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Feb 1, 2010

Sec. 1: One Congress, Two Houses

Sec. 1: The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives, except to the extent reserved to the people by the provision on initiative and referendum.

  • Legislative
Republican Systems:
1. Original – possessed by the sovereign people
2. Derivative – that which is delegated by the sovereign people to the legislative bodies and is subordinate to the original power of the people; vested in Congress

Power according to its application:
1. Constituent – power to amend the Constitution
2. Ordinary – power to pass ordinary laws
  • Non-legislative


  • Powers of Congress may be inherent (like the determination of its rules of proceedings and discipline of its members) or implied (like the power to punish for contempt in legislative investigations).
  • The people, through amendatory process, can exercise constituent power, and, through initiative and referendum, legislative power.

Allowable Delegation of Legislative Power

To the President (See ABAKADA Guro case)

To Administrative Agencies: 2 Tests of Valid Delegation; Subordinate Legislation
Eastern Shipping Lines v. POEA, 166 SCRA 533 (1988)

What must be examined to determine if rule passed the tests of valid delegation

Echegaray vs. Sec. of Justice, G.R. No. 132601, Oct. 12, 1998

There is no undue delegation of legislative power in RA 8177 to the Sec. of Justice and the Dir. Of Bureau of Corrections, but Sec. 19 of the Rules and Regulations to implement RA 8177 is invalid.

Empowering the Sec. of Justice in conjunction with the Sec. of Health and the Dir. Of the Bureau of Corrections, to promulgate rules and regulations on the subject of lethal injection is a form of delegation of legislative authority to administrative bodies.


Although Congress may delegate to another branch of the Government the power to fill in the details in the execution, enforcement or administration of a law, it is essential, to forestall a violation of the principle of separation of powers, that said law: (a) be complete in itself – it must be set forth therein the policy to be executed, carried out or implemented by the delegate – and (b) fix a standard – the limits of which are sufficiently determinate or determinable – to which the delegate must conform in the performance of his functions.

Considering the scope and the definiteness of RA 8177, which changed the mode of carrying out the death penalty, the Court finds that the law sufficiently describes what job must be done, who is to do it, and what is the scope of his authority.

RA 8177 likewise provides the standards which define the legislative policy, mark its limits, map out its boundaries, and specify the public agencies which will apply it. It indicates the circumstances under which the legislative purpose may be carried out. RA 8177 specifically requires that “[t]he death sentence shall be executed under the authority of the Director of the Bureau of Corrections, endeavoring so far as possible to mitigate the sufferings of the person under the sentence during the lethal injection as well as during the proceedings prior to the execution.” Further, “[t]he Director of the Bureau of Corrections shall take steps to ensure that the lethal injection to be administered is sufficient to cause the instantaneous death of the convict.” The legislature also mandated that “all personnel involved in the administration of lethal injection shall be trained prior to the performance of such task.” The Court cannot see that any useful purpose would be served by requiring greater detail. The question raised is not the definition of what constitutes a criminal offense, but the mode of carrying out the penalty already imposed by the Courts. In this sense, RA 8177 is sufficiently definite and the exercise of discretion by the administrative officials concerned is…canalized within banks that keep it from overflowing.

Thus, the Court finds that the existence of an area for exercise of discretion by the Sec. of Justice and the Dir. Of the Bureau of Corrections under delegated legislative power is proper where standards are formulated for the guidance and the exercise of limited discretion, which though general, are capable of reasonable application.


A careful reading of RA 8177 would show that there is no undue delegation of legislative power from the Sec. of Justice to the Dir. Of the Bureau of Corrections for the simple reason that under the Administrative Code of 1987, the Bureau of Corrections is a mere constituent unit of the Dept. of Justice. Further, the Dept. of Justice is tasked, among others, to take charge of the “administration of the correctional system.” Hence, the import of the phraseology of the law is that the Sec. of Justice should supervise the Dir. Of the Bureau of Corrections in promulgating the Lethal Injection Manual, in consultation with the Dept. of Health.

However, the Rules and Regulations to Implement RA 8177 suffer serious flaws that could not be overlooked. To begin with, something basic appears missing in Sec. 19 of the implementing rules...


Thus, the Court finds in the first paragraph of Sec. 19 of the implementing rules a veritable vacuum. The Sec. of Justice has practically abdicated the power to promulgate the manual on the execution procedure to the Dir. Of the Bureau of Corrections, by not providing for a mode of review and approval thereof. Being a mere constituent unit of the Dept. of Justice, the Bureau of Corrections could not promulgate a manual that would not bear the imprimatur of the administrative superior, the Sec. of Justice as the rule-making authority under RA 8177. Such apparent abdication of departmental responsibility renders the said paragraph invalid.

To People (See Santiago and Lambino cases)

Sec. 2: Composition of Senate
24 Senators

Sec. 3: Qualifications of Senators
  1. Natural-born citizen
  2. 35 years old
  3. Able to read and write
  4. Registered voter
  5. 2-year residency

Sec. 4: Term of Office
6 yrs.
COMMENCE: noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their election (unless otherwise provided by law)
RE-ELECTION: no Senator shall serve for more than 2 consecutive terms
Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term

Sec. 5: Composition of the House of Representatives
(1)not more than 250 members, UNLESS otherwise provided by law; and (2) party-list members
LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT: contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory (city: 250,000 pop.)
VACANCY: holding of special election is discretionary on House concerned (Sec. 9)

