| HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
legislative power is vested in Congress, which consists of the Senate
and the House of Representatives.
The Senate is composed of 24 senators who are elected at large.
The House of Representatives is composed of not more than 250 members
who are elected from legislative districts apportioned among the
provinces, cities and Metro Manila and through a party-list system
of registered national, regional, and sectoral parties or organizations.
A legislative district comprises, as far as practicable, contiguous,
compact, and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of
at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, should have
at least one representative. As of 2003, there are 209 legislative
The party-list representatives should constitute 20 percent of
the total number of representatives including those under the party
list. The seats should be elected from the labor, peasant, urban
poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and other sectors
as provided by law, except the religious sector.
What are the powers of Congress?
enact laws, including appropriation and taxation measures
conduct legislative investigations
request heads of departments to appear before it
act as Board of Canvassers for the Presidential elections
call for special elections for the presidency and the vice presidency
declare war and delegate emergency powers
revoke or extend the privilege of the habeas corpus or declare
concur in the presidential power to grant amnesty
confirm certain appointments made by the President
approve treaties and international agreements
determine the President's physical fitness to discharge the duties
of his or her office
impeach the President, the Vice President, members of the Supreme
Court, members of the constitutional commissions, and the Ombudsman
allow utilization of natural resources
amend the Constitution
Privileges of legislators
are privileged from arrest while Congress is in session in all
offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment.
cannot be questioned or held liable in any other place for any
speech or debate in Congress or in any committee thereof.
What legislators cannot do
acts on electoral disputes involving legislators?
may not hold any other office or employment in the government,
including government-owned -controlled corporations, during his
or her term without forfeiting his or her seat.
may not personally appear as counsel before any court of justice
or before electoral tribunal, or quasi-judicial, and other administrative
may not be appointed to any government office which may have been
created or the emoluments thereof increased during the term for
which he or she was elected.
may not, directly or indirectly, be interested financially in
any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted
by the government during their term of office. They may not intervene
in any matter before any government office for pecuniary benefit
or where they may be called upon to act on account of their office.
may not enjoy an increase in salaries they themselves approve
until after their full term has expired.
The Senate and the House of Representatives each have an electoral
tribunal which acts as the sole judge of all contests relating to
the election, returns, and qualifications of their respective members.
Each electoral tribunal is composed of nine members, three of whom
are justices of the Supreme Court who are assigned to the tribunal
by the chief justice; the remaining six are the members of the Senate
or the House of Representatives chosen on the basis of proportional
representation from the political parties and the parties or organizations
registered under the party-list system. The senior justice in the
electoral tribunal will be constituted within 30 days after the Senate
and the House of Representatives shall have been organized with the
election of the president of the Senate and the Speaker.
Open for Business
LAND as a source of wealth and power is waning; instead the business
interests of the members of the House of Representatives are more
varied, a sign of the modernization, if not the democratization,
of the Philippine elite.