Senate of the Philippines
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|Senate of the Philippines
Senado ng Pilipinas
|15th Congress of the Philippines|
|Term limits||2 terms (12 years)|
|President of the Senate||Juan Ponce Enrile, UNA
Since November 17, 2008
|President pro tempore||Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, UNA
Since July 23, 2007
|Majority Leader||Vicente C. Sotto III, NPC
Since July 26, 2010
|Minority Leader||Alan Peter S. Cayetano, Nacionalista
Since July 26, 2010
|Length of term||6 years|
|Authority||Article VI, Constitution of the Philippines|
|Voting system||Plurality-at-large voting|
|Last election||May 10, 2010|
|Next election||May 13, 2013|
|GSIS Building, Financial Center, Macapagal Boulevard, Pasay|
|Senate of the Philippines|
The Senate of the Philippines (Filipino: Senado ng Pilipinas or "Mataas na Kapulungan ng Pilipinas") is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the Philippines, the Congress; the House of Representatives is the lower house. The Senate is composed of 24 senators who are elected at-large with the country as one district under plurality-at-large voting.
Senators serve 6-year terms, with half of the senators elected every 3 years to ensure that the Senate is maintained as a continuous body, though staggered. When the Senate was restored by the 1987 Constitution, the 24 senators who were elected in 1987 served until 1992. In 1992 the candidates for the Senate obtaining the 12 highest number of votes served until 1998, while the next 12 served until 1995. Thereafter, each senator elected serves the full 6 years.
Aside from having its concurrence on every bill in order to be passed for the president's signature to become a law, the Senate is the only body that can concur with treaties, and can try impeachment cases. Presiding over the Senate is the Senate President, Juan Ponce Enrile since 2008.
From 1907 to 1916, the Philippine Commission headed by the U.S. Governor-General served as the upper chamber of the colonial legislature at the same time exercised executive powers. On August 29, 1916 the United States Congress enacted the Philippine Autonomy Act or popularly known as the "Jones Law" which paved the way for the creation of a bicameral Philippine Legislature wherein the Senate served as the upper chamber and while the House of Representatives as the lower chamber of it. Then Philippine Resident Commissioner Manuel L. Quezon encouraged Speaker Sergio Osmeña to run for the leadership of the Senate, but Osmeña preferred to continue leading the lower house. Quezon then ran for the Senate and became Senate President for the next 19 years (1916–1935). Senators then were elected via senatorial districts via plurality-at-large voting; each district grouped several provinces and each elected two senators except for "non-Christian" provinces where the Governor-General of the Philippines appointed the senators for the district.
This setup continued until 1935, when the Philippine Independence Act or the "Tydings–McDuffie Act" was provided by the U.S. Congress which granted the Filipinos the right to frame their own constitution in preparation for their independence, wherein they established a unicameral National Assembly, effectively abolishing the Senate. Not long after the adoption of the 1935 Constitution several amendments began to be proposed. By 1938, the National Assembly began consideration of these proposals, which included restoring the Senate as the upper chamber of Congress. The amendment of the 1935 Constitution to have a bicameral legislature was approved in 1940 and the first biennial elections for the restored upper house was held in November 1941. Instead of the old senatorial districts, senators were elected via the entire country serving as an at-large district, although still under plurality-at-large voting, with voters voting up to eight candidates, and the eight candidates with the highest number of votes being elected. While the Senate from 1916 to 1935 had exclusive confirmation rights over executive appointments, as part of the compromises that restored the Senate in 1941, the power of confirming executive appointments has been exercised by a joint Commission on Appointments composed of members of both houses. However, the Senate since its restoration and the independence of the Philippines in 1946 has the power to ratify treaties.
The Senate finally convened in 1945 and served as the upper chamber of Congress from thereon until the declaration of martial law by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. which shut down Congress. The Senate was resurrected in 1987 upon the ratification of the 1987 Constitution. However, instead of eight senators being replaced after every election, it was changed to twelve.
In the Senate, the officers are the Senate President, Senate President pro tempore, Majority Floor Leader, Minority Floor Leader and the Senate Secretary and the Senate Sergeant at Arms who shall be elected by the Senators from among the employees and staff of the Senate. Meanwhile, the Senate President, Senate President pro-tempore, the Majority Floor Leader and the Minority Floor Leader shall be elected by the Senators from among themselves.
Article VI, Section 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that the Senate shall be composed of 24 senators who shall be elected at-large by the qualified voters of the Philippines, as may be provided by law.
The composition of the Senate is smaller in number as compared to the House of Representatives. The members of this chamber are elected at large by the entire electorate. The rationale for this rule intends to make the Senate a training ground for national leaders and possibly a springboard for the presidency.
It follows also that the Senator, having a national rather than only a district constituency, will have a broader outlook of the problems of the country, instead of being restricted by narrow viewpoints and interests. With such perspective, the Senate is likely to be more circumspect, or at least less impulsive, than the House of Representatives.
