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Feb 2, 2010

Sec. 18: Commission on Appointments

  1. President of Senate as ex officio Chairman
  2. 12 Senators
  3. 12 Reps
Act on all appointments within 30 session days of Congress from their submission
Majority vote of all members

Proportional Representation vis-a-vis Political Realignment

Daza vs. Singson, G.R. No. 86344, Dec. 21, 1989


Petitioner Daza, a Liberal Party member, was given a seat in the Commission on Appointments. However, after the reorganization of the LDP, which resulted in a political realignment in the House. 24 members of the Liberal Party formally resigned and joined the LDP, thereby welling its number to 159 and correspondingly reducing their former party to only 17 members. On the basis of this development, the House revised its representation in the Commission by withdrawing the seat occupied by petitioner and giving this to the newly-formed LDP, who was represented by Respondent Singson.

  • Whether or not the reorganization of the House representation in the Commission is based on a permanent political realignment as to warrant petitioner’s removal therein


In the case of Cunanan v. Tan, the Court noted that the Allied Majority was a merely temporary combination as the Nacionalista defectors had not disaffiliated from their party and permanently joined the new political group. Officially, they were still members of the Nacionalista Party. The reorganization of the Commission on Appointments was invalid because it was not based on the proportional representation of the political parties in the House of Representatives as required by the Constitution. The Court held:

... In other words, a shifting of votes at a given time, even if du to arrangements of a more or less temporary nature, like the one that has led to the formation of the so-called "Allied Majority," does not suffice to authorize a reorganization of the membership of the Commission for said House. Otherwise the Commission on Appointments may have to be reorganized as often as votes shift from one side to another in the House. The framers of our Constitution could not have intended to thus place a constitutional organ, like the Commission on Appointments, at the mercy of each House of Congress.

The petitioner's contention that, even if registered, the party must still pass the test of time to prove its permanence is not acceptable. Under this theory, a registered party obtaining the majority of the seats in the House of Representatives (or the Senate) would still not be entitled to representation in the Commission on Appointments as long as it was organized only recently and has not yet "aged." The Liberal Party itself would fall in such a category. That party was created in December 1945 by a faction of the Nacionalista Party that seceded therefrom to support Manuel A. Roxas's bid for the Presidency of the Philippines in the election held on April 23, 1946. The Liberal Party won. At that time it was only four months old. Yet no question was raised as to its right to be represented in the Commission on Appointments and in the Electoral Tribunals by virtue of its status as the majority party in both chambers of the Congress.

The LDP has been in existence for more than one year now. It now has 157 members in the House of Representatives and 6 members in the Senate. Its titular head is no less than the President of the Philippines and its President is Senator Neptali A. Gonzales, who took over recently from Speaker Ramon V. Mitra. It is true that there have been, and there still are, some internal disagreements among its members, but these are to be expected in any political organization, especially if it is democratic in structure. In fact even the monolithic Communist Party in a number of socialist states has undergone similar dissension, and even upheavals. But it surely cannot be considered still temporary because of such discord.
If the petitioner's argument were to be pursued, the 157 members of the LDP in the House of Representatives would have to be denied representation in the Commission on Appointments and, for that matter, also the Electoral Tribunal. By the same token, the KBL, which the petitioner says is now "history only," should also be written off. The independents also cannot be represented because they belong to no political party. That would virtually leave the Liberal Party only with all of its seventeen members to claim all the twelve seats of the House of Representatives in the Commission on Appointments and the six legislative seats in the House Electoral Tribunal.

It is noteworthy that when with 41 members the Liberal Party was alloted two of the seats in the Commission on Appointments, it did not express any objection. Inconsistently, the petitioner is now opposed to the withdrawal from it of one seat although its original number has been cut by more than half.

As for the other condition suggested by the petitioner, to wit, that the party must survive in a general congressional election, the LDP has doubtless also passed that test, if only vicariously. It may even be said that as it now commands the biggest following in the House of Representatives, the party has not only survived but in fact prevailed. At any rate, that test was never laid down in Cunanan.

