Politics of the Philippines
The politics of the Philippines take place within a three-branch governmental system. The country is a democracy, led by a directly-elected president who is both the head of state and the head of government. The President heads the executive branch, and has significant political powers. Presidents are limited to a single six-year term of office. The bicameral Congress serves as the legislature, consisting of the small Senate, elected on an at-large basis throughout the country, and the larger House of Representatives, primarily made up of representatives elected from specific geographic regions. The judiciary is headed by the Supreme Court of the Philippines, a body with expansive powers of review over actions taken by other political and administrative bodies.
Politics of the Philippines
Politika ng Pilipinas
|Polity type||Unitary presidential constitutional republic|
|Constitution||Constitution of the Philippines|
|Presiding officer||Vicente Sotto III, Senate President|
|Name||House of Representatives|
|Presiding officer||Lord Allan Velasco, Speaker of the House of Representatives|
|Head of State and Government|
|Appointer||Direct popular vote|
|Name||Executive departments of the Philippines|
|Current cabinet||Cabinet of the Philippines|
|Appointer||nominated by the President and presented to the Commission on Appointments|
|Name||Judiciary of the Philippines|
|Chief judge||Alexander Gesmundo|
|Seat||Supreme Court Building|
Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila
The legal system is a mixture of Civil and Common law, influenced by the prior rule of both Spain and the United States. Spanish rule relied heavily on local intermediaries, setting up a system dominated by elites. A revolution that emerged near the end of Spanish rule was defeated by the United States, who consolidated power over the entirety of the archipelago. American rule led to the introduction of democracy, and institutions patterned on the American political system. Following independence in 1946, national politics took place within a two-party system. This was disrupted by the establishment of a dictatorship under martial law. Changes following the restoration of democracy led to the current multi-party system. Left-wing insurgencies have existed at various strengths since independence, and a long-running Islamic insurgency contributed to the establishment of an autonomous Muslim region with a limited sharia law system.
Elections are held every three years, although the President, Vice-President, and Senators are elected for six-year terms. Results are determined through plurality voting, including plurality-at-large for elections (such as for the Senate) with multiple winners. A mixed-member proportional representation system is used to elect a minority of the House of Representatives. Local government units have some revenue-generating powers, under a code intended to decentralize power away from the national government. Administrative structures at local levels are designed to foster civil society participation.
Politics is dominated by a powerful elite, with dynastic politics common at both the local and national levels. Political parties are weak, with elections instead dominated by individual and familial personalities. Political positions provide extensive opportunities for patronage, and clientelism and electoral fraud are common. Corruption is considered widespread, while state institutions are relatively weak. Politics has been heavily influenced at times by the Catholic Church, the Philippine military, and the United States. Despite pessimism about the potential for political change, democracy maintains strong public support, and voter turnout is high.
Executive power is vested to the President,:254 who is both head of state and head of government.:31 This individual is directly elected to a six-year term through a single-round first past the post election, and being limited to one term are unable to seek re-election.:254 To be eligible, an individual must be at least 40 years old, and must have resided in the Philippines for the decade prior to the election. Presidents may legislate through executive orders and other administrative actions, and must approve or veto bills coming from the Congress.
The Vice President, limited to two consecutive six-year terms, is elected separately from the president.:201 This means the President and Vice President may be from different political parties. 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. In case of death, resignation, or incapacitation, of the President, the Vice President becomes the president until the expiration of the term.:207 The Vice President may also serve as Acting President if the President is temporarily incapacitated.:206 Following in the line of succession are the Senate President and the Speaker of the House.
Executive power is exercised through the Cabinet,: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.:213 Actions taken by executive and administrative officials are taken as actions exercised by the President.:23–24 Cabinet members may not be members of Congress.:385 Close relatives of the President are explicitly barred from certain offices.:205
The President is also the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,:265 thereby ensuring civilian supremacy over the military.:80 The President is also given several emergency military powers,:266–267 such as the ability to suspend habeas corpus and declare martial law,:234 although this automatically ends after 60 days unless extended by Congress, and can be reviewed by the Supreme Court.:112 The President also proposes a national budget, which Congress may alter before they adopt it.:282
The President wields significant political power, including considerable influence over supposedly independent agencies due to the power of appointment.:286 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. The strength of the Presidency combined with weak state institutions exacerbates corruption in the country.: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.
