Politics of the Philippines

  (Redirected from Politics of Philippines)

The politics of the Philippines take place in an organized framework of a presidential, representative, and democratic republic whereby the president is both the head of state and the head of government within a pluriform multi-party system. This system revolves around three separate and sovereign yet interdependent branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. Executive power is exercised by the government under the leadership of the president. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the bicameral Congress: the Senate (the upper house) and the House of Representatives (the lower house). Judicial power is vested in the courts with the Supreme Court of the Philippines as the highest judicial body.

Politics of the Philippines
Pamahalaan ng Republika ng Pilipinas
Coat of arms of the Philippines.svg
Polity typeUnitary presidential constitutional republic
ConstitutionConstitution of the Philippines
FormationJanuary 23, 1899 (First Republic)
November 15, 1935 (Commonwealth)
October 14, 1943 (Second Republic)
July 4, 1946 (Third Republic)
January 17, 1981 (Fourth Republic)
February 2, 1987 (Fifth Republic)
Legislative branch
Meeting placeSenate: GSIS Building
House of Representatives: Batasang Pambansa
Upper house
Presiding officerTito Sotto, Senate President
AppointerPlurality-at-large voting
Lower house
NameHouse of Representatives
Presiding officerLord Allan Velasco, Speaker of the House of Representatives
AppointerParallel voting
Executive branch
Head of State and Government
CurrentlyRodrigo Duterte
AppointerDirect popular vote
NameExecutive departments of the Philippines
Current cabinetCabinet of the Philippines
Appointernominated by the President and presented to the Commission on Appointments
HeadquartersMalacañang Palace
Judicial branch
NameJudiciary of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Chief judgeDiosdado Peralta
SeatPadre Faura, Manila

Elections are administered by an independent Commission on Elections every three years starting 1992. Held every second Monday of May, the winners in the elections take office on the following June 30.

Local government is produced by local government units from the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays. While most regions do not have political power and exist merely for administration purposes, autonomous regions have expanded powers more than the other local government units. While local government units enjoy autonomy, much of their budget is derived from allocations from the national government, putting their true autonomy in doubt.


Executive power is vested to the President.[1] The president, who is both the head of state and head of government,[2]:31 is directly elected to a single six-year term via first past the post.[3] Presidents are limited to a single consecutive term.[1]

The Malacañang Palace is the official residence of the President.

The Vice President, limited to two consecutive single six-year terms, is elected separately from the president.[4]:201 This means the President and Vice President may be from different political parties.[3] While the vice president has no constitutional powers aside from acting as president when the latter is unable to do so, the president may give the former a cabinet office.[5] In case of death, resignation, or incapacitation, of the President, the Vice President becomes the president until the expiration of the term.[4]:207 The Vice President may also serve as Acting President if the President is temporarily incapacitated.[4]:206

Executive power is exercised through the Cabinet,[4]:214 who are appointed by the President. While the appointees may wield executive power, all powers and responsibilities ultimately remain with the President, who may overrule any decision made by a cabinet member. Cabinet includes the heads of executive departments.[4]:213 Actions taken by executive and administrative officials are taken as actions exercized by the President.[6]:23–24 Cabinet members may not be members of Congress.[4]:385 Close relatives of the President are explicitly barred from certain offices.[4]:205

The president is also the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,[1] thereby ensuring civilian supremacy over the military.[7][8]:80 The president is also given several military powers,[1] although this automatically ends after 60 days unless extended by Congress,[9] and it can be reviewed by the Supreme Court.[10]:112 The president also proposes a national budget, which Congress may adopt in full, with amendments, or a complete revision altogether.[1]

The president wields considerable political power,[1] and has considerable influence over supposedly independent agencies due to the power of appointment.[1] The President directly controlled the Philippine Development Assistance Fund until the Supreme Court declared this unconstitutional in 2013. Following this, the Disbursement Acceleration Program was created to allow the President to direct funds, although some parts of this new program have similarly been declared unconstitutional. Such influence means that the legislature has never overcome a Presidential veto, despite having the theoretical power to do so. A commission on appointments, independent from the legislature but made up of members from it, has the power to veto Presidential appointments. However, court rulings mean the President can renominate an individual repeatedly upon rejection, and that that individual can effectively carry out the role by being officially in an acting capacity.[11] The strength of the Presidency combined with weak state institutions exacerbates corruption in the country.[2]:31

Under the 1987 constitution, the House of Representatives has the power to impeach the President through a vote of one-third of its members, and the Senate decides upon the case. Impeachment proceedings against an individual can not occur more than once per year, which can be abused through the filing cases with weak impeachment claims to forestall the filing of stronger cases. President Joseph Estrada was the first Asian head of state to be tried following impeachment, although he was not ousted by the Senate. No President has ever been ousted through impeachment.[11]


Congress is a bicameral legislature. The upper house, the Senate, is composed of 24 senators elected via the plurality-at-large voting with the country as one at-large "district".[12] The senators elect amongst themselves a Senate President.:159 Half of the senate seats are contested every 3 years,[12] and senators are limited to serving a maximum of two consecutive six-year terms.[13]

The lower house is the House of Representatives,[4]:163 currently composed of 307 representatives,[14] with 20% elected via party-list system, with the rest elected from legislative districts. Legislative districts are intended to be roughly equal in population, and every city with a population of at least 250,000 people is guaranteed at least one representative.[4]:162–163 The House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker.[4]:159 Representatives are elected every three years, and are limited to three three-year terms.[12]

Each bill needs the consent of both houses to be submitted to the president for his signature. If the president vetoes the bill, Congress can override the veto with a two-thirds supermajority.[4]:180 If either house voted down on a bill or fails to act on it after an adjournment sine die, the bill is lost and would have to be proposed to the next congress, with the process starting all over again. Congress' decisions are mostly via majority vote, except for voting on constitutional amendments and other matters. Each house has its inherent power, with the Senate given the power to vote on treaties, while money bills may only be introduced by the House of Representatives.[15] The constitution provides Congress with impeachment powers, with the House of Representatives having the power to impeach, and the Senate having the power to try the impeached official.[4]:433

The Nacionalista Party, the Liberal Party, the Lakas-CMD, the PDP-LABAN, the Nationalist People's Coalition, the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, the Akbayan and the Philippine Democratic Socialist Party are the parties with largest membership in Congress. The party of the sitting president controls the House of Representatives, while the Senate has been more independent. From 1907 to 1941, the Nacionalistas operated under a dominant-party system, with factions within that party becoming the primary political discourse. During World War II, the Japanese-sponsored Second Philippine Republic forced all the existing parties to merge into the KALIBAPI, created by Proclamation No. 109 on December 8, 1942 banning all existing political parties, that controlled the party as a one-party state.[16] From 1945 to 1972, the Philippines was under a two-party system, with the Nacionalistas and their offshoots Liberals alternating power until President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. Political discourse was kept to a minimum until Marcos then merged the parties into the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), which dominated elections until 1986 when Marcos was overthrown as a result of the People Power Revolution. The political climate ushered in a multi-party system which persists into this day.[17]