  • Regular – requires concurrence of CA; if revoked by CA, can return to his old post but cannot be reappointed; if bypassed by CA, reappointment is allowed
  • Ad Interim – permanent and effective until revoked or disapproved by CA; if revoked by CA, cannot return to his old post or be reappointed; if bypassed, the appointment shall only last until the next adjournment of Congress and official may be reappointed to the same position
  • Temporary – appointments in acting capacity; no need for concurrence of CA and shall last only for a period not exceeding one year

Acting Appointments of President (See Pimentel vs. Executive Secretary)

Legislative Inquiries/Investigations

  1. In Aid of Legislation (Sec. 21)
  2. Question Hour (Sec. 22)

In Aid of Legislation vs. Question Hour (See Neri vs. Senate)

In Aid of Legislation

  • Must be in aid of legislation – either in making a new legislation or improving a defective one
  • The rules and regulations providing for its conduct must be duly published
  • The rights of individuals must be respected (e.g. right against self-incrimination)

Question Hour – Congress may summon heads of executive departments to shed light on certain matters in aid of legislation or the heads may appear before Congress upon their own initiative with approval of the President; either in the Congressional Chamber or the Executive Office

Q: Can a member of the Cabinet refuse to appear before Congress?
A: A distinction must be made between the question hour and inquiries in aid of legislation. The former is merely permissive and does not, as a rule, include compulsory processes such that a Cabinet member may validly refuse to appear before Congress. However, if the inquiry is in aid of legislation, Congress is empowered to issue subpoenas and may rightly cite anyone called before it in contempt should they refuse to appear. The only exemption to this power is if the President or the Executive Secretary by the President’s authority invokes executive privilege.

Sec. 23: Power to Declare Existence of War and Delegate Emergency Powers

Q: Can Congress declare war?
A: No. The power to declare war rests with the President. All that the Congress can do, via two-thirds vote of all its members in a joint session, is to declare its existence.

Q: How does Congress delegate emergency powers to the President?
A: Through a law passed for purpose of carrying out a declared national policy. It ceases with the passing of another resolution from Congress without need for President’s approval. If no resolution is passed, the power will automatically cease upon the next adjournment of Congress.

Requisites to Declare Existence of War (See David vs. Arroyo)

Sec. 24: Bills Originating from the House of Reps

  1. Appropriation, revenue and tariff bills (ART)
  2. Bills authorizing the increase of public debt
  3. Bills of local application
  4. Private bills

Q: Why should these bills originate from the House of Reps?
A: The House Reps are elected by district, hence, they are more familiar with the needs of their constituents. They are also more numerous, therefore, representative of the people.

Q: Does Sec. 24 violate the co-equality between the House Reps and Senate?
A: No, because the Senate can still file ahead of the House Reps any of the bills mentioned above. However, they must withhold any action on the bill until it has received the version filed by the House of Reps.

Sec. 25: ART Bills, Transfer of Funds, Discretionary Funds

Appropriation Bill – a statue the primary and specific purpose of which is to authorize the release of funds from the treasury

  1. General Appropriation
  2. Special Appropriation

  • Must originate from the House of Reps which has the power of the purse
  • Must be based on a budget prepared by the President
  • The particular provision must relate to a particular item in the said bill
  • Must not be for the use, benefit or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or any priest, preacher, minister or other religious teacher, or dignitary as such, EXCEPT: when such priest, etc. is assigned to the armed forces, or to any penal institution, or government orphanage or leprosarium

Q: Can a law creating an office and at the same time provide for disbursement of funds be considered an appropriation bill?
A: No, because the main purpose of that law is not the disbursement of funds but the creation of an office.

Q: Can Congress increase the budget appropriated or recommended by the President?
A: No, but Congress can decrease the amount.

Q: What happens if Congress fails to pass a general appropriations act?
A: The previous act will be re-enacted to be used for the fiscal year until such time that a General Appropriations Bill shall be passed.

  • Must be for a specific purpose
  • Must have a certification from the National Treasurer that the funds are available or if there is an accompanying revenue proposal as to how to raise the funds needed


  • Certification from the National Treasurer is needed in order to avoid “sub rosa” appropriation, wherein a special appropriations measure is done even though the funds are not available.
  • But a special appropriation bill may be filed even if there is no budget yet so long as there is an accompanying revenue proposal on how to raise the funds.

Tax/Revenue – enforced proportional contributions from persons and property, levied by the State by virtue of its sovereignty, for the support of government and for public needs

  • Taxes are for public purposes
  • Non-delegation of taxing power
  • Territoriality or situs of taxation
  • Tax exemptions as provided in the Constitution with concurrence of majority of Congress
  • International comity
  • Taxes should not be oppressive
  • Due process must be observed
  • Adheres to the bill of rights
  • Non-infringement of religious freedom
  • Non-impairment of contracts
  • Tax levied for a special purpose shall be treated as a special fund and paid out for such purpose only (any balance shall be transferred to the general funds of the Government
  • Tax laws must be uniform and equitable
  • Progressive tax system

Discretionary Funds

  • Disbursed for a public purpose
  • Duly supported by appropriate vouchers
  • Subject to guidelines prescribed by law

Transfer of Funds
GR: transfer of funds is not allowed
EXC: if the transfer is only within one department, or if there is surplus or savings and the transfer is for the purpose of augmenting any item in the appropriation law

  1. President
  2. Senate President
  3. Speaker of the House
  4. Chief Justice
  5. Heads of the Constitutional Commissions

