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Concept of executive privilege.

Legislative Department
Safeguards that proscribe the legislative power of inquiry.

The power of Congressional inquiry is not absolute.

Section 21, Article VI establishes crucial safeguards that

proscribe the legislative power of inquiry. The provision requires
that the inquiry be done in accordance with the Senate or
Houses duly published rules of procedure, necessarily implying
the constitutional infirmity of an inquiry conducted without duly
published rules of procedure. Section 21 also mandates that the
rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries be
respected, an imposition that obligates Congress to adhere to the
guarantees in the Bill of Rights.

Executive privilege is the power of the Government to withhold

information from the public, the courts, and the Congress. It is
the right of the President and high-level executive branch offices
to withhold information from Congress, the courts and ultimately

the public. (Senate, et al. vs. Ermita, et al., G.R. No. 167777, April
20, 2006).

Types or kinds of executive privilege.

These abuses are, or course, remediable before the courts, upon
the proper suit filed by the person affected, even if they belong to
the executive branch. Nonetheless, there may be exceptional
circumstances, wherein a clear pattern of abuse of the legislative
power of inquiry might be established, resulting in palpable
violations of the rights guaranteed to members of the executive
department under the Bill of Rights. In such instances, depending
on the particulars of each case, attempts by the Executive Branch
to forestall these abuses may be accorded judicial sanction.
(Senate, et al. vs. Ermita, et al., G.R. No. 167777, April 20, 2006).

Executive privilege is not a clear or unitary concept. It has

encompassed claims of varying kinds.

One variety of the privilege, is the state secrets privilege invoked

by U.S. Presidents, beginning with Washington, on the ground
that the information is such nature that its disclosure would
subvert crucial military or diplomatic objectives. Another variety is
the informers privilege, or the privilege of the Government not to

disclose the identity of persons who furnish information of

violations of law to officers charged with the enforcement of that
law. Finally, a generic privilege for internal deliberations has been
said to attach to intra-governmental documents reflecting
comprising part of a process by which government decisions and
policies are formulated. (Senate, et al. vs. Ermita, et al., G.R. No.
167777, April 20, 2006).

The framers of the 1987 Constitution removed the mandatory

nature of such appearance during the question hour in the
present Constitution so as to conform more fully to a system of
separation of powers. To that extent, the question hour, as it is
presently understood in this jurisdiction, departs from the question
period of the parliamentary system. That department heads may
not be required to appear in a question hour does not, however,
mean that the legislature is rendered powerless to elicit
information from them in all circumstances. In fact, in light of the
absence of a mandatory question period, the need to enforce
Congress right to executive information in the performance of its
legislative function becomes more imperative.

Basis for the three kinds of executive privilege.

Since the beginnings of our nation, executive officials have

claimed a variety of privileges to resist disclosure of information,
the confidentiality of which they felt was crucial to the fulfillment of
the unique role and responsibilities of the executive branch of our
government. courts ruled early that the executive had a right to
withhold documents that might reveal military or state secrets.
The courts have also granted the executive a right to withhold the
identity of government informers in some circumstances and a
qualified right to withhold information related to pending
investigations. (In re Sealed, 121 F. ed. 729, 326 U.S. App. D.C.
276; Senate, et al. vs. Ermita, et al., G.R. No. 167777, April 20,

Appearance during the question hour not mandatory.

Basis of the power of Congress to compel the appearance of

executive officials or the lack of it.

The power of Congress to compel the appearance of executive

officials under Section 21 and the lack of it under Section 22 find
their basis in the principle of separation powers. While the
executive branch is a co-equal branch of the legislature, it cannot
frustrate the power of Congress to legislate by refusing to comply
with its demands for information, otherwise, it would not be able
to perform intelligently its power of legislation. (Senate, et al. vs.
Ermita, et al.)

