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Philippines Politics

GOVERNMENT

The Constitution of the Philippines was adopted by a referendum in 1987. According to the Constitution, the President is Head of State and Government as well as Commander-in-Chief and is appointed for a term of six years. The Vice President is also elected and may therefore have a different ideological residence than the Head of State. Since 2016, Rodrigo Duterte has been President.

Political System of Philippines

The legislative power is held by the two chambers of Congress, the House of Representatives with a varying number of members (292 in 2018) and the Senate with 24. The senators are elected for six years and may be re-elected. However, Senate elections are held every three years, and at each ballot, twelve members are appointed. The members of the House of Representatives are elected in direct elections every three years and can sit for a maximum of three terms. Most of the seats are added through direct elections in one-man constituencies, while a smaller number of seats are distributed from party lists to provide representation to disadvantaged groups and parties disadvantaged in the direct elections. The president may veto bills passed by Congress, but this is set aside if two-thirds of the members of both chambers vote in favor of the proposal. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how PH can stand for Philippines.

The Constitution contains several sections that have been added to prevent the abuse of power that occurred during Ferdinand Marco's regime should not be repeated. The President may only sit for a term of office, all members of Congress must report their financial interests when they take office and may not hold any other office while sitting in Parliament.

The country is divided into 17 regions, which in turn are divided into 81 provinces and the metropolitan region. The provinces are governed by elected governors and legislative provincial assemblies. The autonomous region of Muslim Mindanao, which includes five provinces on the island of Mindanao and the Sulu Islands, has as its only region limited regional self-government.

In July 2018, President Duterte called on Congress to revise the country's constitution with the intention of decentralizing power and strengthening both the congressional role and regional self-government. Critics, however, fear that the president will at the same time abolish the limitation on how many terms a president can sit, thereby laying the groundwork for a long-standing authoritarian regime, similar to that exercised by Ferdinand Marcos during his 21 years as president.

Policy

Politics is largely dominated by political dynasties based in a particular province or city. The party system has since been independent and there are no major ideological differences between the parties, which are often formed to support an individual candidate for presidential elections. Party loyalty means little, as many members change parties in connection with a change of power. Before the presidential elections, it is common for parties to split and new political alliances to be concluded. Parties that represent weaker groups have also previously had difficulty asserting themselves. However, a number of new popular movements and voluntary organizations representing these groups have been formed since the early 1980s.

Arroyo made efforts to make peace with the Muslim rebels in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the left-wing guerrilla New People's Army. In 1996, Fidel Ramos had concluded a peace agreement with a larger and smaller hardline Muslim group, Moro's National Liberation Front (MNLF). ("Fun" means "Muslims/Moors"). Arroyo, however, refused to negotiate with the more militant Muslim guerrilla Abu Sayyaf, who has been behind several brutal kidnappings and bomb attacks since 2000, and who has come to be linked to the al-Qaeda terror network, but her decision in early 2002 to seek help from the United States in pursuit of guerrillas were controversial both within the left and among nationalist politicians.

At the same time as the Arroyo government periodically conducted peace talks with armed insurgency, the climate of society deteriorated. In 2007, a government-appointed commission concluded that the majority of the hundreds of journalists, priests and left-wing activists killed since Arroyo came to power had fallen victim to the security forces. The leading armies of leading politicians and wealthy businessmen were also considered to contribute to the increased level of violence. Ahead of the governorship election on the island of Mindanao in 2009, 57 people, including some 30 journalists, were killed by militia organized by one of the candidates with a party affiliation with Arroyo. A large proportion of the victims belonged to a rival candidate's clan.

Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino took office as president in 2010 and was one of the fourth generation of prominent politicians in one of the Philippines' most famous families. His mother Corazon Aquino led the rebellion against Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and was elected president after him. Benigno Aquino represents the Liberal Party, one of the country's oldest political parties.

In the 2016 presidential election, Davao mayor Rodrigo Duterte won by about 38 percent of the vote. He took office as president June 30 of that year. In the election campaign, Duterte joked that he wanted to participate in a gang rape against an Australian missionary who was brutally murdered during a prison riot in 1989. Despite several other cruel statements, Duterte has expressed his support for increased equality and gay rights.

Duterte's populist campaign and unpolished appearance appealed to many voters who were disappointed by the previous government's inability to reduce crime and corruption. Shortly after Duterte took office as president, a violent campaign was launched against alleged drug addicts, and in less than three months around mid-2016, some 3,000 people were killed by police or unknown perpetrators without trial but apparently with the government's consent. At the end of the year, the president also initiated a bill aimed at reintroducing the death penalty. According to Duterte, the purpose of the tough policy is to reduce the country's crime and drug addiction, while at the same time strengthening the image of himself as an effective and fearless leader.

Judiciary

The judicial system consists mainly of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, regional courts and various kinds of local courts. The legal system has Spanish roots (including the Spanish Trade Act of 1886, which was introduced in the Philippines in 1888) but has developed under strong American influence. The Supreme Court's decisions, for example, constitute binding precedents for the lower courts. The legal rules are mainly codified. a civil law from 1950 and a penal law from 1930. The death penalty was abolished in 2006.

Human Rights

The modern history of the Philippines has been characterized by political violence between government forces, Muslim separatists and communists (see History) which led to several serious human rights violations. Periods with an exception allowed each other during the second half of the 20th century and on into the 2000s. During the 2010s, several peace agreements were signed, which were interrupted by new fighting.

Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino, who took office as president in 2010, made the choice to end the long conflicts with Muslim separatists and the left-wing guerrillas, and to reform the judiciary. Extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances have decreased somewhat since Aquino took office, but harassment and violence against political activists, opponents and journalists have not ceased and impunity is still widespread.

The military and police are committing serious human rights violations through torture and extrajudicial executions in the fight against communists, while the armed opposition commits abuses against civilians. In the southern parts of the country, the authorities are harassing the Muslim minority with the pretext of fighting terrorism.

The Philippines' relationship to freedom of expression and press is contradictory. Despite new anti-slander legislation introduced online in 2012, the country is known for providing one of the world's freest internet. At the same time, it is considered to be the country in the world where it is most dangerous to work as a journalist. Self-censorship is widespread as violence and outright murder of journalists occur. Reporters Without Borders places the Philippines at 141 out of 180 in the 2015 Press Freedom Index.

Women are discriminated against in working life and the strong position of the Catholic Church in the country contributes to the violation of the rights of both women and LGBT people in society. Abortion is prohibited, which leads to illegal abortions being carried out to a large extent with serious complications as a result.

In Filipino prisons, men and women are not kept separate and abuses against female interns are extensive. The prisons are often overcrowded and the conditions are unsatisfactory. Information also exists that minors are imprisoned.

Minors are also used as labor and in the sex trade. Although the legislation prohibits all forms of child abuse, their situation is exposed.

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