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CHAPTER VIII

THE PHILIPPINE LEGISLATURE

I-THE PHILIPPINE COMMISSION

The Legislature.-Beginning with the inauguration of the Philippine Assembly, October 16, 1907, the legislative powers of the Philippine Government were shared equally by the Philippine Commission and the Philippine Assembly, the two legislative houses together constituting the Philippine Philippine Legislature. Strictly speaking the authority of the Assembly to share in the lawmaking power dated from the completion of its organization, a few days after its formal opening.

An Act of Congress, known as the "Philippine Act," approved July 1, 1902, defines the powers of the Legislature as follows:

"After said Assembly shall have convened and organized, all the legislative power heretofore conferred on the Philippine Commission in that part of the Islands not inhabited by Moros or other non-Christian tribes shall be vested in a legislature consisting of two houses-the Philippine Commission and the Philippine Assembly."

Equality of Power. It will be seen that, within the Christian provinces, the legislative authority of these two houses is precisely equal. Neither house can make a law of a proposed measure without the assent of the other. Either house may propose a law, but upon its passage by that house it must be submitted to the other house for approval before it becomes a law. In the event of the failure of either house to

approve a measure proposed by the other, the resolution is of no effect.

There is one exception to this rule; for the Philippine Act provides,

"That if at the termination of any session the appropriations necessary for the support of the government shall not have been made, an amount equal to the sums appropriated in the last appropriation bills for such purposes shall be deemed to have been appropriated; and until the legislature shall act in such behalf the treasurer may, with the advice of the Governor, make the payments necessary for the purposes aforesaid.”

The reason for this exception is the absolute necessity of annual appropriations of money for the support of the government. It sometimes happens that a "deadlock" occurs in a legislature composed of two branches of equal authority; that is, a disagreement of indefinite duration arises between them, which prevents the passage of a proposed law, or of any compromise of the same. Many proposed acts of legislation may be indefinitely postponed in this way without serious loss to the state, such as the construction of elaborate public works, or the undertaking of new enterprises for the general development of the country. There are, however, certain necessary branches of the government, such as the police, the courts, and the executive offices, which must be maintained if the government is to exist at all. These cannot continue without money; therefore neither house of the Legislature is to be allowed to take advantage of this necessity to force the other to adopt legislation distasteful to it, at the price of agreement on the annual appropriation bill for the support of the government.

Extent of Jurisdiction.-While the powers of the two houses are equal in respect to legislation affecting the territory comprised within the Christian provinces, it is provided, as stated above, that the Commission retains the exclusive power of legislating for the government of the Moro and other non-Christian tribes. Therefore the Moro Province and the non-Christian provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Lepanto-Bontoc, Benguet, Mindoro, Palawan, and Agusan remain wholly under the control of the Commission. An exception to this rule is the Christian towns of Mindoro and Palawan, which share in the election of delegates to the Assembly, and therefore are subject to the joint control of the two legislative houses.

One object of reserving to the Commission the legislation for the non-Christian Filipinos is to simplify the government of the Islands. The problems. of governing the non-Christian provinces are entirely different from those of the Christian provinces. The Congress of the United States granted a legislative assembly to the Christian provinces because it considered them capable of taking an active and responsible share in their own government. It has not granted this privilege to the non-Christian provinces because it considers them not yet ready for self-government. The differences of customs and the hostilities between the Christian and non-Christian peoples, especially between the Christians and the Moros, would, perhaps, cause these non-Christians to regard with disfavor government by the Assembly. In fact they have not expressed a desire to be subjected to the rule of the Assembly.

Special legislation for the non-Christian provinces has already been enacted by the Commission. Political development is so slow in these provinces that it is not likely that there will be any great change needed in their form of government for a long period of years. There is not, therefore, need of burdening the Assembly with legislation for these provinces.

Legislative Procedure of the Commission.-We have in a previous chapter considered the origin, purpose, and composition of the Philippine Commission. At a later point the executive duties of the various members of the Commission will be considered. Our present purpose is to study the legislative functions of the Commission, as the upper house of the Philippine Legislature.

The general rules followed by the Commission in its legislative work in the past have not been changed by the inauguration of the Assembly. The following explanations will therefore describe the methods by which the Commission enacted legislation from September 1, 1900, to October 16, 1907, as well as its present methods of legislation, with the difference that now the sanction of the Assembly is necessary for legalizing acts of the Commission relating to the Christian population of the Philippines.

Quorum. The legislation of the Commission is enacted by the Commission as a whole, sitting in legislative session. A majority of the Commission, that is, five or more commissioners, constitute a "quorum," which is the minimum number of commissioners that can enact laws. The decisions of the Commission are made by a majority vote of the total number of

members present, it resulting that even three members may reach a decision.

Acts and Resolutions.-The legislation of the Commission is divided into two classes, called respectively acts and resolutions. Both the acts and the resolutions have the force of law, but the acts are of a general nature, applying usually to a wide range of persons or facts, and are of permanent significance. The resolutions, on the other hand, usually relate to special matters, often affecting only a few persons, or even an individual only; or a resolution may be of a general nature but of only temporary significance, as, for example, the appointment of a special day as a holiday for that date only.

The acts of the Commission are a part of the statute law of the Islands and are of permanent application, unless repealed or amended, while the resolutions, for the most part, meet temporary needs. A resolution is frequently passed to interpret an act when its practical operation creates doubt as to the purpose of the Commission.

Executive and Public Sessions.-The Commission holds executive sessions for the passage of laws, and occasional public sessions for the public discussion of laws of importance. The object of public sessions is to give the people a chance to express their opinion about matters of great public interest, such as the Public Land Act, and other matters on which the Commission wishes the advice and criticism of the public.

Drafting of Laws.-The executive sessions of the Commission are held for the purpose of discussing, enacting, amending, or repealing laws, but not to

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