Branches of the Philippine Government: Separation of Powers

The Philippines is a democratic and republican state. As a republican state, sovereignty resides in the People and all government authority emanates from them (Constitution, Art. III, Sec. 1). “A Republican form of government rests on the conviction that sovereignty should reside in the people and that all government authority must emanate from them. It abhors the concentration of power on one or a few, cognizant that power, when absolute, can lead to abuse, but it also shuns a direct and unbridled rule by the people, a veritable kindling to the passionate fires of anarchy. Our people have accepted this notion and decided to delegate the basic state authority to principally three branches of government — the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judiciary – each branch being supreme in its own sphere but with constitutional limits and a firm tripod of checks and balances .”

The Executive Branch

The executive branch is headed by the President, who is elected by a direct vote of the people. The term of office of the President, as well as the Vice-President, is six (6) years. As head of the Executive Department, the President is the Chief Executive. He represents the government as a whole and sees to it that all laws are enforced by the officials and employees of his department. He has control over the executive department, bureaus and offices. This means that he has the authority to assume directly the functions of the executive department, bureau and office or interfere with the discretion of its officials. Corollary to the power of control, the President also has the duty of supervising the enforcement of laws for the maintenance of general peace and public order. Thus, he is granted administrative power over bureaus and offices under his control to enable him to discharge his duties effectively.

The President exercises general supervision over all local government units and is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Under the existing Presidential form of government, the executive and legislative branches are entirely separate, subject only to the mechanisms of checks and balances. There were attempts to amend the Constitution in order to shift to a parliamentary system, but these moves were struck down by the Supreme Court. The most recent petition that reached the Supreme Court is Lambino vs. COMELEC.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch, which has the authority to make, alter or repeal laws (see also the definition of “legislative power“), is the Congress. “Congress is vested with the tremendous power of the purse, traditionally recognized in the constitutional provision that ‘no money shall be paid out of the Treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation made by law.’ It comprehends both the power to generate money by taxation (the power to tax) and the power to spend it (the power to appropriate). The power to appropriate carries with it the power to specify the amount that may be spent and the purpose for which it may be spent.

Under a bicameral system, the Congress is composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate is composed of twenty-four (24) Senators, who are elected at large by the qualified voters of the Philippines. The term of office of the Senators is six (6) years.

The House of Representatives, on the other hand, is composed of not more than two hundred and fifty (250) members, unless otherwise fixed by law, who are elected from legislative districts apportioned among the provinces, cities and the Metropolitan Manila area, and those who are elected through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations. The term of office of members of the House of Representatives, also called “Congressmen,” is three (3) years.

The Judiciary

Judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law. The judiciary has the “moderating power” to “determine the proper allocation of powers” between the branches of government. When the “judiciary mediates to allocate constitutional boundaries, it does not assert any superiority over the other departments; it does not in reality nullify or invalidate an act of the legislature, but only asserts the solemn and sacred obligation assigned to it by the Constitution to determine conflicting claims of authority under the Constitution and to establish for the parties in an actual controversy the rights which that instrument secures and guarantees to them.” In the words of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno: “The Judiciary may not have the power of the sword, may not have the power of the purse, but it has the power to interpret the Constitution, and the unerring lessons of history tell us that rightly wielded, that power can make a difference for good.”

While Congress has the power to define, prescribe and apportion the jurisdiction of the various courts, Congress cannot deprive the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction provided in the Constitution. No law shall also be passed reorganizing the judiciary when it undermines the security of tenure of its members. The Supreme Court also has administrative supervision over all courts and the personnel thereof, having the power to discipline or dismiss judges of lower courts.

The Supreme Court is composed of a Chief Justice and fourteen Associate Justices. It may sit en banc or, in its discretion, in divisions of three, five or seven members. A member of the Supreme Court must be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, at least forty (40) years of age and must have been for fifteen (15) years or more a judge of a lower court or engaged in the pratice of law in the Philippines. Justices hold office during good behavior until they reach the age of seventy (70) years or become incapacitated to discharge the duties of their office.

* Sources: Francisco, Jr. vs. House of Representatives, G.R. No. 160261, 10 November 2003, main decision and the separate opinions of Justices Vitug and Corona; Ople vs. Torres, G.R. No. 127685, 23 July 1998.

6 thoughts on “Branches of the Philippine Government: Separation of Powers

  1. arias_louie

    “The Judiciary may not have the power of the sword, may not have the power of the purse, but it has the power to interpret the Constitution”

    A very dangerous doctrine….

    Sa pag-iinterpret kasi sa ating Constitution. Ang equivalent nito ay:

    a.) Lawmaking – Gumagawa ka ng Batas

    Sole duties and functions dapat ng Legislative Branch. Hindi ng Judicial Branch.

    b.) Amendments – binabago mo ang mga nakasulat o probisyon sa ating Constitution.

    Sole duties and functions dapat ng Constitutional Convention (Con Con or Constitutional Assembly (Con Ass) Delegates. Hindi ng Judicial Branch.

