The Philippines in the current political system is under a democratic state in which citizens exercise their liberty and the freedom of speech and information. James Bryce (1921) stated that, this is a form of government in which the ruling power of a state is legally vested, not in any particular class or classes but in the members of the community as a whole. Citizens have the right to vote for their desired representatives and they were also given the chance to express their thoughts and give opinions on issues in the government. Philippines can be regarded as constitutional democracy because it is headed by the president of a country. Individuals and political structures have significant roles in the past, present and even on the future Philippine setting. Their contributions and representations would determine a country as a whole. Every society must have a type of political system so it may allocate resources and ongoing procedures appropriately. Along the same concept, a political institution sets the rules in which an orderly society obeys and ultimately decides and administers the laws for those that do not obey appropriately. These political structures help to shape individuals in a society in maintaining its integration
In theory, the three branches of government serve to maintain the system of checks and balance, to prevent one branch from having more power, or too much power, than the others. This is to uphold Democracy and to prevent dictatorships and authoritarian government practices, to keep the country free, Capitalistic and Democratically fair to the people. The three branches making up the Philippine government are the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, as seen in the President, the Supreme Court, and Congress. To understand why things are done this way, it’s important to know a little about each branch, what it does and why it is important.
This paper aims to present and explain on how the structure of a government or any of its political structures including institutions advocating from the past government prompting the present time is predominant over the voice of each individual.
In 1916, the US passed the Jones Act which specified that independence would only be granted upon the formation of a stable democratic government modelled on the American model, not the French model as the previous constitution had been. The US approved a ten-year transition plan in 1934 and drafted a new constitution in 1935. World War II and the Japanese invasion on December 8, 1941, however, interrupted that plan. After heroic Filipino resistance against overwhelming odds finally ended with the fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942, a Japanese “republic” was established, in reality, a period of military rule by the Japanese Imperial Army. A new constitution was ratified in 1943 by Filipino collaborators who were called the Kapisanan sa Paglilingkod ng Bagong Pilipinas. An active guerilla movement continued to resist the Japanese occupation. The Japanese forces were finally defeated by the Allies in 1944 and this chapter came to a close.
Philippine independence was eventually achieved on July 4, 1946. The 1935 Constitution, which featured a political system virtually identical to the American one, became operative. The system called for a President to be elected at large for a 4-year term, a bicameral Congress, and an independent Judiciary. From the moment of independence, Filipino politics have been plagued by the twin demons of corruption and scandal. Notwithstanding, Presidents Ramon Magsaysay (1953-57), Carlos Garcia (1957-61), and Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) managed to stabilize the country, implement domestic reforms, diversify the economy, and build Philippine ties not only to the United States, but also to its Asian neighbours.
Ferdinand Marcos was elected president in 1965 and was re-elected in 1969, the first president to be so re-elected. Desirous of remaining in power beyond his legal tenure, he declared martial law in 1972, just before the end of his second and last term, citing a growing communist insurgency as its justification. He then manipulated an ongoing Constitutional Convention and caused the drafting of a new constitution – the 1973 Constitution – which allowed him to rule by decree until 1978 when the presidential system of the 1935 Constitution was replaced with a parliamentary one. Under this new system, Marcos held on to power and continued to govern by decree, suppressing democratic institutions and restricting civil freedoms. In 1981, martial law was officially lifted, but Marcos continued to rule by the expedient of being “re-elected” in a farce of an election to a new 6-year term. He continued to suppress dissent and thousands of vocal objectors to his rule either mysteriously disappeared or were incarcerated. Despite economic decline, corruption allowed Marcos and his wife Imelda to live extravagantly, causing resentment domestically and criticism internationally.
When opposition leader Benigno Aquino Jr. was assassinated upon returning from exile in 1983, widespread outrage forced Marcos to hold “snap” elections a year early. The election was marked by fraud on the part of Marcos and his supporters but Marcos had himself declared the winner constitutionally, amidst international condemnation and nationwide domestic protests. A small band of military rebels tried to mount a coup, which failed because of its discovery, but this triggered what became internationally celebrated as the “People Power” revolution, when droves of people spilled out onto the streets to protect the rebels, eventually numbering well over a million. Under pressure from the United States, Marcos and his family fled into exile. His election opponent, Benigno Aquino Jr.’s widow Corazon, was installed as president on February 25, 1986.
Aquino began her term by repealing many of the Marcos-era regulations that had repressed the people for so long. In March, she issued a unilateral proclamation establishing a provisional constitution. This constitution gave the President broad powers and great authority, but Aquino promised to use them only to restore democracy under a new constitution. This new constitution was drafted in 133 days by an appointed Constitutional Commission of 48 members and ratified by the people in a plebiscite held on February 2, 1987. It was largely modelled on the American Constitution which had so greatly influenced the 1935 Constitution, but it also incorporated Roman, Spanish, and Anglo law. The 1987 Constitution established a representative democracy with power divided among three separate and independent branches of government.
The Executive branch is headed by the President and his appointed Cabinet. The President is the head of the state and the chief executive, but he is subject to significant checks from the other branches, especially in times of emergency, which, given the history of the country, was obviously intended to be a safeguard against a repeat of Marcos’ martial law despotism. For example, in cases of national emergency, the President can still declare martial law, but not for a period longer than 60 days. Congress can revoke this decision by a majority vote, or it can also extend it for a period to be determined by the Congress. Additionally, the Supreme Court can review the declaration to decide if there were sufficient facts to justify martial law. The President can grant pardons and amnesty. He is also empowered to make or accept foreign loans. He cannot, however, enter into treaties without the consent of the Senate. The President and Vice-President are elected at large by a direct vote, but the President may only serve one 6-year term. The Cabinet, consisting of the President’s advisers and heads of departments, is appointed by the President and it assists him in his governance functions.
The legislative power is vested in a Congress which is divided into two Houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The 24 members of the Senate are elected at large by a popular vote and can serve no more than two consecutive 6-year terms. The House is composed of 250 elected members. Most of these Representatives are elected by district for 3-year terms, but 20% of the total membership is chosen in proportion to party representation. Besides the exclusive power to legislate, one of the most important powers of Congress is the ability to declare war, which it can through a two-thirds vote in both houses. Even the power to legislate, however, is subject to an executive check. The President retains the power to veto a bill passed by both houses, and Congress may override this veto only with a two-thirds vote in both houses.
The Court system in the Philippines exercises the judicial power of government and it is made up of a Supreme Court and lower courts created by law. The Supreme Court is a 15-member court appointed by the President without need for confirmation by Congress. Appointment, however, is limited to a list of nominees presented to the President by a constitutionally-specified Judicial and Bar Council. The Supreme Court also is charged with overseeing the functioning and administration of the lower courts and their personnel.
In conclusion, these political structures stated gave a major influence and it will always be the more influential one because it is the one that citizens will follow. It also ensures that government is effective and the citizens are all being well protected. The welfare of the people in the country will always be the one that matters but rules of the government and its influence to the people must be followed in order to implement and act as checks and balances against each other so that no one person or group can become too powerful.