Local government in the Philippines

The local government in the Philippines is divided into three levels: provinces and independent cities, component cities and municipalities, and barangays. All of which are collectively known as local government units (LGUs). In one area, above provinces and independent cities, is an autonomous region, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Below barangays in some cities and municipalities are sitios and puroks. All of these, with the exception of sitios and puroks, elect their own executives and legislatures. Sitios and puroks are often but not necessarily led by an elected barangay councilor.

Provinces and independent cities are organized into national government regions but those are administrative regions and not separately governed areas with their own elected governments.

According to the Constitution of the Philippines, the local governments "shall enjoy local autonomy", and in which the Philippine president exercises "general supervision". Congress enacted the Local Government Code of the Philippines in 1991 to "provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of local units."[1] Local government units are under the control and supervision of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Levels of local governmentEdit

Autonomous regionsEdit

Autonomous regions have more powers than other local governments. The constitution limits the creation of autonomous regions to Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras but only one autonomous region exists: the Bangsamoro, which replaced the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). In 1989, a plebiscite established the ARMM. In 2001, a plebiscite in the ARMM confirmed the previous composition of the autonomous region and added Basilan (except for the city of Isabela) and Marawi in Lanao del Sur. Isabela City remains a part of the province of Basilan despite rejecting inclusion in the ARMM. In 2019, another plebiscite confirmed the replacement of the ARMM with the Bangsamoro, and added Cotabato City and 63 barangays in Cotabato.

A Cordillera Autonomous Region has never been formed because two plebiscites, in 1990 and 1998, both resulted in just one province supporting autonomy; this led the Supreme Court ruling that autonomous regions should not be composed of just one province.

Each autonomous region has a unique form of government. The ARMM had a regional governor and a regional legislative assembly, mimicking the presidential system of the national government. The Bangsamoro will have a chief minister responsible to parliament, with parliament appointing a wa'lī, or a ceremonial governor, in a parliamentary system.


Outside the lone autonomous region, the provinces are the highest-level local government. The provinces are organized into component cities and municipalities. A province is governed by the governor and a legislature known as the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Cities and municipalitiesEdit

Municipal government in the Philippines is divided into three – independent cities, component cities, and municipalities (sometimes referred to as towns). Several cities across the country are "independent cities" which means that they are not governed by a province, even though like Iloilo City the provincial capitol might be in the city. Independent city residents do not vote for nor hold provincial offices. Far more cities are component cities and are a part of a province. Municipalities are always a part of a province except for Pateros which was separated from Rizal to form Metro Manila.

Cities and municipalities are governed by mayors and legislatures, which are called the Sangguniang Panlungsod in cities and the Sangguniang Bayan in municipalities.


Every city and municipality in the Philippines is divided into barangays, the smallest of the local government units. Barangays can be further divided into sitios and puroks but those divisions do not have leaders elected in formal elections supervised by the national government.

A barangay's executive is the Punong Barangay or barangay captain and its legislature is the Sangguniang Barangay, composed of barangay captain, the Barangay Kagawads (barangay councilors) and the SK chairman. The SK chairman also leads a separate assembly for youth, the Sangguniang Kabataan or SK.


Local governments have two branches: executive and legislative. All courts in the Philippines are under the Supreme Court of the Philippines and therefore there are no local-government controlled judicial branches. Nor do local governments have any prosecutors or public defenders, as those are under the jurisdiction of the national government.

