The Constitution of the Philippines recognizes the importance of local governments. It provides as a policy that "the State shall guarantee and promote the autonomy of the local government units -- especially the barangays -- to ensure their fullest development as self-reliant communities."

Local governments constitute the foundation of the entire structure of the government. The acts of the local government units affect the ordinary citizen more directly than those of the national government. The average citizen has more and closer contacts with the local governments and their agencies than with the national or provincial government, and is more concerned with the local affairs than with those of the national or provincial in scope.

The President of the Philippines exercises supervision over the whole country. But for purposes of administrative control, the Philippines is divided into units of different sizes -- known as political subdivisions. These are provinces, municipalities, cities, and barangays. These political subdivisions enjoy autonomy, especially in local affairs. But, they are also under the general supervision of the Chief Executive, through the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). These local governments are agencies of the national government in the matter of collection of taxes, law enforcement, and other governmental functions, which may be delegated by the national government to these local governments.


The provincial government takes care of the functionso which affect the people of a certain province. The province is the largest political unit in the Philippines. It possess the following powers --- 1) to acquire and transfer real and personal properties, 2) to enter into contracts, including those incurring obligations, which are expressly provided by law; and 3) to exercise such other rights and incur such other obligations as are expressly auhtorized by law.

There are 77 provinces in the Philippines. They are classified according to their average income for five consecutive years. The hiigher the income of the provice, the higher is its classification. The salaries that can be paid to the provincial officials depend upon the class to which it belongs. Higher salaries are paid to the officials of the higher-class provinces. A province elects its executives -- the governor, vice governor, and the members of the provinciial board (vocales). There are three vocales in the first, second, and third class provinces, and two in the other classes of provinces. The rest of the provincial officials -- like the provincial treasurer, provincial assessor, district auditor, judges of the Regional Trial courts, provincial fiscal, division superintendent of schools, district health officer, district engineer, and register of deeds -- are all appointed by the corresponding deparments of the national government. However, under the New Local Government Code, they are the administrative control of the provincial governor. The election of the governor, vice governor, and members of the provincial board takes place on the Second Tuesday of November of the election year. They hold office for three years. They cannot serve for more than three consecutive terms. The provincial governor exercises general supervisory powers over the entire province. He also makes known to the people of his province all laws and orders of the government, especially those which directly concern them and sees to it that they are faithfully carried out. He acquints himself with the conditions of the municipalities comprising the province and advises local officials in matters affecting their official work.

The provincial board is the law making body of the province, with the provincial governor serving as the presiding officer. Some of its most important functions are as follows: a) it passes laws for the welfare of the municipalites and cities within its jurisdiction; b) it prepares andapproves the provincial budget; c) it appropriates money for provincialpurposes; d) it exercises the power of eminent domain; and e) it provides for the maintenance of equipment and buildings for provincial purposes. The board holds a regular weekly meeting upon a day fixed by it. Special meetings, however, may be called by the provincial governor on any day.


Each province is composed of municipalities commonly called towns. The municipality is a public corporation created by an act of congress and is governed by the Municipality Law, which defines its duties and powers. Being public corporations, municipalities can sue or be sued in court; enter into contracts; acquire and hold real and personal properties for municipal purposes; and exercise such other powers as are granted by law. Municipalities are classified according to their average annual income for the last four fiscal years. There are 1,540 municipalities in the Philippines. They are autonomous units of government and have elective and appointive officials. The elective officials are the municipal mayor, vice mayor, and councilors. They are elected by the qualified voters for a term of three years. They cannot serve for more than three consecutive terms. The appointive officials are the municipal secretary, treasurer, justice of the peace, and chief of police. The municipal mayor is the chief executive officer of the town. His main functions are: 1) to execute all laws and municipal ordinances; 2) to supervise the administration of the town; 3) to issue orders relative to the maintenance of peace and order; 4) to preside over the meetings of the municipal council; and 5) to recommend measures to the municipal council aimed at the improvement of the social and economic conditions of the people. The municipal councils is the lawmaking body of the town and is composed of the mayor -- who is the chairman of the council -- vice mayor, and the councilors. The number of councilors for each municipality depends upon the class to which the municipality belongs. Each councilor is in-charge of a village or barangay. Some of the more important mandatory powers of the municipal council are the following: 1) to fix the salaries of all municipal offices and employees, except the treasurer, teachers in the public schools, and staff of national government agencies assigne to the municipality; 2) to provide for expenses necessary to carry out the functions of the municipality; 3) to provide for buildings adequate for municipal uses, including school houses; 4) to provide for the levy and collection of taxes, fees, and charges as sources of municipal revenue; and 5) to establish and maintain an efficient police department and an adequate municipal jail.


The chartered city is also a unit of local administration. It is created by a special law which serves as its charter. The charter is the constitution of the city. The charter creates the city, defines its boundaries, provides its system of government, and defines the powers and duties of its officials. A city or any of its officials cannot perform any official act which is not permitted by its charter. The city elective officials are the mayor, vice mayor, and the members of the board of councilors. They are elected for a term of three years. They cannot serve for more than three consecutive terms. The mayor is the executive official of the city, aided by the appointive heads of the various departments. The vice mayor is the presiding officer of the board. And the city courts exercise judicial functions. The lawmaking body of the city is council. Among its important functions are as folows: 1) to levy and collect taxes in accordance with law; 2) to enact ordinances; 3) to provide for public workds constructions and for the maintenance of a local police force; 4) to establish fire zones within the city and to regulated the type of building which may be constructed within each zone; and 5) to provide for the protection of the inhabitants from public calamities and to provide relied in times of emergency. There are 67 chartered cities in the Philippines.


Each municipality or city is composed of a number of villages or barangays. The barangays are the smallest units of local government in the Philippines. They are governed by the Barrio Charter. The elective officials of the barangays are the Barangay Captain and the Barangay Councilors. As chief executive, the barangay captain is its recognized leader. He enforces all the laws and ordinances applicable to his constituency. He may organize fire brigades, preside over all meetings both of the barangay council and assembly, organize groups of citizens to fight criminality and brigandage, and approve all payments from barangay funds. He also sings all contacts in which the barangay is a party. There are 41, 945 barangays in the Philippines. They are public corporations and so, they can sue and be sued in court; can enter into contracts, can acquire and hold all kinds of property; and can exercise such powers or perform such acts as are provided by law. 

Copyright © 1997 PHNet
Unit 112 Chateau Verde Condo, E. Rodriguez Ave., Bagong-ilog, Pasig City,
Tel: (632) 671-8046/48 Fax: (632) 671-8047

comments and suggestions? mail the webmaster!
All logos and trademarks are the property of their respective owners.