In order for ordinary citizens to effect social change, we must understand how we can change policies in governance, including laws, rules, and regulations. In order to do this, we must know the following:
- How are laws made, modified, and repealed?
- Can ordinary citizens create, modify, or repeal laws?
At the same time, it’s also good to understand:
- Can foreigners participate in Philippine political issues?
- Who is a Filipino citizen?
- What are the duties of a Filipino citizen?
For sure, individual Filipino citizens can effect social change, but working together to form common goals can result in much more effective social results. This is why we have to know:
- What are civil society organizations?
- How can they help forward policies and programs to effect social good?
Lastly, we consider the twin concepts of rights and responsibilities of every Filipino citizen.
- What is the concept of social accountability?
Most Essential Learning Competencies
This module aims to:
- Differentiate the political ideologies;
- Explain the concept, role, and contributions of civil societies and social movements to Philippine democracy; and
- Explain the importance of active citizenship through the political lens.
By the end of this module, learners are expected to demonstrate an understanding of:
- The basic legislative process in the Philippines;
- Requirements and duties of a Filipino citizen;
- The different ways by which civil society organizations can assist in policy development; and
- The concept of social accountability.
By the end of this module, learners are expected to:
- Be able to illustrate the general legislative process in the Philippines;
- Be knowledgeable and conversant regarding the policy reforms in the Philippines and how individual citizens and civil society organizations can contribute to this discussion, and;
- Be able to share their ideas on how future legal and policy reforms could be implemented.
Lesson 1: Legislation, Citizenship and Social Change
At the end of the lesson, the student is expected to be able to:
- Provide an overview of how laws in the Philippines are created, modified and repealed;
- Discuss notions of citizenship and the responsibility to effect social good;
- Illustrate how civil society organizations can influence policy change; and
- Explain the concept of social accountability.
- Legislative power — the authority to make, alter, and repeal laws
- Initiative — the power to propose and enact legislation through an election called for that purpose.
- Referendum — the power of the electorate to approve or reject legislation through an election called for that purpose.
- Naturalization — the process by which someone adopts a new citizenship
- Civil Society Organizations — any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national, or international level performing a variety of services and humanitarian functions
- Social Accountability — an approach toward building accountability that relies on civic engagement.
Self-Evaluation Form (Part 1)
- How would you say that an individual is a citizen of the Philippines?
- Do you think as an individual, you have a say on which laws are developed and implemented in the Philippines?
- In the current context of your community, do you think that social change is necessary?
Sub-lesson 1: How are laws made?
Legislative power is the authority to make, alter, and repeal laws. In the Philippines, legislative power is vested in Congress, which consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. This is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, Art. VI. Congress may legislate on any subject matter provided that they remain within the limits allowed by the Constitution, the highest law of the land.
The infographic provided below which outlines the entire legislative process.
Art. VI, Sec. 21 of the 1987 Constitution also allows the Senate, the House of Representatives, or any of its respective committees to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation. They can do so, but only in accordance with their respective duly published rules of procedure, as well as that the rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries are respected. Ideally, inquiries in aid of legislation seek to provide more details to legislators in order for them to craft better laws.
The Constitution also requires that every bill passed by Congress focuses only on one subject as reflected by its title (Sec. 26 (1)). This means riders, additional provisions which are not related to the main thesis of the bill being passed, are not allowed. Each bill must undergo three readings on separate days, with printed copies of its final form distributed to all Members three days before its passage (this rule is excused during a public calamity or emergency as certified by the President). No amendments can be made during its last reading, and the vote must be taken and recorded immediately thereafter (Sec. 26 (2)).
Every bill passed by Congress shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the President. The President may approve through signing or letting a 30-day period lapse, hence the bill becomes law. On the other hand, the President may also exercise veto powers by returning the bill, together with objectionable provisions, to the House where it has originated (Sec. 27 (1)).
If the House where the bill originated from decides to reconsider it, they can vote to still pass it by 2/3 of all its Members, then transmit it to the other House, together with the objections, too. Should the other House decide to pass it by a 2/3 vote of all its Members, then it will become a law despite the original veto of the President.
In times of war or in other national emergencies, Congress may delegate legislative powers to the president. During Martial Law, the President exercises police power, with the military’s assistance, to ensure public safety. This presumes that government agencies are, for the time being, unable to cope with the condition in a locality, hence the necessity for the President to step in.
