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:

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:

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:

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:

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

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:

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.

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)

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):

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

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.

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?

13. Why do we need to codify?

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

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 Burgerliches 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.

1From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(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