Government and Political Conditions of The Philippines

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Government and Political Conditions of The Philippines

  • Type: Republic.
  • Independence: July 4, 1946.
  • Constitution: February 11, 1987.
  • Branches: Executive--president and vice president. Legislative--bicameral *legislature. Judicial--independent.
  • Administrative subdivisions:
    • 18 regions and Metro Manila (National Capital Region),
    • 81 provinces, 144 cities.
  • Political parties:
    • Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats
    • Nationalist People's Coalition
    • Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino
    • Liberal Party
    • Aksiyon Demokratiko
    • Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan
    • and other small parties.
  • Suffrage: Universal, but not compulsory, at age 18.

Constitutional Government and Political Conditions of The Republic of the Philippines

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the U.S. system. The 1987 Constitution, adopted during the Aquino administration, reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one six-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon, where many indigenous tribes still live.

The 24-member Philippine Senate is elected at large, and all senators serve six-year terms. Half are elected every three years. Of a maximum of 250 members in the House of Representatives, 212 are elected from single-member districts to serve three-year terms. The remainder of the House seats are designated for sectoral party representatives elected at large, called party list representatives; from the May 2004 elections, there were 24 such representatives in the House. All representatives serve three-year terms, with a maximum of three consecutive terms. On May 14, 2007, legislative and local elections were held and official results have been finalized.

Local Government of The Republic of the Philippines

Once upon a time, the Philippines was just a collection of islands with different types of people spread out on different islands, managing their own cluster of residences. When the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century, they colonized the islands and introduced their system of government to the islanders. The islands became a country and the country became a subdivision of local governments set up in a system of hierarchy. The capital was the seat of government where the governor ruled the state. The state was divided into cities, or sitios, and the cities were further divided into barrios, similar to the early barangays of the islands.

When the United States arrived with their American democratic form of government, they converted the Spanish-style of government in the Philippines into their own form of republic government with a democratic constitution. During the early years of occupation, the country was subdivided into a few ruling areas called Provinces, and instilled a Governor to rule over the subjects composed in their respective provincial territories. Each province had a capital where the governor held his office and seat of government. The largest of these civil provinces, albeit military in composition, was the Moro Province, which encompassed the Sulu Archipelago, Basilan Island, and most of Mindanao Island. The ancient Spanish town of Zamboanga was made its capital due to its mighty military Fort Pilar, reflecting the ongoing hostilities against the Moros. At that time, the Moro Province was the largest province in the Philippines and the world, in terms of land size.

Chartered City

After years of trials and errors, the Philippines became a Commonwealth of the United States. Soon afterwards, a few historically independent communities filed petitions with the new Philippine Congress for Chartered City status, moving away from the collective governance they were placed in with their American administrative province. This Chartered City distinction still prevails today in post-World War II and post-Martial Law Philippines. Today's charted city status in the new-constitution Philippines is accorded in the same way as it was in the commonwealth era, by the sole Act of Congress. The legal emancipation of a chartered city from its previous province is the crowning glory of its ability to grow up and be its own legal entity. Many chartered cities in the Philippines have become so populous and highly productive that their city's GDP output surpasses their former province's collective output many times over. These few highly equipped, productive, and populated chartered cities have been further classified as Highly Urbanized Cities (HUC) by the national government for administrative purposes, however, they still remain by legal Congressional definition as "Chartered Cities." Their former provinces cannot legally claim to still own any of these chartered cities as it would be unlawful. Only the Philippine Congress can undo their Act in giving legal charter to a city and return it to its former province. Such act would have to break the city into many separate legal districts with population well below the required amount for chartered status, constitutionally set at 250,000 residents, essentially being a reversal of the chartered city process.

Additionally, Chartered Cities were subclassified by the National Government for budget allotment purposes by keeping track of their annual fiscal revenues in order to accordingly fix the rates of city officials and employees' salaries, under Republic Act No. 840 on April 7, 1953. They were as follows:

Chartered Cities' subclassifications:

1. First Class
2. Second Class
3. Third Class
4. Fourth Class
5. Fifth Class
6. Sixth Class - later addition

Read on

Province

Nevertheless, each remaining province can still have their respective subdivided municipalities and barangays to care for until they are ready to be independent.

A province's municipality is a "city" by character, having its own limited corporate charter and elected government officials headed by a mayor, vice-mayor, and council, just like a chartered city would, but is still an integral part of the province it belongs to. Each provincial municipality will consist of its own cluster of provincial barangays, and each barangay will have its own set of elected barangay officials headed by the barangay chairman, or "captain."

If a provincial municipality becomes populated enough to meet a constitutional requirement of becoming a provincial city, then Congress will promote it into provincial city status, becoming semi-independent from the province with its own set of provincial city charter rules and city government, but still very much a legal "component" or part of the province's jurisdiction. A provincial city may rise up to become the capital city of its parent province, becoming a provincial capital city. The same hierarchical process is applicable to a provincial barangay, the "barangay" being the lowest form of government in the country, if and when it meets the legal criteria of status change.