The laws passed by Congress are primarily national in scope. However, local government units can also enact their own laws through their respective councils. Provinces have the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Board), cities have the Sangguniang Panglungsod (City Council), and municipalities have the Sangguniang Bayan (Town Council), and the Sangguniang Barangay (Village Council). These councils can pass ordinances and resolutions.
The Supreme Court, in Municipality of Parañaque vs. V.M. Realty Corporation, explained their difference thus:
An ordinance is a law, but a resolution is merely a declaration of the sentiment or opinion of a lawmaking body on a specific matter. An ordinance possesses a general and permanent character, but a resolution is temporary in nature. Additionally, the two are enacted differently — a third reading is necessary for an ordinance, but not for a resolution, unless decided otherwise by a majority of all the Sanggunian members.
The ordinances and resolutions they pass are applicable only in their respective jurisdictions.
Sub-lesson 2: Can ordinary citizens create, modify or repeal laws?
The answer is yes.
Art. VI, Sec. 1 of the Constitution gives legislative power (the power to make laws) to the people. This is done through the system of initiative and referendum. This dual system is the power of citizens to directly “propose and enact laws or approve or reject any act or law or part thereof passed by the Congress or local legislative body” (Art. VI, Sec. 32). The rules of procedure for initiative and referendum are provided by the Republic Act No. 6735: “An Act Providing for a System of Initiative and Referendum and Appropriating Funds Therefor”
An initiative is the power to propose and enact legislations through an election called for that purpose. This means it is the people who will think of a new law, propose it to fellow citizens, and if they agree via votation, the new law will be implemented. On the other hand, a referendum refers to the power of the electorate to approve or reject legislation through an election called for that purpose. In this case, a draft law is already made and drafted, and the people will just vote whether to approve it or not. [RA 6735, Sec. 3(a) and Sec. 3(c)].
When it comes to an initiative involving the Constitution, the voting process is called a plebiscite [RA 6735, Sec. 3(e)]. Laws which are proposed by the people, but are coursed through Congress or local legislative councils, are considered indirect initiatives.
Initiatives cannot be exercised more than once a year [RA 6735, Sec. 15].
Sub-lesson 3: Can foreigners participate in Philippine political issues?
The answer is a firm no.
The Bureau of Immigrations prohibits foreigners from being involved in internal political matters of the Philippines. This includes “joining, supporting, contributing or involving themselves in whatever manner in any rally, assembly or gathering”.
Those who violate this will be deported to their home countries and blacklisted from going back to the Philippines again. The Philippines is quite strict with this particular rule. In recent years, a number of foreigners have been deported because of this, including a Dutch citizen, a Canadian, a Zimbabwean, an American, a Malawian, and more recently, an Australian.
It also included jail time for many, if not all, of them. The photo above shows Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian missionary who was deported in 2021 due to her active participation in rallies advocating for human rights.
If foreigners are therefore excluded from participating in Philippine political affairs, it is therefore important to know who is a Filipino versus who is a foreigner. The question then is, what makes a Filipino a Filipino?
Sub-lesson 4: Who is a Filipino citizen?
The 1987 Constitution provides an answer to this.
Article IV, Sec. 1 states that the following are Filipino citizens:
- Citizens of the Philippines at the time of the adoption of this Constitution;
- Those whose fathers OR mothers are citizens of the Philippines;
- Those who elected to be citizens. This is available only to:
- those born before Jan 17, 1973;
- to Filipino mothers; AND
- elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority
- Those naturalized in accordance with law
Citizenship may be acquired either by birth or by naturalization.
The Philippines adopts the jus sanguinis principle, which states that if either parent is a Filipino citizen, then the child can be considered a Filipino as well. This is in contrast to the jus soli principle, where the territory of your birth determines your nationality.
When it comes to naturalization, which is the process by which someone adopts a new citizenship, a foreigner may acquire Filipino citizenship through either Judicial Naturalization under Commonwealth Act No. 473, or the Administrative Naturalization Law (R.A. 9139).
Sub-Lesson 5: What are the responsibilities of Filipino citizens?
Previous versions of the Philippine Constitution contain duties and responsibilities of the Filipino citizen.
The 1943 Constitution highlights the duties of the citizen in its Article VII:
SECTION 1. It is the duty of every citizen to render personal military and civil service as may be required by law, to pay taxes and public charges, and to engage in a useful calling, occupation or profession.