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". The senators elect amongst themselves a Senate President.:159 Half of the senate seats are contested every 3 years, and senators are limited to serving a maximum of two consecutive six-year terms.
The lower house is the House of Representatives,:163 currently composed of 307 representatives, 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.:162–163 The House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker.:159 Representatives are elected every three years, and are limited to three three-year terms.
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.: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. 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.:433
The control the legislature has over funding includes individual discretionary funds. These funds are considered an avenue for patronage politics:235 and are often seen a symbol of corruption. They are derogatorily referred to as "pork barrel" funds.:284–285 In addition to being able to use such funds to curry favor or gain support, politicians can personally benefit from kickbacks, which is often directly used for re-election campaigns. Senators receive more than members of the house.:102–103 The Priority Development Assistance Fund scam highlighted the link between such funding and legislative support for executive initiatives.:44–45
As of 2019[update], the PDP-LABAN, the Nacionalista Party (NP), the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), National Unity Party (NUP), and the Liberal Party (LP) are the parties with largest membership in Congress. The party of the sitting president controls the House of Representatives, where majority of its members change party affiliation to join the President's party, while the Senate has been more independent.:13–16
The judiciary is headed by the Supreme Court, which lies at the top of three lower court levels. The Supreme Court is the court of last resort,:6–7 and can decide on the constitutionality of laws.:48–49 Vested with the responsibility of overseeing the other branches of government, the Supreme Court has significant powers, able to go as far as overruling discretionary decisions made by political and administrative individuals and bodies,:356–357 giving it powers usually seen as those of the executive and legislature.:10874 The court can effectively create law without precedent, and such decisions are not subject to review by other bodies.:367–368
All lower levels of courts have their bases through legislation, rather than the constitution.:39 Their proceedings are determined by the Supreme Court.:46 Courts are arranged in along a three-level hierarchy,:8–9 with those on the same level are unable to review each others' rulings. Within the regular court system,:8–9 the Court of Appeals is the second-highest appellate court. Below this, Regional Trial Courts have original jurisdiction on most criminal matters, and are the main trial courts. The Regional Trial Courts are organized within judicial regions, which correspond to the administrative regions. The lowest level courts are the Metropolitan Trial Courts.:41
Alongside the regular courts, a variety of special courts have been set up at various levels of the judicial system.:8 The Court of Tax Appeals was set up specifically to rule on tax matters.:43 The Sandiganbayan is a special court set up to deal with cases of government corruption.:42, 52 Some Regional Trial Courts specialize in a particular sort of case, such as heinous crime courts, family courts, and environmental courts.:44–45 Sharia courts, which have been set up in some regions on the same level as Regional and Metropolitan courts, rule on personal law where both parties are Muslims.:8 Some administrative bodies are able to exercise very specific quasi-judicial powers, as determined by law.:7, 9
The President appoints justices and judges to the judicial system. For an appointment to the Supreme Court, the President must select from a short-list provided by the Judicial and Bar Council, although the President has influence over the shortlist and can ask for it to be changed.:302–206 The Judicial and Bar Council is responsible for vetting appointments. Congress has no control over appointments, to reduce its political influence on the judiciary.:14:364 However, 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. Political pressure is thought to be behind inconsistencies between some court decisions.:10875–10876 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.
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. The Office of the Solicitor General is an independent body that represents the government in legal cases.