Congress has power of reapportionment of legislative districts

Montejo vs. COMELEC, G.R. No. 118702, March 16, 1995

It may well be that the conversion of Biliran from a sub-province to a regular province brought about an imbalance in the distribution of voters and inhabitants in the five (5) legislative districts of the province of Leyte. This imbalance, depending on its degree, could devalue a citizen’s vote in violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Be that as it may, it is not proper at this time for petitioner to raise this issue using the case at bench as his legal vehicle. The issue involves a problem of reapportionment of legislative districts and petitioner’s remedy lies with Congress. Sec. 5(4), Art. VI of the Constitution categorically gives Congress the power to reapportion, thus: “Within three (3) years following the return of every census, the Congress shall make a reapportionment of legislative districts based on the standards provided in this section. In Macias v. COMELEC, we ruled that the validity of a legislative apportionment is a justiciable question. But while this Court can strike down an unconstitutional reapportionment, it cannot itself make the reapportionment as petitioner would want us to do by directing respondent COMELEC to transfer the municipality of Tolosa from the First District to the Second District of the province of Leyte.

Congress may increase its present composition

Tobias vs. Abalos, G.R. No. L-114783, Dec. 8, 1994

As to the contention that the assailed law violates the present limit on the number of representatives as set forth in the Constitution, a reading of the applicable provision, Art. VI, Sec. 5(1), as aforequoted, shows that the present limit of 250 members is not absolute. The Constitution clearly provides that the House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than 250 members, “unless otherwise provided by law.” The inescapable import of the latter clause is that the present composition of Congress may be increased, if Congress itself so mandates through a legislative enactment. Therefore, the increase in congressional representation mandated by RA 7675 is not unconstitutional.


As to the contention that Sec. 49 of RA 7675 in effect preempts the right of Congress to reapportion legislative districts, the said argument borders on the absurd since petitioners overlook the glaring fact that it was Congress itself which drafted, deliberated upon and enacted the assailed law, including Sec. 49 thereof. Congress cannot possibly preempt itself on a right which pertains to itself.


Petitioners contend that the people of San Juan should have been made to participate in the plebiscite on RA 7675 as the same involved a change in their legislative district. The contention is bereft of merit since the principal subject involved in the plebiscite was the conversion of Mandaluyong into a highly urbanized city. The matter of separate district representation was only ancillary thereto. Thus, the inhabitants of San Juan were properly excluded from the said plebiscite as they had nothing to do with the change of status of neighboring Mandaluyong.

Similarly, petitioner’s additional argument that the subject law has resulted in “gerrymandering,” which is the practice of creating legislative districts to favor a particular candidate or party, is not worthy of credence. As correctly observed by the Solicitor General, it should be noted that Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, the author of the assailed law, is the incumbent representative of the former San Juan/Mandaluyong district, having consistently won in both localities. By dividing San Juan/Mandaluyong, Rep. Zamora’s constituency has in fact been diminished, which development could hardly be considered as favorable to him.

Party-list System: Inviolable parameters to determine the winners; Computation

Veterans Federation Party vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 136781, Oct. 6, 2000

To determine the winners in a Philippine-style party-list election, the Constitution and RA 7941 mandate at least four inviolable parameters. These are:

First, the twenty percent allocation – the combined number of all party-list congressmen shall not exceed twenty percent of the total membership of the House of Representatives, including those elected under the party list.

Second, the two percent threshold – only those parties garnering a minimum of two percent of the total valid votes cast for the party-list system are “qualified” to have a seat in the House of Representatives;

Third, the three-seat limit – each qualified party, regardless of the number of votes it actually obtained, is entitled to a maximum of three seats; that is, one “qualifying” and two additional seats.

Fourth, proportional representation – the additional seats which a qualified party is entitled to shall be computed “in proportion to their total number of votes.”

The Party-list System, Explained

Our 1987 Constitution introduced a novel feature into our presidential system of government – the party-list method of representation. Under this system, any national, regional or sectoral party or organization registered with the Commission on Elections may participate in the election of party-list representatives who, upon their election and proclamation, shall sit in the House of Representatives as regular members. In effect, a voter is given two (2) votes for the House – one for a district congressman and another for a party-list representative. xxx


Complying with its constitutional duty to provide by law the “selection or election” of party-list representatives, Congress enacted RA 7941 on March 3, 1995. Under this statute’s policy declaration, the State shall “promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.”

Whether the Twenty Percent Constitutional Allocation is Mandatory

Determination of the Total Number of Party-List Lawmakers

Clearly, the Constitution makes the number of district representatives the determinant in arriving at the number of seats allocated for party-list lawmakers, who shall comprise “twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party-list.” We thus translate this legal provision into a mathematical formula, as follows:

No. of district representatives
---------------------------------- x .20 = No. of party-list
.80 representatives

This formulation means that any increase in the number of district representatives, as may be provided by law, will necessarily result in a corresponding increase in the number of party-list seats. To illustrate, considering that there were 208 district representatives to be elected during the 1998 national elections, the number of party-list seats would be 52, computed as follows:

-------- x .20 = 52

The foregoing computation of seat allocation is easy enough to comprehend. The problematic question, however, is this: Does the Constitution require all such allocated seats to be filled up all the time and under all circumstances? Our short answer is “No.”

Twenty Percent Allocation a Mere Ceiling

The Constitution simply states that "[t]he party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under the party-list.”
According to petitioners, this percentage is a ceiling; the mechanics by which it is to be filled up has been left to Congress. In the exercise of its prerogative, the legislature enacted RA 7941, by which it prescribed that a party, organization or coalition participating in the party-list election must obtain at least two percent of the total votes cast for the system in order to qualify for a seat in the House of Representatives.

