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Constitutional commissions

Aside from the three branches of government, Article IX of the 1987 Constitution established three independent, fiscally-autonomous commissions: the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), and the Commission on Audit (COA). In addition, Article XIII of the constitution and the Administrative Code of 1987 created the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Civil Service Commission

The constitution entrusts the administration of the civil service, inclusive of all the branches, subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies of the government, and government-owned or -controlled corporations, to the Civil Service Commission (CSC).

The CSC acts as the central personnel agency of the government. It is mandated to adopt measures to promote morale, efficiency, integrity, responsiveness, progressiveness and courtesy in the bureaucracy. It is also tasked to strengthen the merit and rewards system within government agencies, integrate human resources development programs for all levels and ranks, and institutionalize a climate conducive to transparency and accountability.

The Career Service Eligibility examinations for prospective government officers and employees are being administered by the CSC.

The CSC shall be led by a chairman and two commissioners, who shall be appointed by the President—with approval from the Commission on Appointments—for single seven-year terms. The abovementioned must possess the following qualifications:

    1. a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;
    2. at least thirty-five years of age;
    3. proven capacity for public administration; and
    4. must not have been candidates for any elective position preceding their appointment.

Officials

Chairman: Francisco Duque III

Commissioners:

Robert Martinez

Nieves Osorio

Commission on Elections

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is the primary government agency responsible for the conduct of regular and special elections in the country. Similar to other constitutional commissions, the COMELEC is an independent and fiscally-autonomous body free from political interference or influence from the three branches of government, which makes possible the conduct of free, fair, and honest elections.

According to the constitution, the COMELEC shall exercise and perform the following powers and functions:

  • Enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, and recall.
  • Exercise exclusive original jurisdiction over contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of elective regional, provincial and city officials, and appellate jurisdiction over contests involving elective municipal officials or barangay officials decided by trial courts.
  • Decide all questions affecting elections, including determination of the number and location of polling places, appointment of election officials and inspectors, and registration of voters.
  • Deputize law enforcement agencies and instrumentalities of the government, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to ensure peaceful, orderly and credible elections.
  • Register political parties, organizations or coalitions, and accredit citizens’ arms or watchdogs.
  • File petitions in court for inclusion or exclusion of voters, and investigate and prosecute cases of violations of election laws, including election frauds, offenses, and malpractices.
  • Recommend to Congress measures to minimize election spending, limit places for propaganda materials, and prevent and penalize all forms of election frauds, offenses and nuisance candidates.
  • Submit to the President and Congress a comprehensive report on the conduct of each election, plebiscite, initiative, referendum, or recall.

The COMELEC shall be composed of a chairman and six commissioners, who shall be appointed by the President—with approval from the Commission on Appointments—for single seven-year terms. The abovementioned must satisfy the following qualifications:

    1. a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;
    2. at least thirty-five years of age;
    3. holder of a college degree; and
    4. has not been a candidate for any elective position in the immediately preceding elections.

In addition, the chairman and a majority of the commissioners must be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.

Officials

Chairman: Andres D. Bautista

Commissioners:

Christian Robert S. Lim

Al A. Parreño

Luie Tito F. Guia

Arthur D. Lim

Rowena Amelia B. Guanzon

Sheriff M. Abas

Commission on Audit

Envisioned as an anti-graft and corruption body, the Commission on Audit (COA) was established to audit, examine, and settle all accounts pertaining to the revenue, funds, expenditures and property owned or held in trust by government agencies, including other constitutional commissions, government-owned or -controlled corporations, autonomous state colleges and universities, and non-governmental entities receiving subsidy or equity from or through the government.

The COA’s other powers and functions, as provided for in the constitution, include:

  • Promulgate accounting and auditing rules and regulations, including those for the prevention and disallowance of irregular, unnecessary, excessive, extravagant or unconscionable expenditures, or uses of government funds and properties.
  • Submit annual reports to the President and Congress on the financial condition and operation of the government.
  • Recommend measures to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations.
  • Keep the general accounts of government, and preserve the vouchers and supporting papers pertaining thereto.
  • Decide any case brought before it within 60 days.

The COA shall be comprised of a chairman and two commissioners, who shall be appointed by the President—with approval from the Commission on Appointments—for single seven-year terms. The officials mentioned must possess the following criteria:

    1. a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;
    2. at least thirty-five years of age;
    3. a certified public accountant, with not less than ten years of auditing experience, or a member of the Philippine Bar who has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years; and
    4. has not been a candidate for any elective position in the preceding elections.

In addition, the constitution stipulates that at no time shall the chairman and commissioners of the COA belong to the same profession.

Officials

Chairman: Michael G. Aguinaldo

Commissioners:

Heidi Mendoza

Jose Fabia

Commission on Human Rights

Apart from the three bodies created in Article IX of the constitution, Sections 17 and 18 of Article XIII and the Administrative Code of 1987 established an independent Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The CHR has the following powers and function:

  • Investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights.
  • Provide appropriate legal measures for the protection of human rights of all persons within the Philippines, as well as Filipinos residing abroad.
  • Provide for preventive measures and legal aid services to the underprivileged whose human rights have been violated or need protection.
  • Exercise visitorial powers over jails, prisons, or detention facilities.
  • Establish a program of research, education, and information to enhance respect for the primacy of human rights.
  • Recommend to Congress effective measures to promote human rights, and to provide for compensation to victims of violations of human rights, or their families.
  • Monitor the government’s compliance with international treaty obligations on human rights.
  • Grant immunity from prosecution to any person whose testimony or possession of evidence is necessary or convenient to determine the truth in any matter it investigates;

The CHR is composed of a chairman and four commissioners, who shall be appointed by the President for single seven-year terms. The qualifications for the chairman and commissioners are as follows:

    1. a natural-born citizen of the Philippines;
    2. at least thirty-five years of age; and
    3. has not been a candidate for any elective position preceding their appointment.

In addition, the constitution states that a majority of the abovementioned officials must be members of the Philippine Bar.

Officials

Chairman: Loretta Ann Rosales

Commissioners:

Cecilia Rachel Quisumbing

Ma. Victoria Cardona

Norberto dela Cruz

Jose Manuel Mamauag

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