Ultimately, when a provincial city makes the grade to become an independent chartered city, Congress will once again have to grant it its new city charter so it can begin its corporate existence, forever removing itself from the legal jurisdiction of its former province. When the independent chartered city successfully expands itself, it may further be classified by the Executive branch as a highly-urbanized chartered city accordingly. Simply put, an independent chartered city is just called a city because by legal definition it is understood to be chartered and independent of any province. On the other hand, a provincial city can never be presumed to be legally independent regardless of its charter, which is restricted, and will always be legally part of its parent province by association and boundary until it is ready for legal emancipation.

Congressional Districts and Representatives

Essentially, if all the municipalities within the legal boundaries of a province become independent chartered cities, the province will legally cease to exist and will need to be abolished by Congress. In contrast, a chartered city can ideally only get bigger and better. The more populated a chartered city gets, the more powerful it can get in terms of its number of Congressional Legislative Districts and Representatives in the Philippine Congress. Each chartered city is accorded one congressional district and representative for every 250,000 population it gets according to the official Census.

By contrast, if a province's municipality grows to over 200,000 people, that municipality can file for chartered status with the Philippine Congress and when granted, will forever be removed from the legal jurisdiction of its former province. Meaning, every province will stand to loose its equivalent size in population and territory whenever its municipality grows big enough to become chartered, and the province will also loose its equal share of congressional district and representation to the newly created chartered city.

Province's Birthright

This cycle of growth and loss is the birthright of each province as they fill their role of parenting a potential chartered city's future emancipation and growth, up to a point where it will cease to legally exist when all the municipalities within its provincial jurisdiction have grown up to be independent chartered cities. By then, the province's task as a "parent" to these grown-up municipalities will have been completed and they can be happily sent off to official retirement for a job well done as caretakers. The independent chartered cities will however continue to grow and become legal masters of their own future destiny. The former province will only be a distant memory and influence of the growing independent chartered city.

However, if a provincial government wants to continue their hold on political power, they can pursue a vote to breakup and divide the single province into two, and thereby create a brand new province and try to establish a new lease on their time-barred term for being Governor, et al, wherein the current constitutional term limit is set at three consecutive terms. It is hopeful that this type of political corruption does not occur, but it still will not change the constitutional fact that a province's role in the local government system of the Philippines is to nurture an enclave of dependent barangays into a provincial municipality, a dependent small provincial municipality into a provincial city (or a "component" city of a province, as referenced by the Executive branch) that has its limited charter, and finally a provincial city into an independent chartered city. This is the true essence of a province - no more, no less.

Region

A sub-national administrative unit comprising of several provinces having more or less homogenous characteristics, such as ethnic origin of inhabitants, dialect spoken, agricultural produce, etc. This regional classification is a geographical management policy by the Executive branch for the purpose of providing relevant national government services and planning to their scope of statistical needs and wants. It also helps to increase the size of the national government's employees and payroll. The more regions, the more national governmental employees will need to be hired to "manage" those regions, in addition to those "regions" already having their own respective city or province government. A double-layer of "local governance" meant for the betterment of the country.

The Philippines' Local Government Hierarchy Composition in Accordance to the Legislative Branch

(The Executive Branch often Re-Labels their Legal Description for Administrative purposes only)

  • Chartered City (Highly Urbanized)
  • Chartered City (Independent)
  • Province (Independent)
  • Provincial City (Component City of Province = Semi-Independent)
  • Provincial Municipality (Dependent of Province)
  • Provincial Barangay (Dependent of Province)

It must be emphasized here that regardless of how the Philippines' Executive Branch changed and implemented their "Local Government Code of 1991," their administrative description of what constitutes a local government, whether it be city or province, can never overrule the Acts of the Legislative Branch - the Philippine Congress. Only the Legislative Branch can make or rescind laws in accordance to the Constitution. Any laws or acts the Executive Branch implements is exclusively meant for the legal administration of the local governments and is not meant to be construed as usurping the powers of the Legislative Branch. To do so would mean an act of Martial Law or a Dictatorship exist.

These legal facts are hard to be grasped by some lay people who try to impose upon others their understanding of the Act of Congress on their encyclopedia website. The Philippines is a young and growing democracy, and its people are hopeful their country is heading in the right direction. The ongoing corruption in the country is expanding into cyberspace where history is being changed in front of the watching world. Many are still up in arms against the incessant corruption.

The government continues to face threats from terrorist groups, including the Communist New People's Army and Muslim groups. The terrorist Abu Sayaff Group (ASG), which gained international notoriety with its kidnappings of foreign tourists in the southern islands, remains a major problem for the government, along with members of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Efforts to track down and destroy the ASG and JI have met with some success, especially in Basilan and Jolo, where U.S. troops advised, assisted, and trained Philippine soldiers in counterterrorism. In August 2006, the Armed Forces of the Philippines began a major offensive against ASG and JI on the island of Jolo. This offensive was remarkably successful and has resulted so far in the deaths of Abu Sayaff leader Khadafy Janjalani and his deputy, Abu Solaiman. The U.S. Government provided rewards to Philippine citizens whose information led to these deaths in the military operations, as well as to many other operations against terrorist leaders.