The Philippine Legal System is a hybrid form based on the Spanish Civil Law and American Common Law system,:304–305 with a system of Sharia Law in place for some areas of law involving Muslims.:10874
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land:216 and laws passed by the Congress shall be consistent with the Constitution. Since the establishment of the 1898 Constitution, there have been only three new constitutions, implemented in 1935, 1973, and 1987.: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.:42 The presidential system established with the 1935 Constitution:43 was replaced by a semi-parliamentary system in 1973 under the authoritarian rule of President Marcos, concentrating power in his hands.:47–48, 382
After the 1986 People Power Revolution brought President Aquino to power, she issued a proclamation establishing a temporary constitution, and created a constitutional commission to create a new constitution. This Constitution, finished on October 15, 1986, and approved by referendum on February 2, 1987, restored the Presidential system,:47–48, 382 being based on the 1935 constitution rather than the 1973 one.:216 The constitution is designed to provide a number of checks and balances, including the establishment of independent constitutional commissions and an Ombudsman. The Ombudsman and members of these commissions, in addition to the leaders of the executive (the President and Vice-President) and judicial (Justices of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice) branches, may be removed through impeachment.:9
All Presidents under the current constitution have proposed some type of constitutional reform, although none have succeeded. Wariness around such change exists due to the structural aim of the constitution in limiting Presidential power compared to previous constitution, leaving reform open to accusations of being a power grab.:1 A switch to a unicameral parliamentary system is seen by some as a way to make the legislature and government more responsive and effective.:290 It has also been argued such a change would weaken the presidency, and strengthen the role of political parties.:292 Such a proposal gained majority support in the house along with Presidential support in the mid-2000s, but stalled due to senate opposition.:63–66 Reforming the country as a federation is a recurring issue arising as a result of a desire for local autonomy. Such considerations influenced the 1987 constitution; while it maintained the unitary state, it included provisions for autonomous regions and for stronger local government.:54–56
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.: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. However, the application of stare decisis is not the same as in full common law jurisdictions, as it incorporates civil law precedent. The constitution grants the Supreme Court the power of judicial review, through which it can "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".
This power is extensive enough that the court can create new law without precedent in such situations, and such decisions are not themselves subject to review from another body.:366–368 The President may issue executive orders, proclamations or other executive issuance. The Philippines adopts the dualist system in the incorporation of international law, with such laws able to come into force either through adoption in domestic legislation or a constitutional declaration. 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.
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.:162–163
All terms above the barangay level begin and end on June 30 of the election year, and all elected officials are limited to three consecutive terms, except for senators, and the vice president, who are limited to two, and for the president, who cannot be reelected.: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.:84–85 All positions are voted on separately, including those of President and Vice-President.:234
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. Even during the two-party era, internal party structures were weak. Three Presidents had previously switched parties after falling to obtain the nomination in their previous party's conference.:754 Under the 1987 constitution, elections above the barangay level are held every three years since 1992 on the second Monday of May, although senate seats, the presidency, and the vice presidency are only contested every six years since 1992.:216
Ever since elections were first introduced by the United States, single-winner elections have been carried out using a plurality voting system: the candidate with the highest number of votes is elected.:149 Multiple-winner elections, except for representatives elected through the party-list system, are done via plurality-at-large voting.:162 Each voter has x votes, with the x candidates with the highest number of votes being elected. A constitutional commission was assembled after the 1986 People Power Revolution in part to 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.
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.
The 1986 commission also kept the "open ballot" system, where voters had to write the name of their chosen candidate on the voting form. 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. The 1992 and 2004 presidential elections were contested in court following accusations of electoral fraud. Both cases did not succeed.
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. In 1997 a law was based calling for the open ballots to be replaced by pre-printed ballots. However, it was not until the May 2010 elections that electronic vote-counting was used for a national election. 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. It has been reported by COMELEC that this new system reduces the ability for vote-buyers to monitor how people vote. It also reduced vote count time, with manual counting previously taking perhaps months.
