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The Philippines-Then and Now Government and Politics (Part 2)

Government and politics, the Philippines has undergone significant changes in government and politics since its history.

  • Then: During the Spanish colonial period (1565-1898), the Philippines ruled by Spanish governors appointed by the Spanish monarchy. After the Spanish-American War, the Philippines became a U.S. territory until 1946, when it gained independence.
  • Now: The Philippines is a democratic republic with a president as the head of state. And a prime minister as the head of government. The current president is Rodrigo Duterte. The country’s political landscape dominated by a few influential families and characterized by corruption and patronage politics.

Table of Contents

Featured Photo by Al Reile Dela Torre on Unsplash

Government and politics

  • Then: During the martial law period from 1972 to 1981. The Philippines ruled by a dictatorship under President Ferdinand Marcos. The government characterized by widespread human rights violations, corruption, and suppression of political opposition.
  • Now: The Philippines is a democratic republic with a president as the head of state. The country has a multi-party political system, with the main political parties being the Liberal Party. The Nationalist People’s Coalition, and the PDP-Laban Party. Despite its democratic system, the country still faces challenges such as corruption, political dynasties, and human rights abuses.

The Philippine Governments

The government operates under a system of checks and balances, with three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. The legislative branch composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. While the judiciary composed of the Supreme Court and lower courts. The Philippines operates under a federal system of government. With the central government and local governments having distinct powers and responsibilities. Despite its democratic system, the country still faces challenges such as corruption, political dynasties, and human rights abuses.

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the philippines

a. Foreign relations

The Philippines has diverse foreign relations with other countries and international organizations.

  • Bilateral relations: The Philippines has close relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors. And major powers such as the United States, China, Japan, and Australia. The country also has diplomatic relations with other countries in the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East.
  • Regional organizations: The Philippines is a member of several regional organizations. Such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the East Asia Summit (EAS).
  • Multilateral organizations: The Philippines is also a member of several international organizations. Such as the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • Foreign policy: The Philippine’s foreign policy prioritizes the protection of its territorial sovereignty and national interests. Promoting regional peace and stability, and advancing economic development through international cooperation. The country’s foreign policy has recently shaped by its territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

b. The Philippine Military

The Philippine military the defense and armed forces of the Philippines. Composed of the Philippine Air force, the Philippine Army, and the Philippine Navy. The military is responsible for the protection of the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national interests. As well as maintaining internal security and responding to natural disasters and other emergencies.

  • History: The Philippine military has a long and complex history, dating back to the Spanish colonial period. And the Philippine Revolution. During World War II, the Philippines was occupied by Japan. And its military forces reconstituted after the country gained independence in 1946.
  • Structure and organization: The Philippine military under the authority of the President of the Philippines. Who acts as its commander-in-chief. The Department of National Defense serves as the central defense organization and oversees the different branches of the military. The military operates through a system of ranks and promotions based on merit and performance.
  • Modernization: The Philippine military has been undergoing modernization efforts in recent years. With a focus on improving its equipment, technology, and training. The country has also been working to enhance its military capability in the face of territorial disputes. And security challenges in the region.

c. The Philippine Administrative divisions

The Philippines divided into three levels of administrative divisions:

  • Regions: There are 17 regions in the Philippines, which serve as the primary geographical divisions of the country. The regions grouped into three island clusters: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
  • Provinces: The Philippines divided into 81 provinces, which are the second level of administrative division. Each province headed by a governor and has its local government and legislative body.
  • Cities and municipalities: The Philippines divided into 145 cities and 1,489 municipalities. Which are the third level of administrative division. Cities and municipalities further divided into barangays, which are the smallest administrative units.

Each level of administrative division has distinct powers and responsibilities, with the national government providing general guidance and support. The division of the country into these administrative units helps to ensure the effective delivery of services. And the maintenance of peace and order at the local level.


The Philippine Demographics

The Philippines is a culturally diverse country with a population of approximately 108 million people as of 2021. The population primarily concentrated in urban areas. With the capital city of Manila being one of the most populous cities in the world.

  • Ethnic groups: The Philippines is home to numerous ethnic groups, with the majority being of Austronesian descent. The largest ethnic group is Tagalog, followed by the Ilocano, Cebuano, and Hiligaynon. There are also significant populations of Chinese, Spanish, and American descent in the country.
  • Language: The official language of the Philippines is Filipino, which is based on Tagalog language. English is widely spoken and is the medium of instruction in higher education. Other regional languages include Cebuano, Ilocano, and Waray, among others.
  • Religion: The Philippines is predominantly a Roman Catholic country, with about 80% of the population identifying as Catholic. Other religions practiced in the country include Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, and Taoism.
  • Age structure: The Philippines has a young population, with a median age of 24 years. The country also has a rapidly growing elderly population. With the number of people over 65 years old projected to increase significantly in the coming years.
  • Migration: The Philippines has a high level of international migration, with many Filipinos working abroad in countries. Such as the United States, Canada, and the Middle East. Remittances from overseas Filipino workers make up a significant portion of the country’s economy.


a. Ethnic Groups

The Philippines is a culturally diverse country, home to numerous ethnic groups. The majority of the population is of Austronesian descent. But there are also significant populations of Chinese, Spanish, and American descent, among others.

