Politics of the Philippines

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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
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
HeadquartersMalacañan Palace
Judicial branch
NameJudiciary of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Chief judgeDiosdado Peralta
SeatPadre Faura, Manila
Coat of arms of the Philippines.svg
This article is part of a series on the
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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.

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.


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".[1] The senators elect amongst themselves a Senate President.[citation needed] Half of the senate seats are contested every 3 years, and senators are limited to serving a maximum of three of these six-year terms.[1]

The lower house is the House of Representatives, currently composed of 292 representatives, with no more than 20% elected via party-list system, with the rest elected from legislative districts. The House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker.[citation needed] Representatives are elected every three years, and are limited to three three-year terms.[1]

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. 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.

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 that controlled the party as a one-party state. 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.


The Malacañang Palace, as viewed from the Pasig River, is the official residence of the President.

Executive power is vested to the President;[2] in practice, however, the president delegates his power to a cabinet.[citation needed] The president, who is both the head of state and head of government,[citation needed] is directly elected to a single six-year term via first past the post.[3] Presidents are limited to a single consecutive term.[2]

In case of death, resignation, or incapacitation, the Vice President acts as the president until the expiration of the term.[citation needed] The Vice President, also limited to a single six-year term, is elected separately from the president.[1] 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.[4] The cabinet is mostly composed of the heads of the executive departments, which provide services to the people, and other cabinet-level officials.

The president is also the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,[2] thereby ensuring civilian supremacy over the military.[citation needed] The president is also given several military powers,[2] although once exercised, Congress can prolong or end it.[citation needed] The president also proposes a national budget, which Congress may adopt in full, with amendments, or a complete revision altogether. The president wields considerable political power[2] and may be able to influence other branches via the so-called Padrino System,[citation needed] and has considerable influence over supposedly independent agencies due to the power of appointment.[2]


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 via judicial review.[citation needed] 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.[2] The Court of Appeals is the second-highest appellate court, the Court of Tax Appeals rules on tax matters, and the Sandiganbayan (People's Advocate) is a special court for alleged government irregularities. 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. Metropolitan Trial Courts try lesser offenses.

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.[2] The Office of the Solicitor General represents the government in legal cases.

Legal system[edit]

The Philippine Legal System is a hybrid form based on the Spanish Civil Law and Anglo-American Common Law system, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao observes the Sharia Law as their binding legal system in accordance to their Islamic traditions.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and laws passed by the Congress shall be consistent with the Constitution. Under the Civil Code of the Philippines, 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. 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.


Elections are 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. 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.[citation needed] 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.[5]

Elections above the barangay level are held every three years since 1992 on the second Monday of May, all positions are disputed except for the president and vice president; presidential and vice presidential elections are held every six years since 1992. Single-winner elections are done via the plurality voting system: the candidate with the highest number of votes is elected. Multiple-winner elections, except for representatives elected 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. 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.

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. 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.[6] Politicians at local and national levels are usually either dynastic candidates or popular celebrities. Dynastic politics is very common. 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.[5] 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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

The 1986 commission also kept the "open ballot" system, where voters had to write the name of their chosen candidate on the voting form.[10] 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.[7] The 1992 and 2004 presidential elections were contested in court following accusations of electoral fraud. Both cases did not succeed.[12] 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.[13] In 1997 a law was based calling for the open ballots to be replaced by pre-printed ballots.[7] However, it was not until the May 2010 elections that electronic vote-counting was used for a national election.[13] 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.[14] It has been reported by COMELEC that this new system reduces the ability for vote-buyers to monitor how people vote.[7] It also reduced vote count time, with manual counting previously taking perhaps months.[15]

National and local elections began to be held on the same day from May 1992, following the passage of Republic Act (RA) 7166.[9]

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.[9]

Local government[edit]

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 constitution mandates that local governments must have local autonomy. The smallest local government unit, the barangay or village, is descended from the balangay of the Maragtas legend, where the first Austronesian people reached the Philippines via the boat. The prehistoric barangays were headed by datus. 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 the highest administrative divisions but do not have powers possessed under them; however, autonomous regions are given wider powers than other local government units. While the constitution allows autonomous regions in the Cordilleras and Muslim Mindanao, only the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) exists, with the proposed autonomous region in Cordillera being defeated after two plebiscites. The BARMM has a regional governor and a regional assembly.

While local government units have the autonomy, most of their budget is derived from the Internal Revenue Allotment, a disbursement from the national government which is ultimately derived from taxes. This makes most local government units ultimately dependent on the national government[2] unless they have other sources of income, such as property taxes.

Factional rivalries have dominated local politics since the late 19th century. As democracy expanded under American rule, these rivalries influenced provincial and national politics.[16] Decentralization of power to local governments and widespread poverty have reinforced the presence of clientelism within politics.[12] Local politics is thus often more personal and potentially violent than national politics.[9] 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.[10]


Pre-Spanish era[edit]

Before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, the Philippines was split into numerous barangays, which were not unlike the Greek city-states. These barangays warred, made peace, traded and had relations with each other. In Mindanao, Islamic sultanates such as the Sultanate of Sulu and Maguindanao, prospered. Ferdinand Magellan's death in 1521 can be partly attributed to a dispute between Lapu-Lapu and Rajah Humabon for control of Cebu. The Kingdom of Maynila was trading with China and other nearby empires when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi conquered the kingdom in 1565 and assimilated it with the other kingdoms he had conquered nearby to unite the Philippines under Spanish rule.

Spanish era[edit]

The Illustrados in Madrid.

Upon the subjugation of the local population in Manila and Cebu, the Spaniards refused the locals any political participation. The old ruling class in the pre-Spanish era were given essentially powerless government posts. Several revolts erupted against Spain but were all defeated. 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.

