Galvez


  • Assist the President in the exercise of general supervision over local governments;
  • Advise the President in the promulgation of policies, rules, regulations and other issuances on the general supervision over local governments and on public order and safety;
  • Establish and prescribe rules, regulations and other issuances implementing laws on public order and safety, the general supervision over local governments and the promotion of local autonomy and community empowerment and monitor compliance thereof;
  • Provide assistance towards legislation regarding local governments, law enforcement and public safety;
  • Establish and prescribe plans, policies, programs and projects to promote peace and order, ensure public safety and further strengthen the administrative, technical and fiscal capabilities of local government offices and personnel;
  • Formulate plans, policies and programs which will meet local emergencies arising from natural and man-made disasters;
  • Establish a system of coordination and cooperation among the citizenry, local executives and the Department, to ensure effective and efficient delivery of basic services to the public, and;
  • Organize, train and equip primarily for the performance of police functions, a police force that is national in scope and civilian in character.

To attain these sector outcomes by 2022, we need to::

  1. Increase local and foreign direct investments;
  2. Increase competitiveness, innovativeness and resilience of industries and services;
  3. Improve access to finance, to production networks, and to markets;
  4. Enhance productivity, efficiency, resilience, and;
  5. Ensure consumer access to safe and quality goods and services.


  • To oversee, coordinate and integrate the implementation of the comprehensive peace process.
  • To exercise supervision and control over it's bureaus and attached agencies through the formulation, implementation and management of defense policies, resources, and objectives in the attainment of the National Defense Mandate
  • To defend against external and internal threats to territorial integrity and sovereignty, and promote the welfare of the people, in order to create a secure and stable environment, conducive to national development.


  • “A just and lasting peace for the nation and for all Filipinos”



  • Peaceful, safe, self-reliant and development-dominated communities;
  • Improve performance of local governments in governance, administration, social and economic development and environmental management;
  • Sustain peace and order condition and ensure public safety.


  • Reduce crime incidents and improve crime solution efficiency;
  • Improve jail management and penology services;
  • Improve fire protection services;
  • Continue professionalization of PNP, BFP and BJMP personnel and services;
  • Enhance LGU capacities to improve their performance and enable them to effectively and efficiently deliver services to their constituents;
  • Continue to initiate policy reforms in support of local autonomy;


  • Integrity
  • Commitment
  • Teamwork
  • Responsiveness

Organizational Outcome:

H.E. Rodrigo Roa Duterte


H.E. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

President of the Philippines

Hon. Eleandro Jesus F. Madrona

Representative Province of Romblon

Jose R. Riano

Provincial Governor

Elmer M. Fruelda


Aubrey M. Fabiala-Fondevilla

Vice Mayor

Jhonna Marissa F. Ballesteros

Executive Assistant III

Board of Trustees

  • Lucas P. Bersamin
  • Rolando L. Macasaet
  • Jocelyn De Guzman Cabreza
  • Lt. Gen. Alan R. Luga, AFP (Ret)
  • Rachel Queenie Dizon-Rodulfo
  • Wilfredo C. Maldia
  • Anthony B. Sasin
  • Dr. Kahar H. Macasayon, Al-Hadj, CESO V
  • Atty. Carlo Antonio B. Almirante
  • Luz Victoria F. Reyes-Morando


  • Cynthia A. Villar
  • Grace Poe-Llamanzares
  • Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Tesoro Go
  • Pia S. Cayetano
  • Ronald M. dela Rosa
  • Juan Edgardo M. Angara
  • Manuel M. Lapid
  • Maria Imelda Josefa Remedios "Imee" R. Marcos
  • Francis Tolentino
  • Aquilino M. Pimentel III
  • Bong Revilla
  • Nancy Binay
  • Rachel S.Miñon-Bañares
  • Guds Mortel
  • Roberto A. Oliveros


  • ...
  • ...

Office of the Secretary

OFFICE OF The Secretary

Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.


  • Dir. Pamela Ann Padilla-Salvan
  • Dir. Francel Margareth Padilla-Taborlupa
  • Dir. Carissa L. Cruz, CPA
  • Dir. Vanessa S. Pallarco
  • Dir. Maria Carla Munsayac-Villarta
  • Dir. Jennie Claire L. Mordeno
  • Dir. Ishmael I. Bahjin
  • Dir. Ma. Corazon B. Almario
  • Dir. Susana Guadalupe H. Marcaida
  • Dir. Jana Jill L.
  • Dir. Wendell P.
  • Dir. Cesar D. De Mesa
  • Dir. Farrah Grace V. Naparan
  • Dir. Lalaine P.
  • Dir. Darwin Wally T. Wee
  • Dir. Mae Ballena

  • Arnulfo R. Pajarillo
  • Atty. Wilben M. Mayor
  • Isidro L. Purisima
  • Andres Aguinaldo, Jr
  • David B. Diciano
  • Agripino Javier

Assistant Secretaries

  • Marita I. Yoro, CESO III
  • Dinna Anna Lee L. Cartujano
  • Christine June P. Cariño, MNSA
  • Atty. Darren L. Salipsip
  • Arsenio R. Andolong, MNSA, CESO III
  • Leodegario D. Dela Paz
  • Atty. Norman T. Daanoy
  • Pablo M. Lorenzo
  • Nicole M. Bacolod
  • Engr. Nelson L. Lasquite, MNSA
  • Penelope G. Pamittan






















    Chief, Monitoring and Evaluation Division
    Direct Line No.: 8927-4112
    Trunkline: 8876-3454 loc. 5603



Regional Offices
Region I


Region II


Region III


Region IVA


Region IVB

    Regional Director
    Direct Line No.: (02) 995-7731; Telefax No. 995-7725
    Trunkline: (02)8876-3454 Loc. 8501
    Assistant Regional Director
    Direct Line No.: (02)995-7725;995-7831
    Trunkline: (02)8876-3454 Loc. 8502

Region V


Region VI


Region VII


Region VIII


Region IX


Region X


Region XI


Region XII



  • Blesila A. Lantayona
  • Asteria C. Caberte
  • Demphna Du-Naga
  • Domingo R. Tolentino Jr.
  • Emma C. Asusano
  • Ferdinand T. Aparri
  • Blesila A. Lantayona













    Direct Line No.: 8925-0343 / 8925-1144
    Trunkline: 8876-3454 loc. 6700


    Executive Director
    Direct Line No.: 8925-9111; Telefax No. 8928-7281
    Trunkline: 8876-3454 loc. 6101


    Chief, CODIX
    Direct Line No.:
    Trunkline: 8876-3454 loc. 6102


    Executive Director, Local Government Academy
    Direct Line No.: 86346416 local 100

    Assistant Director, Local Government Academy
    Direct Line No.: 86389649 / 86341906 local 112

Other Offices


    Direct Line No.: 8925-0343 / 8925-1144
    Trunkline: 8876-3454 loc. 6700


    Executive Director
    Direct Line No.: 8925-9111; Telefax No. 8928-7281
    Trunkline: 8876-3454 loc. 6101


    Chief, CODIX
    Direct Line No.:
    Trunkline: 8876-3454 loc. 6102


    Executive Director, Local Government Academy
    Direct Line No.: 86346416 local 100

    Assistant Director, Local Government Academy
    Direct Line No.: 86389649 / 86341906 local 112