National and local elections began to be held on the same day from May 1992, following the passage of Republic Act (RA) 7166.:757 The country has a voting age of 18. 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.:179 Political advertising was allowed beginning in 2001. Various forms of electoral fraud occur throughout the various elections, and are even expected by a majority of voters. Vote buying is especially prevalent, and campaigns are estimated to cost as much as 16 times the legal campaign finance limit.:103–104
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.:40–42
The 1987 constitution mandates that local governments must have local autonomy.:43 The 1991 Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160) shifted some power away from the capital. 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 captain, 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).:102–105 The Local Government Code seeks to enhance civil participation in local government, mandating civil society representation on bodies such as school and health boards. There are also mechanisms for the recall of elected officials, and local legislation through publicly organized referendum, although such mechanisms are rarely used.:181:111
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. 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. 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.:186
A 2018 law confirmed through a 2019 plebiscite transformed the ARMM into the more powerful BARMM. Elections in Mindanao have a reputation for electoral anomalies.:187 Two laws aimed at creating the proposed autonomous region in Cordillera were defeated after two plebiscites. The National Capital Region has a unique governing body, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which carries out some region-equivalent functions.:105–107
The concentration of political and economic power in Manila leads has created the demand for changes such as decentralization or federation. 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. However, they do have the ability to raise income through other measures, such as taxes, which is reflected by significantly increased responsibilities. Provinces further from the capital tend to both poorer, and more reliant on IRA funding from the national government.
Culture and influences
Despite the challenges faced by Filipino elections, and a sometimes pessimistic view about the potential of elections,:214 there is broad public support for democracy,:179:4 coupled with a free press and an established legal system.: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. 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.:16 A distrust of the state, and of state institutions such as the police, is a continuing legacy of martial law.:2
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.:756–757 Parties often serve to ally various political families,:8 and it is common for politicians elected on losing party tickets to switch allegiance to the party of the President.:177 The power of traditional elites outside of the government has also inhibited the development of strong national institutions.:30–31 Broad democratic political debate is linked with the concept of good governance, rather than political movements related to class.:122 The persistence of poverty is widely linked in political discourse to the presence of corruption.:124–125 Campaigns focus on personal qualities and records, rather than party platforms.:102
There has been strong continuity in class structures from the Spanish period to the present.: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. Electoral pressure is absorbed through elections, despite the winners of elections invariably coming from various factions of the elite, and political parties being differentiated more by patronage networks than by policies. The importance of election funding creates an cyclic effect as political positions provide access to state power which provides the ability to generate funds.:17–18 This state capture means that reforms occur slowly, even if popular.:2
While questions over land reform have persisted since the colonial era, and have been considered by multiple administrations faced with peasant and communist-related political instability, the links between legislators and landlords mean progress has been limited and the vast majority of farmers continue to work on land owned by others.:125 This failure to achieve significant land reform is thought to have restricted the growth of the Philippine economy, and is linked to continuing political inequality.:69–70 Despite such inequality, the strength of the left movement has declined since the restoration of democracy.:12
A small professional and technical middle class, mostly concentrated in urban areas such as Metro Manila, are relatively trusted within the civil service and play a significant role in civil society organization. Such organizations are examples of cause-based politics, an exception to the usual model of Philippine political parties and political organization. While too small to change the overall political structure, civil society organizations are sometimes able to influence policy on specific issues. Notably, the role they played in the People Power Revolution led to a brief political consensus towards a more technocratic and relatively economically liberal state.:252–253
Some tension exists between this middle class with the larger but less active poorer class,:42–44 most clearly expressed in the different outcomes and opinions regarding the entwined EDSA II and EDSA III protests. Unlike in the first People Power Revolution, which saw joint participation from both classes, these following mass protests are generally considered to have predominantly middle and lower class movements respectively, with EDSA III failing to overturn the success of EDSA II.:81–83
Politicians at local and national levels are usually either dynastic candidates or popular celebrities. Dynastic politics is very common.:83 Members of the House and local government officials can be elected for a maximum of three terms, although positions often pass to family members. In 1992 32% of the representatives in the restored Congress were children of politicians, and 15% represented a third or fourth generation.: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. 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.:84
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.:91–92 While the constitution bans political dynasties, no legislation has been passed to define what this means. Term limits have had a limited effect on such dynasties.
In addition to strong divisions in class identity, the Philippines has a diversity of regional identities, driven by its archipelagic nature and varied history. Regional and ethnic identities are sometimes stronger than national identity,:30 with national identity often being driven by Christians, and more specifically Tagalogs. Contrasted to the broad Christian Filipino identity is that of the Muslims, and that of often-marginalized indigenous peoples.:9 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.:156
Despite the centralization of national power, politics itself is very decentralized.:18 Political patronage relationships extend vertically through the various levels of political administration.:20:26 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.
