Philippine System of Government and Politics
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Philippine System of Government and Politics

The Republic of the Philippines is a constitutional democracy, with the President as head of state. The president and vice president are elected by the people for six-year terms. The national government has three coequal branches that exercise a system of checks and balances: executive, legislative, and judicial.

The executive branch consists of the President and his Cabinet. The Senate and the House of Representatives make up the bicameral legislature. The Supreme Court heads the systems of courts under the judicial branch.

Congress consists of a 24-member Senate and a 250-member House of Representatives. The voters of the entire nation elect senators to six-year terms. Voters from different districts elect 200 of the representatives to three-year terms. The remaining 50 representatives are selected from lists drawn up by the political parties to ensure representation of women, ethnic minorities, and certain economic and occupational groups. The number selected from each party's list is about one-fourth of the number of the party's elected representatives. All Philippine citizens who are at least 18 years old may vote.

The Philippine Constitution is the fundamental basis of the laws of the land. The country has had several Constitutions, but the current one was adopted through a nationwide plebiscite in 1987. It is supported by other laws, such as the Civil Code, the Labor Code, the Omnibus Investments Code, and the National Internal Revenue Code, as well as by rules and regulations passed by government bodies. The latter include rulings, letters of instruction, circulars, memoranda, administrative orders, judicial orders, and pronouncements, as well as laws adopted by local government within the scope of the Constitution.

Early Filipinos System of Government

The society during our ancestors' period had two kinds of government: the Barangay and the Sultanate Government. A datu or raja was the leader of a barangay. He could make laws and implemented them so that peace and order would prevail in their community. The members of his community helped and participated in the realization of the projects in the barangay. There were two kinds of barangay laws: written and oral. The Sultanate Government was formed because of the presence of the Islam Religion in the Philippines. This was headed by a sultan. Aside from maintaining peace and order, it was the sultan's responsibility to let the Islam religion and Muslim tradition remain in the lives of his constituents. The laws of the sultanate government did not change because it was based on the Koran which is the Muslim Bible and the Sunnah which are Mohammed's traditions.

The Early Oral and Written Laws

The Maragtas Code which was written by Datu Sumaktel of Panay in 1250 in an example of a written law. This is the first law ever written which focuses on the penalty for those who are lazy. The code of Kalantiaw is another law written by Datu Kalantiaw in 1433. This code speaks of death penalty, exposure to ant bites for those who have been proen to be murderers, theives abd those who marry women who are under age and those who would rebel against elders.

Islam Influence on the Political System

Islam has a great influence on the political system of the natives in the Southern Philippines. The sultan of the Muslim community is still the sultan of Muslim provinces. The effect of Islam religion and their interaction with the people behind it, the Muslims have acquired a better perception of their religion and the laws. The political organizations and their livelihood progressed. Because of this, they were not easily swayed by colonizers.

System of Government in the Spanish Period

Spain introduced the Centralized form of government. It was divided into two units: the Central government and the Local government. The King entrusted the colony to the governor-general, who had the highest position in the government. The Royal Audiencia was the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The Residencia and the Visitador were the special courts that investigated on the conduct of the governor-general and other high-ranking Spanish officials. The Local Government was responsible for the following: the provinces, cities, towns and barrios. The provinces were divided into two: the alcaldia which recognized Spain's possession over the land and the corregimiento where the people had not succumbed to its ruling power. Ayuntamiento or the city government was the center of the society, religion, culture and business. The pueblo was governed by the gobernadorcillo, the highest position for Filipino politicians. The Cabeza de Barangay governed the barrios.


During the Spanish regime, there was union of church and state. The governor-general had power over the church. The friars, on the other hand, played a very important role in the government.

The governor-general being the most powerful in the Philippines, had the power to take the law into his hands. He was more powerful than the archbishop. The Archbishop was only the most powerful in the church. However, it seemed that the church exercised more power than the government and because of this, the government in the Philippines was called "Frailocracia," a government controlled by the friars.

System of Government in the American Period

The Filipinos who continued their protest against the reign of the Americans were called "irreconcilables". The Brigandage Act intended to divide the support of the people against those who fight the Americans. The Sedition Law prohibited any persuasion in achieving independence be it through peaceful or violent means. The Flag Law, prohibited the public display of anything particularly the Philippine flag and KKK that would serve as reminder of freedom. The Filipinos acted and took steps towards independence by forming political parties, writing and painting of nationalistic materials, the staging of plays and by sending independence missions to the U.S. Congress. The Cooper Law, Jones Law, Hare-Hawes-Cutting Law, and Tydings-McDuffie Law were laws passed by the U.S. Congress for the independence of the Philippines. The members of the Philippine Assembly, which is the first law-making , committee, consisted of Filipinos. The Tydings-McDuffie Law provided the necessary steps that the Filipinos should take in order to prepare for the coming independence. Filipino representatives made the Constitution during the Constitutional Convention. The Representatives in the Constitutional Convention signed the 1935 Constitution on February 19, 1935. It was approved by U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt on March 23, 1935 and was ratified by the Filipino people on May 14, 1935. The plebiscite on May 14, 1935 became a very important event for women because they were allowed to vote for the first time. The Commonwealth was established under the 1935 Constitution. Manuel Quezon was elected President of the Commonwealth while Sergio Osmena was elected Vice-President.

Japanese Government in the Philippines

When Japanese captured Manila, the Japanese High Command established the Philippine Executive Commission in January 1942. Jose B. Vargas headed the Commission, which was also known as the Central Government of the Philippines. The commission formed seven departments each of which had a Filipino secretary and each secretary had a Japanese adviser. This was to determine the loyalty of their service.

Jose P. Laurel became the president of the 2nd Republic on Oct. 14, 1943 in front of the Congress building. The people did not accept the second republic because they knew that the president did not have the power to run the government. This was the reason why the second republic was called a fake or a Puppet Republic.


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