The 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 districts.
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?
- To enact laws, including appropriation and taxation measures
- To conduct legislative investigations
- To request heads of departments to appear before it
- To act as Board of Canvassers for the Presidential elections
- To call for special elections for the presidency and the vice presidency
- To declare war and delegate emergency powers
- To revoke or extend the privilege of the habeas corpus or declare martial law
- To concur in the presidential power to grant amnesty
- To confirm certain appointments made by the President
- To approve treaties and international agreements
- To determine the President’s physical fitness to discharge the duties of his or her office
- To impeach the President, the Vice President, members of the Supreme Court, members of the constitutional commissions, and the Ombudsman
- To allow utilization of natural resources
- To amend the Constitution
Privileges of legislators
- They are privileged from arrest while Congress is in session in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment.
- They 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
- They 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.
- They may not personally appear as counsel before any court of justice or before electoral tribunal, or quasi-judicial, and other administrative bodies.
- They 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.
- They 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.
- They may not enjoy an increase in salaries they themselves approve until after their full term has expired.
Who acts on electoral disputes involving legislators?
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.