Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is local legislation?

Local legislation can be understood in two ways: as power and as a process.

Local Legislation as power - Local legislation refers to the power of a local legislative body to make rules in the form of ordinances and resolutions of local application that have the force and effect of law.

Local Legislation as a process - Local legislation is the interaction of the local legislative body with the executive branch, civil society including constituents, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector resulting in ordinances and resolutions that promote the development of a local government unit (LGU). The products or outputs of this interaction are ordinances and resolutions.

2. Why is local legislation important?

Local legislation is important because it is a powerful, vital tool for:

  • addressing the problems of the citizens of the LGU
  • promoting the general welfare and development of the LGU and its citizens
  • attaining the vision of the LGU for its citizens

3. Who makes local legislation?

Local legislation is a participatory process. It acquires legitimacy and social acceptability though the involvement of stakeholders in the LGU. In this context, stakeholders are groups, organizations and individuals who have a ‘stake’ in or whose interests will be affected by the process of making laws or policies. Local legislation is made by key stakeholders in the LGU:

  • the sanggunian or local legislative body
  • the local chief executive, including local government executives
  • the constituents
  • the civil society organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and people’s organizations
  • the private sector and other interest groups

Legislative authority at the local level is vested in the sanggunian or the local legislative body. The sanggunian is a collegial body, composed of a group of individuals elected to represent the people’s interests. It has the power to enact ordinances, approve resolutions, and appropriate funds for the welfare of the LGU and its inhabitants.

The 1991 Local GovernmentGovernment Code vests legislative power to the sanggunian at different levels of local government:

  • Sangguniang Panlawigan for provinces
  • Sangguniang Bayan for municipalities
  • Sangguniang Panlungsod for cities
  • Sangguniang Barangay for barangays

In the autonomous regions of the country, legislation is made by the regional legislative assemblies, e.g. Regional Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

4. What is effective local legislation?

Effective local legislation is a collective and participatory process. It refers to the interaction of the sanggunian or local legislative body with the executive branch and civil society resulting in legislative actions that promote the development objectives of the LGU.

Civil society includes the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations (POs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and constituents. The participation of these individuals and groups is essential to ensure the legitimacy and social acceptability of ordinances and resolutions enacted.

To be effective, local legislation requires three elements:

A. Institutional efficiency

The sanggunian is a public institution. Like any other organization, it must have efficient structures and systems. It must have people who can do their jobs well because they know their roles and functions. An efficient legislative organization must have the following:

  • organizational structure
  • rules of procedure
  • legislative leadership
  • legislative committees
  • legislative support system, and
  • mechanism for legislative-executive coordination

The presence of adequate and functioning structures and systems make the legislation process or cycle efficient and open to participation from stakeholders outside the legislative organization. For instance, ordinances cannot be enacted without rules of procedure; or thesubstance of draft ordinances cannot be enhanced by NGOs without sanggunian committees to get their views and perspectives.

As an institution tasked to carry out a public mandate, the sanggunian must have a clear understanding of the vision and mission of the LGU unit to which it belongs. As well, its work must be guided by a clear process that defines the role of different stakeholders in each stage or phase.

B. Local legislation cycle or process

  • Legislative Agenda Formulation
  • Crafting of Ordinances and Resolutions
  • Enactment of Ordinances and Codes of Ordinances
  • Evaluation of the Implementation of Ordinances

At each phase, various stakeholders in the LGU interact with the sanggunian to ensure that measures produced address the development objectives of the LGU.

C. Development

Development is a goal and an end of local legislation. Development is the sustained capacity to achieve a better life. For a nation or community, having a better life means that citizens have a higher life expectancy and enjoy a higher quality of life regardless of age, sex, gender, religion or ethnicity. Quality of life involves: a) the capacity to do, and b) the capacity to be. Underlying these capacities is the freedom of choice. Hence, development is also about expanding the range of choices of people.

Local legislation is considered an effective tool for good governance and results in ordinances and resolutions that enable citizens to achieve a better life or development. Local legislation is effective if it contributes to the attainment of the community’s shared vision and results in poverty reduction, gender equality, environmental protection, peace and unity, accountability and transparency of local officials, and active participation of citizens in social, economic and political transformation.