The executive branch is composed of the Wali as the head of region and Chief Minister as the head of government for the Bangsamoro, governor for the provinces, mayor for the cities and municipalities, and the barangay captain for the barangays.[2]


The legislatures review the ordinances and resolutions enacted by the legislatures below. Aside from regular and ex-officio members, the legislatures above the barangay level also have three sectoral representatives, one each from women, agricultural or industrial workers, and other sectors.[2]

Level of government Legislature Composition[2] Head
Autonomous region Parliament
  • total of 80 members:
    • 40 seats in a party-list system of allocation
    • 32 seats, 1 elected from each district
    • 8 reserved seats:
      • 2 from non-Moro indigenous peoples
      • 2 from settler communities
      • 1 for women
      • 1 for youth
      • 1 for traditional leaders
      • 1 for the Ulama
Province Sangguniang Panlalawigan[a] Provincial Vice Governor
City Sangguniang Panlungsod[g] City Vice Mayor
Municipality Sangguniang Bayan
  • varies, as of 2016:[3]
    • Pateros: 12 councilors, 6 elected from each district
    • All other municipalities: 8 councilors, elected at-large
  • President of the municipal chapter of the Liga ng mga Barangay
  • President of the municipal federation of the Sangguniang Kabataan
  • Sectoral representatives
Municipal Vice Mayor
Barangay Sangguniang Barangay
  • 7 members elected at-large
  • Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson
Barangay Captain/Barangay Chairman
Sangguniang Kabataan
  • 7 members elected at-large
Sangguniang Kabataan Chairperson

  1. ^ Provinces that comprise a single congressional district are divided into two SP districts. For provinces comprising multiple congressional districts, boundaries of SP and congressional districts are coterminous, with the exception of the following:
    Independent cities which are not allowed by law to participate in electing provincial officials are excluded from SP districts.
    • The cities of Biñan and San Jose del Monte, despite forming their separate congressional districts, remain part of the 1st SP district of Laguna and the 4th SP district of Bulacan.
  2. ^ Santiago City is excluded from the 4th SP district of Isabela.
  3. ^ Dagupan is excluded from the 4th SP district of Pangasinan.
  4. ^ Independent cities excluded from provincial elections:
    Naga from Camarines Sur—3rd
    Tacloban from Leyte—1st
    Ormoc from Leyte—4th
    Cotabato City from Maguindanao—1st
    Puerto Princesa from Palawan—3rd
    Angeles City from Pampanga—1st
    General Santos from South Cotabato—1st.
  5. ^ a b The manner of seat distribution varies, per Republic Act No. 7166:[4]
    • For provinces comprising multiple congressional districts and need no boundary adjustments due to independent cities being excluded: each district receives the same number of members first, then any remainder will get assigned to the districts with higher population counts.
    • For provinces comprising multiple congressional districts but have district boundary adjustments: seats are distributed according to the population size of each SP district after factoring out the independent cities.
    • For provinces comprising a single congressional district: seats are usually distributed equally between the two SP districts drawn by COMELEC, although proportional allocation exists in cases where geography and circumstance have resulted in grossly uneven SP district population distributions (e.g. Benguet's and Sarangani's SP districts).
  6. ^ Butuan is excluded from the 1st SP district of Agusan del Norte.
  7. ^ The number of city council members and districts varies per city, as determined by different statutes. For cities comprising multiple congressional districts, boundaries of city council districts are coterminous with congressional districts, with the exception of the Legislative district of Taguig-Pateros which encompasses the 2nd SP district of Taguig and the 1st and 2nd SB districts of Pateros. By law, some cities that are not divided into multiple congressional districts are specifically divided into two (Bacoor, Calbayog, Las Piñas, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Pasay, Pasig, San Juan, San Jose del Monte, Valenzuela) or three (Samal, Sorsogon City) city council districts.

