Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Proposed “Democratic Republic of the Philippines” Part III

In my recent posts, I explained and laid down the principles that I am proposing. Now, I am going to give you details on how each branch of the government works - from the President down to the local government.

Before anything else, just to reiterate what I have said in my recent post, the information and principles that I am proposing here are not new, it's a consolidated principles and ideas I came up after an extensive research of different structures of government from around the world, which I think are working in their jurisdiction, and hoping also to apply them in the Philippines. Thus, I do not claim credit for any information featured on this blog, unless otherwise provided.

So, here it goes...

Executive: Philippines is headed by a president, who is elected to a 6-year term by direct popular vote. If no candidate wins an absolute majority, the two leading candidates face each other in a runoff election. The Council of State (cabinet) is headed by the prime minister, who is selected by the parliament.

Legislature: The Philippine parliament, known as the Grand National Assembly, is unicameral and is composed of 219 members elected by direct and popular vote for a term of up to four years.

Judiciary: The Philippine judiciary includes the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, the Chancellor of Justice and administrative courts. The Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman monitor the actions of all public servants from the highest level on down. Both are independent, with authority to investigate the actions of members of Parliament, ministers and even the head of state. The efficiency and high profile of these posts also help prevent abuses.

The courts exercise judicial power, that is, they decide individual cases. The courts are independent: They are bound only by the law in force. No outside party can intervene in the decision-making of the courts.

The district courts deal with criminal and civil cases. The decision of a district court can normally be appealed in a court of appeal. The decisions of the courts of appeal, then, can be appealed in the Supreme Court, provided that the Supreme Court grants leave to appeal.

The administrative courts review the decisions of the authorities. The decisions of the administrative courts can be appealed in the Supreme Administrative Court.

There are also certain special courts. These are the Market Court, the Labour Court, the Insurance Court and the High Court of Impeachment and Green Court.

Local Government

Executive power in each department (province) is exercised by a governor, who is appointed by the country's president. Cities and municipalities which are generally called districts are headed by elected mayors, vice-mayors and district councils (legislative) by direct and popular vote for a term of up to four years.. Communes (barangay) which are the smallest local government units that can exist are headed by Perfects and its seven-member Commoners Assembly (legislative) elected in four-year term.

The President of the Democratic Republic of the Philippines

Ø The President of the Philippines is the Head of State of the Philippines. Supreme executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers, which must enjoy the confidence of Parliament, but the general government of the state affairs rests with a Council of State.

Ø The President is elected directly by the people for a six-year term and may be elected once. The President must be a native-born Filipino citizen.

Ø The president is responsible for foreign policy in cooperation with the cabinet (the Philippine Council of State) where most executive power lies, headed by the Prime Minister.

Ø Responsibility for forming the cabinet is granted to a person nominated by the President and approved of by the Parliament. This person also becomes Prime Minister after formal appointment by the President.

Ø Any minister and the cabinet as a whole, however, must have continuing trust of the parliament and may be voted out, resign or be replaced.

Ø The President upon taking office must renounce any party affiliation, so that he or she may be seen as neutral in regard to party politics.

Duties and powers of the President

Ø Ordering premature parliamentary elections

Upon the proposal of the Prime Minister, the President may, having consulted the parliamentary groups and while Parliament is in session, order the holding of premature parliamentary election. The new Parliament is chosen for a normal four-year term. Parliament itself may decide when to end its session before the election day.

The President declares each Annual Session of Parliament open and closes the last Annual Session. This is done in a speech at each opening and closing ceremony.

Ø Appointing and discharging ministers

The Prime Minister and other members of the government are appointed and discharged by the President. After parliamentary elections or in any other situation where the Government has resigned, the President, taking into account the result of consultations between the parliamentary groups and having heard the view of the Speaker, submits to Parliament his or her nominee for Prime Minister. If confirmed by Parliament with a majority of the votes cast, the President then proceeds to appoint the Prime Minister and other ministers designated by him or her. The President is constitutionally required to dismiss a Government or any minister as soon as they have lost the confidence of Parliament.

Ø Appointing powers

The President appoints:

* Department Governors

* Chancellor of Justice and the Vice-Chancellor of Justice

* Prosecutor-General and the Vice Prosecutor-General

* Permanent Under-Secretaries of State, the highest appointed officials in each ministry

* The Permanent Secretary and Under-Secretaries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the inspector of embassies, and the ambassadors (heads of embassies)

* Heads of central agencies

Ø International relations

The President conducts Philippines’ foreign policy in co-operation with the Government. The provisions of treaties and other international obligations that affect domestic legislation are implemented by acts of Parliament. Otherwise, international obligations are implemented by a Presidential decree. Decisions on war and peace are taken by the President with the assent of Parliament

Ø Legislation

The President must sign and approve all acts adopted by Parliament before they become law. He or she must decide on ratification within three months of receiving the act and may request an opinion from the Supreme Court or the Supreme Administrative Court before giving assent. Should the President refuse assent or fail to decide on the matter in time, Parliament reconsiders the act and can readopt it with a majority of votes cast. The act will then enter into force without ratification. If Parliament fails to readopt the act, it is deemed to have lapsed. Presidential vetoes are generally successful in preventing the bill becoming law

Ø Presidential pardon

In single cases, the President has the power of pardon from any imprisonment, fine, or forfeiture. General pardon requires an Act of Parliament.

