‘Does the upper house have the upper hand?’

The Dynamics of Distributive Policies in the Philippine Senate

In: Philippine Political Science Journal
Rogelio Alicor Panao Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines Diliman

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How does the Philippine Senate fare as an institutional check to the policy proposals made by the House of Representatives? The study examines a facet of bicameral policymaking by analyzing the type of measures likely to receive attention in the Philippine Senate, and the propensity by which these measures are passed into legislation. Contrary to views that portray deliberative processes in second chambers as redundant and time-consuming, the paper argues that this prerogative is institutionally functional as it affords a mechanism for checking the informational quality of legislative policies skewed by particularistic demands at the lower house. Analyzing the event histories of 10,885 bills filed and deliberated at the Philippine Senate between the 13th and the 16th Congresses, we find that policy proposals pertaining to education, health, and public works – the most frequent areas of particularistic legislative measures at the lower house – are less likely to be passed into law in the Senate even though overall they comprise the bulk of legislative proposals in the Philippine Congress. The findings are robust even when controlling for other political and institutional determinants of legislative attention.

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