The restoration of Philippine representation to the Cortes was one of the grievances of the Illustrados, the learned indigenous class during the late 1800s. The Illustrados mounted a campaign that would include indigenous voices in running the government. However, the Katipunan advocated complete Philippine independence, thereby starting the Philippine Revolution in 1896. After the execution of José Rizal on December 30, 1896, the leader of the Illustrados who disapproved of the revolution, the rebellion intensified. Cavite, Bulacan and Morong were the main areas of conflict; 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.

The death of Bonifacio also caused several of the revolutionaries to be demoralized; Aguinaldo and his men retreated northward until reaching Biak-na-Bato in San Miguel, Bulacan. The Spaniards and the revolutionaries signed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, that 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.

The Spanish–American War, which had begun on April 25, 1898, reached the Philippines on May 1 with the Battle of Manila Bay. Aguinaldo returned from exile and, most of the Philippine revolutionaries rallying to his cause, proclaimed the independence of the Philippines on June 12, 1898, at his home in Cavite. The Americans defeated the Spanish on August 13 in a mock battle in Manila and took control of the city. Aguinaldo proclaimed a revolutionary government, which convened a congress in January 1899 in Barasoain Church in Malolos and inaugurated the First Philippine Republic. 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.

American era[edit]

William Howard Taft addressing the Philippine Assembly.

The Philippine–American War erupted in February 1899 in a skirmish in Manila. the Filipinos lost the resulting battle, and Aguinaldo again began a northward retreat as the United States set up military and civil governments in Manila and in other areas as they were pacified. Aguinaldo was captured on April 1, 1901, at Palanan, Isabela, and 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.[17] 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,[18]

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.[9]

The Americans gave Filipinos limited self-government at the local level by 1901, and passed the Philippine Organic Act in 1902 to introduce a national government; by 1907, an election to the Philippine Assembly was held. Led by Sergio Osmeña, the assembly was held predominantly by the Nacionalista Party, which advocated independence; they were opposed by the Progresista Party, which advocated statehood within the United States. The Americans controlled the Philippine Commission, the upper house of the Philippine Legislature. The Nacionalista-dominated Philippine Assembly, and later the Philippine Senate, which was created by the Jones Law and replaced the Philippine Commission, was often at odds with the Governor-General. However, the Nacionalistas were split into camps loyal to Osmeña and Senate President Manuel L. Quezon. Several independence missions were sent to Washington, D.C.; 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, 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.[19]

Quezon and Osmeña reconciled, and both were easily elected as president and vice president respectively, in 1935. 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, 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.

The Japanese invasion of 1941 at the onset of World War II delayed this granting of independence, forced the Commonwealth government to go into exile, and subjected the country to a puppet government. The KALIBAPI became the sole legal political party, and Jose P. Laurel was declared president of the Second Philippine Republic. This nationalist KALIBAPI government espoused anti-American sentiment. Exiled leaders of the previous first Commonwealth government, including Quezon and Osmeña, provided limited support to the U.S. Despite the relationship with Japanese officials and opposition to U.S. control, the nationalist KALIBAPI government of Laurel refused to declare war on the U.S. However, the Americans reconquered the country in 1944, and Osmeña, who had succeeded Quezon upon the latter's death, restored the Commonwealth government. The first meeting of a bicameral Commonwealth Congress occurred.

The Nacionalistas were divided during the 1946 presidential election, with Manuel Roxas setting up what would later be the Liberal Party. Roxas defeated Osmeña, 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 under the Commonwealth constitution which continued in effect.

Independent era[edit]

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

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. 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. Before the 1957 election, he was killed in a plane crash. His vice president, Carlos P. Garcia, succeeded him and won the election. He implemented a "Filipino First" policy 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. Macapagal was defeated in 1965 by Senator Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos' infrastructure projects were the feature policy of his term, he was the first president to be reelected, in 1969, although the election was tainted by violence and allegations that Marcos used the treasury to fund his campaign. However, significant protests, such as the First Quarter Storm, the communist and Moro insurgencies, and civil unrest, heightened. This made Marcos in 1972 declare martial law and suspend the constitution. A new constitution calling for a semi-presidential government was approved in 1973, but Marcos still ruled by decree until 1978, when the Interim Batasang Pambansa was elected. However, opposition groups, whose leaders mostly had already left in exile, boycotted the election, and Marcos still allowed martial law to continue. Marcos did end martial law in 1981, but opposition groups still boycotted the 1981 presidential election, which Marcos easily won.

Opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. was slain upon his return to the country in 1983. 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. To counter growing opposition, Marcos called a snap election in 1986, the opposition nominated Benigno's widow Corazon as their candidate. Marcos was declared the winner, 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. Aquino ruled by decree in 1987 when a new constitution restoring the presidential system was approved. In the ensuing legislative election, the pro-Aquino parties won most of the seats in Congress.

Post-People Power era[edit]

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

Aquino's government was mired by coup attempts, 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; she later backtracked and threw her support to Fidel V. Ramos, who later won albeit under controversial circumstances. 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. The Ramos administration hosted the 1996 APEC summit, reinstated the death penalty, signed a peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front, and bore the brunt of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. He wanted to amend the constitution, but Aquino and other sectors opposed the measure and backed off. 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.

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.

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. 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. 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, with increases on taxes, attempts to amend the constitution, and the alleged illegitimacy of her administration as the reasons.

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. Estrada overtook Villar in the polls but still lost to Aquino. Aquino embarked on an anti-corruption drive, saw the economy grew and maintain high popularity. However, with natural calamities, 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.

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. 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. The administration then made peace with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, ushering in the Bangsamoro. 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.

See also[edit]


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  19. ^ Pub.L. 73–127, 48 Stat. 456, enacted March 24, 1934

Further reading[edit]