5. What is a legislator?

A local legislator or sanggunian member is generally understood to be:

  • a lawmaker or a person who makes laws, and
  • a member of a local legislative body with the power to make laws.

However, the local legislator is more than a lawmaker. He or she “wears many hats” or in other words is expected to perform a variety of roles in the community – as a leader, overseer, facilitator and institution builder, among others.

6. What does it really mean to make laws?

The power to make laws or legislative power means three things: political power, police power and taxing power.

  • Political power is the power to enact laws providing for the establishment, organization and operation of the local government.
  • Police power is the essence of what government does; it is the power to enact laws to promote peace, health, safety and welfare.
  • Taxing power is the duty to levy and collect taxes to raise revenue to pay for government operations, including salaries of local government officials and personnel.

7. What are Internal Rules of Procedure?

Order is essential to the successful conduct of business of deliberative bodies. For the sanggunian, order can be achieved by implementing a set of rules agreed upon by all members, known as the Internal Rules of Procedure. These rules allow for the orderly conduct of deliberations as well as formulation and approval of decisions. These rules enable sanggunian members to articulate their thoughts, reconcile conflicts and differences, determine the will of the majority, and take action.

Internal Rules of Procedures (IRP)

  • A document containing a set of procedural rules that governs the orderly transaction of business and defining the duties and responsibilities of the officers during the conduct of meetings.
  • Must be adopted by the sanggunian in the first regular session following the election of the members of the sanggunian and within 90 days thereafter.

There are five principles to consider in the implementation of the IRP. These are:

  1. courtesy and justice to all
  2. consider one topic at a time
  3. the majority rules
  4. the minority has a right to be heard
  5. fairness to all and partiality to no one

An important element of the IRP is parliamentary procedure or the manner of conducting business in a deliberative body. It ensures orderly discussion and decision-making in the sanggunian through the use of motion. A motion refers to a proposal of a member of the sanggunian for consideration of the body. To understand the types of motions and how to use them, the sanggunian may use as reference Reverendo Dihan’s Handbook on Local Legislation (1998).

8. What is a Legislative Agenda?

A key indicator of effective local legislation is the capacity of local legislators to analyze the problems and concerns of the community, aggregate these, and focus efforts to address them in the context of available resources of the community towards local development. This is essentially what formulating a legislative agenda is about.

A legislative agenda (LA):

  • is a package of priority legislative measures designed to support local development priorities, particularly those defined in the executive-legislative agenda (ELA).
  • serves as the road map to guide the sanggunian in identifying, analyzing and formulating solutions to problems and issues requiring public policy action.
  • is a list of prioritized ordinances and resolutions for enactment during a specified period, usually three years, contributing to the attainment of the LGU vision and mission.

The LA is a tool for fulfilling the sanggunian members’ mandate as elected representatives of the people and is useful for:

  • organizing and prioritizing the work of the sanggunian
  • ensuring convergence of the LA and ELA
  • setting clear performance targets of the sanggunian
  • educating the people on the work of the sanggunian
  • assessing the performance of the sanggunian

9. What is the difference between an ordinance and a resolution?

An ordinance is a local law that prescribes rules of conduct of a general, permanent character. It continues to be in force until repealed or superseded by a subsequent enactment of the local legislative body.

A resolution is a mere expression of the opinion or sentiment of the local legislative body on matters relating to proprietary function and to private concerns. It is temporary in character.

10. What are Committees?

To get work done in an efficient and timely manner, the sanggunian must organize itself into work groups or committees.

  • Legislative Committee is a group tasked by the body or assembly to consider, or investigate, or take action in regard to, certain matters or subjects of public interest.
  • Standing or Permanent Committees are tasked or assigned a continuing function and usually remain ‘standing’ or existing co-terminus with the life of the body that created them. These committees are created for the purpose of:
    1. ordinance or resolution sponsorship
    2. undertaking public hearings on proposed measures in aid of legislation
    3. legislative review and referrals
  • Special or Ad-hoc Committees are created to perform an ad-hoc or specific task that does not fall within the jurisdiction of a standing committee. They cease to exist upon completion of its assigned task.