Decentralization of power to local governments and widespread poverty have reinforced the presence of clientelism within politics.:18 Such an effect is particularly strong in the geographically defined House of Representative seats.:15 The importance of name recognition in politics (especially under the open ballot system) and the use of single-member district entrenchs local politicians. 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. Political, cultural, and geographical borders are mutually reinforcing.
Factional rivalries have dominated local politics since the late 19th century. As democracy expanded under American rule, these rivalries influenced provincial and national politics. Local politics is thus often more personal and potentially violent than national politics.:755 It can also grow more authoritarian, even as national politics becomes more democratic.:28 The competitiveness of different localities varies greatly, from having a long-entrenched dynasty, to having regular electoral turnover.:30
Furthermore, a strong emphasis on family, so entrenched it is enshrined in the civil code, makes local familial links more important than state support,:7 and personal links more important than ideological interests.:18 (Families in Filipino culture refer not just to the nuclear family, but to a wide network of both blood and marriage ties.):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.:41 A paternalistic landlord-tenant relationship typifies politician voter relationships in rural areas.:20
Local politicians attend events such as baptisms, funerals, and weddings, within their constituency, often providing a direct financial donation.:102 In urban areas, where established patron-client links are weaker, patronage takes the form of machine politics, being more specific and short-term.:20–21 In such situations, electoral fraud and physical coercion is more common.:28–30 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. Over time, this model of control, supported through the economic benefits of state capture, has become more prominent compared to the older paternalistic model.:28–30
The influence of the church in civil society dates back to the Spanish era, when the church exercised considerable secular power.:16, 25 Despite the separation of church and state that was established under American rule, the church retained social influence among both elites and the wider population and a desire to promote its global values within the country.:32–34 The church provides a unifying moral framework transcends class lines, linking the rich with the poor.:118:42, 87
National structures were established shortly after independence,:50 and the church became directly involved in elections, both through its administrative hierarchy and through the actions of individual clergy.:50–51 The politicization of the church increased after the Second Vatican Council, in great part due to the activism of catholic youth.:75–77 Another factor was the increasing filipinization of the church following independence.:85 The Church did not initially strongly oppose Marcos:87 and agreed with his anti-communist stance. However, internal opposition grew over the course of the dictatorship.:220
Public political opposition from individual clergy members eventually shifted the opinion of the church hierarchy, who supported the candidacy of Corazon Aquino and the subsequent People Power Revolution.:223–224 Due to these events, the Church began to see itself as a "guardian of democracy".:45 Later, the church was one of the institutions that became opposed to the Presidency of Joseph Estrada.:275
Religious orders, such as the Society of Jesus and Opus Dei, run private educational establishments for law, medicine, and business.:34 The church is active in social and economic development, not always in alignment with the desire of state authorities.:75 It has organized to assist in anti-corruption efforts.:125, 145 The Church maintains strong influence on the topic of family, notably through its support of large family size and its opposition to birth control.:295–296 Catholic influence led to the removal of divorce laws following independence.
The political influence of the church has decreased in the 21st century, following sexual abuse revelations and the death of the prominent Cardinal Jaime Sin.:45–46 A symbolic moment for church influence was the passing of the Reproductive Health Act of 2012 by the Benigno Aquino administration. This law aimed to make contraception and family planning more accessible, a topic which had faced long-standing church opposition. Public opinion was thought to be in favor of the law. The Rodrigo Duterte administration has also clashed with the church, with Duterte at times directly positioning himself against the Church.:26:46 While Duterte himself is not in favor of a divorce law, proposals to legalize divorce gained significant support in Congress following his election, with one bill being passed by the House of Representatives before rejection by the Senate. The measure was reintroduced in the next session of Congress.