    Ganito tuloy yung nangyari….

    1.) Ni-legalized nito ang appointment ni then Associate Justice Renato Corona as Chief Justice ng ating Supreme Court.

    Kahit na ito ay labag sa ating 1987 Constitution ARTICLE VII Section 15

    “Two months immediately before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his term, a President or Acting President shall not make appointments, except temporary appointments to executive positions when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.”

    2.) Sinang-ayunan o inaprobahan nito ang pagkakaroon ng panibagong Distrito ng Camarines Sur para lang maging Congressman ang anak ni Gloria Macapagal Arroyo na si Dato Arroyo.

    Kahit na hindi umabot ang Distrito nito sa at least 250,000 Population na nakasaad sa ating 1987 Constitution ARTICLE VI Section 5. (3)

    “Each legislative district shall comprise, as far as practicable, contiguous, compact, and adjacent territory. Each city with a population of at least two hundred fifty thousand, or each province, shall have at least one representative.”

    3.) Ang hindi nito pagsunod sa nakasulat o probisyon sa ating 1987 Constitution ARTICLE XI Section 17

    “A public officer or employee shall, upon assumption of office and as often thereafter as may be required by law, submit a declaration under oath of his assets, liabilities, and net worth. In the case of the President, the Vice-President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Commissions and other constitutional offices, and officers of the armed forces with general or flag rank, the declaration shall be disclosed to the public in the manner provided by law.”


    Section 8 of RA 6713, also known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

    Kaya panukala ko….

    Kapag natuloy yung pagbabago sa ating Constitution o Charter Change.

    Bago ma-ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite ang ating magiging Constitution.

    Ibigay na dapat ang Interpretation nito.

    – Interpretation sa lahat ng mga nakasulat o probisyon sa ating Constitution.

    At ang mangyari sa ating Judiciary….

    Taga- apply na lamang ito sa Interpretation ng mga nakasulat o probisyon sa ating Constitution.

    Hindi na ito mag-interpret. Kasi nga may Interpretation na.

    Kasi iba yung Interpretation ng ating Judiciary (Supreme Court) sa Interpretation ng mga Framers ng ating 1987 Constitution.

    At mas tama ang Interpretation ng ng mga Framers ng ating 1987 Constitution kaysa sa ating Judiciary (Supreme Court).

    Syempre sila yung nakaisip, sa kanila galing yung idea at yung mga nakasulat sa ating 1987 Constitution.

    Syempre sila (Framers) yung tama.

    At paara mawala na rin ang kalituhan sa kung ano talaga ang interpretation ng mga nakasulat o probisyon sa ating Constitution



    Gusto ko rin baguhin ang Theory ni Montesquieu

    – “Separation of state powers: executive; legislative; judicial”

    Di ba sa Theory ni Montesquieu


    Who implement or execute the law.


    Who make, pass, and repeal the law.


    Who interprets and applies the law.

    Sa akin naman….


    Who implement or execute the law.


    Who make and pass the law. But before it became the law. It should be Interpreted.

    Also it can repeal the law


    Who applies the interpretation of the law.

    (Yun lang… Thanks for reading. To God alone be all the Glory sa naisip ko. Dahil binigyan Niya ako ng Wisdom at Idea. To Reform our Constitution. Especially sa pag-reform sa Separation of powers ng ating Government)


  2. arias_louie

    Innulit ko….

    Kapag natuloy yung pagbabago sa ating Constitution o Charter Change.

    Before ma-ratified by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite ang ating magiging Constitution.

    Ibigay na dapat ang Interpretation nito.

    – Interpretation sa lahat ng mga nakasulat o probisyon sa ating Constitution.

    Dapat may Interpretation na ito.

    Isulat na dapat ng magiging Framers (Constitutional Convention [ConCon] or Constitutional Assembly [ConAss] Delegates) ang Interpretation sa lahat ng mga nakasulat o probisyon sa ating magiging Constitution.

    Hindi yung Supreme Court pa ang mag-interpret nito.

    Katulad ngayon….

    Yung sa ating 1987 Constitution.

    Kailangan pa itong i-interpret ng ating Supreme Court.

    Sa panukala ko naman.

    Hindi na ito (mga nakasulat o probisyon sa ating Constitution) i-interpret ng ating Supreme Court.

    Kasi nga may Intepretation na ito.

    Para na hindi na maulit yung nangyari:


    Ang magiging duty and function na lang ng ating Supreme Court ay sundin at i-apply ang ating magiging Constitution at Interpretation nito.

    – Interpretation na galing sa mga Framers ng ating magiging Constitution.


  3. Jew

    Wrong ka Mr. Arias, hndi nmn tlga interpretation ang main purpose ng judiciary kundi application lamang, it just so happen that there are ambiguities sa terms & wordings kaya nila iniinterpret, if you already took the statutory construction, you can get what I mean. Thanks.

  4. James Patrick

    sir may ask for the moral responsibility of the state leaders in securing and promoting the morality in the State. thanks.


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