Senate of the Philippines

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Senate of the Philippines
15th Congress
Senate seal.png
Officers
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile
Senate President
pro tempore
Jinggoy Estrada
Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto
Minority Floor Leader Alan Peter S. Cayetano
Secretary Emma Lirio-Reyes
Sergeant-at-Arms Jose Balajadia Jr.
Members
23 Senators
(click here for the list)
Address GSIS Building Financial Center, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City, Philippines
Contact Numbers (02) 552-6601 to 6680
Website Senate.gov.ph

(to access the knowledge database on the Philippine Senate, click the Senate link)


The Senate of the Philippines (Filipino: Senado ng Pilipinas) is the upper house of the Congress of the Philippines (the House of Representatives is the lower house). Under the 1987 Constitution, the Senate should be composed of twenty-four members elected at large by the qualified voters of the Philippines <ref name="test1">/ Constitution of the Philippines. Article VI, Legislative Department</ref>.


Contents

History

Since Philippine legislature came into existence in 1898, it has repeatedly shifted back and forth between unicameral and bicameral form, thus alternately abolishing and reinstating the upper house of the Philippine Legislature.

During Spanish times, legislative powers were exercised by the Crown of Spain acting through its councils, the Royal Audiencia or Spanish Supreme Court, and the Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines. Usually the Spanish Governor-General’s legislative powers were unbounded and Filipinos did not have a voice in the creation of the laws governing them.

The Malolos Congress of the First Philippine Republic of 1898-1899, responsible for the creation of the first republican constitution in Asia, the Malolos Constitution, was a unicameral legislature. So was the Philippine Commission, the members of which were appointed by the President of the United States of America. It existed from September 1900 to October 1907, after the 1898 Treaty of Paris where Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States for 20 million dollars.

For the first time, the upper house of the legislature came into being when this unicameral Philippine Commission later evolved into the bicameral, or two-chamber, Philippine Legislature with the Philippine Commission as the Upper House and the Philippine Assembly as the Lower House, created through the mandate of the Philippine Bill of 1902 and inaugurated in October 1907. In this legislature, the members of the lower house were elected by qualified voters in their respective districts while the members of the upper house were appointed by the U.S. President with the consent of the U.S. Senate. The presiding officer of the Philippine Commission was the American governor-general. At first, membership of the Philippine Commission consisted of five Americans and only three Filipinos. Later, however, in 1913, after Woodrow Wilson became U.S. President, there were five Filipinos and only four Americans.

In 1916, the Jones Law or the Philippine Autonomy Act made some changes by establishing a new bicameral Philippine Legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate and composed exclusively of Filipinos. Under this Legislature, there were twenty-four senators, two from each of twelve senatorial districts. Eleven of these districts elected their own senators. In the first senatorial elections, each district elected two senators, one for a term of six years, the other for a term of three years, and then thereafter elected one senator each election for a term of six years. The twelfth district represented the non-Christian portions of the archipelago. Its Senators did not have fixed terms and were appointed by the American governor-general.

Thirteen years later, in 1934, the Tydings-McDuffie Law authorized the framing of the Philippine Constitution. The next year, in 1935, the Senate was effectively abolished in a shift back to unicameralism when the 1935 Constitution established a unicameral National Assembly. This lasted scarcely five years, because 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 again adopted. Of the twenty-four senators elected in November 1941, the first eight placers were to serve for six years, the next eight for four years, and the last eight for two years.

However, during the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945, Congress was not able to convene. It was only reinstated upon the inauguration of the Republic of the Philippines in 1946 after the Second World War, when 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.

On the other hand, the 1973 Constitution abolished the bicameral Congress and created another unicameral legislature, the Batasang Pambansa, under a parliamentary system of government.

After the EDSA People Power Revolution of February 1986 which ousted President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the 1987 Constitution restored the presidential system of government together with a bicameral Congress of the Philippines, effectively reincarnating the Senate. Although there no longer are any senatorial districts and the Senators are now elected at large, the Senate still has twenty-four members.

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Notable Senators

See List of Senators of the Philippines.
  • Philippine Commission (1900-1916) and Philippine Legislature (1916-1935)
  • Senate of the Philippine Congress (Post World War II) (1946-1972)

Controversial Senate bills and decisions

See also Top 10 Most Memorable Moments in the Philippine Congress.

Officers of the Senate

The presiding officer of the Senate is the President, who is the third highest official in the Philippine government and second in line after the Vice President to serve as Acting President in case of death, permanent disability, removal from office, or resignation of the President of the Philippines. The other officers of the Senate are the President Pro Tempore, the Secretary, and the Sergeant-at-Arms. All the officers are elected by majority vote of all its members.

The President presides over the session; decides on all questions of order; signs all measures, memorials, joint and concurrent resolutions, writs, warrants and subpoenas issued by or upon order of the House; appoints, suspends, dismisses or disciplines House personnel; maintains order; designate an Acting Sergeant-at-Arms if the Sergeant-at-Arms resigns, is replaced, or becomes incapacitated; and exercises administrative functions.

The President Pro Tempore acts as President of the Senate when the President is absent or temporarily incapacitated. If the Senate President resigns, dies, is removed or becomes absolutely incapacitated, the President Pro Tempore serves as Acting President until a new President is elected. If the President or President Pro Tempore are both temporarily absent, the Majority Leader, or after him the Assistant Majority Leader, or any member designated by the President, shall discharge the powers and duties of the President.

The Secretary prepares the Order of Business of the Senate for the inaugural session of Congress; opens the first session whenever there is no President nor a President Pro Tempore; keeps the records of the Senate and certifies them; has custody of the official seal of the Senate; appoints (whenever expressly authorized by the Senate), oversees, disciplines and recommends the dismissal of Senate personnel; and performs such other duties as are inherent in his office.