Sec. 26: Requirements as to Bills

  1. One subject per title – to prevent hodgepodge or logrolling legislation wherein many subjects are contained in a single bill in order to accommodate some subjects that cannot possibly pass through a single bill on its own and so that greater support for the bill is garnered
  2. Subject of the bill must be expressed in the title – to prevent surprise or fraud beause some members of Congress might not be able to read the whole bill; a way of informing the public of what the bill is all about
  3. Some bills must originate EXCLUSIVELY from the House of Reps
  4. 3 readings on 3 separate days and printing and distribution at least 3 days before final approval – EXCEPTION: when the President certifies the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency


  • Logrolling legislation is sought to be prevented in order to avoid a situation wherein what had been disapproved if taken on its own, may be approved because it was lumped in a favorable subject.
  • It is enough that the title must be able to state what the bill is all about, without necessarily enumerating the details of the bill.
  • Presidential certification dispenses with both the 3-day printing and the 3 readings on 3 separate days. But the bill must still go through 3 readings, which may be done on the same day. This is not subject to judicial review, as a general rule, because there is no factual basis of grave abuse of discretion to speak of.

Sec. 27: President’s Veto

  • General – for all bills except ART bills; veto the whole bill (general rule)
  • Line or Item – only for ART bills because each item of ART is a bill in itself in terms of importance; veto only certain provisions that are inappropriate

  • Any provision that does not relate to a particular, distinctive appropriation or item; in such a case, the inappropriate provision shall be treated as an item and therefore can be vetoed
  • Any provision blocking admnistrative action in implementing the law or requiring legislative approval for executive action
  • Any provision that is unconstitutional
  • Any provision that amends a certain law

Q: When does a bill become a law?
A: A bill becomes a law after the President’s approval. A bill may also become a law through the President’s inaction (given 30 days to either approve or veto a bill; if no action, it is implied approval). Another way for a bill to become a law is if Congress, after the President’s veto, overrides the same by 2/3 votes of the members of each House.

Q: What is the effect of an invalid veto?
A: It will be like there was no veto at all.

Q: What is a pocket veto?
A: The rule is that if the President, after receiving a copy of the bill, does not act on the same within 30 days, neither indicating his approval nor veto, the bill shall pass into law as if he had signed it. The exception is before the lapse of the 30-day period the Congress adjourns and the President does not act on the bill until the said period lapses, thus effectively vetoing it. Ignoring legislation, or “putting a bill in one’s pocket” until Congress adjourns is thus called a pocket veto. Since Congress cannot vote while in adjournment, a pocket veto cannot be overridden.

Q: When does a law take effect?
A: A law becomes effective 15 days after publication, unless otherwise provided. The phrase “unless otherwise provided”does not mean that publication may be dispensed with. Rather, the phrase refers to the 15-day period. In other words, the law itself may provide, through its effectivity clause, that it becomes effective after the lapse of a different period. (See Tanada vs. Tuvera)

The Legislative Mill
  1. Drafting – done by either a member of the House or the Bill Drafting Division. The draft goes to the Plenary Affairs Bureau of the Index and Bills Division where it will be docketed and assigned a bill number, e.g. House Bill No.
  2. First Reading – only the title and the number of the bill is read, after which, the Senate President or the House Speaker will refer it to the right committee, depending on the title; the committee will study the bill and, if necessary, conduct public hearings; this is where the bill either gets “killed” or recommended for approval, with amendments, if any, or consolidated with other bills on the same subject
  3. Second Reading – involves a reading of the whole text of the bill, not just the title and docket number; the sponsor of the bill will make his Sponsorship Speech, followed by the Turno en Contra who will oppose the passage of the bill; then comes the debate and interpellation, after which, the amendments agreed upon are finalized; the bill as amended is then printed and distributed to the members at least 3 days before the 3rd reading
  4. Third Reading – no more debates or discussions or questions; members are only there to vote to approve or reject the bill and, if required by law, to explain why so; voting will be done through yeas and nays
  5. Referral – after the 3rd reading, the bill will be referred to the other chamber where it will also undergo 3 readings; in case of conflict, the bill will be referred to the Bicameral Chamber, which is a committee composed of members of each House; the Bicameral Chamber will draft a compromise measure that, if approved by both Houses, will be submitted to the President for him to veto or approve into law

Limitations on Legislative Power
  • Substantive - curtail the contents of a law
Non-delegation of legislative power
Prohibiting passage of irrepealable laws
Prohibiting passage of law that increases the appellate jurisdiction of SC without its advice and concurrence (Sec. 30)
Prohibiting law granting royalty or nobility (Sec. 31)

  • Procedural – curtail the manner of passing a law


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