Executive Branch of Government
Article VII, Section 1, of the 1987 Constitution vests executive power to the President of the Philippines, who functions as the Head of State, Head of Government, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. As Chief Executive, the President of the Philippines exercises control over all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices.
President of the Philippines
The President of the Philippines is elected by direct vote by the people for a term of six years. He may only serve for one term and is ineligible for reelection. The term of the President of the Philippines starts at noon of the 30th day of June after an election is held.
The qualifications for an individual to aspire for the Presidency of the Philippines are outlined in Article VII, Section 2 of the Constitution. According to the Constitution, an individual may become President provided he meets the following criteria:
1. Natural born Filipino
2. A registered voter
3. Must be able to read and write
4. 40 years of age at the day of the election
5. Must have resided in the Philippines ten years before the election is held
The President of the Philippines is elected by direct vote of the people and has a term of six (6) years with no provision for reelection.
There have been 15 presidents of the Philippines from the establishment of the office on January 23, 1899 in the Malolos Republic. President Emilio Aguinaldo was the inaugural holder of the office and held the position until March 23, 1901, when he was captured by the Americans during the Philippine-American War.
The Office of the President of the Philippines was abolished after the capture of Aguinaldo and ceased to exist until the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935.
After the first national elections were held on September 16, 1935, Manuel L. Quezon was elected as the Second President of the Philippines and the First President of the Philippine Commonwealth. President Manuel L. Quezon would stay in office for three terms because the 1935 Constitution did not provide for term limits. First elected in 1935 for a six-year term, under the unamended 1935 Constitution, next elected in 1941 under the newly amended 1935 Constitution, which shortened the term of the President to four years, then in 1943 when he had to take and emergency oath of office due to World War II.
When World War II forced the Philippine Commonwealth into exile, a different government would be installed in the Philippines, later to be known as the Second Republic of the Philippines. Jose P. Laurel would lead this government as the third President of the Philippines and the first President of the Second Republic. Laurel stayed in office from 1943 to 1944 when the Second Republic was abolished. At this point, the President of the Second Republic would overlap with the President of the Commonwealth.
The Philippine Commonwealth would be reestablished in 1945 with President Sergio Osmeña as the Second President of the Commonwealth and the Fourth President of the Philippines. Osmeña took his oath of office in the United States after the demise of President Manuel L. Quezon. Osmeña would run in the first post-war Presidential Elections held in 1946 but lose to Senate President Manuel Roxas.
President Manuel Roxas was elected in 1946 as the Third President of the Philippine Commonwealth and the Fifth President of the Philippines. He would usher in the end of the Philippine Commonwealth on July 4, 1946, and the birth of the Third Republic. Roxas’ term would carry over to the Third Republic. Thus, he would become the First President of the Third Republic. Roxas would be followed by Presidents Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal, and as the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Presidents of the Third Republic and the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth Presidents of the Philippines, respectively.
President Ferdinand E. Marcos became the Last President of the Third Republic when he declared Martial Law in 1972 and start the Fourth Republic by virtue of the 1973 Constitution. Marcos became the First President of the Fourth Republic and the Tenth President of the Philippines overall. Marcos stayed in office for 20 years; the longest serving President of the Philippines.
In 1986, the Edsa Revolution successfully installed Corazon C. Aquino as the new President of the Philippines; the Eleventh in the country’s history. President Aquino served as the Second and Last President of the Fourth Republic in beginning of her term. When the 1987 Constitution was put into full force and effect, the Fourth Republic was ended and the Fifth Republic inaugurated. Thus, President Aquino became the First President of the Fifth Republic. She would be followed by Presidents Ramos, Estrada, and Arroyo as the Second, Third, and Fourth Presidents of the Fifth Republics and Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Presidents of the Philippines Respectively.
The current President, Benigno S. Aquino III, is the Fifth President of the Fifth Republic and the Fifteenth President of the Philippines.
Powers of the President
Besides the Constitution, the powers of the President of the Philippines are specifically outlined in Executive Order no. 292 s. 1987, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987. The following powers are:
1. Power of control over the Executive Branch
The President of the Philippines has the mandate of control over all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. This includes restructuring, reconfiguring, and appointments of their respective officials. The Administrative Code also provides for the President to be responsible for the above mentioned offices strict implementation of laws.
2. Power Ordinance Power
The President of the Philippines has the power give executive issuances. Executive Issuance are means to streamline the policy and programs of an administration. There are six issuances that the President may issue. They are the following as defined in the Administrative Code of 1987:
Executive Orders. — Acts of the President providing for rules of a general or permanent character in implementation or execution of constitutional or statutory powers shall be promulgated in executive orders.
Administrative Orders. — Acts of the President which relate to particular aspects of governmental operations in pursuance of his duties as administrative head shall be promulgated in administrative orders.
Proclamations. — Acts of the President fixing a date or declaring a status or condition of public moment or interest, upon the existence of which the operation of a specific law or regulation is made to depend, shall be promulgated in proclamations which shall have the force of an executive order.
Memorandum Orders. — Acts of the President on matters of administrative detail or of subordinate or temporary interest which only concern a particular officer or office of the Government shall be embodied in memorandum orders.