The Philippine military became officially involved in socioeconomic issues during the Hukbalahap Rebellion.:81:179 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.: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,:80–81 and the military itself expanded threefold.:88–89 During this period, the communist and Islamist rebellions in the Philippines led to further involvement by the military in politics.:82 Internal opposition to Marcos developed as corruption became more apparent, and following the 1986 elections an apparently failed coup by a military faction sparked what became the People Power Revolution:223–224 The military's perceived role in this overthrowing of President Marcos:82 created a precedent for direct intervention into politics.: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".:83:8 It also separated the Philippine Constabulary from the military, while shifting response for internal security from the military to the police.: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.:82 Failed or suspected coups took place in the late 1980s, 2003, 2006,:83–84 and 2007.: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.:80 As an institution the military is supportive of democracy, with many factions often coming out in opposition to attempted coups.:110 However, weak civilian institutions continue to provide openings for military influence.:85, 93 Amnesty was granted to those involved in past coup attempts in 1992.: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.:81, 93 The separation between the police and the military was impeded by the continuing communist and Islamic rebellions.:91 The President remains able to use the military to rule by decree.:102 Localized instances of martial law have been declared in 2009 and 2017, both in Mindanao.
Despite independence, the United States remained entwined within Philippine politics and the Philippine economy.:23 Influence also remains in social and civil institutions.:24–25 In the context of the Cold War, direct and indirect influence was leveraged in the early days of independence to reinforce democratic institutions.:49–50 Early civil influence was particularly strong among veterans networks, and the American military maintained support for Philippine military campaigns against the Hukbalahap.:59–60 During the hukbalahap rebellion the United States also supported land reforms to reduce potential attraction to communism, although this pressure subsided as the rebellion ceased.:87
When Marcos declared martial law, to muted American response and with general acquiescence,:205 the strategic value of the Philippines and its American military bases led to continued official support.:211 While the United States eventually pressured Marcos to bring back elections,:100 such support enabled Marcos to stay in power even as civil society and the military began to turn against him.:224 Eventually, the United States backed opposition coalition building,:109 and in 1989 intervened to halt a coup against the new Aquino government.:200
The influence of the United States decreased in the 1990s, when agreements to host American military bases ended and the country increased the regional aspects of its foreign policy.:11 Following the September 11 attacks in the United States ties security ties deepened once more, as the Moro insurgency became linked with the global War on terror. This growing cooperation included the limited return of some US forces to Philippine soil.:221
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.:26–27 The arrival of Hindu influence increased the power of Indianized datus.:24–25 The first large state was Sulu, which adopted Islam in the 15th century.:43–44 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.:1076
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.:1076 In the 19th century Spain eventually gained control over the seas and coasts.:95–96 Inward migration in the Cordilleras to escape Spanish control and an increase in trade saw settlements in interior areas increase in population and political complexity. Throughout Spanish rule, the archipelago remained divided by regional identity and language.:83–84
Rule during the Spanish era was dominated by the church, especially friars.:53 Ultimate power was held by the King and the Council of the Indies, with the Philippines being part of New Spain,:1077 although the islands functioned practically autonomously.:25 The Philippines had their own Governor:1077 and a judicial body was established in 1583.:25 Direct Spanish rule did not extend far from Manila,:208 and locals were relied upon for administration.:24–26 Traditional native elites, along with some native officeholders and high-value tax payers, became part of a group known as the principalia.: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.:20–21
In the 19th century, Philippine ports opened to world trade and shifts started occurring within Filipino society. An expanding civil service and a changing economy saw more complex social structures emerge with new upper and middle classes.:12–14 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. A class of educated individuals became known as the Ilustrados. This group gained prominence in Philippine administration, and became increasingly involved in politics.:26–34