The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court and other lower courts. The Supreme Court is the court of last resort, and decides on the constitutionality of laws.[18]:6 The President selects justices and judges from nominees given by the Judicial and Bar Council, although the President has influence over the shortlist and can ask for it to be changed.[1] Traditionally the most senior associate justice became the Chief Justice, however President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo broke with this tradition. This led to her successor, President Benigno Aquino III, taking his oath of office before an associate justice rather than the Chief Justice. Subsequently, Aquino bypassed seniority in other judicial appointments.[11] The Court of Appeals is the second-highest appellate court,[19] the Court of Tax Appeals rules on tax matters,[18]:43 and the Sandiganbayan (People's Advocate) is a special court for alleged government irregularities.[18]:42, 52 The Regional Trial Courts (RTC) are the main trial courts. The Regional Trial Courts are based on judicial regions, which almost correspond to the administrative regions. Each RTC has at least one branch in each province and handles most of the criminal and civil cases; several branches of an RTC may be designated as family courts and environmental courts.[18]:45, 53, 57[19][20] Metropolitan Trial Courts try lesser offenses.[18]:41[19]

The Ombudsman of the Philippines is selected by the President from a list provided by the Judicial and Bar Council. This selection does not need confirmation, and lasts for a seven-year term with no re-appointment. The Ombudsman investigates and prosecutes public officials and agencies, except for the President, who is immune while in office. Considerable power lies with the position to request information and direct public officials to carry out certain tasks as required by law.[1] The Office of the Solicitor General represents the government in legal cases.

The Chief Justice can be impeached by the legislature, which took place for the first time with the conviction of Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012.[11]

Legal systemEdit

The Philippine Legal System is a hybrid form based on the Spanish Civil Law and American Common Law system, with a system of Sharia Law in place for some areas of law involving Muslims.[21]

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land[22]:216 and laws passed by the Congress shall be consistent with the Constitution.[23] Since the establishment of the 1898 Constitution, there have been only three new constitutions, implemented in 1935, 1973, and 1987.[4]:10 Prior to 1898, the Spanish Constitution of 1812 had applied to the Philippines for a short time, and there were numerous proposed constitutions during the Philippine Revolution. The most notable of these was the Malolos Constitution.[4]:42 The presidential system established with the 1935 Constitution[4]:43 was replaced by a semi-parliamentary system in 1973 under the authoritarian rule of President Marcos, concentrating power in his hands. After the 1986 People Power Revolution brought President Aquino to power, she issued a proclamation establishing a temporary constitution, and created a constitution convention to create a new constitution. This Constitution, finished on October 15, 1986 and approved by referendum on February 2, 1987 restored the Presidential system,[4]:47–48, 382 being based on the 1935 constitution rather than the 1973 one.[22]:216

The Civil Code of the Philippines is based on the Civil Code of Spain, which was extended to the Philippines on July 31, 1889. A notable feature of this code is the influence of the Catholic church, which remains to this day.[24]:122 Under this code, judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution is part of the legal system, the doctrine of stare decisis applies in deciding legal controversies. The court may exercise judicial review to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government. The President may issue executive orders, proclamations or other executive issuance. The Supreme Court is also vested the powers to promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights. The Philippines adopts the dualist system in Incorporation of international law.[citation needed] The local legislative assemblies may enact local ordinances within their respective territorial and political boundaries in accordance with the local autonomy granted by the Local Government Code.[25]


Since 1935 and the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, elections have been administered by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). The elected officials are the president, vice president, members of Congress, regional governors and assemblymen, provincial governors, vice governors, and board members, city and municipal mayors, vice mayors and councilors, and barangay (village) chairmen and councilors. Elections are for fixed terms. All elected officials have three-year terms, except for the president, vice president, and senators, which are six years.[17] All terms above the barangay level begin and end on June 30 of the election year,[26] and all elected officials are limited to three consecutive terms, except for senators,[27] and the vice president, who are limited to two, and for the president, who cannot be reelected.[4]:201 12 of the 24 senators are up for election every 3 years. All are elected on a national basis, with voters selecting up to 12 names from the list of all candidates. It is not required to fill out 12 names for the vote to be valid, and voters select 7.5 candidates on average. This system increases the importance of name familiarity, with up to a fifth of voters reporting they decide upon their votes while inside the voting booth.[28]

Under the 1987 constitution, elections above the barangay level are held every three years since 1992 on the second Monday of May,[29] although senate seats, the presidency, and the vice presidency are only contested every six years since 1992.[22]:216 Ever since elections were first introduced by the United States,[13] single-winner elections have been carried out using a plurality voting system: the candidate with the highest number of votes is elected. Multiple-winner elections, except for representatives elected through the party-list system, are done via plurality-at-large voting. Each voter has x votes, with the x candidates with the highest number of votes being elected.[17] For representatives elected the party-list system, a party that won at least 2% of the national vote wins one seat, with additional seats, but not exceeding three seats, depends on the number of votes it received. If the number of sectoral representatives does not reach 20% of the membership of the House of Representatives, parties with less than 2% of the vote are given a seat each until the 20% membership is filled.

Despite the plurality voting system used to elect Presidents, elections are effectively a multi-party system. Prior to the Marcos dictatorship, the country effectively had a two-party system, however the restriction of Presidents to one term in the 1987 has likely prevented that system from reemerging.[30] Even during the two-party era, internal party structures were weak. Three Presidents had previously switched parties after falling to obtian the nomination in their previous party's conference.[31]

A constitutional commission established after the 1986 People Power Revolution overthrew Ferdinand Marcos, President Corazon Aquino was declared the winner of an earlier election claimed by Marcos by Congress. A constitutional commission was assembled to in part consider the process of elections. It determined to keep plurality/First-past-the-post voting for 80% of seats, but to use a mixed-member proportional representation "party list" system to allocate up to 20% of seats. However, this was not implemented until 1998.[32] A group participating in the party-list system (which may not be running in any single-member constituencies) must receive 2% of votes cast to enter congress, and can win a maximum of three seats. The 1998 election saw 123 organizations run, and only 32% of voters selecting a party-list organization, meaning only 13 organizations passed the 2% threshold taking up only 14 of the 52 seats allocated to party-list organizations. The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) decided to allocate the remaining seats to organizations that had not reached the 2% threshold despite prior rules indicating they would be distributed among parties that passed the threshold by vote share. Following a legal challenge, the Supreme Court overruled COMELEC, implementing its own system to allocate the seats, limiting the maximum three seats to only the most-voted organization. In the run-up to the 2001 election COMELEC approved over 160 organizations. Following a legal challenge at the Supreme Court COMELEC all but 42 were disqualified, including seven which had won more than 2% of the votes. Two court later nullified two of the disqualifications.[33]

The 1986 commission also kept the "open ballot" system, where voters had to write the name of their chosen candidate on the voting form.[32] The distribution of sample filled-in ballots to voters by politicians provided more opportunities for patronage through the determination of which other names appear on a politicians sample ballot, and increased the power of local politicians who were better able to distribute these ballots to voters.[34] The 1992 and 2004 presidential elections were contested in court following accusations of electoral fraud. Both cases did not succeed.[35] Vote counting in these elections could take up to 18 hours, and tabulation could take up to 40 days. In 1992 COMELEC adopted a strategic plan to modernize voting, and the first electronic vote-counting pilot test took place in the 1996 Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao general election. This pilot was considered a success.[36] In 1997 a law was based calling for the open ballots to be replaced by pre-printed ballots.[34] However, it was not until the May 2010 elections that electronic vote-counting was used for a national election.[36] This change in the process saw ballots shift from the "open ballot" system to ballots where voters fill in ovals next to the candidate names.[37] It has been reported by COMELEC that this new system reduces the ability for vote-buyers to monitor how people vote.[34] It also reduced vote count time, with manual counting previously taking perhaps months.[38]

National and local elections began to be held on the same day from May 1992, following the passage of Republic Act (RA) 7166.[31]

Local governmentEdit

The smallest local government units, the barangays, are grouped into cities and municipalities. These are part of provinces, although some cities are administratively independent. Provinces can be grouped into autonomous regions.