Senatorial candidates are chosen by the leaders of major political parties or coalitions of parties. The selection process is not transparent and is done in "backrooms" where much political horse-trading occurs. Thus, the absence of regional or proportional representation in the Senate exacerbates a top heavy system of governance, with power centralized in Metro Manila. It has often been suggested that each region of the country should elect its own senator(s) to more properly represent the people. This will have the effect of flattening the power structure. Regional problems and concerns within a national view can be addressed more effectively. A senator's performance, accountability, and electability become meaningful to a more defined and identifiable regional constituency.
The Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) composed of three Supreme Court justices and six senators determines election protests on already-seated senators. There had been three instances where the SET has replaced senators due to election protests, the last of which was on 2011 when the tribunal awarded the protest of Aquilino Pimentel III against Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The qualifications for membership in the Senate are expressly stated in Section 3, Art. VI of the 1987 Philippine Constitution as follows:
- No person shall be a Senator unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, and on the day of the election, is at least 35 years of age, 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 age is fixed at 35 and must be possessed on the day of the elections, that is, when the polls are opened and the votes cast, and not on the day of the proclamation of the winners by the board of canvassers.
- With regard to the residence requirements, it was ruled in the case of Lim v. Pelaez that it must be the place where one habitually resides and to which he, after absence, has the intention of returning.
- The enumeration laid down by the 1987 Philippine Constitution is exclusive under the Latin principle of expressio unius est exclusio alterius. This means that Congress cannot anymore add additional qualifications other than those provided by the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, "Congress shall convene once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session...". During this time, the Senate is organized to elect its officers. Specifically, the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides a definite statement, to it:
Each House shall choose such other officers as it may deem necessary.
By virtue of these provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the Senate adopts its own rules, otherwise known as the "Rules of the Senate." The Rules of the Senate provide the following officers: a President, a President pro tempore, a Secretary and a Sergeant-at-Arms.
Following this set of officers, the Senate as an institution can then be grouped into the Senate Proper and the Secretariat. The former belongs exclusively to the members of the Senate as well as its committees, while the latter renders support services to the members of the Senate.
The Senate was modeled upon the United States Senate; the two chambers of Congress have roughly equal powers, and every bill or resolution that has to go through both houses needs the consent of both chambers before being passed for the president's signature. Once a bill is defeated in the Senate, it is lost. Once a bill is approved by the Senate on third reading, the bill is passed to the House of Representatives, unless an identical bill has also been passed by the lower house. When a counterpart bill in the lower house is different from the one passed by the Senate, either a bicameral conference committee is created consisting of members from both chambers of Congress to reconcile the differences, or either chamber may instead approve the other chamber's version.
While money bills originate in the House of Representatives, the Senate may still propose or concur with amendments. Only the Senate has the power to approve, via a two-thirds supermajority, or denounce treaties, and the power to try and convict, via a two-thirds supermajority, an impeached official.
Current members 
- For winners of the 2013 election, see List of senators elected in the Philippine Senate election, 2013.
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
|Alan Peter Cayetano||Nacionalista||1||2007||2013||Minority|
|Teofisto Guingona III||Liberal||1||2010||2016||Majority|
|Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.||Nacionalista||1||2010||2016||Majority|
|Sergio Osmeña III||Independent||1||2010||2016||Majority|
|Aquilino Pimentel III1||PDP-Laban||1||2011||2013||Majority|
|Juan Ponce Enrile||UNA||2||2010||2016||Majority|
|Miriam Defensor Santiago||PRP||2||2010||2016||Majority|
|Antonio Trillanes IV||Nacionalista||1||2007||2013||Minority|
- ^1 Assumed office on August 15, 2011, after winning an election protest against Juan Miguel Zubiri (independent, formerly Lakas-Kampi, now with PMP/UNA) who had earlier resigned on August 3, 2011.
- ^2 Vacancy occurred on June 30, 2010 after the inauguration of Benigno Aquino III (Liberal) as President of the Philippines.
Party composition 
|End of previous Congress||16||0||7||23||1|
|August 2, 2010||19||0||4|
|August 4, 2010||20||3|
|August 3, 2011||19||22||2|
|August 15, 2011||1||23||1|
|August 17, 2011||20||0|
|September 21, 2012||19||1|
|September 23, 2012||0||4|
|Latest voting share||83%||0%||17%||100%||4%|
Seating arrangement 
- Minority members are italicized.
|Arroyo||P. Cayetano||A.P. Cayetano||Sotto||Estrada|
At the core of Congress’ lawmaking, investigative and oversight functions lies the committee system. This is so because much of the business of Congress, it has been well said, is done in the committee. Specific problems, whether local or national in scope, are initially brought to the forum of congressional committees where they are subjected to rigid and thorough discussions.
Congressional hearings and investigations on matters dealing with every field of legislative concern have frequently been conducted by congressional committees.
To a large extent, therefore, the committee system plays a very significant role in the legislative process. Congressional responses and actions vis-a-vis growing national problems and concerns have considerably relied upon the efficiency and effectiveness of the committee structure, system and expertise. As pointed out by Woodrow Wilson regarding the important roles played by different committees of Congress:
- "The House sits, not for serious discussion, but to sanction the conclusions of the Committees as rapidly as possible. It legislates in its committee rooms; not by the deliberation of majorities, but by the resolutions of specially-commissioned minorities; so that it is not far from the truth to say that Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, while Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work."