In the 1880s, some prominent ilustrados launched the Propaganda Movement.:35–36 For the most part this was a campaign for secular self-government as a full part of Spain,:105–107 but as proposed liberal reforms were rejected, some saw the movement as the beginning of a national awakening.:36 In 1892 the Katipunan split from the movement, led by members of Manila's urban middle class.:39 The Katipunan advocated complete Philippine independence, and began the Philippine Revolution in 1896. The Spanish–American War reached the Philippines on May 1 with the Battle of Manila Bay. The Katipunan under Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the independence of the Philippines on June 12, 1898. Aguinaldo proclaimed a revolutionary government, and convened a congress that approved the Malolos Constitution, inaugurating the First Philippine Republic.:123
Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in 1898. The Philippine–American War erupted in February 1899 in a skirmish in Manila. Aguinaldo was captured on April 1, 1901.:1076 The Americans gave Filipinos limited self-government at the local level by 1901.:150–151 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.:752 Local elites were entrenched into the national system.:151
The first election of the Philippine Assembly in 1907 was won by the independence-supporting Nacionalista Party, led by Sergio Osmeña.:151–152 The Nacionalista party would maintain electoral dominance until independence.:42 In some rural areas opposition to American rule persisted among the poorer population,:128–130 and the development of class consciousness-based political organization led to peasant revolts in the 1930s.:21–22 American forces extended their control over the entirety of the islands, securing the Sultanate of Sulu and establishing control over interior mountainous areas. The Philippine government pursued a policy of gradually strengthening government in Mindanao, supported by immigration from Christian areas.:269–270 Despite this, the traditional political structures of Sultanates and Datus continued as a parallel political structure.:93
The 1916 Jones Law envisioned eventual Philippine independence. The Nacionalista-dominated legislature grew more powerful, seizing state bodies and using nationalism to weaken American oversight.:139:271:1117:141–142 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).:44 The Tydings–McDuffie Act 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.:1117
Quezon and Osmeña were elected as president and vice president respectively in 1935.:12 In 1937 the voting franchise was expanded to include literate women.:147 A national curriculum similarly sought to impose a single vision of a Filipino identity across the diverse ethnolinguistic groups of the islands,:110 and Tagalog was established as a national language. 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.:37–40 The Presidential system of the Commonwealth government was based on that of the United States.:154 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.:16
The Japanese invasion of 1941 at the onset of World War II forced the Commonwealth government to go into exile,: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.:14–15 In rural areas, a sudden vacuum of elite power led to the formation of new local governments by the remaining populace, beginning the Hukbalahap Rebellion.:105 The Americans reconquered the Philippines in 1944, and Osmeña, who had succeeded Quezon upon the latter's death, restored the Commonwealth government.:15
The Nacionalistas were divided following the war, with a leadership struggle leading to Manuel Roxas setting up what would later be the Liberal Party. Roxas defeated Osmeña in the 1946 presidential election, and became the last president of the Commonwealth.:145 A left-wing political movement that spawned from the Hukbalahap fight against the Japanese was suppressed by the former elite with American support, leading to the continuation of the rebellion against the new government.:105 The Americans granted independence on July 4, 1946, and Roxas became the first president of the new Republic of the Philippines.:145
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.:19–20 Universal suffrage saw an expansion of voter participation, although power remained concentrated in the hands of a small elite.:14–15 A diversifying post-war economy 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.:69 These changes did not shift the overall shape of Filipino politics, which remained a two-party system dominated by a narrow elite.:15 There was little policy difference between the parties.:17
Roxas succumbed to a heart attack in 1948, allowing Vice President Elpidio Quirino to rule the country for the next six years.:16 Quirino sought to significantly expand executive power.:18 Quirino's Liberal government was widely seen as corrupt and was easily beaten by his former Defense secretary Ramon Magsaysay in 1953. Magsaysay, who oversaw the surrender of the long-running Hukbalahap Rebellion, was massively popular. Magsaysay implemented a plan to settle surrendered Hukbalahap rebels in Mindanao,:111 cementing a demographic shift in Mindanao from having a Muslim majority to having a Christian majority.:177, 180
Before the 1957 election, Magsaysay was killed in a plane crash. His vice president, Carlos P. Garcia, succeeded him and won the election. He continued Magsaysay's "Filipino First" policy:69 and implemented 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, and sought land reform and electrification.:808 Macapagal was defeated in 1965 by Senator Ferdinand Marcos.