The Philippines has been highly centralized since Spanish rule, being governed from an "Imperial Manila". The Spanish created some bodies to bring together barangays in 1893, and the Americans organized provincial governments in 1905. Both actions however left the majority of power with the capital. During the Commonwealth period local governments remained under the direct control of the President, before some autonomy was granted to cities and municipalities in 1959 through RA 2264, "An Act Amending the Laws Governing Local Governments by Increasing their Autonomy and Reorganizing Provincial Governments", and to barangays (then called barrios) through RA 2370, the "Barrio Charter Act". Further powers were given under the "Decentralization Act of 1967" (RA 5185), before local elections were abolished with the imposition of martial law in 1972.[39]

The 1987 constitution mandates that local governments must have local autonomy.[39] The smallest local government unit, the barangay or village, dates back to pre-colonial times, coming from the word balangay, which refers to boats used by the Austronesian people to reach the Philippines.[40] The prehistoric barangays were headed by datus.[39] Currently, barangays are grouped into municipalities or cities, while municipalities and cities may be further grouped into provinces. Each barangay, municipality or city, and the province is headed by a barangay chairman, mayor, or governor, respectively, with its legislatures being the Sangguniang Barangay (village council), Sangguniang Bayan (municipal council) or Sangguniang Panlungsod (city council), and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial board).

Regions are groupings of adjacent provinces created by the national government, often with linguistic or ethnic similarities. However, they do not by themselves have any local government. The exception is the autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao, which has its own regional government.[41] While article X of the 1987 constitution allows autonomous regions in the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao, only the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) exists.[29] A referendum held in 1989 led to four provinces voting to be part of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). In 1990 elections were held for a regional governor, a vice-governor, and for representatives in the Regional Assembly.[17] A 2018 law confirmed through a 2019 plebiscite transformed the ARMM into the more powerful BARMM.[29] Elections in Mindanao have a reputation for electoral anomalies.[17] Two laws aimed at creating the proposed autonomous region in Cordillera were defeated[29] after two plebiscites.[42] The National Capital Region has a governing body, the Metro Manila Council, which carries out some region-equivalent functions.[43]

The concentration of political and economic power in Manila leads has created the demand for changes such as decentralization or federation. The 1991 Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160) shifted some power away from the capital.[29] While local government units have the autonomy, most of their budget is derived from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), a disbursement from the national government which is ultimately derived from taxes. This makes most local government units ultimately dependent on the national government.[1] However, they do have the ability to raise income through other measures, such as taxes, which is reflected by significantly increased responsibilities.[44] Provinces further from the capital tend to both poorer, and more reliant on IRA funding from the national government.[41]

Political cultureEdit

Despite the challenges faced by Filipino elections, and a sometimes pessimistic view about the potential of elections,[45]:214 there is broad public support for democracy,[17] coupled with a free press and an established legal system.[46][45]:4 Voter turnout in legislative and executive elections averages above 75%. However, other forms of political participation, such as membership in a political party, civil society organization, and labor unions, are rarely used.[47] There are several examples of mass direct action throughout history, including the long-running communist rebellion in the Philippines and the multiple "People Power" events.[48]:16

Political parties continue to be weak, often created to propel a single candidate, before fading from relevancy. The power of the President within the political system may be one factor limiting the development of stable political parties, as the President is in a position to considerably support their allies.[31] Parties often serve to ally various political families,[49]:8 and it is common for politicians elected on losing party tickets to switch allegiance to the party of the President.[17] The power of traditional elites has also inhibited the development of strong national institutions, outside of the Presidency.[2]:30–31 Members of the House and local government officials can be elected for a maximum of three terms, although positions often pass to family members.[29] Vote buying is extremely prevalent, including "negative vote buying", where voters are taken out of their constituency on voting day or have their fingers inked without having cast a ballot.[34] Under the 1987 constitution all registered parties are allowed poll watchers, whereas under the previous system poll watchers were only allowed from the two main parties.[17]

There has been strong continuity in class structures from the Spanish period to the present.[50]:54–55 One prominent historical narrative sees Philippine history through the lens of an "unfinished revolution", tracing the takeover of the Philippine Revolution by elites from the masses to unfulfilled expectations of reform following the People Power Revolution.[46] Politicians at local and national levels are usually either dynastic candidates or popular celebrities. Dynastic politics is very common.[28] In 1992 32% of the representatives in the restored Congress were children of politicians, and 15% represented a third or fourth generation.[49]:xviii In 2010 over half of the members of the house of representatives and over half of all Governors were related to someone who had been in Congress over the previous 20 years. In 2015 over 60% of high-level local elective offices were held by a dynastic candidate. For both dynastic candidates and celebrities, voter familiarity with their names is thought to drive their electoral success. Levels of education correlate with voting for each of the types of candidates, with those with less education more likely to vote for celebrity candidates and those with more education more likely to vote for dynastic candidates. Less wealthy voters are more likely to vote for celebrity candidates, although it has little impact on votes for dynastic candidates. Older voters are more likely to vote for celebrity candidates, and voters in Luzon are more likely to vote for celebrity candidates than voters in the Visayas or Mindanao.[28] While the constitution bans political dynasties, no legislation has been passed to define what this means.[27] Term limits have had a limited effect on such dynasties.[51]

Despite the centralization of national power, politics itself is very decentralized.[52]:18 Regional and ethnic identities are sometimes stronger than national identity,[2]:30 with national identity often being driven by Christians, and more specifically Tagalogs.[46] Decentralization of power to local governments and widespread poverty have reinforced the presence of clientelism within politics.[35] Politics is defined by clans and personalities rather than political parties, and politicians receive support from members of their linguistic group or from a geographical area that identifies with them.[47] Political, cultural, and geographical borders a mutually reinforcing.[46] Furthermore, a strong emphasis on family, so entrenched it is enshrined in the civil code, makes local familial links more important than state support.[49]:7 (Families in Filipino culture refer not just to the nuclear family, but to a wide network of both blood and marriage ties.)[49]:9–10 Particular families are associated with certain areas, and a seat passing within a family is often seen as political continuity, with competition provided instead by seats passing to another family.[49]:41 Factional rivalries have dominated local politics since the late 19th century. As democracy expanded under American rule, these rivalries influenced provincial and national politics.[53] Local politics is thus often more personal and potentially violent than national politics.[31]

