The Political Environment of the Philippines
The Philippines overcame many obstacles in history that reshaped the political environment of modern times.
The Philippine islands have a strong Spanish influence. Records in history date back to 1521 where Ferdinand Magellan colonized the islands in the name of Charles I of Spain. The Spanish objectives focused Philippine society toward the spread of Christianity, colonization in the name of Spain, and acquiring key positions in the spice trade from Asia. Spanish settlers later realized that the P.I. did not have precious spices or gold minerals. Profits from the colonies were going to come from agricultural resources only. Agricultural resources such as corn and rice were mainly cultivated for profits although the colony depleted funds faster than they could generate funds.
Spanish rule declined slowly beginning at 1762 due to British forces capturing Manila in the seven years war. Although Spanish rule presided in governmental issues, the decline did not escalate till 1898 when American influence began. The Treaty of Paris was enacted and Spain gave the U.S. all right to claim P.I. as a U.S. colony.
Constitutional framework of the current government
The Treaty of Paris led to the Malolos constitution after 1898. This government’s first constitution was modeled from France, Belgium and some South American republics. The Philippine bill of rights was also drafted from the same nations. It was not until 1935 under the terms of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which created the Philippine Commonwealth. The Philippine constitution was shortly revised to model the United States version. Philippines also modeled the bill of rights from the Americans.
In 1972 the people called for a democratic convention so that they could revise the constitution to fit the Filipino peoples needs, but the current president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law of the land. Marcos rose to near dictatorial status in power. His status only lasted until Corizon Aquino defeated him. She started many new ideas such as, proclaiming democracy for the people. This was known as the “people’s power” party. She also initiated to draft the “Freedom Constitution” which would later be replaced by new legislature in the new constitution. This new constitution establishes three separate branches of the government called executive, legislative, and judicial departments.
Independent commissions were also started: The commission on elections, the Commission on Audit, the Commission of Human Rights, and the Commission on Good Government. The current form of government is a democratic. The current head of state is President Fidel Ramos. His administration proclaims decentralization, deregulation, and development.
Governmental stability of the Philippines
The government of the Philippines has adopted many governmental policies from the United States. The constitution framework was to some instances modeled word for word from the American constitution. The Philippine bill of rights granted citizens with individual rights of the nation mimicking the Americans.
The period from 1972-1981 former Philippine president Fidel Marcos abolished the old constitution and declared martial law. Uncertainty in Philippine government arose when the U.S. democratic presidential system was abruptly changed to a parliamentary form of government. The president appoints himself head of state and the chief executive power by claiming the Prime ministers role as well as the president. This power escalated to near dictatorial power. It was not until 1986 and the downfall of Marcos when stability in government again presided.
During 1987, the constitution was again ratified and bicameral legislation was enacted. This “Freedom Constitution” that now presides restored democracy and is abide by all citizens of the nation. The current administration of Fidel Ramos proposed changes to restructure Philippine society. Ramos proposed to decentralize, deregulate, and develop current Filipino social structure. Because of the restructuring proposals along with a strong democratic foundation the government is very stable.
The Role of Government
The administration of government fully supports free enterprise and capitalism. Individuals and non-governmental entities are free to participate in development and management of business’, sometimes with the aid of the Philippine government. The government aid assists private / public sector by exempting certain taxes along with raising the availability of loans to individuals for certain periods of time. The nominal taxation along with availability of loans makes it easy to start new businesses. These programs are mainly targeted to technological and agricultural industries. This provides immediate potential for economic development in the nation.
The legal system of the Philippines
Spanish and Anglo-American law heavily influences the judicial system of the Philippines. The legal system is predominantly ruled by civil law. The Spanish influenced many civil code procedures on family and personal property. The absence of jury trial was also attributed from Spain. The contributions from the United States were very important to the legal system. The contributions came from statues governing trade, commerce, labor relations, taxation, banking, currency, and government operations. These statutes created a sound foundation for democracy.
The Supreme Court holds all judicial powers and establishes lower courts by law. The court system has four levels. These levels are:
1.The Supreme Court
2.The Intermediate Appellate Courts
3.The Regional Municipal Courts
4.The Local Municipal Courts
The Supreme Court is the highest court with jurisdiction over all cases affecting government officials, constitutionality of the law, presidential decree, proclamation, order, or regulation. The Intermediate Appellate court is also known as the court of appeals. The I.A. court system has special Muslim courts for Muslim Filipinos. I.A. also has a court of tax appeals along with the Sandiganbayan. The Sandiganbayan is another special court that is equivalent to the court of appeals and under presidential decree.
Sandiganbayan tries government officials and employees in violation to the Corrupt Practices Act and Anti Graft Act. The Regional court system has jurisdiction over criminal case’s that is serious. The local level has three levels: the metropolitan trial court, the municipal trial court, and municipal circuit court. These
courts hear less serious criminal cases concerning public and private issues of the communities.