Meaning of the requirement of prior consent of the President or the

head of office allowing an official to appear before the

Upon a determination by the designated head of office or by the

President that an official is covered by the executive privilege,
such official is covered by the executive privilege, such official is
subject to the requirement that he first secure the consent of the
President prior to appearing before the Congress. This
requirement effectively bars the appearance of the official
concerned unless the same is permitted by the President. The
provision allowing the President to give its consent means
nothing more than that the President may reverse a prohibition
which already exists by virtue of E.O. 464.

Thus, underlying this requirement of prior consent is the

determination by the head of office, authorized by the President
under E.O. 464, or by the President herself, that such official is in
possession of information that is covered by executive privilege.
This determination then becomes the basis for the officials not
showing up in the legislative investigation.

In view thereof, whenever an official invokes E.O. 464 to justify

his failure to be present, such invocation must be construed as a
declaration to Congress that the President, or a head of office
authorized by the President, has determined that the requested
information is privileged, and that the President has not reversed
such determination. Such declaration, however, even without
mentioning the term executive privilege, amounts to an implied
claim that the information is being withheld by the executive

branch, by authority of the President, on the basis of executive

privilege. Verily, there is an implied claim of privilege. (Senate, et
al. vs. Ermita, et al.).

Invocation of executive privilege to be accompanied by reasons.

The invocation of executive privilege must be accompanied by
specific reasons.

Certainly, Congress has the right to know why the executive

considers the requested information privileged. It does not suffice
to merely declare that the President, or an authorized head of
office, has determined that it is so, and that the President has not
overturned that determination. Such declaration leaves Congress
in the dark on how the requested information could be classified
as privileged. That the message is couched in terms that, on first
impression, do not seem like a claim of privilege only makes it
more pernicious. It threatens to make Congress doubly blind to
the question of why the executive branch is not providing it with
the information that it has requested.

No need to specify the exact reason.

Congress must not require the executive to state the reasons for
the claim with such particularity as to compel disclosure of the
information which the privilege is meant to protect. A useful
analogy in determining the requisite degree of particularity would
be the privilege against self-incrimination.

President, which means that he personally consulted with her.

The privilege being an extraordinary power, it must be wielded
only by the highest official in the executive hierarchy. In other
words, the President may not authorize her subordinates to
exercise such power. There is even less reason to uphold such
authorization where the authorization is not explicit but mere
silence. Section 3, in relation to Section 2(b), is invalid on this
score. (Senate, et al. vs. Ermita, et al., G.R. No. 167777, April 20,

No claim of executive privilege by mere silence.

Such presumptive authorization is contrary to the exceptional
nature of the privilege. Executive privilege is recognized with
respect to information the confidential nature of which is crucial to
the fulfillment of the unique rule and responsibilities of the
executive branch, or in those instances where exemption from
disclosure is necessary to the discharge of highly important
executive responsibilities. The doctrine of executive privilege is
thus, premised on the fact that certain information must, as a
matter of necessity, be kept confidential in the pursuit of the
public interest. The privilege being, by definition, an exemption
from the obligation to disclose information, in this case to
Congress, the necessity must be of such high degree as to
outweigh the public interest in enforcing that obligation in a
particular case. (Senate, et al. vs. Ermita, et al., G.R. No. 167777,
April 20, 2006).

Only the President can claim privilege.

In view of the highly exceptional nature of the privilege, it is

essential to limit to the President the power to invoke the
privilege. She may of course authorize the Executive Secretary to
invoke the privilege on her behalf, in which case the Executive
Secretary must state that the authority is By the order of the

House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal


Michael Planas filed his certificate of candidacy for

representative of the Third District of Quezon City. Anna Liza
Cabochan likewise filed her certificate of candidacy but had
to withdraw the same due to the Petition to Deny Due
Course filed by a registered voter for the reason that the
Notary Public who notarized it had an expired commission.
Matias Defensor filed his certificate of candidacy in
substitution of Cabochan. A Petition to Deny Due Course to
the certificate of Defensor was filed but before it could be
resolved with finality by the COMELEC, the election was
conducted, Defensor won and was proclaimed and took his
oath and assumed. The COMELEC ruled that with his
proclamation, it was divested of jurisdiction and that the
HRET has now jurisdiction. Is the ruling of the COMELEC
correct? Explain.