The importance of name recognition in politics (especially under the open ballot system) and the use of single-member district entrenched local politicians. National politicians then relied on local politicians to drive turnout within the constituency of the local politician, incentivizing government funding of local projects rather than national ones to shore up support, and causing national political parties to function more as an alliance of local politicians rather than centralized platforms.[32] Winning a Presidential election usually comes with winning the highly populous Tagalog areas of Southern Luzon. Most winning candidates have done well throughout the Philippines, winning pluralities in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. However, some elections have been won without the Visayas or Mindanao, and in a single case, the 2004 election, the Presidency was won without a plurality in Luzon. However, the importance of national image has been increasing in Presidential contests.[45]:156


The Philippine military became officially involved in socioeconomic issues during the Hukbalahap Rebellion.[8]:81 While the 1935 constitution designated the President the Commander in Chief, the 1973 constitution was the first to explicitly include the principle of civilian control of the military.[6]:8 Despite this change, during martial law under Ferdinand Marcos, military leaders took over aspects of local government and became directly involved in the economy.[8]:80–81 During this period, the communist and Islamic rebellions led to further involvement by the military in politics. The military played a role in the 1986 People Power Revolution which overthrew President Marcos,[8]:82 an event which created a precedent for direct intervention into politics.[6]:11

The 1987 constitution kept the 1973 text on civilian rule over the military, although it added that the armed forces were the "protector of the people and the state".[8]:83[6]:8 It also separated the Philippine Constabulary from the military, while shifting response for internal security from the military to the police.[8]:86–87 However, the military has remained more involved in politics than it was before martial law, playing a role in the 2001 Second EDSA Revolution which overthrew President Estrada.[8]:82 Failed or suspected coups took place in the late 1980s, 2003, 2006,[8]:83–84 and 2007.[10]:98

Civilian oversight of the military includes a dedicated deputy ombudsman for the military, investigation by the Commission on Human Rights, and the jurisdiction of civilian courts. The 1989 Philippine coup d'état attempt led to rebellion and mutiny becoming crimes.[8]:80 As an institution the military is supportive of democracy, with many factions often coming out in opposition to attempted coups.[10]:110 However, weak civilian institutions continue to provide openings for military influence.[8]:85, 93 Amnesty was granted to those involved in past coup attempts in 1992.[8]:86 The practice of recruiting retired military officers for some executive branch roles, such as ambassadorships, or within cabinet, was started by Marcos and continued after the restoration of democracy.[8]:81, 93 The separation between the police and the military was impeded by the continuing communist and Islamic rebellions.[8]:91 The President remains able to use the military to rule by decree.[10]:102 Localized instances of marital law have been declared in 2009 and 2017, both in Mindanao.[54]


Pre-Spanish eraEdit

Before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, the Philippines was split into numerous barangays, which were small entities while being part of region-wide trade networks.[55]:26–27 These societies had three classes, the nobility, freemen, and serfs and slaves.[50]:14 Leaders of these societies were powerful individuals now called datus,[50]:16 although different cultures used different terms.[56] The arrival of Hindu influence increased to power of Indianized datus.[55]:24–25 The first large state was Sulu, which adopted Islam in the 15th century.[55]:43–44 This system then spread to the nearby Sultanate of Maguindanao, and the Kingdom of Maynila.[56] Ferdinand Magellan's death in 1521 can be partly attributed to a dispute between Lapu-Lapu and Rajah Humabon for control of Cebu.[citation needed] Spanish Captain-General Miguel López de Legazpi established a settlement in Cebu in 1565. Maynila was conquered in 1571, and Manila subsequently became the center of Spanish administration. Spain gradually conquered the majority of the modern Philippines, although full control was never established over some Muslims areas in the south and in the Cordillera highlands.[57]:1076

Spanish eraEdit

The Ilustrados in Madrid.

Under Spanish rule barangays were consolidated into urban towns, aiding with control[55]:53 and a shift to a sedentary agricultural society.[55]:61 Rule during the Spanish era was dominated by the church, especially friars.[55]:53 Local priests often held powers in towns, carrying out Spanish orders and collecting taxes.[57]:1077 In areas where the population had not been consolidated into towns, priests travelled between villages.[58]:27 Ultimate power was held by the King and the Council of the Indies, with the Philippines being part of New Spain.[57]:1077 However, due to their distance from both New Spain and Spain itself, the islands functioned practically autonomously and royal decrees had limited effect.[58]:25 The Philippines had their own Governor[57]:1077 and a judicial body was established in 1583.[58]:25

Due to the small number of Spanish officials on the islands, which numbered in the tens, locals were relied upon for administration, especially outside of Manila. Existing datus were co-opted to manage barangays and nominate individuals for provincial government.[58]:24–26 Several revolts erupted against Spain, but all were defeated.[59] Some revolts, such as the Tondo Conspiracy, lead to greater local participation in the bureaucracy,[60]:143 and the bringing of local elites into a patronage system to prevent further rebellion.[60]:146 The establishment of towns created administrative positions local elites could fill.[50]:19–20 Traditional native elites, along with some native officeholders and high-value tax payers, became part of a group known as the principalia. This group could make recommendations to the Spanish governor regarding administrative appointments, although they held no direct power. While they were just municipal office-holders, for some their status allowed them to avail of government patronage, and gain special permits and exemptions.[61]:51[62]:16–17 Over time, this elite class became more culturally distinct, gaining an education unavailable to most and intermarrying with Spanish officials and Chinese merchants.[50]:20–21

Pre-existing trading networks were blocked by Spanish authorities, with all trade instead going to Spanish colonies in the New World.[60]:143 Despite increasing economic activity, the archipelago remained divided by regional identity and language.[55]:83–84 Some areas remained out of effective Spanish control, including much of Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago, and Palawan. There was conflict between these areas and the Spanish throughout the Spanish period.[58]:31–34

In a process beginning in the late 18th century that would continue for the remainder of Spanish rule, the government tried to shift power from the friars of independent religious orders towards the "secular clergy" of Catholic priests. These priests included local mestizos, and even indios.[48]:103–104 In the 19th century, Philippine ports opened to world trade and shifts started occurring within Filipino society.[63][64] In 1808, when Joseph Bonaparte became king of Spain, the liberal constitution of Cadiz was adopted, giving the Philippines representation to the Spanish Cortes. However, once the Spanish overthrew the Bonapartes, the Philippine, and indeed colonial, representation in the Spanish Cortes was rescinded.[10]:95 From 1836, the Philippines were directly governed by the Ministry of Overseas.[57]:1077

Political turmoil in Spain led to 24 governors being appointed to the Philippines from 1800 to 1860,[55]:85 often lacking any experience with the country.[60]:144 Significant political reforms began in the 1860s, with a couple of decades seeing the creation of a cabinet under the Governor-General and the division of executive and judicial power.[48]:85–87 Societal changes in Spain and the Philippines led to an expansion of the Philippine bureaucracy and its civil service positions, predominantly for the educated living in urban areas, although the highest levels continued to remain in the hand of those born in Spain. This, combined with a shifting economy, saw more complex social structures emerge with new upper and middle classes.[62]:12–14 A changing economy also brought poverty, which led to raiding and the founding of the Civil Guard. Education reforms in the 1860s expanded access to higher education.[60]:144 The 19th century also saw further attempts to establish control of the mountain tribes of the interior, although success remained limited. Better success was had in the south, where the Spanish gained control over the seas and coasts, and obtained the surrender of the Sultanate of Sulu in 1878.[48]:95–96