We rule that a simple reading of Section 5, Article VI of the Constitution, easily conveys the equally simple message that Congress was vested with the broad power to define and prescribe the mechanics of the party-list system of representation. The Constitution explicitly sets down only the percentage of the total membership in the House of Representatives reserved for party-list representatives.


Considering the foregoing statutory requirements, it will be shown presently that Section 5 (2), Article VI of the Constitution is not mandatory. It merely provides a ceiling for party-list seats in Congress.

On the contention that a strict application of the two percent threshold may result in a “mathematical impossibility,” suffice it to say that the prerogative to determine whether to adjust or change this percentage requirement rests in Congress. Xxx

The Statutory Requirement and Limitation

The Two Percent Threshold

In imposing a two percent threshold, Congress wanted to ensure that only those parties, organizations and coalitions having a sufficient number of constituents deserving of representation are actually represented in Congress. xxx

The two percent threshold is consistent not only with the intent of the framers of the Constitution and the law, but with the very essence of "representation." Under a republican or representative state, all government authority emanates from the people, but is exercised by representatives chosen by them. But to have meaningful representation, the elected persons must have the mandate of a sufficient number of people. Otherwise, in a legislature that features the party-list system, the result might be the proliferation of small groups which are incapable of contributing significant legislation, and which might even pose a threat to the stability of Congress. Thus, even legislative districts are apportioned according to "the number of their respective inhabitants, and on the basis of a uniform and progressive ratio" to ensure meaningful local representation.

All in all, we hold that the statutory provision on this two percent requirement is precise and crystalline. When the law is clear, the function of courts is simple application, not interpretation or circumvention.

The Three-Seat-Per-Party Limit

An important consideration in adopting the party-list system is to promote and encourage a multiparty system of representation. xxx

Consistent with the Constitutional Commission's pronouncements, Congress set the seat-limit to three (3) for each qualified party, organization or coalition. "Qualified" means having hurdled the two percent vote threshold. Such three-seat limit ensures the entry of various interest-representations into the legislature; thus, no single group, no matter how large its membership, would dominate the party-list seats, if not the entire House.

Method of Allocating Additional Seats

Having determined that the twenty percent seat allocation is merely a ceiling, and having upheld the constitutionality of the two percent vote threshold and the three-seat limit imposed under RA 7941, we now proceed to the method of determining how many party-list seats the qualified parties, organizations and coalitions are entitled to. The very first step - there is no dispute on this - is to rank all the participating parties, organizations and coalitions (hereafter collectively referred to as "parties") according to the votes they each obtained. The percentage of their respective votes as against the total number of votes cast for the party-list system is then determined. All those that garnered at least two percent of the total votes cast have an assured or guaranteed seat in the House of Representatives. Thereafter, "those garnering more than two percent of the votes shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes." The problem is how to distribute additional seats "proportionally," bearing in mind the three-seat limit further imposed by the law.

The Formula

Step One. There is no dispute among the petitioners, the public and the private respondents, as well as the members of this Court, that the initial step is to rank all the participating parties, organizations and coalitions from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes they each received. Then the ratio for each party is computed by dividing its votes by the total votes cast for all the parties participating in the system. All parties with at least two percent of the total votes are guaranteed one seat each. Only these parties shall be considered in the computation of additional seats. The party receiving the highest number of votes shall thenceforth be referred to as the “first” party.

Step Two. The next step is to determine the number of seats the first party is entitled to, in order to be able to compute that for the other parties. Since the distribution is based on proportional representation, the number of seats to be allotted to the other parties cannot possibly exceed that to which the first party is entitled by virtue of its obtaining the most number of votes.

For example, the first party received 1,000,000 votes and is determined to be entitled to two additional seats. Another qualified party which received 500,000 votes cannot be entitled to the same number of seats, since it garnered only fifty percent of the votes won by the first party. Depending on the proportion of its votes relative to that of the first party whose number of seats has already been predetermined, the second party should be given less than that to which the first one is entitled.

The other qualified parties will always be allotted less additional seats than the first party for two reasons: (1) the ratio between said parties and the first party will always be less than 1:1, and (2) the formula does not admit of mathematical rounding off, because there is no such thing as a fraction of a seat. Verily, an arbitrary rounding off could result in a violation of the twenty percent allocation. An academic mathematical demonstration of such incipient violation is not necessary because the present set of facts, given the number of qualified parties and the voting percentages obtained, will definitely not end up in such constitutional contravention.

The Court has previously ruled in Guingona Jr. v. Gonzales that a fractional membership cannot be converted into a whole membership of one when it would, in effect, deprive another party's fractional membership. It would be a violation of the constitutional mandate of proportional representation. We said further that "no party can claim more than what it is entitled to x x x.”

Formula for Determining Additional Seats for the First Party

Now, how do we determine the number of seats the first party is entitled to? The only basis given by the law is that a party receiving at least two percent of the total votes shall be entitled to one seat. Proportionally, if the first party were to receive twice the number of votes of the second party, it should be entitled to twice the latter's number of seats and so on. The formula, therefore, for computing the number of seats to which the first party is entitled is as follows:

Number of votes
of first party Proportion of votes of
-------------------- = first party relative to
Total votes for total votes for party-list system
party-list system

If the proportion of votes received by the first party without rounding it off is equal to at least six percent of the total valid votes cast for all the party list groups, then the first party shall be entitled to two additional seats or a total of three seats overall. If the proportion of votes without a rounding off is equal to or greater than four percent, but less than six percent, then the first party shall have one additional or a total of two seats. And if the proportion is less than four percent, then the first party shall not be entitled to any additional seat.

