"RULES" OR LAWS DETERMINE THE ANSWERS TO these questions. They are made by lawmakers in the Philippine Legislature that is also called the Congress of the Philippines. Congress has two chambers or houses - the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are called Representatives or Congressmen/Congress-women. They are elected to a three-year term by voters in their respective legislative districts. A Representative can serve for not more than three consecutive terms. There are 212 legislative districts in the country. You live in one of these districts along with about 250,000 other people! There are 212 representatives elected by district. In addition, there are Representatives elected through the party-list system who constitute not more than twenty percent (20%) of the total number of Representatives.
Lawmakers in the Senate are called Senators who are elected at large or nationwide by qualified voters to a six-year term. Senators can serve for not more than two consecutive terms. The Senate has twenty-four (24) Senators.
To qualify for election as a Representative, you have to be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter in the district in which you seek to be elected, a resident therein for not less than one (1) year before the day of the election and at least twenty-five (25) years of age. To qualify for election as a Senator, you also have to be a natural-born Filipino citizen, a registered voter, a resident of the Philippines for at least two (2) years before the day of the election and at least thirty-five (35) years old.
Our Constitution provides that our Congress convenes for its regular session every year beginning on the 4th Monday of July. A regular session can last until thirty days before the opening of its next regular session in the succeeding year. The President may, however, call special sessions which are usually held between regular sessions to handle emergencies or urgent matters.
YOUR HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THE SPEAKER LEADS, MANAGES AND PRESIDES over your House of Representatives. A majority of all the Members of the House elects the Speaker. Those who voted for the Speaker belong to the Majority while those who voted for the Speaker's opponent belong to the Minority. Representatives belonging to the Majority choose the Majority Floor Leader who automatically chairs the Committee on Rules, and those in the Minority choose the Minority Floor Leader.The other officers of the House of Representatives are the Deputy Speakers, the Secretary-General and the Sergeant-at-Arms who are also elected by a majority of all the Representatives.
Committees, or small groups of Representatives, headed by committee chairpersons, study proposed laws called bills, and other measures relating to issues and concerns affecting our lives, our communities and our society. They conduct hearings that give us, citizens, opportunities to express our views on proposed laws or measures. Employees of the House constituting Committee Secretariats provide the committees with legislative support services such as research, report preparation, policy studies and the like.
When you visit the House of Representatives, you may see your Representatives in action during sessions or committee hearings. If you wish to speak with any one of them during sessions or hearings, the Pages who assist and run errands for our representatives in the Session Hall and in our conference rooms, can bring your notes and messages to the Representative you wish to speak with.
You may also write to your Representatives, attend committee hearings, or ask for information about the legislative process or a specific bill. Your Representatives will appreciate hearing from you because they know how important your views are in making good laws that effectively address the welfare of our people.
HOW A BILL BECOMES A LAW
* A bill must relate to only one subject matter which must be expressed in its title.
** A Committee only prepares a report on a bill it decides to recommend for approval by the House.
*** A bill must undergo 3 readings on 3 separate days except when the President certifies a bill as urgent to meet a public calamity or national emergency.
**** If a house has a counterpart bill to a bill passed by the other house, and these bills have conflicting provisions, a conference committee composed of representatives of each house is formed to harmonize the conflicting provisions. Thereafter, if the conflicting provisions are harmonized, a conference committee report is prepared for ratification or approval by both houses.
See also the Legislative Process.
WHEN OUR COUNTRY WAS UNDER AMERICAN colonial rule, the legislative body was the Philippine Commission which existed from September, 1900 to October, 1907. The President of the United States appointed the members of the Philippine Commission.
The Philippine Bill of 1902 mandated the creation of a bicameral or a two-chamber Philippine Legislature with the Philippine Commission as the Upper House and the Philippine Assembly as the Lower House. This bicameral legislature was inaugurated in October, 1907. Through the leadership of then Speaker Sergio Osmena and then Floor Leader Manuel Quezon, the Rules of the 59 t h Congress of the United States was substantially adopted as the Rules of the Philippine Legislature.
In 1916, the Jones Law changed the legislative system. The Philippine Commission was abolished, and a new bicameral Philippine Legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate was established.
The legislative system was changed again in 1935. The 1935 Constitution established a unicameral National Assembly. But in 1940, through an amendment to the 1935 Constitution, a bicameral Congress of the Philippines consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate was created.
Upon the inauguration of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946, Republic Act No. 6 was enacted providing that on the date of the proclamation of the Republic of the Philippines, the existing Congress would be known as the First Congress of the Republic.
The 1973 Constitution abolished the bicameral Congress and created a unicameral Batasang Pambansa in a parliamentary system of government.
The 1987 Constitution restored the presidential system of government together with a bicameral Congress of the Philippines.
The national coat-of-arms of the Republic was approved by Commonwealth Act No. 731 on July 3, 1946. It was designed by then Captain Galo B. Ocampo, secretary of the Philippine Heraldry Committee. This was subsequently revised in February 12, 1998, under Republic Act 8491.
The national coat-of-arms shall have paleways of two (2) pieces, azure and gules; a chief argent studded with three (3) mullets equidistant from each other; and, in point of honor, ovoid argent over all the sun rayonnant with eight minor lesser rays. Beneath shall be the scroll with the words "REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS," enscribed thereon.
The Philippine flag stands for unity and national identity, and expresses the Filipino's aspirations for freedom, equality, justice and nobility. It is the only flag in the world able to signify peace or war. In time of peace, the blue stripe is on top of the red. In time of war, the red stripe is on top of the blue.
The red stripe symbolizes courage and the willingness of every Filipino to shed blood in defense of our country, while the blue stripe stands for peace and unity among all Filipinos.
The equilateral triangle on the left side is symbolic of equality among men. The eight rays of the Philippine Sun in the triangle represent the eight provinces that first revolted against Spanish rule. The three stars on each corner of the triangle stand for Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
The Philippine Sun Rayonnant occupies the center while the three stars representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, occupy the chief of the shield. On the dexter (right side) on a field of blue is the bald-headed American eagle, and on the sinister (left side) on a field of red is the Lion Rampant.
This is surrounded by a circle of 74 stars representing the provinces of the Philippines in 1987. The year 1987 denotes the year when the House of Representatives was restored as the lower house in a bicameral Philippine Legislature under the 1987 Constitution in the wake of the demise of the unicameral legislature under the 1973 Constitution.
CONTACTING YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
You have a very important role in the making of our laws. You may not be able to vote for our local and national leaders until you are 18 years old, but as a citizen, you can contact your Representatives to let them know what you think and how you feel about existing and proposed laws, or your suggestions for new laws needed to make our lives and our society better.
Your Representatives enjoy hearing from young people like you. One of the best ways to be heard by your Representatives is to write letters to them. You need only to write on a stamped envelope the name of the Representative you want to communicate with and the following address:(REPRESENTATIVE'S NAME)
You may also contact your Representatives by calling the trunkline of the House of Representatives at Tel. No. 931-5001. An operator will connect you to the office of the Representative you wish to contact. You may use the same telephone number to get in touch with offices of the House Secretariat for any assistance on legislative matters you may need.
We also encourage you to personally visit your House of Representatives. We can arrange a fun and interesting tour for your group, class, organization or school throughout the year. Contact us in advance for tour arrangements at Tel. Nos. 931-6581, 932-6138 or 931-5001 Loc. 7661.