Ø Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Forces

The President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Philippine Defense Forces, but may delegate this position to another Filipino citizen. Delegation of the position of Commander-in-Chief is an exception to the principle that the President cannot delegate functions to others. The President commissions officers and decides on the mobilization of the Defense Forces. If Parliament is not in session when a decision to mobilize is taken, it must be immediately convened. As Commander-in-Chief the President has the power to issue military orders concerning general guidelines for military defense, significant changes in military preparedness and the principles according to which military defense is implemented.

Decisions concerning military orders are made by the President in conjunction with the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Defense. The President decides on military appointments in conjunction with the Minister of Defense.

Ø Emergency Powers

The President may issue a decree authorizing the Government to exercise emergency powers for up to one year at a time. The decree must be submitted to Parliament for its approval. The President may declare a state of defense by decree for a maximum of three months initially. If necessary, it can be extended for a maximum of one year at a time. A state of defense may also be declared in a region of the country. The decree must be submitted to Parliament for approval.


Ø The Grand National Assembly (parliament) consists of one chamber with two hundred nine-teen members. The members are elected for a four-year term by direct popular vote under a system of proportional representation.

Ø The Parliament elects the Prime Minister, who is appointed to office by the President. Other Ministers are appointed by the President on the Prime Minister's proposal.

Ø The Prime Minister is the Head of Government of the Philippines.

Prime Minister’s Duties

The Prime Minister directs the work of the Government and oversees the preparation and consideration of Government business. When the Prime Minister is prevented from attending to his or her duties, these are taken over by the Minister designated as Deputy Prime Minister, or, when the Deputy Prime Minister is also prevented, by the Government's longest-serving minister.

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Philippines is a member of the Council of State who can take the position of acting Prime Minister when the actual Prime Minister is temporarily absent.

The Council of State

The Council of State or the Government is Philippines' cabinet; it directs the Government of the Philippines. The Council of State is made up of the Prime Minister and eighteen ministers for the various departments of the central government as well as an ex-officio member, the Chancellor of Justice.

The Philippine Council of State:

  • Prime Minister
  • Minister of Finance
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister for Foreign Trade and Development
  • Minister of Justice
  • Minister of the Interior
  • Minister of Defense
  • Minister of Public Administration and Local Government
  • Minister of Education
  • Minister of Culture and Sport
  • Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Minister of Transport
  • Minister of Communications
  • Minister of Trade and Industry
  • Minister of Social Affairs and Health
  • Minister of Health and Social Services
  • Minister of Labor
  • Minister of the Environment
  • Minister of Housing

An independent judiciary, assisted by two legal officials with broad independent powers--the chancellor of justice and the parliamentary ombudsman--ensured that government institutions adhered to the law.

The Chancellor of Justice of the Philippines

It is a Philippine government official who supervises authorities' (such as cabinet ministers and other public officials) compliance with the law and advances legal protection of Filipino citizens. The Chancellor investigates complaints against authorities' activities and may also start an investigation of his own initiative. The Chancellor attends cabinet meetings as a non-voting member to ensure that legal procedures and regulations are followed. The Chancellor has wide ranging oversight, investigative and prosecutorial powers.

The Chancellor and his deputy are appointed by the President of the Philippines. The Chancellor is appointed for life.

Duties of the Chancellor of Justice

* supervising the lawfulness of the official acts of the Government and the President of the Republic

* providing the President, the Government and the Ministries with information and opinions on legal issues

* supervising that the courts of law, other authorities and civil servants, public employees and other persons obey the law and fulfill their obligations when performing public tasks

* monitoring the implementation of basic rights and liberties and human rights

* supervising the conduct of advocates with the Philippine Bar Association

Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman

The Ombudsman exercises oversight to ensure that public authorities and officials observe the law and fulfil their du­ties in the discharge of their functions. In addition to authorities and officials, the scope of oversight includes also other parties performing public functions. The aim is to ensure good administration and the observance of constitutional and human rights.

This structure of government is just a proposal. Because what I only want is the best for my beloved country. Hence, I am dreaming of a brand new Philippines - progressive, disciplined and free from graft and corruption (or at least minimized).

Anyone is free to react, criticize, comment and suggest in this proposed government. I will be expecting you then...