The Latin American wars of independence and renewed immigration led to shifts in social identity, with the term Filipino shifting from referring to Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula and in the Philippines to a term encompassing all people in the archipelago. This identity shift was driven by wealthy families of mixed ancestry, for which it developed into a national identity,[65][66] and served as a claim to status equal to Spanish peninsulares and insulares.[61]:41 Spanish served as a common language for the growing local elite, who shared a western educational background despite varied ethnolinguistic origins. Most came from Manila.[62]:2, 30 A class of educated individuals became known as the Ilustrados. This group included individuals who had studied at both local universities and Spanish ones, and came from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. This group gained prominence in Philippine administration, and increasingly involved in politics.[62]:26–34 This added a third group of elites to the two existing groups of the urban bureaucracy and the municipal elites.[62]:35

In the 1880s, some prominent ilustrados, especially those who had studied in Spain, launched the Propaganda Movement. This loose movement sought to reform Spanish administration of the Philippines.[62]:35–36 The restoration of Philippine representation to the Cortes was one of the grievances raised by the ilustrados. For the most part it was a campaign for secular self-government as a full part of Spain,[55]:105–107 including with equality between those born in Spain and those born in the Philippines. Much of the campaigning took place in Madrid, rather than in the Philippines. With liberal reforms rejected, some saw the movement as the beginning of a national awakening.[62]:36

An authoritarian backlash against the Propaganda Movement led to official suppression.[55]:105–107 In the 1890s divisions emerged among those that supported the ideals of the movement. One group that emerged from this was the Katipunan, created in 1892 predominantly by members of Manila's urban middle class rather than by ilustrados.[62]:39 These individuals were often less wealthy than those who made up the ilustrados, and less invested in the existing political structures.[62]:42 The Katipunan advocated complete Philippine independence, and began the Philippine Revolution in 1896.[59] This revolution gained the support of the municipal elite outside of the major cities, who found themselves with significantly greater control as Spanish administrative and religious authorities were forced out by the revolutionaries.[62]:46

Despite most ilustrados opposing the revolution, many were implicated by the Spanish authorities and were arrested and imprisoned.[62]:39 After the execution of José Rizal on December 30, 1896, the leader of the Ilustrados who disapproved of the revolution, the rebellion intensified.[67]:140–141 The Katipunan in Cavite had won several battles against the Spaniards, but was split into the Magdiwang and Magdalo factions. A conference was held in 1897 to unite the two factions, but instead caused further division that led to the execution of Andres Bonifacio, who was then the leader of the Katipunan; Bonifacio's death passed the control of the Katipunan to Emilio Aguinaldo.[67]:145–147 A provisional constitution was set up to last two years, but was soon superseded by an agreement between the Spaniards and the revolutionaries, the Pact of Biak-na-Bato.[6]:1 This pact provided for Aguinaldo's surrender and exile to Hong Kong, and amnesty and payment of indemnities by the Spaniards to the revolutionaries. However, both sides eventually violated the agreement.[citation needed]

The Spanish–American War reached the Philippines on May 1 with the Battle of Manila Bay. Aguinaldo returned from exile, set up a new government, and proclaimed the independence of the Philippines on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite.[68] Aguilnaldo gained support even from ilustrados who had opposed the initial revolution.[62]:40[50]:32 War with the Americans prompted the Spanish Governor to offer an autonomous government,[61]:45 however the Americans defeated the Spanish on August 13 in a mock battle in Manila and took control of the city.[citation needed] Aguinaldo proclaimed a revolutionary government, and convened a congress on September 15, 1898, in Barasoain Church in Malolos. This unicameral congress was aimed at enticing support to the revolutionaries. It approved the declaration of independence, and in 1899 approved the Malolos Constitution to inaugurate the First Philippine Republic.[24]:123 The First Philippine Republic reflected the liberal ideas of the time, valuing private property rights and limiting voting to high-class men, reflecting the growing influence of the elite in the initially anti-elite movement.[55]:115 The Philippines remained under Spanish sovereignty until December 10, 1898, when Spain ceded it to the United States in the Treaty of Paris that ended the short war between those powers.[citation needed]

American eraEdit

William Howard Taft addressing the Philippine Assembly.

The Philippine–American War erupted in February 1899 in a skirmish in Manila. The United States set up military and civil governments in Manila and in other areas as they were pacified.[69] Just nine days after the conquest of Manila, civil administration was initiated with the involvement of local ilustrados.[61]:46–47 In rural areas, the co-opting of municipal elites that had taken over from the Spanish removed resistance to American rule.[62]:46 Aguinaldo was captured on April 1, 1901, at Palanan, Isabela.[57]:1076 The Americans gave Filipinos limited self-government at the local level by 1901,[17] holding the first municipal elections,[13] and passed the Philippine Organic Act in 1902 to introduce a national government[70] and regularize civilian rule, designating the Philippine Commission as a legislative body, with membership consisting of Americans appointed by the American President.[24]:123–124 The first provincial elections took place in 1902.[52]:17 The judicial system saw Cayetano Arellano appointed as the first Filipino Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.[10]:95–96 The judicial system as a whole modelled the American system, and American judges shaped early case law.[71]:11–12

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt ended U.S. hostilities and proclaimed a full and complete pardon and amnesty to revolutionaries on July 4, 1902 and abolished the office of U.S. Military Governor in the Philippines.[57]:1076[72] On April 9, 2002, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo proclaimed that the Philippine–American War had ended on April 16, 1902 with the surrender of General Miguel Malvar.[73]

American belief in the importance of the rule of law defined its political approach to the Philippines, with its laws and constitutional traditions replicated in their new possessions and applying to Americans and natives alike. It also served as a justification for taking possession of the islands, along with the theory they were as of yet incapable of democratic self-governance.[61]:25–26 The Schurman Commission, in assessing the islands, reported to the President that the various peoples of the islands lacked a common nationhood. However, a small number of elites, such as those who led the independence movement, were considered "highly-educated and able".[61]:30–31 Those with wealth and education were considered more likely to acquiesce to American rule compared to those in the middle class.[62]:46–47

This elite minority was seen as the key to gaining acceptance of American rule, and the Americans appropriated selected narratives such as the veneration of José Rizal.[61]:45–46 The hierarchical social structure that existed under Spanish rule was co-opted by the United States, with democracy introduced in a manner which did not threaten the power of the existing elites.[31] Actions which included Filipinos within government structures were taken as demonstrations of American commitment to local involvement in governance.[61]:47 The elites further benefited from the redistribution of friar lands.[74]:66 In turn, ilustrado views of Filipino society influenced the Americans.[62]:47 Initial American policy favored local governance,[48]:135 and so they introduced elections at a local level and later built upwards. This had the effect of entrenching local elites into the national system,[17] who were often relied upon to help govern by the American administration.[55]:126 This process meant that politicians who built provincial power bases in these early years were able to compete at a national level with politicians from Manila.[62]:6–7