11. What is Codification?

Codification is the process of collecting, classifying and supplementing the ordinances of a local government unit. It is a complete and systematic process in the sense that the end product is a new enactment – a code.

This code when finally adopted by the sanggunian embodies all the ordinances, past and present, and future of the local government unit and is therefore the repository of the body of rules and regulations which lay down policies and institute guidelines for proper enforcement of these rules.

12. What are the steps in codification?

  • Compilation - The gathering and collating of all existing ordinances of a province city/municipality. The files in the secretary’s and governor’s/mayor’s offices should be the best source of these ordinances. Other possible sources of ordinances which are kept on file are in the offices of the treasurer, the fiscal, health office, and the provincial sanggunian in the case of cities or municipalities.
  • Listing - A listing of ordinances follows the compilation. This listing will inform the codifier and his staff what ordinances are (1) missing (2) amended (3) repealed or (4) obsolete. It is important that all ordinances of the province, municipality or city should be accounted for in the process of the listing.
  • Classifying - Classification is the process by which the ordinances are categorized according to the subjects treated in the ordinance. This is the first step toward grouping ordinances under the same or similar subjects for eventual assignment to specific chapters in the code.
  • Revision – The provision of the ordinance should be reviewed for deficiencies, languages and applicability with the end in view of making the language of the provisions to be included in the proposed code to be as simple, clear and accurate as possible. Revision is the re-examination of the provisions of an ordinance and to restate the provisions in a correct and improved form. It includes the weeding out of obsolete or inactive provisions in the existing ordinance.
  • Supplementation – Supplementation takes place after the code has been finally drafted and enacted by the sanggunian. Supplementation of the code is made through ordinances of the sanggunian intended to supply a deficiency in an existing provision, or add, amend or modify such provision.

13. Why do we need to codify?

There are many compelling reasons to codify, some of which are:

  • Fulfill a community obligation. It is the duty of every province, city, municipality or even barangay to maintain its laws in a comprehensive, up-to-date and understandable form in a location that the average citizen can find and use.
  • Avoid confusion and ensure accurate interpretation.By compiling our basic ordinances and all amendments into one up-to-date document, we eliminate the need to refer to many separate documents. The most current information will be easily accessible.
  • Eliminate hours of frustrating research. A Code is a single reliable resource for our elected and appointed officials, enabling them to respond accurately to questions and provide certified copies quickly and efficiently.
  • Support enforcement. A Code is a practical and efficient tool for our courts, police authorities and other enforcement officials, enabling them to enforce our laws with confidence and consistency.
  • Plan for the future. A Code provides a clear view of existing situations and makes it easier to determine the impact of proposed changes and amendments.

14. What are some examples of a codification?

The first civilization to codify its laws was ancient Babylon. The first real set of codified laws, the Code of Hammurabi, was compiled circa 1760 BC by the Babylonian king Hammurabi, and is the earliest known civil code.

Besides religious laws such as the Torah, important codifications were developed in the ancient Roman Empire, with the compilations of the Lex Duodecim Tabularum and much later the Corpus Iuris Civilis. These codified laws were the exceptions rather than the rule, however, as during much of the ancient Roman laws were left mostly uncodified.

The first permanent system of codified laws could be found in China, with the compilation of the Tang Code in CE 624. This formed the basis of the Chinese criminal code, which was then replaced by the Great Qing Legal Code, which was in turn abolished in 1912 following the Xinhai Revolution and the establishment of the Republic of China. The new laws of the Republic of China were inspired by the German codified work, the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch.[1] A very influential example in Europe was the French Napoleonic code of 1804.

Another early system of laws is Hindu law framed by Manu and called as Manu Smriti. The use of civil codes in Islamic Sharia law began with the Ottoman Empire.1

In our modern times, almost all existing governments have their own codifications or set of laws codified such as: Civil Code, Labor Code, Administrative Code, Revenue, Environmental Code, etc.

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1From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reference:
(a) Local Legislators’ Toolkit prepared by the Philippines-Canada Local Government Support Program (LGSP)
(b) Guide on Local Legislation, published by the Local Government Development Foundation, 1998

For a deeper and broader understanding about local legislation, click the link below:
Local Legislators' Kit