We adopted this six percent bench mark, because the first party is not always entitled to the maximum number of additional seats. Likewise, it would prevent the allotment of more than the total number of available seats, such as in an extreme case wherein 18 or more parties tie for the highest rank and are thus entitled to three seats each. In such scenario, the number of seats to which all the parties are entitled may exceed the maximum number of party-list seats reserved in the House of Representatives.

Formula for Additional Seats of Other Qualified Parties

Step Three The next step is to solve for the number of additional seats that the other qualified parties are entitled to, based on proportional representation. The formula:

No. of votes for concerned party
--------------------------------------- x No. of additional seats allocated for first party
No. of votes for first party


Incidentally, if the first party is not entitled to any additional seat, then the ratio of the number of votes for the other party to that for the first one is multiplied by zero. The end result would be zero additional seat for each of the other qualified parties as well.

The above formula does not give an exact mathematical representation of the number of additional seats to be awarded since, in order to be entitled to one additional seat, an exact whole number is necessary. In fact, most of the actual mathematical proportions are not whole numbers and are not rounded off for the reasons explained earlier. To repeat, rounding off may result in the awarding of a number of seats in excess of that provided by the law. Furthermore, obtaining absolute proportional representation is restricted by the three-seat-per-party limit to a maximum of two additional slots. An increase in the maximum number of additional representatives a party may be entitled to would result in a more accurate proportional representation. But the law itself has set the limit: only two additional seats. Hence, we need to work within such extant parameter.

NOTA BENE: In a later decision (Banat vs. COMELEC), SC has struck down in part the "two percent threshold" so that now, the way to allocate seats for party-list representatives is as follows:

  • Step One. Parties, organizations and coalitions shall be ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number of votes garnered
  • Step Two. Those receiving at least 2% of the total votes cast for the party-list system shall be entitled to one guaranteed seat
  • Step Three. Those garnering sufficient number of votes according to the ranking in Step One, shall be entitled to additional seats in proportion to their total number of votes until all the additional seats are allocated.
  • Step Four. Each party, organization or coalition shall not be entitled to more than 3 seats.

Computing additional seats for party-list other than first party: use the number of additional seats allotted for first party as multiplier

CIBAC vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 172103, April 13, 2007

Applying the Veterans formula in petitioner’s case, we reach the conclusion that CIBAC is not entitled to an additional seat. Party-list Canvass Report No. 20 contained in the petition shows that the first party, Bayan Muna, garnered the highest number of votes, that is, a total of 1,203,305 votes. Petitioner CIBAC, on the other hand, received a total of 495,190 votes. It was proclaimed that the first party, Bayan Muna, was entitled to a maximum of three (3) seats based on June 2, 2004 Resolution NO. NBC 04-004 of the COMELEC. A computation using the Veterans formula would therefore lead us to the following result:

No. of votes of
concerned party No. of additional Additional
––––––––––––– x seats allocated to = Seats for
No. of votes of the first party concerned
first party (Emphasis supplied.) party

Applying this formula, the result is as follows:

–––––––– x 2 =
0.41152493 x 2 = 0.82304986

This is a far cry from the claimed Ang Bagong Bayani and Bayan Muna formula which used the multiplier “allotted seats for the first party,” viz:

Additional Seats = Votes Cast for Qualified Party x Allotted Seats
____________________ for First Party
Votes Cast for First Party

Applying the Ang Bagong Bayani and Bayan Muna formula to CIBAC, it yields the following result:

Additional seats = 495,190 x 3 = 1.2345

Unfortunately, it is the Veterans formula that is sanctioned by the Court and not the Ang Bagong Bayani and Bayan Muna formula that petitioner alleges.

Since petitioner CIBAC got a result of 0.82304986 only, which is less than one (1), then it did not obtain or reach a whole number. Petitioner has not convinced us to deviate from our ruling in Veterans that “in order to be entitled to one additional seat, an exact whole number is necessary.” Clearly, petitioner is not entitled to an additional seat.

Are people entitled to know the nominees of party-list organizations?

BA-RA 7941 vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 177271, May 4, 2007

The Right to Information

The right to information is a public right where the real parties in interest are the public, or the citizens to be precise. And for every right of the people recognized as fundamental lies a corresponding duty on the party of those who govern to respect and protect that right. This is the essence of the Bill of Rights in a constitutional regime. Without a government’s acceptance of the limitations upon it by the Constitution in order to uphold individual liberties, without an acknowledgment on its part of those duties exacted by the rights pertaining to the citizens, the Bill of Rights becomes sophistry.

By weight of jurisprudence, any citizen can challenge any attempt to obstruct the exercise of his right to information and may seek its enforcement by mandamus. And since every citizen by the simple fact of his citizenship possesses the right to be informed, objections on ground of locus standi are ordinarily unavailing.

Right to Information Limited to Matters of Public Concern

Like all constitutional guarantees, however, the right to information and its companion right of access to official records are not absolute. As articulated in Legaspi, supra, the people’s right to know is limited to “matters of public concern” and is further subject to such limitation as may be provided by law. Similarly, the policy of full disclosure is confined to transactions involving “public interest” and is subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law. Too, there is also the need of preserving a measure of confidentiality on some matters, such as military, trade, banking and diplomatic secrets or those affecting national security.
The terms “public concerns” and “public interest” have eluded precise definition. But both terms embrace, to borrow from Legaspi, a broad spectrum of subjects which the public may want to know, either because these directly affect their lives, or simply because such matters naturally whet the interest of an ordinary citizen. At the end of the day, it is for the courts to determine, on a case to case basis, whether or not at issue is of interest or importance to the public.

If, as in Legaspi, it was the legitimate concern of a citizen to know if certain persons employed as sanitarians of a health department of a city are civil service eligibles, surely the identity of candidates for a lofty elective public office should be a matter of highest public concern and interest.