Elected officialsEdit

All elected officials have 3-year terms, save for the wa'lī which is six years, and can only serve a maximum of three consecutive terms before being ineligible for reelection.[5]

LGU Official Minimum age (18 is the voting age[6])
Autonomous region Wa'lī (Regional Chief Executive) 40 years old on election day[7] (Same as the President and Vice President of the Philippines)
Chief minister 25 years old on election day
Member of parliament Same as chief minister
Provinces Provincial Governor (Local Chief Executive) 23 years old on election day[5]
Provincial Vice Governor Same as governor
Sangguniang Panlalawigan member (Board Member) Same as governor
Highly urbanized cities City Mayor (Local Chief Executive) Same as governor
City Vice mayor Same as governor
Sangguniang Panlungsod member (City Councilor) Same as governor
Independent component and component cities City Mayor (Local Chief Executive) 21 years old on election day
City Vice mayor Same as independent component and component city mayor[5]
Sangguniang Panlungsod member (City Councilor) Same as independent component and component city mayor
Municipalities Municipal Mayor (Local Chief Executive) Same as independent component and component city mayor
Municipal Vice mayor Same as independent component and component city mayor
Sangguniang Bayan member (Municipal Councilor) Same as independent component and component city mayor
Barangay Punong Barangay (Barangay Captain/Chairperson; Barangay Chief Executive) 18 years old on election day
Barangay Kagawad (Barangay Councilor) Same as Punong Barangay
Sangguniang Kabataan Chairperson/President (SK Chief Executive) 18 to 24 years old on election day
Sangguniang Kabataan member (SK Councilor) Same as Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson*

*a Sangguniang Kabataan official who has surpassed 21 years of age while in office is allowed to serve for the rest of the term.[2]

Offices that are common to municipalities, cities and provincesEdit

There are 41 offices in a government, whether it is municipal, city or provincial. There are some mandatory and optional offices to the government.

Office Head Municipality City Province
Office of the Secretary to the Sanggunian Secretary to the Sanggunian Yes Yes Yes
Treasury Office Treasurer Yes Yes Yes
Assessment Office Assessor Yes Yes Yes
Accounting Office Accountant Yes Yes Yes
Budget Office Budget Officer Yes Yes Yes
Planning and Development Office Planning and Development Coordinator Yes Yes Yes
Engineering Office Engineer Yes Yes Yes
Health Office Health Officer Yes Yes Yes
Office of the Local Civil Registry Local Civil Registrar Yes Yes No
Office of the Administrator Administrator Yes Yes Yes
Office of the Legal Services Legal Officer Optional Yes Yes
Agriculture Office Agriculturist Yes Yes Yes
Social Welfare and Development Office Social Welfare and Development Officer Yes Yes Yes
Environment and Natural Resources Office Environment and Natural Resources Officer Yes Yes Yes
Office of Architectural Planning and Design Architect Optional Optional Optional
Public Information Office Public Information Officer Optional Optional Optional
Office for the Development of Cooperatives/Cooperatives Development Office Cooperative Development Specialist No Optional Optional
Population Office Population Officer Optional Optional Optional
Veterinary Office Veterinarian Yes Yes Yes
Public Order and Safety Office (POSO) Public Order and Safety Officer Optional Optional Optional
General Services Office General Services Officer Yes Yes Yes
Tourism Office Tourism Officer Yes Yes Yes
Public Employment Services Office (PESO) PESO Manager Yes Yes Yes
Human Resources Management and Development HRMD Officer Yes Yes Yes
Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office DRRM Officer Yes Yes Yes
Economic Enterprise and Development Office EED Officer Yes Yes No
Office of the Mayor Mayor Yes Yes No
Office of the Vice Mayor Vice Mayor Yes Yes No
Office of the Provincial Governor Provincial Governor No No Yes
Office of the Provincial Vice Governor Provincial Vice Governor No No Yes
Office of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan Presiding Officer (Provincial Vice Governor) No No Yes
Office of the Sangguniang Panlungsod Presiding Officer (City Vice Mayor) No Yes No
Office of the Sangguniang Bayan Presiding Officer (Municipal Vice Mayor) Yes No No
Office of the Senior Citizens' Affairs (OSCA) OSCA Head Yes Yes No
Persons With Disability Affairs Office (PWDAO) PWDAO Head Yes Yes Yes
Nutrition Action Office Nutrition Action Officer Yes Yes Yes
Prosecution Office Prosecutor Yes Yes Yes
Solid Waste and Environment Management Office (SWEMO) SWEMO Head Yes Yes No