Memorandum Circulars. — Acts of the President on matters relating to internal administration, which the President desires to bring to the attention of all or some of the departments, agencies, bureaus or offices of the Government, for information or compliance, shall be embodied in memorandum circulars.
General or Special Orders. — Acts and commands of the President in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines shall be issued as general or special orders.
It is important to note that during the term of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, he used Executive Issuances known as Presidential Decrees as a form of legislation. These Presidential Decrees have the full force and effect of laws because at the time the legislature did not exist and, when the 1973 Constitution was put into full force and effect, it gave the power to the President to as such. This continued until the first year of President Corazon C. Aquino’s term. However, President C. Aquino opted to used Executive Orders instead of Presidential Decrees. These Executive Orders of President C. Aquino, however, still had the full force and effect of laws until the ratification of the 1987 Constitution.
3. Power over Aliens
The President of the Philippines has the power over non-Filipinos in the Philippines. The powers he may exercise over foreigners in the country are as follows:
The Chief Executive may have an alien in the Philippines deported from the country after due process.
The President may change the status of a foreigner, as prescribed by law, from a non-immigrant status to a permanent resident status without necessity of visa.
The President may choose to overrule the Board of Commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration before their decision becomes final and executory (after 30 days of the issuance of the decision). The Board of Commissioners of the Bureau of Immigration jurisdiction over all deportation cases.
The President is also mandated by the Administrative Code of 1987 to exercise powers as recognized by the generally accepted principles of international law.
4. Powers of Eminent Domain, Escheat, Land Reservation and Recovery of Ill-gotten Wealth
The President of the Philippines has the authority to exercise the power of eminent domain. The power of eminent domains means the state has the power to seize or authorize the seizure of private property for public use with just compensation. There are two constitutional provisions, however, that limit the exercise of such power. Article III, Section 9 (1) of the Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of his/her life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Furthermore, Article III, Section 9 (2), provides that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.
Once the aforementioned conditions are met, the President may exercise the power of eminent domain which are as follows:
Power of Eminent Domain. — The President shall determine when it is necessary or advantageous to exercise the power of eminent domain in behalf of the National Government, and direct the Solicitor General, whenever he deems the action advisable, to institute expropriation proceedings in the proper court.
Power to Direct Escheat or Reversion Proceedings. — The President shall direct the Solicitor General to institute escheat or reversion proceedings over all lands transferred or assigned to persons disqualified under the Constitution to acquire land.
Power to Reserve Lands of the Public and Private Domain of the Government. —
(1) The President shall have the power to reserve for settlement or public use, and for specific public purposes, any of the lands of the public domain, the use of which is not otherwise directed by law. The reserved land shall thereafter remain subject to the specific public purpose indicated until otherwise provided by law or proclamation.
(2) He shall also have the power to reserve from sale or other disposition and for specific public uses or purposes, any land belonging to the private domain of the Government, or any of the Friar lands, the use of which is not otherwise directed by law, and thereafter such land shall be used for the purposes specified by such proclamation until otherwise provided by law.
Power over Ill-gotten Wealth. — The President shall direct the Solicitor General to institute proceedings to recover properties unlawfully acquired by public officials or employees, from them or from their nominees or transferees.
Within the period fixed in, or any extension thereof authorized by, the Constitution, the President shall have the authority to recover ill-gotten properties amassed by the leaders and supporters of the previous regime and protect the interest of the people through orders of sequestration or freezing of assets or accounts.
5. Power of Appointment
The President may appoint officials of the Philippine Government as provided by the Constitution and laws of the Philippines. Some of these appointments, however, may need the approval of the Committee on Appointments. (A committee composed of members from the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Philippines)
6. Power of General Supervision Over Local Governments
The President of the Philippines, as Chief Executive, has the mandate to supervise local governments in the Philippines, despite their autonomous status as provided by RA 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.
Traditionally, this is done by the Department of the Interior and Local Government, headed by a Cabinet Secretary; an alterego of the President.
7. Other Powers
Aside from the aforementioned powers of the President of the Philippines, he can also exercise powers enumerated in the Constitution and powers given to him by law.
Line of Succession
The Constitution provides for a line of succession in the event that the elected President of the Philippines is not able to discharge the duties of his office due to death, disability, or resignation. The following is the line of succession:
1. Vice President – in cases of the death, disability, or resignation of the President
2. Senate President – in cases of the death, disability, or resignation of the President and Vice President
3. Speaker of the House of Representatives – in cases of the death, disability, or resignation of the President, Vice President, and Senate President
The Congress of the Philippines is mandated enact a law calling for a special election three days after the vacancy in the Office of the President and Vice President. The special election should occur 40 days after the enactment of the law but not later than 60 days after the enactment of the law.
Vice President of the Philippines
The Vice President of the Philippines is elected by direct vote by the people for a term of six years and may run for reelection once. The term of the Vice President of the Philippines starts at noon of the 30th day of June after an election is held.
The qualifications for aspirants to the Office of the Vice President is outlined in Article VII, Section 3. According to the Constitution, the qualifications for the President is the same for the Vice President.