An international monitoring team continues to watch over a four-year-old cease-fire agreement between the government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In June 2003, the MILF issued a formal renunciation of terrorism. Talks on a peace accord between the two sides continue, with the Government of Malaysia acting as principal mediator.

The Philippines has a representative democracy modeled on the U.S. system. The 1987 constitution, adopted during the Aquino administration, reestablished a presidential system of government with a bicameral legislature and an independent judiciary. The president is limited to one six-year term. Provision also was made in the constitution for autonomous regions in Muslim areas of Mindanao and in the Cordillera region of northern Luzon, where many aboriginal tribes still live.

The 24-member Philippine Senate is elected at large, and all senators serve six-year terms. Half are elected every three years. There are currently 240 members in the House of Representatives, 219 of whom represent single-member districts. The remaining 21 House seats are occupied by sectoral party representatives elected at large, called party list representatives. All representatives serve three-year terms, with a maximum of three consecutive terms. On May 14, 2007, legislative and local elections were held. President Arroyo's coalition won the majority of the seats in the House of Representatives, gubernatorial seats, and city mayoral seats. However, the President's coalition won only three out of 12 vacant seats in the Philippine Senate. Although the election was marred by some violence and irregularities, civil society monitoring groups played a welcome and active role in ensuring a relatively fair and democratic process. The next presidential and congressional elections are scheduled for May 2010.

The government continues to face threats from terrorist groups, including three terrorist groups on the U.S. Government's Foreign Terrorist Organization list. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which gained international notoriety with its kidnappings of foreign tourists in the southern islands, remains a major problem for the government, along with members of the Indonesian-based Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Efforts to track down and interdict ASG and JI members have met with some success, especially in Basilan and Jolo, where U.S. troops provide counter terrorism assistance and training to Philippine soldiers, along with conducting humanitarian activities.. In August 2006, the Armed Forces of the Philippines began a major offensive against ASG and JI on the island of Jolo. This offensive was successful and resulted in the deaths of Abu Sayyaf leader Khadafy Janjalani and his deputy, Abu Solaiman. The U.S. Government provided rewards to Philippine citizens whose information led to these deaths in the military operations, as well as to many other operations against terrorist leaders. The broad-based efforts to weaken terrorist organizations have resulted in over 200 terrorists being killed or captured in 2007 and 2008.

An international monitoring team continues to watch over a cease-fire agreement between the government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). In June 2003, the MILF issued a formal renunciation of terrorism. In August 2008, during peace talks mediated by the Government of Malaysia, the Philippine government and the MILF reached agreement in principle on a territorial agreement . However, intervention by the Philippine Supreme Court, and its subsequent October 14 ruling that the draft agreement was unconstitutional, have sent all parties back to the drawing board. Fighting flared up after the agreement was struck down in court and has continued sporadically in central Mindanao.

The local government units or LGUs (common name) are subdivided into 81 provinces, 136 cities, 1,495 municipalities and 42,008 barangays as of December 31, 2008. The LGUs are grouped into seventeen (17) regions based on their geographical locations. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) exercises general supervision in the provinces and cities of 16 regions. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao is not part of the general supervisory function of DILG.

List of Provinces in the Republic of the Philippines

The Philippines has 80 provinces. The names of the Provinces in the Philippines are listed below:

AbraAgusan del NorteAgusan del SurAklanAlbayAntiqueApayaoAuroraBasilanBataanBatanesBatangasBenguetBiliranBoholBukidnonBulacanCagayanCamarines NorteCamarines SurCamiguinCapizCatanduanesCaviteCebuCompostela ValleyCotabatoDavao del NorteDavao del SurDavao OrientalDinagat IslandEastern SamarGuimarasIfugaoIlocos NorteIlocos SurIloiloIsabelaKalingaLa UnionLagunaLanao del NorteLanao del SurLeyteMaguindanaoMarinduqueMasbateMindoro OccidentalMindoro OrientalMisamis OccidentalMisamis OrientalMountainNegros OccidentalNegros OrientalNorthern SamarNueva EcijaNueva VizcayaPalawanPampangaPangasinanQuezonQuirinoRizalRomblonSamarSaranganiShariff KabunsuanSiquijorSorsogonSouth CotabatoSouthern LeyteSultan KudaratSuluSurigao del NorteSurigao del SurTarlacTawi-TawiZambalesZamboanga del NorteZamboanga del SurZamboanga Sibugay

List of Chartered Cities in the Republic of the Philippines

There 136 chartered cities in the Philippines. Please, click on this link to go to the page for the list.

List of Municipalities in the Republic of the Philippines

There are too many municipalities in the Philippines to list them here. Please, click on this link to go to the page for the list.

List of Barangays in the Republic of the Philippines

There are thousands of Barangays in the Philippines. There are too many to list them here. Click on this link to go to the page listing the names of all the barangays in the Philippines.