ANS: Yes, because at the time of the proclamation of Defensor who

garnered the highest number of votes, the resolution invalidating

his certificate of candidacy was not yet final, hence, he had at that
point in time remained qualified.

motion, issued a resolution declaring his disqualification and

directing the immediate proclamation of the candidate who
garnered the highest number of votes. Despite Codillas timely
filing of a Motion for Reconsideration, the votes cast for Codilla
were declared stray and Locsin, who garnered the second
highest number votes, was proclaimed winner. It was held therein
that at the time of the proclamation of Locsin, the validity of the
Resolution of the COMELEC Second Division [disqualifying
Codilla] was seasonably challenged by [Codilla] in his Motion for
Reconsideration. The issue was still within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the COMELEC en banc to resolve. Hence, the
HRET cannot assume jurisdiction over the matter.

His proclamation was valid or legal and as he in fact had taken his
oath of office and assumed his duties as representative, the
COMELEC had been effectively divested of jurisdiction over the
case. (Planas v. COMELEC, et al., G.R. No. 167594, March 10,
2006, Carpio Morales, J).

Is the rule absolute? Why?

ANS: No.
The general rule is that the proclamation of a congressional
candidate divests COMELEC of jurisdiction in favor of the HRET.
This rule, however, is not without exception. In Mutuc, et al. v.
COMELEC, et al., it was ruled that it is indeed true that after
proclamation the usual remedy of any party aggrieved in an
election is to be found in an election protest. But that is so only on
the assumption that there has been a valid proclamation. Where
however, the proclamation itself is illegal, the assumption of office
cannot in any way affect the basic issues. (Planas v. COMELEC,
et al., G.R. No. 167594, March 10, 2006).

How do you distinguish Codilla v. De Venecia, et al., 442 Phil.

139 (2002) from Planas v. COMELEC? Explain.

ANS: In Codilla, the proclamation of Codilla, who garnered the highest

number of votes but who was facing charges of many counts of
indirect solicitation of votes, was ordered suspended even if he
had not yet been summoned to answer the charges. Codilla
thereupon filed a motion to lift the suspension order. The
COMELEC Second Division, without resolving Codillas pending

In other words, at the time Codilla was declared disqualified by

the Second Division and his rival Locsin who garnered the
second highest number of votes was proclaimed, the Division
Resolution which declared Codillas disqualification was not yet
final, as Codillas Motion for Reconsideration thereof had yet to
be acted upon by the COMELEC En Banc which had exclusive
jurisdiction to resolve the same. The HRET could not thus
assume jurisdiction as Locsins proclamation was invalid. (Planas
v. COMELEC, et al., G.R. No. 167594, March 10, 2006, CarpioMorales, J).

When does the Supreme Court have jurisdiction to review

decisions of the HRET? Explain.

ANS: The Supreme Courts jurisdiction to review decisions and

resolutions of HRET operates only upon a showing of grave
abuse of discretion on the part of the Tribunal tantamount to lack
or excess of jurisdiction. Such grave abuse of discretion implies
capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment amounting to lack
of jurisdiction, or arbitrary and despotic exercise of power
because of passion or personal hostility. The grave abuse of

discretion must be so patent and gross as to amount to an

evasion or refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law. (Abubakar v.
HRET, et al., G.R Nos. 173310 and 173609, March 7, 2007).

ARTICLE VI: Legislative Department (Part 1)

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.


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

but Sec. 19 of the Rules and Regulations to implement RA

8177 is invalid.

Power according to its application:

1. Constituent power to amend the Constitution
2. Ordinary power to pass ordinary laws

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.



NOTA BENE: Powers of Congress may be inherent (like the

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.

