Ever wondered how a bill becomes law in the Philippines?
First things first, we need to understand what a bill is and the role of Congress in enacting laws.
The Congress of the Philippines is the branch of government tasked with creating laws in the Philippines. It is made up of two Houses: a) the Lower House, or the House of Representatives; and, b) the Upper House, or the Senate. Its members are the congressmen and senators you voted for.
As part of the law-making process, individual members of Congress propose bills for approval by the majority of Congress. If the bill gets approved, it will constitute part of the law of the Philippines. In this article, we will give you a step-by-step guide as to how a bill becomes law (or more specifically, a statute) in the Philippines.
1. To initiate the law-making process, the proposed bill is signed by its author and filed with the Secretary of the either the Lower House (for congressmen) or the Senate (for senators).
2. The bill will go through three readings. On the First Reading, the number and title of the bill is read, followed by its referral to the appropriate committee for study.
3. On the Second Reading, the bill is read in full along with amendments proposed by the committee who studied it. The bill is then subjected to debates and discussion by the members of the House where it was filed. After extensive discussion, the bill will be voted on. If approved, it would go through a third reading.
4. On Third Reading, the bill will be submitted for a final vote. If approved again, it shall be transmitted to the other House for concurrence. The other House will go through the same process of having three readings.
5. If the other House introduces amendments and the House from which the bill originated does not approve of the amendments, the differences will be settled by a meeting of the Conference Committees of both Houses, whose recommendations will have to be approved by both Houses.
6. Once the bill is approved, it is transmitted to the President of the Philippines for signature. The President may then either sign the bill to indicate approval, or veto the bill to indicate disapproval. If approved, the bill officially becomes a law.
7. If the President decides to exercise his veto powers, the Congress may re-pass the vetoed bill if two-thirds of both Houses, voting separately, approve its enactment. In this case, the bill also officially becomes a law.