Philippine government is divided into three coequal branches: the executive,
the legislative, and the judicial. The executive branch consists of the President
and the cabinet, whose main task is to administer the functions of government.
The legislative branch, which enacts laws, consists of the Senate and the House
of Representatives. The judiciary, the branch that ensures
administration of justice, consists of a system of courts, the highest of which
is the Supreme Court.
Philippine democratic tradition,
established under the First Philippine Republic and strengthened
under American rule, was interrupted with the imposition of martial law
by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972. Under the Marcos regime, trade
remained liberalized but consolidated among government-favored oligarchs.
However, this system was toppled 14 years later in 1986 by a bloodless
"People Power" revolt led by several government officials and
tens of thousands of supporters. Corazon C. Aquino was installed as President
and authentic democratic rule was restored.
People Power inspired nonviolent movements for democracy in Burma, South
Africa, Poland, and Chile. Cory Aquino is best remembered for reestablishing
democratic institutions and presiding over the peaceful transfer of power
to her successor. For her determination and courage in leading a democratic
revolution without bloodshed, Cory Aquino received international awards
such as the Time Magazine's Woman of the Year, the Eleanor Roosevelt Human
Rights Award, the United Nations Silver Medal, the Canadian International
Prize for Freedom, the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding,
and the International Leadership Living Legacy Award from the Women's
Fundamental economic reforms were undertaken by the administration of
President Fidel Ramos. The government allowed private sector participation
in sectors previously closed to private investors such as power generation,
road/tollroad development, telecommunications, and transportation infrastructure
through the BOT scheme and its variants. It also broke down monopolies,
cartels, and barriers-to-trade such as tariffs. In a similar manner, the
government significantly reduced state intervention in the market and
encouraged private sector participation in economic and social development,
fostering the development of labor-intensive industries.
President Joseph Ejercito Estrada assumed the presidency with the avowed
intention of addressing the plight of the disadvantaged sectors of society
and building upon the economic reforms began by Ramos. Estrada's term
of office was cut short by mass protests over alleged corruption, which
led to the withdrawal of support by members of his cabinet and the military
and police leadership.
The second People Power revolt in January 2001 was lauded by the Nobel
Peace Prize Laureates Foundation, which presented the Nobel Peace Prize
Award to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, installed as the country's
14th president in place of Estrada, in ceremonies marking the 15th anniversary
of the first People Power.
Pierre Marchand of France, head of the Foundation, praised Filipinos for
once more inspiring the world. The Philippines is the first country to
receive this citation for demonstrating that a peaceful revolt can lead
a smooth transition of power.
On a similar note, an annual training exercise involving US troops, training
and advising their Philippine counterparts to fight terrorism is held
in the small island of Basilan, Mindanao, which is 650 miles away or two
hours flight and an hour boat ride from Metro Manila.