  • Tagalog: The largest ethnic group in the Philippines, making up around 28% of the population. They are primarily concentrated in the central and southern regions of Luzon, including the capital city of Manila.
  • Ilocano: The second-largest ethnic group, making up around 9% of the population. They are primarily concentrated in the Ilocos region of Luzon.
  • Cebuano: The third-largest ethnic group, making up around 8% of the population. They are primarily concentrated in the Visayas region, including the island of Cebu.
  • Hiligaynon: The fourth-largest ethnic group, making up around 7% of the population. They are primarily concentrated in the Western Visayas region.
  • Other groups: There are also smaller populations of ethnic groups such as the Waray, Kapampangan, Bicolano, and Pangasinense, among others. Each ethnic group has its unique cultural practices, beliefs, and traditions, and many have their regional languages and dialects.
b. Languages

The Philippines is a multilingual country with several languages spoken across the archipelago:

  • Filipino: The official language of the Philippines, based on the Tagalog language. It is widely used as a lingua franca throughout the country and the medium of instruction in schools.
  • English: English is widely spoken in the Philippines and is the medium of instruction in higher education. It is also used in business, government, and other professional settings.
  • Regional languages: There are over 170 regional languages spoken in the Philippines. The most widely spoken including Cebuano, Ilocano, Waray, and Hiligaynon, among others. These regional languages are recognized as auxiliary official languages and are used in regional government and media.
  • Chinese: There is a significant Chinese community in the Philippines, and Mandarin and Cantonese are widely spoken among this community.
  • Spanish: Spanish was the official language of the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period. Still studied and used by some Filipinos today, particularly in the field of history and cultural heritage.
c. Religion

Religion plays an important role in the lives of many Filipinos. There are several religious groups present in the country:

  • Roman Catholicism: Catholicism is the dominant religion in the Philippines, with approximately 80% of the population identifying as Catholic. It was introduced during the Spanish colonial period and has since become deeply ingrained in Philippine culture.
  • Protestantism: Protestantism is the second-largest religious group in the Philippines, with around 10% of the population identifying as Protestant. Protestant denominations include Baptists, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, and Iglesia ni Cristo, among others.
  • Islam: Islam is the third-largest religious group in the Philippines, with around 5% of the population identifying as Muslim. Most Muslims in the Philippines are Sunni, with smaller populations of Shia and Ahmadiyya.
  • Buddhism and Taoism: There are also small but significant populations of Buddhists and Taoists in the Philippines. Primarily among the Chinese community.
  • Other religions: There are also small populations of other religious groups in the Philippines. Including Hinduism, animism, and indigenous religious beliefs, among others.
d. Health

Health in the Philippines is a complex issue and is influenced by a range of factors. Including poverty, access to healthcare, and disease patterns.

  • Healthcare system: The Philippines has a mixed healthcare system, with both public and private healthcare options available. Public healthcare is provided by the government but is often limited in terms of funding and resources. Private healthcare is more widely available but is often expensive and out of reach for many Filipinos.
  • Major health issues: The Philippines faces a range of health issues, including communicable diseases. Such as tuberculosis, dengue fever, and HIV/AIDS, as well as non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • Maternal and child health: Maternal and child health is an important issue in the Philippines. With maternal mortality rates remaining relatively high, particularly in rural and remote areas. Child malnutrition is also a significant issue, with around a third of children in the Philippines suffering from stunted growth.
  • Health facilities and services: Access to healthcare facilities and services is a challenge in the Philippines. Particularly in rural and remote areas. The government has made efforts to improve access to healthcare through initiatives. Such as the creation of rural health units and the deployment of mobile health clinics.
  • Health funding: The Philippines faces challenges in funding healthcare, with the government struggling to allocate adequate resources for the sector. This has led to limited access to quality healthcare for many Filipinos. And has contributed to ongoing health issues in the country.
e. Education

Education in the Philippines is provided by both public and private institutions and is governed by the Department of Education.

  • Basic education: Basic education in the Philippines is compulsory for children aged 6 to 16 years. Covers six years of primary education and four years of secondary education. Basic education is provided by both public and private schools, with the majority of students attending public schools.
  • Higher education: Higher education in the Philippines is provided by universities and colleges and covers undergraduate and graduate programs. The Commission on Higher Education oversees the regulation and development of higher education in the country.
  • Literacy rates: Literacy rates in the Philippines are relatively high. With around 94% of the adult population able to read and write. However, there are disparities in access to education, particularly in rural and remote areas. Which can impact literacy rates and overall educational attainment.
  • Curriculum: The Philippine education system follows a standardized curriculum set by the Department of Education. With a focus on subjects such as mathematics, science, and language arts. The education system has faced criticism for its emphasis on rote learning and limited focus on critical thinking and creativity.
  • Challenges: Education in the Philippines faces a range of challenges, including limited government funding for education. A shortage of teachers, and inadequate educational facilities. These challenges impact the quality of education and limit access to education for many Filipinos. Particularly in rural and remote areas.