The Vice President of the Philippines is elected via a direct vote of the people for a term of 6 years with a possibility of reelection. According to the Constitution the Vice President may take on a cabinet portfolio in concurrent capacity.
The first constitution of the Philippines, the Malolos Constitution, did not provide for a Vice President of the Philippines. It only had provisions for a President and a Prime Minister. The first legal basis for the existence of the Office came in 1935 upon the inauguration of the Commonwealth Government.
There have been 12 people who have held the Office of the Vice President from its establishment in 1935. Vice President Sergio Osmeña was the inaugural holder of the position and served for 3 terms of office. He first took his oath after the 1935 elections under the Philippine Commonwealth and once again in 1941 before the Philippine government went into exile. His third Oath taking happened in the United States when the terms the officials of the Philippine Government-in-exile are up.
The Philippines’ second Vice President was elected in 1946 under the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Vice President Elpidio Quirino was elected under the Commonwealth Government but transitioned into the Third Republic on July 4, 1946. Quirino was followed by Fernando Lopez, Carlos P. Garcia, and Emmanuel Pelaez. Fernando Lopez would once again be elected in 1965 when he ran with Ferdinand Marcos. Lopez was elected for 2 terms until the abolition of the Office of the Vice President on September 23, 1972, when martial law was declared.
The original 1973 Constitution did not provide of a Vice President of the Philippines. The position remained abolished until the Constitutional Amendments were made in 1978. It was only in 1986, however, when the position was filled. Arturo Tolentino took his oath in secret in Malacañan Palace. His term, however, only lasted for days when the EDSA Revolution installed new leadership in the country.
When the 1987 Constitution was ratified, the position of Vice President of the Philippines would remain with Salvador Laurel Jr. as its inaugural holder. Since the institution of the 1987 Constitution the Fifth Republic has had six Vice Presidents with five being elected and one being appointed.
Duties of the Vice President
According to the Constitution, the Vice President may concurrently assume a cabinet position should the President of the Philippines offer him one. The Vice President will become a Secretary concurrent to his position of Vice President.
Aside from the Cabinet post, the Vice President is mandated to assume the Presidency in case of the death, disability, or resignation of the incumbent President.
Line of Succession
Should there be a vacancy of the Office of the Vice President, the President of the Philippines is required by the Constitution to nominate a replacement with the concurrence of Committee on Appointments.
Functions of a Cabinet Secretary
Cabinet Secretaries act as the alter ego of the President executing, with his authority, the power of the Office of the President in their respective departments.
The number of Cabinet Secretaries varies from time to time depending on the need of an Administration. According to the Administrative Code of 1987, the President of the Philippines may create or dissolve any department as he sees fit.
Appointment of Cabinet Secretaries
According to the Article 7, Section 16, the President may appoint anyone to executive departments with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. Names of individuals nominated to cabinet posts are submitted to the Commission on Appointments for their consideration.
An individual may not assume his post in a given department unless confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. However, the Constitution provides for individual becoming Cabinet Secretaries in an Acting Capacity before they are confirmed. According to Article VII, Section 16 of the Constitution, the President may appoint anyone to cabinet posts even if Congress is in recess. These appointments are valid until the Commission on Appointments disapproves them or at the end of the next session of Congress.
Not all Cabinet members, however, are subject to confirmation of the Commission on Appointments. According to the Commission of Appointments website, the following need confirmation in order to assume their posts:
1. Executive Secretary
2. Secretary of Agrarian Reform
3. Secretary of Agriculture
4. Secretary of Budget and Management
5. Secretary of Education
6. Secretary of Energy
7. Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources
8. Secretary of Finance
9. Secretary of Foreign Affairs
10. Secretary of Health
11. Secretary of Justice
12. Secretary of Labor and Employment
13. Secretary of National Defense
14. Secretary of Public Works and Highways
15. Secretary of Science and Technology
16. Secretary of Social Welfare and Development
17. Secretary of the Interior and Local Government
18. Secretary of Trade and Industry
19. Secretary of Transportation and Communications
20. Secretary of Tourism
21. Commission on Higher Education
22. Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority
Powers of a Cabinet Secretary
As stated above, a Cabinet Secretary is the alter ego of the President in their respective Departments. Thus, they posses the power to issue directives relative to their departments, such as department orders. These orders only apply to offices under a specific department under the Cabinet Secretary’s jurisdiction. Cabinet Secretaries also act as advisors to the President of the Philippines for their areas.
The Executive Branch extends beyond the National Government. According to Article 10, Section 4 of the Constitution the President of the Philippines is mandated to supervise local government all over the country. However, because of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, local governments enjoy relative autonomy from the National Government.
Each Local Government has its own Chief Executive. The following is the list of local Chief Executives:
1. Provinces = Governors
2. Cities = Mayor
3. Municipalities = Mayor
4. Barangay = Barangay Captains
The local Chief Executives have the power to approve or veto local ordinances recommended by the local legislators.
The Offices of the above mentioned local Chief Executives are limited to three consecutive three-year terms. Once they end their third term, they may not run for reelection but may run again once they let one term pass.