Local government in the Philippines

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The Philippines divided into municipalities and cities.

Local government in the Philippines is divided into four levels:

  1. Autonomous regions
  2. Provinces and cities independent from a province
  3. Component cities and municipalities
  4. Barangays

All divisions below the regional level are called "local government units (LGUs)."

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

Levels of local government[edit]

Autonomous regions[edit]

Autonomous regions have more powers than other LGUs. Currently, the constitution limits the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras. Other regions are not considered LGUs since they do not have political power.

Currently, only one autonomous region exists: the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). In 2001, a plebiscite confirmed the previous composition of the autonomous region, and added Basilan except the city of Isabela, and Marawi in Lanao del Sur within its jurisdiction; however Isabela City is still politically a part of Basilan despite rejecting inclusion.

A 1998 plebiscite for the creation of a "Cordillera Autonomous Region" was only approved by the voters of Apayao; as a result of an earlier rejection in a 1990 plebiscite where only Ifugao province and Baguio City were in favor, the Supreme Court (Ordillo vs. Comelec; G.R. No. 93054) ruled that a region must be composed of more than one province. The proposed Cordillera Autonomous Region never came to be and the provinces were reorganized into the Cordillera Administrative Region without the expanded powers of an autonomous region.

An autonomous region is governed by the regional governor; its legislature is the regional legislative assembly.


Outside the lone autonomous region, the provinces are the highest-level LGUs. The provinces are organized into component cities and municipalities.

A province is governed by the governor; its legislature is the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.


Cities are of somewhat complex matter; most cities are component cities in which they are a part of a province. Several other cities are highly urbanized cities and independent component cities, these cities are not politically a part of any province, hence city residents are not allowed to run for provincial offices. Cities are composed of barangays.

A city is governed by the mayor; its legislature is the Sangguniang Panlungsod.


Municipalities are always a part of a province except for Pateros which was separated from Rizal to form Metro Manila. Just as cities, municipalities are composed of barangays. A municipality is governed by the mayor; its legislature is the Sangguniang Bayan.


Main article: Barangay

Barangays are the smallest of the independently elected Local Government Units. Barangays can be further divided into sitios and puroks but those divisions do not have leaders elected in formal elections supervised by the national government.

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

The center of governance is the barangay hall.

Officials and Offices[edit]

Just as the national government, local governments are divided into three branches: executive, legislative and judiciary. The judicial branch is administered solely by the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The LGUs have control of the executive and legislative branch.

The executive branch is composed of the regional governor for the autonomous region, governor for the provinces, mayor for the cities and municipalities, and the barangay captain for the barangays.[2]

The legislative branch is composed of the Regional Legislative Assembly for the autonomous region, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial assembly) for the provinces, Sangguniang Panlungsod (city assembly) for the cities, Sangguniang Bayan (town assembly) for the municipalities, Sangguniang Barangay (barangay council), and the Sangguniang Kabataan for the youth sector.[2]


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

LGU Assembly Composition[2] Head
Autonomous region Regional Legislative Assembly Assembly speaker
Province Sangguniang Panlalawigan
  • varies, as of 2007:[3]
    • Cebu, Negros Occidental, Pangasinan: 12 SP members, 2 elected from each district
    • All other first class and second class provinces: 10 SP members, with varying number of members per district
    • Third class and fourth class provinces: 8 SP members, with varying number of members per district
    • Fifth class and sixth class provinces: 6 SP members, with varying number of members per district
  • President of the provincial chapter of the Liga ng mga Barangay
  • President of the provincial chapter of the League of Councilors
  • President of the provincial federation of the Sangguniang Kabataan
  • Sectoral representatives
Vice governor
City Sangguniang Panlungsod Vice mayor
Municipality Sangguniang Bayan
  • varies:
    • Pateros, Metro Manila: 12 councilors, 6 elected from each district
    • All other municipalities: 8 councilors, elected at-large
  • President of the municipal chapter of the Liga ng mga Barangay
  • President of the municipal federation of the Sangguniang Kabataan
  • Sectoral representatives
Vice mayor
Barangay Sangguniang Barangay
  • 7 members elected at-large
  • Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson
Barangay captain
Sangguniang Kabataan
  • 7 members elected at-large
Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson

ARMM assembly districts are similar in territorial composition of congressional districts, except for the Basilan assembly district, which, unlike the congressional district of Basilan, does not include Isabela City, and the 1st Maguindanao assembly district, which, unlike the 1st congressional district of Maguindanao, does not include Cotabato City. Each ARMM assembly district elects 3 members to the regional assembly that convenes in Cotabato City.