Americans expanded local participation in governance beyond that which had been allowed under Spanish rule,[55]:119–121 expanding representative government beyond the merely advisory system that existed under the Spanish. Political participation remained limited by pre-existing criteria on status and wealth, with the addition of literacy as another consideration.[61]:51[50]:41 The Federalist Party, formed in 1900 by landed elites, advocated for autonomy under American rule, although its leaders hoped to become a state of the United States.[55]:126–127 These individuals were considered traitors by the ongoing Philippine revolution, but their alliance with the American military led members of the party to be placed in positions of power at all levels and branches of government.[50]:32–34 Opposition began to consolidate under the banner of the Nacionalista Party, which advocated for independence and regarded itself as the heir of the First Philippine Republic.[55]:126–127 On July 30, 1907, the first election of the Philippine Assembly was held. Led by Sergio Osmeña, the assembly was held predominantly by the Nacionalista Party; they were opposed by the Federalists, who were by then renamed the Progresista Party.[17] The Nacionalistas ended up with a majority of 80 seats.[24]:124 Due to the tight restrictions of the voting franchise, only 1.4% of the population participated in this election.[75]:15 The Nacionalista party would maintain electoral dominance until independence, and even came to include several former Federalistas.[50]:42

Legislation involving immigration, currency and coinage, and timber and mining required approval by the United States President.[24]:124 Despite their ambitions for independence, Nacionalista leaders developed collaborative relationships with American officials.[62]:4 The election of United States President Woodrow Wilson, and his appointment of Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison,[76] led to the policy of Filipinization being introduced in 1913 as part of a policy to accelerate decolonization.[48]:139 In 1913 Filipinos were included in the commission, shifting its membership to five Filipinos and four Americans.[24]:124 Efforts were also made to bring locals into the civil service.[57]:1081[77]

American forces continued to secure and extend their control over the islands, suppressing an attempted extension of the Philippine Republic,[67]:200–202 securing the Sultanate of Sulu,[78] and establishing control over interior mountainous areas that had resisted Spanish conquest.[79] The last military resistance outside of Mindanao was ended by 1906.[57]:1076 Military rule over the Muslim Moro Province and the animist Mountain Province ended in 1913, with them then coming under the control of Manila.[48]:125 This wove southern Mindanao into the country more tightly that it had ever been previously, although its inhabitants remained a distinct minority.[55]:125 Divisions between Christians and Muslims (known as Moros) in the archipelago coincided with American economic interest in Mindanao.[80]:258–259 American proposals to split most of Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago, and Palawan from the rest of the islands were supported by some Moro political leaders.[80]:266–267 Some Moro leaders believed all of Mindanao to be rightfully theirs, in spite of a large Christian minority.[80]:260 Moros were remained concerned that rule by Americans would be replaced with rule by Christian Filipinos. Such actions however were strongly opposed by the predominantly Christian Philippine legislature.[81]:83–85 The Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes was created in 1920,[81]:110 and the Philippine government pursued a policy of gradually strengthing government in Mindanao, supported by immigration from Christian areas.[80]:269–270 By 1935 these areas were fully integrated into the Philippine administrative structure.[81]:97 Despite this, the traditional political structures of Sultanates and Datus continued as a parallel structure in Mindanao and Sulu throughout the American period, and beyond.[81]:93

The commission was replaced by the Philippine Senate through the 1916 Jones Law.[70] This body had 24 members elected for six-year terms, with 2 from each of the 12 senatorial districts. Most were elected, however those from the district consisting of the non-Christian areas of Mindanao and the Cordilleras were appointed by the Governor-General.[24]:124 The appointed senators had no fixed terms. This legislative body had the power to confirm appointments to the executive and judicial branches.[76] The Jones Law envisioned eventual Philippine independence, once the territory had achieved stable governance.[70] Some American legislators continued to disagree with this aim,[80]:262 believing American rule could be indefinite.[80]:270–271 1916 also saw the voting franchise expand from just educated English and Spanish speakers to include educated speakers of native languages,[55]:147 and the removal of the requirement to own property, leading to the electorate including 6-7% of the population.[50]:42 By 1921, the Filipinization policy had resulted in 96% of the civil service staff being Filipinos.[57]:1081[82]

The Nacionalista-dominated Philippine Assembly, and later the Philippine Senate, were often at odds with the Governor-General.[55]:139[80]:271[57]:1117 Its leadership grew more powerful, seizing state bodies and using nationalism to weaken American oversight.[55]:141–142 The establishment of the senate led to the Nacionalistas forming opposing camps loyal to Osmeña (the Unipersonalistas) and Senate President Manuel L. Quezon (the Colectavistas).[50]:44 Despite this division, several independence missions were sent to Washington, D.C..[55]:146 The onset of the Great Depression strengthened American desire to grant independence to the Philippines, as it would reduce American liability to the territory.[80]:273[83][84] The OsRox Mission led by Osmeña and House Speaker Manuel Roxas resulted in the Hare–Hawes–Cutting Act. However, the Senate rejected this; a new law, the Tydings–McDuffie Act which was marginally different and, more importantly, was supported by Quezon,[57]:1117 was approved and paved the way for the Commonwealth of the Philippines and mandated U.S. recognition of independence of the Philippine Islands after a ten-year transition period.[85]

Commonwealth eraEdit

The new constitution created under this act was approved on January 31, 1935,[4]:43 and was adopted on February 1. The first elections were held on September 17.[4]:44 The Presidential system of the Commonwealth government was based on that of the United States.[17] However, while dividing power between three branches similarly to the constitution of the United States, the 1935 constitution gave the Philippine President significantly more power both politically and economically than that accorded to the President of the United States.[75]:16 The Sakdal uprising and the fear of a newly formed communist party were used to justify centralizing power.[48]:153 Originally a unicameral legislature was created, however the country returned to a bicameral legislature through a 1940 amendment.[17] Seats in the legislature provided valuable access to the Philippine National Bank, and the ability to influence export quotas (most valuably that of sugar). Often one family member became involved in politics, while another managed the family business.[74]:66–67 Local elections were held in different years to legislative and presidential elections.[13]

The transition to the Commonwealth government from American rule led to civil service positions that had previously been held by Americans being filled by political appointees, a practice explicitly allowed by the 1935 constitution.[74]:67 The constitution also served to protect American interests in the Philippines, effectively giving them greater economic access than other foreign countries, and the Philippine economy remained tied to the American one even after independence.[74]:67–68 Tensions between the executive and legislature, especially over passing budgets, were immediately apparent under the new system.[74]:71 Control over budgets and political appointments were the two biggest ways that the legislature could influence the executive. Budgetary control also provided members of Congress of means to generate political patronage through pork barrel politics.[75]:17

Defence and foreign affairs remained under the control of the United States,[71]:12 while legislation and judicial decisions could be reviewed in the United States. Treatment of the Commonwealth by the United States was inconsistent, with it sometimes being treated as a separate country and sometimes being treated as under United States jurisdiction. Nonetheless, internationally the had gained some acceptance as a distinct country. The Philippines already had membership within the Universal Postal Union, which was continued by the Commonwealth. After World War Two, the Commonwealth became a founding member of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the United Nations.[86]:37–40