On the other hand, the merits of Nelson W. Polsby's view with regard to the importance of the committee system can be well considered:
- "Any proposal that weakens the capabilities of congressional committees weakens Congress. Congressional committees are the listening posts of Congress. They accumulate knowledge about the performance of governmental agencies and about the effects of governmental programs and performance on private citizens. They provide incentives to members of Congress to involve themselves in the detailed understanding of governmental functioning. They provide a basis - virtually the only well institutionalized basis in the House of Representatives - for understanding and for influencing public policy."
- "The present committee system in the Senate has by far been the product of strong years of Philippine legislative experience. It draws its strength from the inherent functions it is mandated to perform, i.e., to assist the Congress in coming up with well studied legislative policy enactments. Yet the complexity of problems that our country is currently facing and the growing needs and demands of our people for a more assertive role on the part of Congress cannot but require us to assess the effectiveness as well as the responsiveness of the congressional committee structure and system. In order to survive and meet the challenges, Congress must adjust to external demands and cope with internal stresses. It must be pointed out that social, economic, and political developments generate demands that the legislature pass legislation or take other action to meet constitutional and public expectations concerning the general welfare. The continuing rise of unemployment, poverty, economic depression, scandals, crises and calamities of various kinds, energy problem and accelerating technological innovations, all intensify pressures upon Congress. Political or governmental shifts, aggressive presidential leadership, partisan realignments, and momentous and controversial Supreme Court rulings, among other things, also drive the congressional workload."
However, the effects of external demands create interpersonal stresses within Congress, and in the Senate in particular. For instance, a ballooning workload (external demand) of some committees has caused personal or committee scrambles for jurisdiction (internal stress). Other tensions that may be considered range from the growth in the member-ship of various committees, jurisdictional disputes among several committees, shifts in its personnel, factional disputes and members’ shifting attitudes or norms. Such conflicts surface in recurrent debates over pay, requisites, committee jurisdictions, rules scheduling, and budgetary procedures which necessitate the call for an assessment of the present structure of the Senate Committee System.
The Senate previously met at the Old Congress Building in Manila until May 1997. The Senate occupied the upper floors while the House of Representatives occupied the lower floors, with the National Library at the basement. When the Congress Building was destroyed in World War II, Congress met at the Old Japanese Schoolhouse in Manila; the Senate met at night while the House of Representatives met at daytime. Congress returned to the Congress Building on 1950. When President Ferdinand Marcos dissolved Congress in 1972, he built a new legislative complex in Quezon City. The unicameral parliament known as the Batasang Pambansa eventually met there on 1978. With the restoration of the bicameral legislature on 1987, the House of Representatives inherited the complex at Quezon City, now called the Batasang Pambansa Complex, while the Senate returned to the Congress Building, until the GSIS Building was finished in May 1997. Thus, the country's two houses of Congress meet at different places in Metro Manila.
Prominent Senators 
Assumed Philippine Presidency 
- Manuel L. Quezon, 2nd President. Was also the first Senate President who lobbied for a nationally-elected senate that was established in 1940.
- José P. Laurel, 3rd President
- Sergio Osmeña, 4th President
- Manuel Roxas, 5th President
- Elpidio Quirino, 6th President
- Carlos P. Garcia, 8th President
- Ferdinand E. Marcos, 10th President
- Joseph Ejercito Estrada, 13th President
- Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, 14th President
- Benigno Aquino III, 15th President (Incumbent)
- Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., Marcos-era opposition leader, husband of 11th President Corazon C. Aquino and father of incumbent President Benigno Aquino III.
- Pablo Angeles y David, statesman, youngest Filipino to pass the Bar; pre-World War II, oppositionist to Pres. Elpidio Quirino
- Jose W. Diokno, nationalist, former Secretary of Justice, Bar topnotcher, founder of the Free Legal Assistance Group
- Teofisto Guingona, Jr., 11th Vice President of the Philippines
- Eva Estrada Kalaw, first woman to be re-elected senator,
- Raul Manglapus, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former presidential candidate
- Blas Ople, former Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and former Secretary of Foreign Affairs
- Cipriano P. Primicias, Sr., statesman, Majority Floor Leader and Member of The Council of State, 1953–1963
- Gil J. Puyat, statesman, Senate President (1967–1972).
- Claro M. Recto, statesman
- Jovito Salonga, Three-time top elected senator, Marcos-era opposition leader, former Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
- Vicente Sotto, father of "Press Freedom Law"
- Lorenzo Tañada, statesman and Marcos-era opposition leader
- Arturo Tolentino, 9th Vice President of the Philippines
- Calonzo, Andero (August 11, 2011.). "Pimentel proclaimed 12th winning senator in '07 polls". GMA News Online. Retrieved August 11, 2011.
- "Koko Pimentel cries foul over Senate tribunal vote". Philippine Daily Inquirer. July 15, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2010.