Elected officials[edit]

All elected officials have 3-year terms, and can only serve a maximum of three consecutive terms before being ineligible for reelection.[6]

LGU Official Minimum age (18 is the voting age[7])
Autonomous region Regional governor 35 years old on election day[8]
Regional vice governor Same as regional governor
Regional legislative assembly member 21 years old on election day[8]
Provinces Governor 23 years old on election day[6]
Vice governor Same as governor
Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Same as governor
Highly urbanized cities Mayor Same as governor
Vice mayor Same as governor
Sangguniang Panlungsod member (Councilor) Same as governor
Independent component and component cities Mayor 21 years old on election day
Vice mayor Same as independent component and component city mayor[6]
Sangguniang Panlungsod member (Councilor) Same as independent component and component city mayor
Municipalities Mayor Same as independent component and component city mayor
Vice mayor Same as independent component and component city mayor
Sangguniang Bayan member (Councilor) Same as independent component and component city mayor
Barangay Barangay captain 18 years old on election day
Barangay kagawad Same as barangay captain
Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson 15 to 21 years old on election day*
Sangguniang Kabataan member Same as Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson*

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

Offices that are common to municipalities, cities and provinces[edit]

There are 20 offices in a government, whether it's municipal, city or provincial. There are some mandatory and optional offices to the government.

Office Head Municipality City Province
Office of the Secretary to the Sanggunian Secretary to the Sanggunian
Treasurer's Office Treasurer
Assessor's Office Assessor
Accounting Office Accountant
Budget Office Budget Officer
Planning and Development Office Planning and Development Coordinator
Engineer's Office Engineer
Health Office Health Officer
Office of the Civil Registry Civil Registrar X
Office of the Administrator Administrator
Office of the Legal Services Legal Officer  ?
Office of Agricultural Services/Office of the Agriculturist Agriculturist  ?  ?
(Office of) Social Welfare and Development Office Social Welfare and Development Officer  ?
(Office of) Environment and Natural Resources Office Environment and Natural Resources Officer  ?  ?  ?
Office of Architectural Planning and Design Architect  ?  ?  ?
Office of Public Information Information Officer  ?  ?  ?
Office for the Development of Cooperatives/Cooperatives Development Office Cooperatives Officer X  ?  ?
Population Office Population Officer  ?  ?  ?
Veterinary Office/Office of Veterinary Services Veterinarian X
(Office of) General Services Office General Services Officer X


- Mandatory

? - Optional

X - Not Applicable

Source: Local Government Code of 1991[9]

Official Duties[edit]

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

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

Creation and modification of LGUs[edit]

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

LGU Area Population Income Legislative bodies that can create, merge, abolish or substantially alter the boundaries of the LGU
Province 2,000 square kilometers* 250,000* P20 million for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices
City 100 square kilometers* 150,000* P100 million for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices[10]
  • Congress^
Municipality 50 square kilometers 25,000 P2.5 million for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices
  • Congress
  • ARMM Regional Assembly
Barangay None 5,000 (Metro Manila and highly urbanized cities)
2,000 (rest of the country)
  • Congress
  • ARMM Regional Assembly
  • Sangguniang Panlalawigan, with recommendation from the concerned Sangguniang Bayan(s) required
  • Sangguniang Panlungsod

*either area or population; meeting only one of these requirements is sufficient
^The ARMM Regional Assembly was conferred by Congress (through Article VI, Section 19 of Republic Act 9054[8]) the power to create or modify lower-level LGUs under its jurisdiction, including provinces and cities. However, the Supreme Court's decision on the unconstitutionality of the now-defunct province of Shariff Kabunsuan[11] has effectively confined the regional assembly's powers to creating or modifying only municipalities and barangays.

See also[edit]