Quezon and Osmeña reconciled,[55]:147[50]:44 and both were elected as president and vice president respectively, in 1935.[71]:12 The Nacionalistas controlled the now unicameral National Assembly for the entirety of the Commonwealth, with the understanding that the Americans would grant independence in the near future. Quezon pressed for constitutional amendments that would allow him to obtain a second term and the restoration of a bicameral legislature. Quezon did obtain both amendments,[57]:1117–1118 with the newly restored Senate now being elected at-large instead of per districts, as what was done during the pre-Commonwealth era. Quezon, Osmeña and the Nacionalista Party as a whole both won the elections in 1941 in much larger margins.[24]:125 In 1937 the voting franchise was expanded to include literate women,[55]:147 and this period saw participation in elections reach 14%.[75]:15 Under the Commonwealth religious freedom was guaranteed, although government and national identity remained Christian and Manila-centric.[81]:108–109 A national curriculum similarly sought to impose a single vision of a Filipino identity across the diverse ethnolinguistic groups of the islands.[81]:110 Alongside this, Tagalog was established as a national language.[87]

The Japanese invasion of 1941 at the onset of World War II forced the Commonwealth government to go into exile,[57]:1118 and subjected the country to a puppet government. The KALIBAPI became the sole legal political party, and Jose P. Laurel was declared president of an independent Second Philippine Republic[71]:14–15[88] on October 14, 1943.[46] Some municipal and tax laws from the 1935 Constitution remained in force during this period,[4]:43 and there was continuity in state bureaucracy from the Commonwealth to the Second Republic.[48]:160 Under Japanese rule, governing policy was to win the populace over to the Japanese cause and thus reduce support for the United States, but this was unsuccessful.[71]:15 Exiled leaders of the previous first Commonwealth government provided limited support to the U.S.; President President Quezon was a member of the Pacific War Council and participated, along with Vice President Osmeña and members of his cabinet, in civic and social activities, promoting the sale of war bonds, etc.[89] The Americans reconquered the country in 1944, and Osmeña, who had succeeded Quezon upon the latter's death, restored the Commonwealth government.[71]:15 Those attending the congress were the remaining living and free members of the 1941 congress.[71]:15–16[76]

The Nacionalistas were divided following the war, with a leadership struggle leading to Manuel Roxas setting up what would later be the Liberal Party.[13] Roxas defeated Osmeña in the 1946 presidential election, and became the last president of the Commonwealth. The Americans granted independence on July 4, 1946, and Roxas became the first president of the new Republic of the Philippines.[60]:145 The Commonwealth constitution which continued in effect,[13] as did existing membership in international organizations.[86]:41

Independent eraEdit

President Manuel Roxas' inauguration as the first president of an independent Philippines.

The impact of the war led to a weaker civil service and a reduction in the dominance of Manila, with provincial politicians gaining political power and in some cases de facto autonomy. Many leveraged their provincial power to engage in national politics.[49]:19–20 Many of those who had collaborated with the Japanese were pardoned in 1948 and 1953.[71]:16–17 Universal suffrage saw an expansion of voter participation, although power remained concentrated in the hands of a small elite. Despite the landed elite continuing to dominate the legislature,[75]:14–15 a diversifying post-war economy saw politicians who were not primarily from agricultural backgrounds come to executive power. By the late 1960s this had largely brought an end to the land-based cacique democracy patronage system. Political offices became lucrative by themselves, and patronage became more reliant on access to government funds.[74]:69 Continued American economic and military support lessened the dependence of the executive on the legislature.[75]:17 These changes did not shift the overall shape of Filipino politics, which remained a two-party system dominated by a narrow elite.[75]:15 The winner of the Presidency tended to also take control of both houses of Congress.[17] There was little policy difference between the two parties,[52]:17 and defections were common.[71]:16 Patronage, fraud, and voter suppression were common methods of maintaining power.[75]:17–18

Roxas succumbed to a heart attack in 1948, allowing Vice President Elpidio Quirino to rule the country for the next six years, after winning in 1949.[71]:16 During his term in office, Quirino sought to significantly expand executive power.[75]:18 Election concerns led to the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections being formed, an early example of civil society organization that prominently included World War II veterans. This movement was supported by the United States, who desired the Philippines to be an example of democracy as the Cold War reached Asia, and by the Catholic Church.[52]:48–51 Quirino's Liberal government was widely seen as corrupt and was easily beaten by his former Defense secretary Ramon Magsaysay in the 1953 election. Magsaysay, who oversaw the surrender of the long-running Hukbalahap Rebellion, was massively popular.[citation needed] Magsaysay implemented a plan to settle surrendered Hukbalahap rebels in Mindanao.[81]:111 Before the 1957 election, he was killed in a plane crash. His vice president, Carlos P. Garcia, succeeded him and won the election.[citation needed] He continued Magsaysay's "Filipino First" policy[45]:69 and an austerity program. Garcia was defeated by his vice president, Diosdado Macapagal of the Liberal Party, in 1961. Macapagal initiated a return to a system of free enterprise not seen since the Quirino administration. However, Macapagal's policies faced stiff opposition in Congress, where the Nacionalistas hold the majority.[citation needed] The Philippine civil service in the late 1950s and 60s was becaming more technocratic, and Macapagal established the Program Implementation Agency directly under the President. This body was used to manage projects relatively free from Congressional oversight.[74]:69 Macapagal was defeated in 1965 by Senator Ferdinand Marcos.[citation needed]

The growing and diversifying economy of the 1960s led to a growth in private business power[52]:78 and an expansion in mass media.[52]:80 Marcos' infrastructure projects were the feature policy of his term,[citation needed] he was the first president to be reelected, in 1969, although the election was tainted by violence and allegations of fraud and vote buying.[52]:87 The 1969 election saw a similar election observation effort to 1953, although it did not receive as much backing or have as much impact. Marcos was not opposed by the church, business, or the United States. Significant protests, such as the First Quarter Storm,[52]:85–87 the communist and Moro insurgencies,[citation needed] and civil unrest, heightened after the election.[52]:87 At one point, communist rebels were present in one fifth of the country's villages.[75]:1 Despite initiating a constitutional convention in 1971,[6]:12 Marcos declared martial law in 1972.[52]:87 Marcos framed his government as fighting against the rich landed elite that traditionally dominated politics. He relied on the growing technocratic civil service, who were receptive to such arguments, to effectively run the country under martial law. The first large-scale government reorganization since independence shortly followed, including a purge of the existing civil service.[74]:69–71 The convention finalized the new constitution in November 1972.[90] It called for a semi-presidential government was approved in 1973[13] through shows of hands in citizen assemblies,[24]:125 a process that did not meet the requirements of the 1935 constitution for constitutional change.[6]:10 "Amendment No. 6" of 1976 gave the executive the law-making powers of the legislature.[6]:11–13

Marcos continued to rule by decree without elections until 1978, when the Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP) legislature was elected.[13] Marcos had complete control over the bureaucracy, local governments, military, the press, and COMELEC. The 1978 parliamentary and the 1980 local elections were dominated by Marcos' Kilusang Bagong Lipunan party.[13][52]:88 The unicameral IBP had little power, unable to repeal Presidential decrees or declare no confidence in the government.[24]:125 The Supreme Court affirmed the expansive executive powers claimed under martial law.[6]:10–11 Marcos laid out a vision of a "new society", which would represent an end to old oligarchies.[45]:70 Some political dynasties who were not Marcos allies were stripped of assets and power,[49]:41 in many case replaced in local politics by Marcos allies.[49]:437 Opposition groups, whose leaders mostly had already left in exile, boycotted the election, and Marcos still allowed martial law to continue.[citation needed] Marcos ended martial law in 1981, shortly before a visit to the country by Pope John Paul II, although he retained immense executive powers.[6]:12–13 Opposition groups still boycotted the 1981 presidential election, which Marcos easily won.[citation needed]