Disclosure of Party-list Group Nominees not an Exception

As may be noted, no national security or like concerns is involved in the disclosure of the names of the nominees of the party-list groups in question. Doubtless, the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion in refusing the legitimate demands of the petitioners for a list of the nominees of the party-list groups subject of their respective petitions. Mandamus, therefore, lies.

The last sentence of Section 7 of R.A. 7941 reading: “[T]he names of the party-list nominees shall not be shown on the certified list” is certainly not a justifying card for the Comelec to deny the requested disclosure. To us, the prohibition imposed on the Comelec under said Section 7 is limited in scope and duration, meaning, that it extends only to the certified list which the same provision requires to be posted in the polling places on election day. To stretch the coverage of the prohibition to the absolute is to read into the law something that is not intended. As it were, there is absolutely nothing in R.A. No. 7941 that prohibits the Comelec from disclosing or even publishing through mediums other than the “Certified List” the names of the party-list nominees. The Comelec obviously misread the limited non-disclosure aspect of the provision as an absolute bar to public disclosure before the May 2007 elections. The interpretation thus given by the Comelec virtually tacks an unconstitutional dimension on the last sentence of Section 7 of R.A. No. 7941.

People’s Right to Elect based on Informed Judgment

The Comelec’s reasoning that a party-list election is not an election of personalities is valid to a point. It cannot be taken, however, to justify its assailed non-disclosure stance which comes, as it were, with a weighty presumption of invalidity, impinging, as it does, on a fundamental right to information. While the vote cast in a party-list elections is a vote for a party, such vote, in the end, would be a vote for its nominees, who, in appropriate cases, would eventually sit in the House of Representatives.

It has been repeatedly said in various contexts that the people have the right to elect their representatives on the basis of an informed judgment. Hence the need for voters to be informed about matters that have a bearing on their choice. The ideal cannot be achieved in a system of blind voting, as veritably advocated in the assailed resolution of the Comelec. The Court, since the 1914 case of Gardiner v. Romulo, has consistently made it clear that it frowns upon any interpretation of the law or rules that would hinder in any way the free and intelligent casting of the votes in an election. So it must be here for still other reasons articulated earlier.

In all, we agree with the petitioners that respondent Comelec has a constitutional duty to disclose and release the names of the nominees of the party-list groups named in the herein petitions.

Sec. 6: Qualifications of Member of House of Representatives
  1. Natural-born citizen
  2. 25 years old
  3. Able to read and write
  4. Registered voter of the district in which he shall be elected (except party-list representatives)
  5. Resident of at least one year of such district

Sec. 7: Term of Office of House of Representatives
3 years
COMMENCE: noon on the 30th day of June next following their election (unless otherwise provided by law)
LIMIT: no more than 3 consecutive terms
Voluntary renunciation of the office for any length of time shall not be considered as an interruption in the continuity of his service for the full term for which he was elected

Sec. 11: Parliamentary Immunities

Sec. 11: A Senator or Member of the House of Representative shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years of 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 the Congress or in any committee thereof.

Congress’ Immunity from Arrest vs. Confinement under Penal Sanction

People vs. Jalosjos, G.R. No. 132975-76, Feb. 3, 2000

Aguinaldo Doctrine does not apply

Accused-appellant’s reliance on the ruling in Aguinaldo v. Santos, which states, inter alia, that –

The Court should never remove a public officer for acts done prior to his present term of office. To do otherwise would be to deprive the people of their right to elect their officers. When a people have elected a man to office, it must be assumed that they did this with the knowledge of his life and character, and that they disregarded or forgave his fault or misconduct, if he had been guilty of any. It is not for the Court, by reason of such fault or misconduct, to practically overrule the will of the people.

will not extricate him from his predicament. It can be readily seen in the above-quoted ruling that the Aguinaldo case involves the administrative removal of a public officer for acts done prior to his present term of office. It does not apply to imprisonment arising from the enforcement of criminal law. Moreover, in the same way that preventive suspension is not removal, confinement pending appeal is not removal. He remains a congressman unless expelled by Congress or, otherwise, disqualified.

Rationale of Confinement: Public Self-defense and Example/Warning to Others

One rationale behind confinement, whether pending appeal or after final conviction, is public self-defense. Society must protect itself. It also serves as an example and warning to others.

A person charged with crime is taken into custody for purposes of the administration of justice. As stated in United States v. Gustilo, it is the injury to the public which State action in criminal law seeks to redress. It is not the injury to the complainant. After conviction in the Regional Trial Court, the accused may be denied bail and thus subjected to incarceration if there is risk of his absconding.

The accused-appellant states that the plea of the electorate which voted him into office cannot be supplanted by unfounded fears that he might escape eventual punishment if permitted to perform congressional duties outside his regular place of confinement.

It will be recalled that when a warrant for accused-appellant’s arrest was issued, he fled and evaded capture despite a call from his colleagues in the House of Representatives for him to attend the sessions and to surrender voluntarily to the authorities. Ironically, it is now the same body whose call he initially spurned which accused-appellant is invoking to justify his present motion. This can not be countenanced because, to reiterate, aside from its being contrary to well-defined Constitutional restrains, it would be a mockery of the aims of the State’s penal system.

Only Emergency Temporary Leaves from Imprisonment Allowed

Accused-appellant argues that on several occasions, the Regional Trial Court of Makati granted several motions to temporarily leave his cell at the Makati City Jail, for official or medical reasons


There is no showing that the above privileges are peculiar to him or to a member of Congress. Emergency or compelling temporary leaves from imprisonment are allowed to all prisoners, at the discretion of the authorities or upon court orders.