Similarly, Article V, 1973 Constitution lists down the duties and obligations of Filipino citizens:
SEC. 1. It shall be the duty of the citizen to be loyal to the Republic and to honor the Philippine flag, to defend the State and contribute to its development and welfare, to uphold the Constitution and obey the laws, and to cooperate with the duly constituted authorities in the attainment and preservation of a just and orderly society.
SEC. 2. The rights of the individual impose upon him the correlative duty to exercise them responsibly and with due regard for the rights of others.
SEC. 3. It shall be the duty of every citizen to engage in gainful work to assure himself and his family a life worthy of human dignity.
SEC. 4. It shall be the obligation of every citizen qualified to vote to register and cast his vote.
Take note of the duty to contribute to the State’s development and welfare in the section above.
In contrast, the 1987 Constitution does not have provisions on citizen responsibilities, only rights.
Political scientist Professor Jose Abueva, 16th President of the University of the Philippines, proposed that an amendment to the Constitution is in order to include certain duties and obligations, to wit:
SECTION 4. Citizens shall participate actively in public and civic affairs, and contribute to good governance, honesty and integrity in the public service and the vitality and viability of democracy.
Of course, individuals can accomplish this on their own: by spearheading initiatives and referendums, a Filipino citizen can definitely accomplish positive social change by pushing forth policy reforms that benefit the society.
However, as the saying goes, two heads are better than one, and in this case, collaboration between like-minded individuals advocating for the same social goals can create greater social impact than one person working alone.
Sub-Lesson 6: What are civil society organizations?
The United Nations (UN) defines civil society organizations, otherwise known as non-governmental organizations (NGO), is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national, or international level performing a variety of services and humanitarian functions, bring citizens’ concerns to Governments, monitor policies, and encourage political participation at the community level.
The Asian Development Bank notes that civil society stems from Filipino concepts of pakikipagkapwa (holistic interaction with others) and kapwa (shared inner self), encouraging volunteerism and assistance, especially to underserved communities.
There are many CSOs in the Philippines, with different advocacies and interests. This can range from Amnesty International, focused on human rights; to ANSA-EAP, discussing social accountability; to UPLB Foundation, Inc., geared towards agriculture; to Angat Buhay Foundation, centered on poverty mitigation and inclusive development; to Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau, on women’s rights, and; many more. The list goes on, as many causes are supported by a number of different organizations.
The 1987 Constitution promotes non-governmental, community-based, and sectoral organizations (Art. II, Sec. 23). Under Article X, Sec. 14, it enjoins the President of the Philippines to provide for representation from non-governmental organizations for the purposes of administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of the units therein and to accelerate the economic and social growth of the units in the region.
Similarly, Article XIII. Social Justice and Human Rights, discuss people’s organizations in Sections 15 and 16. It protects their rights to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political, and economic decision-making. It also requires the State to consul them to promote public interest.
Article XIV, particularly the provisions related to the sciences, encourages community-based organizations to participate in the generation and utilization of science and technology.
Sub-Lesson 7: How can CSOs help forward policies and programs to effect social good?
CSOs help promote inclusive social and economic development and good governance in a number of important ways.
CSOs can provide training and capacity building to both national and local government agencies, as well as to fellow organizations. By tapping domestic and international experts to facilitate lectures, workshops, and educational events, CSOs help empower various stakeholders at different levels of governance to improve performance and service delivery. At the same time, these activities improve knowledge networks, which help strengthen the possibility of translating CSO-led projects to sustained government programs.
Another example would be CSOs serving as watchdogs to promote transparency and accountability. This can apply to the procurement process primarily, but also in other aspects as well, including elections and even the distribution of donations. CSOs are also a big part of monitoring and evaluation of government services, ensuring efficiency in delivery to the target recipients.
CSOs also act as secondary human capital for project-based initiatives by the government. This is seen in seasonal projects, and also highlighted during instances of calamity. In agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development, for example, it is more cost-effective to provide grants to CSOs for specific projects and programs implementing different objectives than to maintain the same number of government officers in its payroll.
Accredited CSOs working with the Department of Interior and Local Government are invited to give feedback on programs and projects, as well as solicited their insights for capacity development programs, strategic plans and budget reforms.
Lastly, CSOs can lobby for social change through policy reforms. By engaging various stakeholders at different levels of the governance service delivery value chain, CSOs can help influence the political process by cementing data-driven policies into government laws, rules, and regulations through legislative lobbying.
The above-mentioned are just some of the examples of the impact of CSOs on the creation, reform, and implementation of governance policy. There are many more ways by which CSOs can contribute to the political process, legislative reforms and social good.
