Monday, October 12, 2009

Politics and government

he Philippines has a presidential, unitary form of government (with some modification, there is one autonomous region largely free from the national government), where the President functions as both head of state and head of government and is commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president is elected by popular vote to a single six-year term, during which time she or he appoints and presides over the cabinet.

The bicameral Congress is composed of a Senate, serving as the upper house, with members elected to a six-year term, and a House of Representatives, serving as the lower house, with members elected to a three-year term. They are elected from both legislative districts and through sectoral representation.

The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, composed of a Chief Justice as its presiding officer and fourteen associate justices, all appointed by the Philippine President from nominations submitted by the Judicial and Bar Council.

There have been attempts to change the government to a federal, unicameral or parliamentary government beginning in the term of Ramos up to the present administration.

Security and defense

The BRP Rajah Humabon (PF-11) is the current flagship, and largest warship of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

Philippine defense is handled by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which is modeled after the United States armed forces and is composed of three branches: the Air Force, the Army, and the Navy (including the Marine Corps). Civilian security is handled by Philippine National Police under the DILG. In metropolitan areas, groups like the MMDA are in charge local issues, such as traffic.

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the largest separatist organizations, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, are actively engaging the government, seeking more rights and better autonomy for their people. Militant organizations, such as the New People's Army and the Abu Sayyaf Group, have been roaming the provinces, however their presence has decreased in recent years due to successful security provided by the Philippine government.

The Philippines has been an ally of the United States since World War II. It has supported American policies during the Cold War, and has participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars as a result of the country's involvement with SEATO, a group that includes Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. After the start of the War on Terror, there has been additional support from the United States military. The country is currently working with the United States, through a visiting forces agreement, with the intention of ending the insurgency in the country. The Philippines also has a military agreement with Australia. Other important military allies include Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.

International relations

The Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C., United States.

The Philippines' international relations is focused on its ideals of democracy, peace and trade with other nations, as well as the well-being of the 11 million Overseas Filipinos living outside the country. It has aligned itself with several nations around the world including its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors, the United States, the Middle East, the Vatican and other countries.

As a founding and active member of the United Nations, it has been elected several times into the Security Council and is an active participant in the Human Rights Council as well as in peacekeeping missions, particularly in East Timor. Aside from the United Nations, the country is also a founding and active member of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) with the intention of strengthening relations with its Southeast Asian neighbors and promoting economic and cultural growth between member states. It has hosted several summits and is an active contributor on the direction, and policies of the bloc. The current relations it enjoys with other Southeast Asian states is in contrast with its relations with them before the 1970s when it was at war with Vietnam and was heavily disputing Sabah with Malaysia, although misunderstandings between these states continue to exist due to the Spratly Islands.

The Philippines values its relations with the United States, and has actively supported most of the other's policies with regards to foreign affairs As a Major non-NATO ally, the country supported the United States during the Cold War and the War on Terror. It has also committed itself to promote the American ideals of democracy. Despite this history of goodwill, controversy continues to exist between the relations of the two nations, with varying issues such as the Philipine-American War, the Bell Trade Act, the presence of U.S. military bases in Subic Bay and Clark, and the Visiting Forces Agreement. Japan is also treated as an ally due to the Official Development Assistance given to the people, although historical tensions exist due to the plight of comfort women.

Relations with Spain, Europe and Latin America remained positive due to shared interestes. Despite the threat of violence (such as domestic abuse and war) on Overseas Filipino Workers, particularly on domestic workers, relations with Middle Eastern countries (including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) continue to be friendly as proven by the continuous employment of more than two million Overseas Filipinos living there. Recent foreign policy has been mostly about economic relations with its Southeast Asian and Asia-Pacific neighbors.

The Philippines is a member of the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Latin Union, the Group of 24 and the Non-Aligned Movement. It is also seeking to strengthen relations with Islamic countries by campaigning for observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference.

Administrative divisions

Provinces and regions of the Philippines.

The Philippines is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. These are divided into 17 regions, 80 provinces, 120 cities, 1,511 municipalities and 42,008 barangays. In addition, the Section 2 of Republic Act No. 5446 asserts that the country has acquired islands from Sabah formerly (North Borneo).

Region Designation Regional center
Ilocos Region Region I San Fernando, La Union
Cagayan Valley Region II Tuguegarao, Cagayan
Central Luzon Region III San Fernando, Pampanga
CALABARZON Region IV-A Calamba City, Laguna
MIMAROPA Region IV-B Calapan, Oriental Mindoro
Bicol Region Region V Legazpi, Albay
Western Visayas Region VI Iloilo City
Central Visayas Region VII Cebu City
Eastern Visayas Region VIII Tacloban
Zamboanga Peninsula Region IX Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur
Northern Mindanao Region X Cagayan de Oro City
Davao Region Region XI Davao City
SOCCSKSARGEN Region XII Koronadal, South Cotabato
Caraga Region XIII Butuan
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ARMM Cotabato City
Cordillera Administrative Region CAR Baguio
National Capital Region NCR Manila

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