What the accused-appellant seeks is not of an emergency nature. Allowing accused-appellant to attend congressional sessions and committee meetings for five (5) days or more in a week will virtually make him a free man with all the privileges appurtenant to his position. Such an aberrant situation not only elevates accused-appellant’s status to that of a special class, it also would be a mockery of the purposes of the correction system.


When the voters of his district elected the accused-appellant to Congress, they did so with full awareness of the limitations on his freedom of action. They did so with the knowledge that he could achieve only such legislative results which he could accomplish within the confines of prison. To give a more drastic illustration, if voters elect a person with full knowledge that he is suffering from a terminal illness, they do so knowing that at any time, he may no longer serve his full term in office.

Does being an elective official result in a substantial distinction that allows different treatment? Is being a Congressman a substantial differentiation which removes the accused-appellant as a prisoner from the same class as all persons validly confined under law?

The performance of legitimate and even essential duties by public officers has never been an excuse to free a person validly in prison. The duties imposed by the "mandate of the people" are multifarious. The accused-appellant asserts that the duty to legislate ranks highest in the hierarchy of government. The accused-appellant is only one of 250 members of the House of Representatives, not to mention the 24 members of the Senate, charged with the duties of legislation. Congress continues to function well in the physical absence of one or a few of its members. Depending on the exigency of Government that has to be addressed, the President or the Supreme Court can also be deemed the highest for that particular duty. The importance of a function depends on the need for its exercise. The duty of a mother to nurse her infant is most compelling under the law of nature. A doctor with unique skills has the duty to save the lives of those with a particular affliction. An elective governor has to serve provincial constituents. A police officer must maintain peace and order. Never has the call of a particular duty lifted a prisoner into a different classification from those others who are validly restrained by law.

A strict scrutiny of classifications is essential lest wittingly or otherwise, insidious discriminations are made in favor of or against groups or types of individuals.
The Court cannot validate badges of inequality. The necessities imposed by public welfare may justify exercise of government authority to regulate even if thereby certain groups may plausibly assert that their interests are disregarded.

We, therefore, find that election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement. The functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift him from the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement. Lawful arrest and confinement are germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class.

Parliamentary Immunity as to Speech vis-à-vis Power of Congress to Discipline its Members for Disorderly Behavior

Osmena vs. Pendatun. G.R. No. L-17144, Oct. 29, 1960

Parliamentary Immunity, background

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 exercise of that liberty may occasion offense."2 Such immunity has come to this country from the practices of Parliamentary as construed and applied by the Congress of the United States. Its extent and application remain no longer in doubt in so far 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 is does not protect him from responsibility before the legislative body itself whenever his words and conduct are considered by the latter disorderly or unbecoming a member thereof. xxx

For unparliamentary conduct, members of Parliament or of Congress have been, or could be censured, committed to prison, even expelled by the votes of their colleagues. The appendix to this decision amply attest to the consensus of informed opinion regarding the practice and the traditional power of legislative assemblies to take disciplinary action against its members, including imprisonment, suspension or expulsion. It mentions one instance of suspension of a legislator in a foreign country.

Who determines if an act is disorderly conduct

On the question whether delivery of speeches attacking the Chief Executive constitutes disorderly conduct for which Osmeña may be discipline, many arguments pro and con have been advanced. We believe, however, that the House is the judge of what constitutes disorderly behaviour, not only because the Constitution has conferred jurisdiction upon it, but also because the matter depends mainly on factual circumstances of which the House knows best but which can not be depicted in black and white for presentation to, and adjudication by the Courts. For one thing, if this Court assumed the power to determine whether Osmeña conduct constituted disorderly behaviour, it would thereby have assumed appellate jurisdiction, which the Constitution never intended to confer upon a coordinate branch of the Government. The theory of separation of powers fastidiously observed by this Court, demands in such situation a prudent refusal to interfere. Each department, it has been said, had exclusive cognizance of matters within its jurisdiction and is supreme within its own sphere.


We have underscored in the above quotation those lines which in our opinion emphasize the principles controlling this litigation. Although referring to expulsion, they may as well be applied to other disciplinary action. Their gist as applied to the case at bar: the House has exclusive power; the courts have no jurisdiction to interfere.

Sec. 12: Full Disclosure

Sec. 13 and 14: Disqualifications

  • Cannot hold any other office or employment in the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including GOCCs or their subsidiaries, during term without forfeiting his seat (incompatible office)
  • Cannot be appointed to an office created or the emolument of which was increased during his term (prohibited office)
  • Cannot personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before the Electoral Tribunals, or quasi-judicial and other administrative bodies
  • Cannot be directly or indirectly 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 GOCCs or its subsidiary, during term
  • Cannot intervene in any matter before any government office for his pecuniary benefit or where he may be called upon to act on account of his office

An Assemblyman cannot appear as counsel before an administrative body, whether directly or indirectly

Puyat vs. de Guzman, G.R. No. L-51122, March 25, 1982


An election for the eleven Directors of the International Pipe Industries Corporation (IPI), a private corporation, was held. A quo warranto proceeding was subsequently instituted with the SEC, wherein Justice Estanislao Fernandez, then a member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa, appeared as counsel for respondent Acero. Puyat objected on constitutional ground than an assemblyman cannot appear as counsel before any administrative body, like SEC. Thus, Fernandez withdrew his appearance, but later, he purchased ten IPI shares and then filed a motion for intervention on the basis that he is a shareholder in said corporation.

