The House of Representatives of the Philippines (Filipino: Kapulungan ng mga Kinatawan ng Pilipinas), is the lower house of the Congress of the Philippines. (The Senate of the Philippines is the upper house). It is often informally called Congress. Members of the House are officially styled as Representative (Kinatawan) and sometimes informally called Congressmen/Congresswomen (mga kongresista) and are elected to a three-year term. They can be re-elected, but cannot serve more than three consecutive terms. Around eighty percent of congressmen are district representatives, representing a particular geographical area. There are 234 legislative districts in the country, each composed of about 250,000 people. There are also party-list representatives elected through the party-list system who constitute not more than twenty percent of the total number of representatives.
Aside from having its concurrence on every bill in order to be passed for the President's signature to become a law, the House of Representatives has the power to impeach certain officials, and all money bills must originate from the lower house.
The House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker, currently Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte. The official headquarters of the House of Representatives is at the Batasang Pambansa (literally, national legislature) located in the Batasan Hills in Quezon City in Metro Manila. The building is often simply called Batasan and the word has also become a metonym to refer to the House of Representatives.
At the beginning of American colonial rule, from March 16, 1900, the sole national legislative body was the Philippine Commission with all members appointed by the President of the United States. Headed by the Governor-General of the Philippines the body exercised all legislative authority given to it by the President and the United States Congress until October 1907 when it was joined by the Philippine Assembly. William Howard Taft was chosen to be the first American civilian Governor-General and the first leader of this Philippine Commission, which subsequently became known as the Taft Commission.
The Philippine Bill of 1902, a basic law, or organic act, of the Insular Government, mandated that once certain conditions were met a bicameral, or two-chamber, Philippine Legislature would be created with the previously existing, all-appointed Philippine Commission as the upper house and the Philippine Assembly as the lower house. This bicameral legislature was inaugurated in October 1907. Under the leadership of Speaker Sergio Osmeña and Floor Leader Manuel L. Quezon, the Rules of the 59th United States Congress was substantially adopted as the Rules of the Philippine Legislature. Osmeña and Quezon led the Nacionalista Party, with a platform of independence from the United States, into successive electoral victories against the Progresista Party and later the Democrata Party, which first advocated United States statehood, then opposed immediate independence.
It is this body, founded as the Philippine Assembly, that would continue in one form or another, and with a few different names, up until the present day.
In 1916, the Jones Act, officially the Philippine Autonomy Act, changed the legislative system. The Philippine Commission was abolished and a new fully elected, bicameral Philippine Legislature consisting of a House of Representatives and a Senate was established. The Nacionalistas continued their electoral dominance at this point, although they were split into two factions led by Osmeña and Quezon; the two reconciled in 1924, and controlled the Assembly via a virtual dominant-party system.
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 adopted.
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 "Liberal bloc" of the Nacionalistas permanently split from their ranks, creating the Liberal Party. These two will contest all of the elections in what appeared to be a two-party system. The party of the ruling president wins the elections in the House of Representatives; in cases where the party of the president and the majority of the members of the House of Representatives are different, a sufficient enough number will break away and join the party of the president, thereby ensuring that the president will have control of the House of Representatives.
This set up continued until President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law and abolished Congress. He would rule by decree even after the 1973 Constitution abolished the bicameral Congress and created a unicameral Batasang Pambansa parliamentary system of government, as parliamentary election would not occur in 1978. Marcos' Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL; New Society Movement) won all of the seats except those from the Central Visayas ushering in an era of KBL dominance, which will continue until the People Power Revolution overthrew Marcos in 1986.
The 1987 Constitution restored the presidential system of government together with a bicameral Congress of the Philippines. One deviation from the previous setup was the introduction of the mid-term election; however, the dynamics of the House of Representatives resumed its pre-1972 state, with the party of the president controlling the chamber, although political pluralism ensued that prevented the restoration of the old Nacionalista-Liberal two-party system. Instead, a multi-party system evolved.
Corazon Aquino who nominally had no party, supported the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP; Struggle of the Democratic Filipinos). With the victory of Fidel V. Ramos in the 1992 presidential election, many representatives defected to his Lakas-NUCD party; the same would happen with Joseph Estrada's victory in 1998, but he lost support when he was ousted after the 2001 EDSA Revolution that brought his vice president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to power. This also meant the restoration of Lakas-NUCD as the top party in the chamber. The same would happen when Benigno Aquino won in 2010, which returned the Liberals into power.
