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From the Philippine News Agency's December 30, 2021 article Duterte signs law creating Department of Migrant Workers

The creation and establishment of the Department of Migrant Workers is one of Duterte’s priorities after he certified it as an urgent bill in March.

Duterte has repeatedly pushed for the passage of a bill mandating the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers, even mentioning it in his final State-of-the-Nation Address on July 26 this year.

and CNN's December 30, 2021 Duterte signs law creating Department of Migrant Workers

Certified as an urgent bill last May, Republic Act No. 11641 will create the Department of Migrant Workers that, in effect, merges agencies that deal with matters affecting OFWs.

we can see that in the Philippines the president can certify a bill as "urgent".

It sounds like it could be a very handy tool for a president to get a congress to focus!

Question: What is the origin of bill "urgency" in the Philippines, how does it work and how widespread is this feature in other democracies?

Note that searching for "Duterte urgent" returns quite a large number of additional examples.

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    It may just be inconsequential and not having any formal meaning in the Philippines. Something like: please hurry up. And while it could come in handy, if it is something formal, it might also be misused. There should maybe be some condition of when urgent is appropriate. Apr 24, 2022 at 6:39
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    I find amusing that the 2 answers so far, while good in themselves, don't have much to say about the Philippines themselves, which is what the question was about. We are a somewhat West-centered site, no doubt. Didn't find any great insight here The thing with Philippines is that their government info is largely in English, eager beavers can surely search away. I also wonder if there is a cost to declaring bills urgent. Apr 24, 2022 at 19:10
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica excellent points, all of them! update: Oh there's a new answer :-)
    – uhoh
    Apr 24, 2022 at 22:01

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The cited authority when the President certifies a bill as urgent is the following

THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES – ARTICLE VI

SECTION 26. (1) Every bill passed by the Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof.

(2) No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the Journal.

A certification by the President to this effect would remove the requirement to have the three readings on separate days as well as the minimum review period. Amendments are not permitted at the last reading and thus allowing the bill to go to a final recorded vote faster.

However, it does not bind the legislature to actually use the fast track procedure; it would still be within the purview of the Speaker/Senate President and the legislative leaders. For example, a similar bill was certified as urgent in December 2020, but was not reconsidered by the Senate until May 2021 at which time it was replaced by another bill.

It seems like the President has the discretion as to what "a public calamity or emergency" means, I do not know if a judicial procedure is available to review such certifications. The President can also signal his priorities this way despite not facing a literal "calamity or emergency" (perhaps just politically urgent).

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In fact, many countries'executives have way more effective means to push for urgent legal measures, if they feel the need to.

For example, in many countries the executive can issue a decree (or, in Commonwealth countries, orders in council) that may come into effect immediately.

In democratic countries, those measures are still subject to parliamentary approval (and in general to judiciary review), but that approval would arrive some time after the law has been into effect.

So, these measures may make faster to pass a law, but may have some nasty effects for the executive:

  • it might be revoked or ammended by the parliament.
  • in some cases, it might be revoked by the judiciary, either because it goes against other laws/Constitution or because the judiciary thinks that the emergency was not granted and it should have followed the usual procedure.
    • if the law is revoked, a bunch of problems arise: the process must start again, there are legal uncertainties for the acts performed under the cover of the law, and the executive in general is seen as unable to govern.
  • even if it is upheld, opposition parties may complain that they have had no opportunity to properly assess the law.

And of course, most countries in the world retain some kind of emergency powers that allow the executive to bypass the normal legislative process. But again, in democratic countries that is not a blank check but something that must be revised by the other powers, and its abuse is usually very polemic.

Update: I did write about the faster way that executives have to get laws enacted, but if I restrict myself to the specifics of the question (a fast way of following the usual legislative process), I can speak for the Spanish government.

Here the regulations of the Congreso de los Diputados(one of the two chambers of Parliament) establish an urgent procedure that requires to be approved by either the executive, two parliamentary groups or a fifth of the MPs, and that halves the usual times.

The other chamber, the Senado, also has an urgent procedure.

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In Germany, the Federal government can declare laws urgent (Art. 76 GG), which reduces the time the Bundesrat (states' chamber of parliament) has to respond from six weeks to just three. Some but not all laws require the consent of the states of the federation.

And the Bundestag (national chamber of parliament) has set itself rules of procedure which allow a bill to bypass the subcommittee stage if there is a sufficient supermajority. Basically the parliament can decide to accelerate the debate and to go directly to the vote.

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