Source: Local Government Code of 1991[8]


Among the social services and facilities that local government should provide, as stipulated in Section 17 of the Local Government Code, are the following:

  • facilities and research services for agriculture and fishery activities, which include seedling nurseries, demonstration farms, and irrigation systems;
  • health services, which include access to primary health care, maternal and child care, and medicines, medical supplies and equipment;
  • social welfare services, which include programs and projects for women, children, elderly, and persons with disabilities, as well as vagrants, beggars, street children, juvenile delinquents, and victims of drug abuse;
  • information services, which include job placement information systems and a public library;
  • a solid waste disposal system or environmental management system;
  • municipal/city/provincial buildings, cultural centers, public parks, playgrounds, and sports facilities and equipment;
  • infrastructure facilities such as roads, bridges, school buildings, health clinics, fish ports, water supply systems, seawalls, dikes, drainage and sewerage, and traffic signals and road signs;
  • public markets, slaughterhouses, and other local enterprises;
  • public cemetery;
  • tourism facilities and other tourist attractions; and
  • sites for police and fire stations and substations and municipal jail.

Creation and modificationEdit

As a matter of principle, higher legislative entities have the power to create, divide, merge, abolish, or substantially alter boundaries of any lower-level local government through a law or ordinance, all subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in the local government unit or units directly affected.[2] The Local Government Code has also set requisites for creating local government units.[2] A summary can be found in the table below:

Local government Area Population Income Legislative bodies that can create, merge, abolish or substantially alter the boundaries of the LGU
Province 2,000 square kilometers (770 sq mi)[a] 250,000[a] 20 million for the last two consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices
City 100 square kilometers (39 sq mi)[a] 150,000[a] 100 million for the last two consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices[11]
Municipality 50 square kilometers (19 sq mi) 25,000 2.5 million for the last two consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices
Barangay None 5,000[c]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d Either area or population; meeting only one of these requirements is sufficient
  2. ^ a b The Bangsamoro Parliament's predecessor, the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly, was conferred by Congress (through Article VI, Section 19 of Republic Act No. 9054)[9] the power to create or modify lower-level LGUs under its jurisdiction, including provinces and cities. However, the Supreme Court's decision on the unconstitutionality of the now-defunct province of Shariff Kabunsuan[10] has effectively confined the regional assembly's powers to creating or modifying only municipalities and barangays.
  3. ^ In Metro Manila and highly urbanized cities.
  4. ^ Rest of the country.


  1. ^ "The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines". www.gov.ph. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Local Government Code of the Philippines, Book III Archived October 31, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Department of the Interior and Local Government official website.
  3. ^ a b c Commission on Elections (August 18, 2015). "COMELEC Resolution No. 9982". Republic of the Philippines – Commission on Elections. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  4. ^ Congress of the Philippines (November 26, 1991). "Republic Act No. 7166 – An Act Providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections and for Electoral. Reforms, Authorizing Appropriations Therefor, And For Other Purposes". Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Local Government Code, Book I Archived May 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Department of the Interior and Local Government official website.
  6. ^ Quismundo, Terra (May 29, 2007). "Election law must prevail over culture, says Abalos". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved March 27, 2009.
  7. ^ "Republic Act 11054" (PDF).
  8. ^ "Local Government Code of 1991 (Book III: Local Government Units)". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
  9. ^ Republic Act 9054
  10. ^ Creation of the province of Shariff Kabunsuan voided Archived April 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Republic Act 9009, Chanrobles Law Library.

Further readingEdit

  • Tigno, Jorge V. (2003). "Economic Viability and Local Governance: The Political Economy of Decentralization in the Philippines". In Yasutami Shimomura (ed.). The Role of Governance in Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 253–315. ISBN 9789812301970.