The presiding officer is the Speaker. Unlike the Senate President, the Speaker usually serves the entire term of Congress, although there had been instances when the Speaker left office due to conflict with the president: examples include Jose de Venecia, Jr.'s resignation as speaker in 2008 when his son Joey de Venecia exposed alleged corrupt practices by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, and Manny Villar's ouster occurred after he allowed the impeachment of President Estrada in 2000.
The members of the House of Representatives who are also its officers are also ex officio members of all of the committees and has a vote.
The Speaker is the head of the House of Representatives. He presides over the session; decides on all questions of order, subject to appeal by any member; signs all acts, resolutions, memorials, writs, warrants and subpoenas issued by or upon order of the House; appoints, suspends, dismisses or disciplines House personnel; and exercise administrative functions.
The speaker is elected by majority of all the members of the house, including vacant seats. The speaker is traditionally elected at the convening of each Congress. Before a speaker is elected, the House's sergeant-at-arms sits as the "Presiding Officer" until a speaker is elected. Compared to the Senate President, the unseating of an incumbent speaker is rarer.
As of April 2016 The incumbent speaker is Pantaleon Alvarez (PDP-Laban) of Davao del Norte's First congressional district.
There was a position of speaker pro tempore for congresses prior the reorganization of the officers of the House of Representatives during the 10th Congress in 1995. The speaker pro tempore was the next highest position in the House after the speaker.
The position was replaced by the deputy speakers in 1995. Originally, there was one Deputy Speaker for each island group of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Then, in 2001 during the 12th Congress, a Deputy Speaker "at large" was created. On the next Congress, another "at large" deputy speakership was created, along with a Deputy Speaker for women. In the 15th Congress starting in 2010, all six deputy speakers are "at large".
The deputy speakers perform the speaker's role when the speaker is absent. Currently in the 16th Congress, the deputy speakers represent the chamber at-large.
The Deputy Speakers are:Eric Singson (Ilocos Sur–2nd, PDP-Laban)
Mercedes Alvarez (Negros Occidental–6th, NPC)
Fredenil Castro (Capiz–2nd, NUP)
Raneo Abu (Batangas–2nd, Nacionalista)
Miro Quimbo (Marikina–2nd, Liberal)
Since July 25, 2016Pia Cayetano (Taguig–Lone, Nacionalista)
Gwendolyn Garcia (Cebu–3rd, PDP-Laban)
Mylene Garcia-Albano (Davao City–2nd, PDP-Laban)
Sharon Garin (party-list member of AAMBIS-OWA)
Since August 15, 2016
The majority leader, aside from being the spokesman of the majority party, is to direct the deliberations on the floor. The Majority Leader is also concurrently the Chairman of the Committee on Rules. The majority leader is elected in a party caucus of the ruling majority party.
The incumbent majority floor leader is Rodolfo C. Fariñas (NP) of Ilocos Norte's First district.
The minority leader is the spokesman of the minority party in the House and is an ex-officio member of all standing Committees. The minority leader is elected in party caucus of all Members of the House in the minority party, although by tradition, the losing candidate for speaker is named the minority leader.
The incumbent minority floor leader is Danilo E. Suarez (Lakas) of Quezon's 3rd District.
The secretary general enforces orders and decisions of the House; keeps the Journal of each session; notes all questions of order, among other things. The secretary general presides over the chamber at the first legislative session after an election, and is elected by a majority of the members.
Marilyn Barua-Yap is the Secretary General of the House of Representatives.
The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for the maintenance of order in the House of Representatives, among other things. Like the secretary general, the sergeant-at-arms is elected by a majority of the members.
Retired Brigadier General Nicasio J. Radovan, Jr. is the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Representatives.
There are two types of representatives in the chamber: representatives from congressional districts and party-list representatives. Eighty percent of representatives shall come from congressional districts, with each district returning one representative. Although each district should have a population of at least 250,000 people, all provinces have at least one legislative district, regardless of population, whose residents vote for their own congressman; several cities have representation of their own, independent of provinces, although they should have at least a population of 250,000. For provinces that have more than one legislative district, the provincial districts are identical to the corresponding legislative district, with the exclusion of cities that do not vote for provincial officials.
The representatives from the districts comprise at most 80% of the members of the House; therefore, for a party to have a majority of seats in the House, the party needs to win at least 60% of the district seats. No party since the approval of the 1987 constitution has been able to win a majority of seats, hence coalitions are not uncommon.