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      Any transition in the
Philippines concerning government modality from presidentialism to
parliamentarism will have to take into account and evaluate carefully the

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Historical Political Antecedents

      The more than 450 years of Philippine history has always been
characterized by a strong unitary government. The island nation considered
Manila as the central seat of power that all government decisions and policies
emanate there from. The Spanish colonial administration, which governs the
country, used Manila as the evidence and symbol of Spanish supremacy over the

      The American regime, which ruled the Philippines in the first
half of the 1900s, retained Manila as the core power center and prepared the
country for a presidential system of government.

      The Commonwealth government amidst the backdrop of the 1935
Constitution promoted centralism as an imperative towards achieving Philippine
independence from the United States.  After
the Philippines was granted independence in July 1946 by the United States, the
country immediately underwent a presidential election in spite of its economy
in shambles after the end of the Second World War.

      Thereafter, from 1935 to 2001, nine presidents were at the helm
of the state maintaining the same government system that was highly centralized
in a unitary presidential model. In these years, the failures of the
presidential system were glaringly evident in the poor performance of the state
and its economy over the years. Corruption in government was a perennial public
issue and public accountability among political leaders and the public
bureaucracy, as then and now an elusive commodity.

      In the recent years, serious discussions on government
modalities have been started by academe, civil society and some concerned
sectors of government. These public discussions on government and governance
were triggered among others by the dissatisfaction over the incremental failure
of government to deliver services and/or perform par public standards and
general expectations. The secessionist movement in Mindanao has likewise
hastened the search for alternative governments, i.e. federalism. 

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