Opponents to Marcos were able to consolidate under the United Nationalist Democratic Organization.[45]:70 Opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. was slain upon his return to the country in 1983.[10]:97 By this time, the government was marred by alleged rampant corruption and allegations of human rights violations. The opposition participated in the 1984 parliamentary election and won several seats, but not enough to topple Marcos' KBL.[citation needed] Meanwhile, the economy had entered a period of contraction.[52]:89 To counter growing opposition, in 1985 Marcos called for a snap election that had no constitutional basis.[6]:11 The opposition nominated Benigno's widow Corazon as their candidate.[45]:70 Marcos was declared the winner of the 1986 election, but the opposition refused to accept the result, alleging that the election was rigged. The People Power Revolution drove Marcos from power, and Aquino became president.[10]:98 Aquino ruled by decree in 1987 when a new constitution restoring the presidential system was approved.[citation needed] It also restored the pre-marital law senate system, with the first election having 24 candidates instead of the usual 12. In the ensuing legislative election, the pro-Aquino parties won most of the seats in Congress. The electoral system meant that the 200 members of the House had together received only 34% of votes.[17]

Post-People Power eraEdit

Corazon Aquino was inaugurated president on February 25, 1986; it was one of two presidential inaugurations that day.

Initially Aquino governed under a "freedom constitution", while setting up a constitutional commission to replace the 1973 constitution.[24]:125[6]:6 This "freedom constitution" declared the Aquino Government to have been installed through a direct exercise of the power of the Filipino people assisted by units of the New Armed Forces of the Philippines.[6]:6 With the IBP abolished,[90] Aquino exercised both executive and legislative powers. This power was used to modify the Family Code to increase gender equality. The 1987 constitution, approved via plebiscite,[24]:125 restored democracy along the lines of the 1935 constitution, although local elections became synchronized with national elections, term limits were put in place, and a multi-party system replaced the previous two-party system.[13] Checks and balances were put in place to limit executive power, and many laws established during martial law were repealed.[6]:13 Written in the aftermath of the people power movement, the new constitution introduced some elements of direct democracy, such as the possibility of constitutional amendments though "initiative and referendum", recall of local elected officials, and provisions guaranteeing the right for civil society groups to organize.[6]:6 The new constitution did not cancel the effect of the previous one, and unless otherwise stated laws established under the 1973 constitution remained in effect.[6]:14 Economic property that had been expropriated from elite families under the dictatorship was returned to them.[49]:19

Aquino's government was mired by coup attempts,[46] high inflation and unemployment, and natural calamities, but introduced land reform and market liberalization. Aquino's administration also saw the pullout of the U.S. bases in Subic Bay and Clark. As the 1992 election grew closer, Aquino declined to run even though she could do so, and instead supported Ramon Mitra;[citation needed] she later backtracked and threw her support to Fidel V. Ramos,[91] who later won albeit under controversial circumstances and allegations of electoral fraud.[92][93][94] Ramos had to face an ongoing energy crisis that had started during the Aquino administration which was resolved when Ramos issued contracts favorable to power producers.[67]:343[95] The Ramos administration privatized government monopolies,[67]:343 lowered economic regulation,[46] hosted the 1996 APEC summit, reinstated the death penalty,[citation needed] signed the party list system act,[96][97][98] repealed the anti-subversion law,[97][99] signed a peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front, and bore the brunt of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.[citation needed] He wanted to amend the constitution, but Aquino and other sectors opposed the measure and backed off.[67]:343 Ramos' vice president Joseph Estrada defeated the former's party mate Jose de Venecia and several others in the 1998 election in a comfortable margin; meanwhile, de Venecia's running mate Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was elected vice president.[citation needed]

Estrada expanded the land reform program and the death penalty and refused to sign contracts with sovereign guarantees on public projects. Estrada also wanted to amend the constitution but was again rebuffed by Aquino, the Catholic Church, and the left. The administration launched an "all-out war" against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that saw the government retaking Camp Abubakar, the main rebel encampment. However, the administration was embroiled in charges of cronyism and corruption; the Juetengate scandal led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives. In the impeachment trial, Estrada's allies in the Senate successfully prevented evidence to be presented; this triggered massive protests. Days later, in what would be called the 2001 EDSA Revolution, the Armed Forces of the Philippines withdrew their support to Estrada and transferred their allegiance to Vice President Arroyo; the Supreme Court later ruled the presidency as vacant, and Estrada left Malacañang Palace.[citation needed]

Arroyo was sworn in as president on January 20, 2001. Four months later, Estrada's supporters lay siege to the presidential palace but were later expelled; Arroyo's People Power Coalition won a majority of seats in the 2001 elections and therefore consolidated power. In 2003, Arroyo put down a coup attempt in the central business district.[100] Arroyo faced Fernando Poe Jr., a friend of Estrada, along with three others in 2004, and won on a slim plurality. Months after Poe died in December, it was exposed, via wiretapped conversations, that Arroyo rigged the election.[101] On a national address, Arroyo said that she was "sorry on a lapse of judgment." The opposition did not let up, and she had to put down two more coup attempts. The opposition united in the 2007 Senate election and won easily, but Arroyo's allies still held the House of Representatives. At the end of her presidency, Arroyo became the most unpopular president on record,[102] with increases on taxes, attempts to amend the constitution, and the alleged illegitimacy of her administration as the reasons.[citation needed]

Before the 2010 election, Arroyo's party nominated Gilberto Teodoro for president; however, some quarters suggested that Arroyo was secretly supporting Manny Villar, who was the front-runner. However, former president Aquino died, and her son, Benigno Aquino III, overtook Villar in the polls.[103][104] Estrada overtook Villar in the polls but still lost to Aquino. Aquino embarked on an anti-corruption drive,[105] saw the economy grew and maintain high popularity.[106] However, with natural calamities,[107] and scams on the use of pork barrel and other discretionary funds coming into the light, the Aquino administration had to contend with rising opposition.[108]

In 2016, Aquino's handpicked successor, Mar Roxas, grandson of Manuel Roxas, was decisively defeated by Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 Presidential Election.[109] Duterte then implemented a massive War on Drugs that led to thousands of deaths. The opposition, now primarily Liberal Party, pro-Aquino figures, opposed the killings, branding them as human rights abuses.[110] The administration then formally declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army (CPP-NPA) as a terrorist group,[111][112] and also made peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, ushering in the Bangsamoro.[113] The opposition was wiped out in the 2019 midterms, where all of its senatorial candidates lost, and only a handful of winners in the lower house.[114][115]

See alsoEdit


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  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Bernas, Joaquin G. (2003). A Living Constitution: The Abbreviated Estrada Presidency. Ateneo University Press. ISBN 9789715504331.
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Further readingEdit