  • Whether or not Assemblyman Fernandez, as a then stockholder of IPI may intervene in the SEC case


Ordinarily, by virtue of the Motion for Intervention, Assemblyman Fernandez cannot be said to be appearing as counsel. Ostensibly, he is not appearing on behalf of another, although he is joining the cause of the private respondents. His appearance could theoretically be for the protection of his ownership of ten (10) shares of IPI in respect of the matter in litigation and not for the protection of the petitioners nor respondents who have their respective capable and respected counsel.

However, certain salient circumstances militate against the intervention of Assemblyman Fernandez in the SEC Case. He had acquired a mere P200.00 worth of stock in IPI, representing ten shares out of 262,843 outstanding shares. He acquired them "after the fact" that is, on May 30, 1979, after the contested election of Directors on May 14, 1979, after the quo warranto suit had been filed on May 25, 1979 before SEC and one day before the scheduled hearing of the case before the SEC on May 31, 1979. And what is more, before he moved to intervene, he had signified his intention to appear as counsel for respondent Eustaquio T. C. Acero, but which was objected to by petitioners. Realizing, perhaps, the validity of the objection, he decided, instead, to "intervene" on the ground of legal interest in the matter under litigation. And it maybe noted that in the case filed before the Rizal Court of First Instance (L-51928), he appeared as counsel for defendant Excelsior, co-defendant of respondent Acero therein.

Under those facts and circumstances, we are constrained to find that there has been an indirect "appearance as counsel before ... an administrative body" and, in our opinion, that is a circumvention of the Constitutional prohibition. The "intervention" was an afterthought to enable him to appear actively in the proceedings 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 naiveté. He would still appear as counsel indirectly.

A ruling upholding the "intervention" would make the constitutional provision ineffective. All an Assemblyman need do, if he wants to influence an administrative body is to acquire a minimal participation in the "interest" of the client and then "intervene" in the proceedings. That which the Constitution directly prohibits may not be done by indirection or by a general legislative act which is intended to accomplish the objects specifically or impliedly prohibited.

In brief, we hold that the intervention of Assemblyman Fernandez in SEC. No. 1747 falls within the ambit of the prohibition contained in Section 11, Article VIII of the Constitution.

Sec. 15: Sessions
REGULAR – once every year on the fourth Monday of July, unless a different date is fixed by law, and shall continue to be in session for such number of days as it may determine until 30 days before the next regular session
SPECIAL – anytime when called by the President

Sec. 16: Officers, Quorom, Rules of Proceedings, Discipline of Members

  1. Expulsion – disorderly behavior
  2. Suspension – should not be for more than 60 days

NOTA BENE: The 60-day suspension imposed by Congress to discipline its member does not include the preventive suspension which may be imposed by the Sandiganbayan for prosecution of offenses.

Courts have no authority to interfere in the manner of choosing officers in the Senate; such prerogative belongs to the Senate
Santiago vs. Guingona, Jr., G.R. No. 134577, Nov. 18, 1998

What constitutes a Quorom

Avelino vs. Cuenco, G.R. No. L-2821, March 4, 1949

When the Constitution declares that a majority of "each House" shall constitute a quorum, "the House: does not mean "all" the members. Even a majority of all the members constitute "the House". (Missouri Pac. vs. Kansas, 63 Law ed. [U. S.], p. 239). There is a difference between a majority of "the House", the latter requiring less number than the first. Therefore an absolute majority (12) of all the members of the Senate less one (23), constitutes constitutional majority of the Senate for the purpose of a quorum. Mr. Justice Pablo believes furthermore than even if the twelve did not constitute a quorum, they could have ordered the arrest of one, at least, of the absent members; if one had been so arrested, there would be no doubt Quorum then, and Senator Cuenco would have been elected just the same inasmuch as there would be eleven for Cuenco, one against and one abstained.

Rules of Proceedings: Courts do not have the power to inquire into their observance; Enrolled Bill Doctrine vis-à-vis Journal

Arroyo vs. De Venecia, G.R. No. 127255, Aug. 14, 1997

Petitioners contend that the House rules were adopted pursuant to the constitutional provision that “each House may determine the rules of its proceedings” and that for this reason they are judicially enforceable. To begin with, this contention stands the principle on its head. In the decided cases, the constitutional provision that “each House may determine the rules of its proceedings” was invoked by parties, although not successfully, precisely to support claims of autonomy of the legislative branch to conduct its business free from interference by courts. Here petitioners cite the provision for the opposite purpose of invoking judicial review.

But the cases, both here and abroad, in varying forms of expression, all deny to the courts the power to inquire into allegations that, in enacting a law, a House of Congress failed to comply with its own rules, in the absence of showing that there was a violation of a constitutional provision or the rights of private individuals. In Osmeña v. Pendatun, it was held: “At any rate, courts have declared that ‘the rules adopted by deliberative bodies are subject to revocation, modification or waiver at the pleasure of the body adopting them.’ And it has been said that ‘Parliamentary rules are merely procedural, and with their observance, the courts have no concern. They may be waived or disregarded by the legislative body.’ Consequently, ‘mere failure to conform to parliamentary usage will not invalidate the action (taken by a deliberative body) when the requisite number of members have agreed to a particular measure.’”

In this case no rights of private individuals are involved but only those of a member who, instead of seeking redress in the House, chose to transfer the dispute to this Court. We have no more power to look into the internal proceedings of a House than members of that House have to look over our shoulders, as long as no violation of constitutional provisions is shown.