The Sergeant-at-Arms is the custodian of the Mace of the Senate and is responsible for security and maintenance of order within the Senate. He serves summons issued by the Senate or its committees or by the President and oversees, disciplines and recommends the dismissal of his subordinates.

If the Secretary is temporarily absent or incapacitated, the Deputy Secretary for Legislation acts as Secretary; in the case of the Sergeant-at-Arms, the President designates a person to temporarily serve as such.

Manuel L. Quezon served as Senator and Senate President from 1916-1935. He relinquished his post only when he became President of the Philippine Commonwealth. Sergio Osmeña, first elected Senator in 1922, also served multiple terms and later became Vice President.

The Senate of the 14th Congress is currently headed by President [Juan Ponce Enrile]], President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Majority Leader Francis N. Pangilinan and Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr.

Presidents of the Philippine Senate (1907-Present)

Location of Office Headquarters

The official headquarters of the Philippine Senate is located on Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, Metro Manila.

The Senatorial Office

Qualifications for Election of Senators

To be able to run for office as a Senator, a person should be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, at least thirty-five years old on the day of the election, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election.

The candidate should be at least thirty-five years old on the day of the election itself, not on the day of filing for candidacy or the day of proclamation of winners by the board of canvassers. His "residence", on the other hand, is that place where he habitually resides and where he has the intention of returning after his absence.

Term of Office of Senators

Senators are elected to six-year terms, and may be reelected to a maximum of two consecutive terms. If a Senator voluntarily renounces, or gives up, his office for any length of time, he is still considered to be in office for that length of time until the end of his term. He cannot use that length of time that he was not holding that office as an excuse to run for a fourth term.

The first election of Senators under the 1987 Constitution was held on the second Monday of May, May 11, 1987, and the elected Senators served until June 30, 1992. Of the twenty four Senators elected in the 1992 elections, the ones obtaining the twelve highest number of votes served for six years, or until 1998, while the other twelve served for three years, or until 1995. After 1992, twelve Senators are elected every three years, and each Senator serves a full six-year term.

The terms are staggered to fill twelve seats every three years in order to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution that the Senate should be a continuing parliamentary body. The staggered terms are to ensure that the Senate will never be entirely vacated at any time and that there will be senior Senators to act as mentors of the new ones.

“The Senate is a continuing body which does not cease to exist upon the periodical dissolution of the Congress or of the House of Representatives.” Arnault vs. Nazareno (1950)

Powers, Privileges, Immunities and Prohibitions

  • Powers

In addition to the general powers of Congress, the Senate or any of its Committees has the power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation and to cite or punish for contempt in connection with proceedings for these inquiries. The Senate also has the exclusive power to ratify treaties.

  • Privileges
    • Salaries

Sec. 17 of Article XVIII of the Constitution of the Philippines provides:

Until the Congress provides otherwise, the President shall receive an annual salary of three hundred thousand pesos; the Vice-President, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, two hundred forty thousand pesos each; the Senators, the members of the House of Representatives, the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and the Chairmen of the Constitutional Commissions, two hundred four thousand pesos each; and the Members of the Constitutional Commissions, one hundred eighty thousand pesos each.

However, under a resolution of Congress, Senators are now Salary Grade 33 with a monthly equivalent rate of Php35,0000 while the Senate President is Salary Grade 34 with a monthly equivalent rate of Php40,000 [1]. Under the Constitution, an increase in the salaries of the members of Congress shall take effect only after the expiration of the the full terms of all the members of Congress who approved such increase. Also, members of Congress are required to disclose their annual allowances and expenditures, and all the books of accounts of Congress are required to be open to public inspection and to be audited by the Commission on Audit.

    • Franking Privilege

Sections 1 and 2 of Republic Act No. 69 provide that:

All mail matter of Senators and of members of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, addressed for delivery within the Philippines, shall be received, transmitted and delivered in the mails of the Philippines free of postage: Provided, That each such mail matter when addressed to persons or offices other than government officers or offices shall not exceed one hundred and twenty grams in weight.
The envelope or wrapper of such mail matter shall bear on the left upper corner the name and official designation of the official sending the mail matter, and the words "Senate of the Philippines," or "House of Representatives," as the case may be, and on the right upper corner the words "Penalty for private or unauthorized use to avoid payment of postage, P500.00."
  • Immunities

Senators are immune from arrest for all offenses punishable by not more than six years as long as Congress is in session. Also, they cannot be held liable outside Congress for any speech or debate made in Congress or in any of its committees.

  • Prohibitions

To avoid conflicts of interest and undue influence, Senators are prohibited from appearing as counsel before any court of Justice, Electoral Tribunal, or quasi-judicial or any other administrative bodies, and they may not intervene in any matter before any office of the Government. They are also prohibited from having any financial interest in any contract, franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, including government-owned and controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, and they may not hold any other incompatible offices in the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, during their terms of office. (Article VI of the Constitution of the Philippines)

Senate Committees

The Senate of the 14th Congress has thirty-six (36) permanent committees and five (5) Oversight committees, any of which may conduct formal inquiries or investigations in aid of legislation. These committees are classified into: (1) standing or permanent; (2) special or ad hoc; (3) joint; and (4) sub. "Special" committees are created for a particular purpose and dissolved after accomplishing such purpose, while joint committees are those that include members of both houses. Subcommittees, on the other hand, are created to parcel the work of standing or special committees.

See list of Philippine Senate committees

Senators of the 14th Congress of the Philippines

Officers

Senators

There is a vacant senatorial position created after the 2007 elections because Senator Alfredo “Fred” Lim had been elected and accepted the position of City Mayor of Manila.

Results of the Latest Senatorial Election

See [election results as of August 8, 2007 6:00 PM, posted on the COMELEC website]

See also

References

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External links