The growing and diversifying economy of the 1960s led to a growth in private business power:78 and an expansion in mass media.:80 Marcos was the first president to be re-elected, in 1969, although the election was tainted by violence and allegations of fraud and vote buying.:87 Civil unrest heightened after the election.:87 Communist rebellion strengthened during Marcos' rule,:219–220 and a Moro insurgency emerged in Mindanao.:216 Marcos declared martial law in 1972.:87
Attempts to end the war in Mindanao led Marcos to alter introduced a code of Muslim personal laws, and formally recognize a number of sultans in Mindanao and Sulu.:190–197 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.:69–71 Marcos also relied on the military, which gained increased power and resources during the martial law period.:46–47 A constitutional convention finalized a new constitution in November 1972, which introduced a semi-presidential system.
Marcos continued to rule by decree without elections until 1978, when the Interim Batasang Pambansa (IBP) legislature was elected. 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.:88 The unicameral IBP had little real power.:125 The Supreme Court affirmed the expansive executive powers claimed under martial law.:10–11 Marcos laid out a vision of a "new society", which would represent an end to old oligarchies.:70
Some political dynasties who were not Marcos allies were stripped of assets and power,:41 in many cases replaced in local politics by Marcos allies.:437 Marcos ended martial law in 1981, shortly before a visit to the Philippines by Pope John Paul II, although he retained immense executive powers.:12–13 Opposition groups still boycotted the 1981 presidential election, which Marcos easily won.:1151 Opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. was slain upon his return to the Philippines in 1983.:97
By this time, the government was marred by a weak economy, rampant corruption, and a loss of political support.:1153–1154 A united opposition participated in the 1984 parliamentary election, making gains.:108 A snap election saw the opposition nominate Benigno's widow Corazon as their candidate.:11:70 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.:98
The 1987 constitution restored democracy along the lines of the 1935 constitution. The new constitution introduced some elements of direct democracy.:6 The 1988 local elections saw the traditional elite recapturing local political office.:112 Aquino's government was mired by coup attempts, and saw continued rebellions by communists and Islamic separatists.:109 In 1991, a new Local Government Code shifted some power and resources to lower levels of government.:115
Aquino did not wish to run for election again, and leading up to the 1992 presidential election she supported Fidel V. Ramos, who had left her party to form his own. Ramos won, albeit under controversial circumstances and allegations of electoral fraud. The 1992 elections was the first synchonized election, where presidential, legislative, and local elections were held simultaneously.:167–169 With the 1997 Asian financial crisis damaging the image of economy liberalism, and with no clear successor to Ramos,:252–253 Ramos' vice president Joseph Estrada won the 1998 election with a comfortable margin on a populist campaign appealing directly to poorer voters.:95–97
The Estrada administration was embroiled in charges of cronyism and corruption, leading to his impeachment by the House of Representatives.:274–276 In the impeachment trial, Estrada's allies in the Senate successfully prevented evidence to be presented, triggering Emassive protests. The military withdrew their support from Estrada and transferred their allegiance to Vice President Arroyo; the Supreme Court later ruled the presidency as vacant, and Estrada left Malacañang Palace.
Arroyo was sworn in as president on January 20, 2001. Estrada's supporters launched their own mass movement, however it did not succeed.:101–103 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. As Arroyo had served less than four years as president, she was eligible for re-election.:7 She won the 2004 election with a slim plurality. It was later exposed that Arroyo rigged the election. Arroyo later had to put down two more coup attempts. By the end of her presidency, Arroyo was the most unpopular president since the 1986 People Power Revolution.
Before the 2010 election, former president Aquino died, and her son, Benigno Aquino III, won the election. His administration was politically stable, seen as relatively clean, and had the highest ratings since Marcos.:42–43 While his popularity dipped towards the end of his administration, it was linked to perceptions about the failure of change within the wider political system, rather than to Aquino himself.:45 In the 2016 Presidential Election, Aquino's handpicked successor was decisively defeated by Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte ran on a populist platform, winning votes from various socioeconomic classes, with particularly strong appeal to the middle classes.:18 Duterte implemented a massive War on Drugs that led to thousands of deaths. Duterte then prioritized infrastructure spending, and sought to end the communist insurgency. The administration made peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, replacing the ARMM with the more powerful Bangsamoro region. The Duterte government has largely continued Aquino's economic policies, including those focused on the poor. Its political policies have shown a shift towards illiberal democracy, with the politicization of legal institutions and less regard for checks and balances.:26–28
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