The Philippines Under Spanish Rule
(1600s – 1800s)
As a crown colony, the Philippines was administered by the Council of the Indies. Even so, the Spanish officials in the Philippines were appointed by the King of Spain, who issued Royal orders and decrees dealing with the proper administration of the colony. In 1863, the Philippines, as a colony, was placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Colonies or Overseas Ministry (Ministerio de Ultramar). In order to make the administration of the Philippines efficient, the Overseas Ministry was advised and aided in its work by the Council of the Indies.
The Central Government
In organizing the central government of the Philippines, the Spanish authorities saw to it that they would be guided by their experience in Mexico and South America. Consequently, many features of the government established in these countries were adopted in the Philippines. Like Mexico and Spanish America, the Laws of the Indies were applied in the Philippines. Some Spanish laws were likewise adopted, like La Novisima Recopilacion, Leyes de Toro,
And the Siete Partidas. Thes laws,as well as the Laws of the Indies, were humane, however, most of them were not even enforced in the Philippines. The Spanish colonizers organized a highly centralized form of government. By this, it meant that the central or national government was so powerful that almost everything had to be done with its knowledge and consent. The central government was headed by governor and captain-general, or governor-general, who was appointed by the King of Spain. As governor-general, he was the King’s official representative in the colony. He possessed vast executive, legislative, and judicial powers. There were, however, only two branches of government: the executive and the judicial. There was no legislature or congress because the laws for the Philippines were made by the Spaniards in Spain and, to a certain extent, by the