- Natural-born citizen
- At least 35 years old on the day of the election
- Able to read and write
- A registered voter
- A resident of the Philippines for not less than 2 years immediately preceding the day of the election
The age qualification is very clear. A candidate must be 35 years old on the very day of the elections, that is, when the polls are opened and the votes are cast, and not on the day of the proclamations of the winners by the board of canvassers. This nullifies the ruling in Espinosa vs. Aquino (Electoral Case No. 9, SET).
Residence is defined as the place where one habitually resides and to which, when he is absent, he has the intention of returning. (Lim vs. Pelaez, Electoral Case No. 35, HET). For those running in the Senate, the residence to them is in any part of the Philippines.
All of the qualifications set in Section 3, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution are continuing requirements. They must be possessed for the entire duration of the member's incumbency. Thus, if one was naturalized in a foreign country during his term, he shall cease to be entitled to his seat.
Moreover, the Congress cannot change the qualifications set forth by just passing an ordinary statute, no matter how relevant they may be. It requires a call for an amendment of the Constitution for any change that would be effected in the qualifications.
The term of the senators is governed by the following provisions in Articles VI and XVII (1987 Philippine Constitution) respectively:
"Sec. 4. The term of office of the Senators shall be six years and shall commence, unless otherwise provided by law, at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following their election."The last provision is for the continuity of the life of the Senate wherein twelve senators shall be elected every three years to serve the full term of six years. This makes the House of Senate not at any time completely dissolved. This scheme is intended to encourage the maintenance of Senate policies as well as guarantee that there will be experienced members who can help and train newcomers in the discharge of their duties.
"Sec. 2. The Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, and the local officials first elected under this Constitution shall serve until noon of June 30, 1992.
"Of the senators elected in the election in 1992, the first twelve obtaining the highest number of votes shall serve for six years and the remaining twelve for three years."
Following the said provision, those senators who were first elected on May 1987 served a term of only five (5) years only ending on June 30, 1992. Of the twenty-four (24) senators elected in 1992, the first twelve obtaining the highest number of votes served the full term of six years (1992-1998). The last twelve senators served a term of three years (1992-1995). Now, the twelve senators who were elected in that same year (1995), they served the full term of six years. Those who were also elected in 1998 served the full term of six years and so on.
One thing though that the Constitution specifically provides is no senator is to serve for more than two consecutive terms. The senator therefore can serve no more than twelve (12) years in the Senate. This constitutional prohibition is intended to encourage other political aspirants and discourage the creation and maintenance of political dynasties.
The term of all the members of the Congress starts at twelve noon of June 30 next following their election in May.