The Philippine Government in a nutshell
The Congress of the Philippines is a bicameral body that consists of the Senate (upper chamber) and the House of Representatives (lower chamber). Both chambers make up the Legislative branch of the government.
The Congress is responsible for crafting and passing the laws of the land that include civil laws, commercial laws, criminal law and political law. To be able to pass a law, the Congress comes up with two of main documents namely Bills and Resolutions. Bills are passed into law if they are approved by the Congress and the President.
The Senate consists of 24 Senators and is modeled from the United States Senate. The Senators have a six-year term, with 12 of the 24 senators elected every three years to guarantee the Senate is maintained as a continuous body. Senators shouldn’t serve for more than two consecutive terms. The candidates who get the 12 highest numbers of votes from a national election will serve as a Senator.
A Senator should be:
- A natural-born citizen of the Philippines
- At least 35 years old on the day of election
- Must be able to read and write
- A registered voter.
- A resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of election.
The President of the Senate of the Philippines, also known as the Senate President, is the body’s highest ranking official and serves as its presiding officer. The Senate President is appointed by winning a majority vote from the other Senators.
Some of the powers bestowed on the Senate President are the general power to control over the Senate, decide all points of order in the Senate and to sign all measures, joint and concurrent resolutions and to issue warrants, orders of arrest and subpoena.
The Senate President is second in the line of succession for the presidency after the Vice President.
The House of Representatives
The House of Representatives should not have more than 250 members. The 20 percent must come from Party-lists and the remaining 80 percent come from congressional districts, with each district represented by one congressman.
The representatives of congressional districts, also known as congressmen, are voted by the people residing in the district they are representing. Party-list representatives embody the party-list.
The Party-list system is for the marginalized and underrepresented sectors to obtain a representation in the House of Representatives. A Party-list is eligible to have a representative in the Congress if it garners at least two percent of the total number of votes in a national election.
The Members of the House of Representatives shall be elected for a three-year term and is eligible to serve until three consecutive terms.
A Member of the House of Representatives should be:
- Natural-born citizen of the Philippines
- At least 25 years old at the day of the election
- Able to read and write
- Registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected (except party- list members).
Speaker of the House of Representatives
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is the presiding officer of the lower chamber of the Congress.
The Speaker is elected in a majority vote among the Representatives after nominations at the start of each new Congress. Only two representatives are nominated for the position of the Speaker, with the nominations agreed upon before the Congress starts.
The Representatives who voted for the speaker-elect will become the majority coalition of the House. The losing candidate on the other hand becomes the Minority Leader of the House and those who voted for him will become the minority coalition.