Given this fact, it is difficult to see how it can plausibly be contended that in signing the bill which became R.A. No. 8240, respondent Speaker of the House be acted with grave abuse of his discretion. Indeed, the phrase “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction” has a settled meaning in the jurisprudence of procedure. It means such capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment by a tribunal exercising judicial or quasi judicial power as to amount to lack of power. As Chief Justice Concepcion himself said in explaining this provision, the power granted to the courts by Art. VIII, §1 extends to cases where “a branch of the government or any of its officials has acted without jurisdiction or in excess of jurisdiction, or so capriciously as to constitute an abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction.”

Matter complained of is a matter of internal procedure of the House

Here, the matter complained of concerns a matter of internal procedure of the House with which the Court should not be concerned. To repeat, the claim is not that there was no quorum but only that Rep. Arroyo was effectively prevented from questioning the presence of a quorum. Rep. Arroyo’s earlier motion to adjourn for lack of quorum had already been defeated, as the roll call established the existence of a quorum. The question of quorum cannot be raised repeatedly — especially when the quorum is obviously present — for the purpose of delaying the business of the House. Rep. Arroyo waived his objection by his continued interpellation of the sponsor for in so doing he in effect acknowledged the presence of a quorum.

Enrolled Bill Doctrine

Under the enrolled bill doctrine, the signing of H. No. 7198 by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate and the certification by the secretaries of both Houses of Congress that it was passed on November 21, 1996 are conclusive of its due enactment. Much energy and learning is devoted in the separate opinion of Justice Puno, joined by Justice Davide, to disputing this doctrine. To be sure, there is no claim either here or in the decision in the EVAT cases [Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance] that the enrolled bill embodies a conclusive presumption. In one case we “went behind” an enrolled bill and consulted the Journal to determine whether certain provisions of a statute had been approved by the Senate.
But, where as here there is no evidence to the contrary, this Court will respect the certification of the presiding officers of both Houses that a bill has been duly passed. Under this rule, this Court has refused to determine claims that the three-fourths vote needed to pass a proposed amendment to the Constitution had not been obtained, because “a duly authenticated bill or resolution imports absolute verity and is binding on the courts.”


The Journal is regarded as conclusive with respect to matters that are required by the Constitution to be recorded therein. With respect to other matters, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the Journals have also been accorded conclusive effect. Thus, in United States v. Pons, this Court spoke of the imperatives of public policy for regarding the Journals as “public memorials of the most permanent character,” thus: “They should be public, because all are required to conform to them; they should be permanent, that rights acquired today upon the faith of what has been declared to be law shall not be destroyed tomorrow, or at some remote period of time, by facts resting only in the memory of individuals.” As already noted, the bill which became R.A. No. 8240 is shown in the Journal. Hence its due enactment has been duly proven.

Discipline of Members (See Osmena case supra)

Sandiganbayan is not precluded from issuing preventive suspension against a Senator facing criminal charges
Santiago vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 128055, April 18, 2001

Sec. 17: Electoral Tribunals

COMPOSITION: (9 members)
  1. 3 SC Justices – senior Justice is the Chairman
  2. 6 Congressmen (Senators or Representatives)

Based on proportional representation from the political parties or party-lists
Instituted within 30 days after organization of Senate and House with election of President and Speaker

  • Exclusive power to determine the qualifications of members of Congress
  • Sole jurisdiction to judge election contest between a member and the defeated candidate

HRET has sole and exclusive jurisdiction to judge election contests concerning its members; House has no power to interfere; HRET members are entitled to security of tenure, regardless of any change in their political affiliations
Bondoc vs. Pineda, G.R. No. 97710, Sept. 26, 1991

If the validity of the proclamation is the core issue of the disqualification case, the proclamation of the candidate cannot divest Comelec en banc of its jurisdiction to review its validity; Ministerial duty of the House to administer oath of office
Codilla vs. de Venecia, G.R. no. 150605, Dec. 10, 2002


  • Distinguish between Codilla and Barbers. In Codilla, the action was still pending in the Comelec when the proclamation was made and the main issue raised was the legality of the proclamation. Thus, Comelec could not be divested of its jurisdiction to see the case through even when the proclaimed winner already assumed office. On the other hand, in the Barbers case, the action was only taken after the proclamation of the winning candidate. Thus, the proper forum should have been the SET, and not the Comelec, since the act of proclaiming the winner made the latter a member of the Senate and thus within the sole jurisdiction of the SET.
  • Appeal, as a general rule, does not lie in election contests decided by the SET/HRET. However, the Supreme Court may exercise its power of judicial review if the circumstances warrant.

Q: Who is the proper party to put up an election contest against a winning candidate?
A: Follow the rule on real party-in-interest. The proper party is the one who stands to benefit or lose as a result of the decision. Thus, only a losing candidate (2nd or 3rd placer) can file an election contest.

Q: What if the winning candidate is a lone candidate. Who can question his qualification? Who has jurisdiction?
A: It is submitted that in case of a winning candidate who is a lone candidate, a non-candidate may question his qualification. In which case, jurisdiction belongs with the electoral tribunal of the House concerned in quo warranto proceedings.

Remedy: Petition for Cancellation of Candidacy before election, or Quo Warrant within 10 days from proclamation
Sampayan vs. Daza, 213 SCRA 807

Enrolled Bill and Journal

  1. The yeas and nays on the third and final reading of a bill
  2. The yeas and nays on any question, at the request of 1/5 of the members present
  3. The yeas and nays upon repassing a bill over the President’s veto
  4. The President’s objection to a bill he had votoed

Enrolled Bill vis-à-vis Journal (See Arroyo vs. De Venecia case supra)

Rationale of the Enrolled Bill Theory; when courts may turn to the journal
Astorga vs. Villegas, G.R. No. L-23475, April 30, 1974


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