Sub-Lesson 8: What is the concept of social accountability?
The World Bank defines “social accountability” as an approach toward building accountability that relies on civic engagement. In this instance, it is ordinary citizens and civil society organizations that participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability from government.
The concept of social accountability is rooted in two concepts: constructive engagement and citizen monitoring.
Constructive engagement focuses on building relationships between various stakeholders, including CSOs, private groups, government, and citizens. It is non-confrontational in nature, focused on continuing dialogue and collaborative problem-solving. In order to achieve holistic good governance, it works hand-in-hand with other aspects of the CSO’s areas of focus, including the traditionally more adversarial anti-corruption initiatives.
Citizen monitoring, on the other hand, involves individuals working in tandem with CSOs in monitoring the delivery of services by the government in order to ensure that proper standards are being met. It also means that citizens are actively participating in all aspects of the political process, including decision-making. In this case, it is important for involved citizens to understand the entire process of collection and analysis of data, in order to assess whether the aforementioned standards are being achieved.
International award-winning projects focused on social accountability include Citizen Participatory Audit, partnering with the Commission on Audit and Checkmyschool, together with the Department of Education. These initiatives involving CSOs in partnership with Philippine government institutions have been recognized globally, including by the Open Government Partnership and the World Bank.
The lesson in social accountability is all about cooperation and collaboration to achieve common goals.
Sub-Lesson 9: Conclusion
The traditional view of citizenship is that it is state-centric: the citizenship of an individual is derived from the sovereignty of the state which grants it upon them. In other words, the country granting the citizenship holds considerable power over the actions of its citizens. To a certain extent this remains true; after all, citizenship remains a highly technical and legal concept.
However, modern notions of citizenship goes beyond the basic rights afforded to citizens. From this perspective, it is equally important to regard citizenship not only as a legal status but also social as well. That is, citizenship is imbued with both rights and responsibilities, and this includes participation in sociopolitical affairs of the state.
This module focused on the Philippines, and how laws are made, both in the national and local levels of governance, from Congress to the different Sanggunians. At the same time, the role of people’s initiatives and referendums are highlighted in policy creation and reform, enshrined in the 1987 Constitution and supported by law.
It also talked about the exclusive rights of Filipino citizens to participate in domestic political affairs, to the exclusion of foreigners. And in order to maximize this, the formation of CSOs, including sectoral, community-based and people’s organizations are essential, spearheading many aspects of support for good governance.
Lastly, it highlighted the concept of social accountability: the twin concepts of constructive engagement and citizen monitoring, and how both of them are highly important in ensuring that government service delivery to the people are both effective and efficient.
All in all, this module highlights the importance of participatory citizenship and collaboration through organization building to build a better and a more progressive Philippines.
Self-Evaluation Form (Part I)
- Why is it important to understand laws as a Filipino citizen?
List of Activities
Activity 1: In the Shoes of a Legislator
Instructions. If you were a legislator, what law would you prioritize legislating? In line with this, which civil society organization(s) will you seek advice from prior to legislating this particular law?
Discuss in class.
Activity 1: Old and the New
Instructions: The teacher will ask the class to research on the requirements of how a foreigner can be naturalized as a Filipino citizen. Create a table and compare the difference in the requirements as required by Commonwealth Act No. 473 and Republic Act No. 9139.
Activity 2: Service to Communities
Instructions. The teacher will ask the students to research at least two (2) CSOs per category which provide the following services:
- Delivery of Calamity Aid
- Training and Capacity Building
- Promotion of Transparency and Accountability
- Research and Professional Expertise for Policy Reforms
Write a short description, two to three sentences, for each.
Self-Evaluation Form (Part 2)
Answer the following questions:
- How would you describe a good and responsible Filipino citizen?
- In what ways can you, as a Filipino citizen, contribute to the improvement of the country?
Rubric for Discussions
|Excellent||Above Average||Developing||Needs Improvement|
The central theme/idea/argument of the student’s output is focused and supported by evidence which indicates mastery of the content.
The flow of the discussion of the central theme/idea/theme is coherent.
The form and presentation of the central theme/idea is clear, persuasive, polite, and easy to understand.
Rubric for Written Outputs
|Excellent||Above Average||Developing||Needs Improvement|
The central theme/idea of the paper is focused and supported by evidence which indicates mastery of the content.
The flow of the discussion of the central theme/idea is coherent.
The form and presentation of the central theme/idea is clear and easy to understand..
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