A history of the Government of the Philippines

Topics: Philippines, United States, Separation of powers Pages: 5 (1401 words) Published: December 5, 2013
Spanish Period
The Philippines has been governed by the Spaniards based on its discovery giving Spain a title to the Philippines. The discovery was made by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Magellan landed on the island of Cebu, claiming the lands for Spain and naming them Islas de San Lazaro. Ferdinand Magellan converted some of the Filipinos to Roman Catholics. Magellan was killed by a local chief named Lapu-Lapu, who fought against foreign domination. Over the next several years, other Spanish expeditions were sent off to the islands. From 1565 to 1821, the Philippines was indirectly governed by the King of Spain through Mexico because of the distance of the Philippines from Spain then in 1898 the Philippines was directly ruled from Spain because Mexico obtained their independence. The Council of the Indies in Spain is the one responsible for the administration of the Philippines. The council was the most important administrative organ of the Spanish Empire for the American and Asian colonies. It was placed at start as a section under the jurisdiction of the Council of Castile and it had legislative, executive and judicial functions. In 1837, the Council of Indies was abolished and legislation for the Philippines was temporarily performed by the Council of Ministers. From 1863, the Ministry of Ultramar exercised general powers of supervision over Philippine affairs. Three times during the Spanish era, the Philippines was given representation in the Spanish Cortes, the legislative body of Spain. A basic principle introduced by Spain to the Philippines was the union of the Church and state.

The Spain established in the Philippines a Unitary form of government which was centralized in structure and national in scope. A unitary system of government is one in which all power is derived from a central and single source, such that all levels of administration defer to the central power. This is in contrast to a federation system of government, which divides governance among several self-governing regions, such as states or provinces which may have certain powers and abilities not controlled by the central government. The barangays were consolidated into towns each headed by a Gobernadorcillio and the towns into provinces each headed by a governor who represented the Governor General in the province. Cities governed under special charters were also created. Each of these cities had a city council. The powers of the government were exercised by the Governor-General in Manila. The Governor-General had executive, administrative, legislative and judicial powers. The Governor-General also acts as Commander-in-Chief of all the Armed Forces in the Philippines.

In 1583, the Royal Audiencia was established which served as the Supreme Court of the Philippines. It was a Spanish colonial institution created to assist the governor-general and to secure the people from abusive Spanish officials during the Spanish colonization period. Its decision was final except on certain cases of great importance which could be appealed to the King of Spain. The Royal Audiencia also performed functions of executive and legislative nature. There were also special courts such as the military and naval courts which had jurisdiction over military offenses and the ecclesiastical courts which had knowledge of canonical matters and religious offenses. Spain ruled the Philippines for more than 300 years from 1571 to 1898. The government which the Spaniards established in the Philippines was defective. It was a government for them and not for the Filipinos. The Spanish officials were inefficient and corrupt. The union of church and state produced serious problems between the religious and civil authorities. Equality before the law was denied to the Filipinos. Revolutionary Era

On August 26, 1896, Andres Bonifacio organized the Katipunan which was the secret society which initiated the Philippine Revolution. Together with a group of Filipino patriots, they...
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