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,

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
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 iscanalized 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 rulemaking authority under RA 8177. Such apparent abdication
of departmental responsibility renders the said paragraph
To People (See Santiago and Lambino cases)
Sec. 2: Composition of Senate
24 Senators

Sec. 3: Qualifications of Senators

Natural-born citizen
35 years old
Able to read and write
Registered voter
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

(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 subprovince 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 citizens 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 petitioners 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

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, petitioners 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. Zamoras 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 statutes

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
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
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
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 interestrepresentations into the legislature; thus, no single group, no
matter how large its membership, would dominate the partylist 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

us to the following result:

Step One. Parties, organizations and coalitions shall be

ranked from the highest to the lowest based on the number
of votes garnered

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

Step Two. Those receiving at least 2% of the total votes cast

for the party-list system shall be entitled to one guaranteed

Applying this formula, the result is as follows:

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 petitioners 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

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
____________________ 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
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 governments
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
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
peoples 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.

Peoples Right to Elect based on Informed

The Comelecs 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
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

Sec. 6: Qualifications of Member of House of

Natural-born citizen
25 years old
Able to read and write
Registered voter of the district in which he shall be elected
(except party-list representatives)
Resident of at least one year of such district

Sec. 7: Term of Office of House of

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-appellants 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
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-appellants
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 States penal system.
Only Emergency Temporary Leaves from Imprisonment
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
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-appellants 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
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-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.
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
Osmea 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 Osmea 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.

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

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

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 naivet. 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

Courts have no authority to interfere in the manner of

choosing officers in the Senate; such prerogative belongs to
the Senate

Expulsion disorderly behavior

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.

Santiago vs. Guingona, Jr., G.R. No. 134577, Nov. 18, 1998

What constitutes a Quorum

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

Rules of Proceedings: Courts do not have

the power to inquire into their
observance; Enrolled Bill Doctrine vis--vis
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 Osmea 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

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. Arroyos
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 threefourths 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

Sandiganbayan is not precluded from issuing preventive
suspension against a Senator facing criminal charges

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
Codilla vs. de Venecia, G.R. no. 150605, Dec. 10, 2002

Santiago vs. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 128055, April 18, 2001


Sec. 17: Electoral Tribunals

COMPOSITION: (9 members)
3 SC Justices senior Justice is the Chairman
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

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
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
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

The yeas and nays on the third and final reading of a bill
The yeas and nays on any question, at the request of 1/5 of
the members present
The yeas and nays upon repassing a bill over the Presidents
The Presidents objection to a bill he had vetoed
Enrolled Bill vis--vis Journal (See Arroyo vs. De Venecia case
Rationale of the Enrolled Bill Theory; when courts may turn to
the journal
Astorga vs. Villegas, G.R. No. L-23475, April 30, 1974

Sec. 18: Commission on Appointments

President of Senate as ex officio Chairman
12 Senators
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 petitioners removal

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

... 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
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 instructure. 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
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

Legislative Inquiries/Investigations
In Aid of Legislation (Sec. 21)
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
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 Presidents
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
Presidents 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
Appropriation, revenue and tariff bills (ART)
Bills authorizing the increase of public debt
Bills of local application
Private bills

Q: Why should these bills originate from the House of

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.


General Appropriation
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.

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

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


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

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.

Transfer of 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


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

Disbursed for a public purpose

Duly supported by appropriate vouchers
Subject to guidelines prescribed by law

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


Senate President
Speaker of the House
Chief Justice
Heads of the Constitutional Commissions

Sec. 26: Requirements as to Bills


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
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
Some bills must originate EXCLUSIVELY from the House of
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: Presidents 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
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 Presidents approval. A bill
may also become a law through the Presidents 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 Presidents 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 ones
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
provideddoes 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

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.
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
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
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
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.
Prohibiting law granting royalty or nobility (Sec. 31)
Procedural curtail the manner of passing a law.