President of the Philippines
The President of the Philippines (Filipino: Pangulo ng Pilipinas) is the head of state and the chief executive of the government of the Republic of the Philippines.
The line of Philippine Presidents is considered to be continuous in spite of many changes in constitution of the Philippines and forms of government. While Emilio Aguinaldo is traditionally considered to be the first, and youngest ever, Philippine president, the revolutionary First Philippine Republic, formed after the Philippine revolution, was not recognized by other states at that time (although it is now considered to be the first Southeast Asian republic). Following the Philippine-American War, the United States created the Philippine Commonwealth, supposed to be a transitional government in preparation for full independence. Manuel L. Quezon, the first President of the Commonwealth and the first Philippine President elected into office, was considered by the United States to be the first Philippine President of the first Philippine Republic.
At one point, the Philippines had two presidents heading two governments at the same time. This occurred during World War II, when Japan occupied the country. One president was Manuel L. Quezon heading the Commonwealth government-in-exile in America (considered de jure) and the other was Jose P. Laurel, who had been instructed by Quezon to remain in Manila, heading the Japanese-sponsored republic (considered de facto). Laurel, however, was not formally recognized as a Philippine president until the Diosdado Macapagal administration. However, as Laurel's "puppet" republic was formally rejected after World War II and none of its statutes or actions were considered legal or binding, it would be inaccurate to consider Laurel the successor of Osmeña or vice versa. Laurel, the first and only President of the Second Republic, had no predecessor and successor, while Sergio Osmeña was Quezon's successor and Manuel Roxas was Osmeña's successor.
Ferdinand Marcos (1965-1986) was the President with the longest term (over twenty years) and the most reelections (four, counting the 1986 snap elections). He was first elected in 1965 to serve a four-year term. Since under the 1935 Constitution, a President may run for reelection but may not serve for more than 8 years, he was reelected in 1969, to serve until 1972. Before his term ended, however, he declared Martial Law in 1972, which allowed him to stay in power until it was lifted in 1981. In 1973, however, he called for a Constitutional Convention, which produced the 1973 Constitution, under which the President has a six-year term but has no limitation on reelection. In 1981, Marcos was reelected for the third time. He called for a snap election in 1986 to allay escalating public discontent, and was again proclaimed the winner. However, he was ousted shortly afterwards by the EDSA People Power Revolution. To date, he is also the last Senate President to be elected President of the Philippines (the first Senate President to be elected Philippine President was Manuel L. Quezon, who served the second longest term (nine years, from 1935 until his death in 1944) and the second most number of reelections (he was reelected twice).
Marcos’s successor was the Philippines’ first female President, Corazon Aquino, installed as President by the EDSA Revolution of 1986. The second female President is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also installed as President by the so-called EDSA Dos which ousted Joseph Estrada. Estrada is now the first Philippine President to be tried and convicted of plunder committed during his term of office.
Presidents of the Philippines: Past to Present
First Republic (Malolos Republic) (First Dictatorship) (1899-1901)
Emilio Aguinaldo (January 23, 1899-April 1, 1901)
Commonwealth of the Philippines (American Era) (1935-1944)
Manuel L. Quezon (November 15, 1935 – August 1, 1944)
Second Republic (Japanese Occupation) (1943-1945)
Jose P. Laurel (October 14, 1943 – August 14, 1945) (de facto)
Commonwealth (Restored) (1944-1946)
Sergio Osmeña (August 1, 1944 – May 28, 1946)
Third Republic (Post-American Era) (1946-1972)
Manuel Roxas (May 28, 1946 – April 15, 1948)
Elpidio Quirino (April 17, 1948 – December 30, 1953)
Ramon Magsaysay (December 30, 1953 – March 17, 1957)
Carlos P. Garcia (March 18, 1957 – December 30, 1961)
Diosdado Macapagal (December 30, 1961 – December 30, 1965)
Ferdinand E. Marcos (December 30, 1965 – February 25, 1986)
Fourth Republic (The New Society) (Second Dictatorship) (1972-1986)
Ferdinand E. Marcos (December 30, 1965 – January 20, 1985)
Fifth Republic (Post-EDSA Revolution) (1986-Present)
Corazon C. Aquino – (January 20, 1985 – January 20, 1993)
Fidel V. Ramos (January 20, 1993 – January 20, 1997)
Joseph Ejercito Estrada (January 20, 1997 – January 20, 2001)
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (January 20, 2001 - June 30, 2010)
Benigno S. Aquino III (June 30, 2010 - June 30, 2016)
Rodrigo Roa Duterte (June 30, 2016 - June 30, 2022)
The Presidential Office
Qualifications and Election
According to the 1987 constitution, to be able to run for the office of President of the Philippines, a person must be a registered voter, at least forty years of age, able to read and write, a Filipino citizen by birth, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately before the election. The president is directly elected by plurality vote of qualified voters in an election held on the second Monday of May. Election returns are duly certified by each province or city and transmitted to Congress, which canvasses the votes in joint session. In cases when two or more candidates have an equal number of votes, Congress, voting separately, shall choose one of them by majority vote. In case of disputes, the Supreme Court, sitting en banc, shall be the sole judge of all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications of the President.
The President of the Philippines takes his/her oath on the noon of the 30th of June following the Presidential election.
Traditionally, the Vice President takes his/her oath first, a little before noon. This is for two reasons: first, according to protocol, no one follows the President, and second, to establish a constitutionally authorized successor even before the President takes oath. During the Quezon inauguration, however, the Vice President and the legislature were sworn in after the President had taken oath first, to symbolize a new start.
As soon as the President takes the oath of office, a 21-gun salute is fired to honor the new head of state, and the presidential anthem "We Say Mabuhay" is played. Then the President delivers the inaugural address. Afterwards, the president then takes formal possession of the official residence, and inducts the cabinet into office.
According to tradition, the President of the Philippines is inaugurated into office in one of three places: at Barasoain Church in Malolos City, Bulacan; in front of Congress; or at Quirino Grandstand. On June 30, 2004, however, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delivered her pre-inaugural address at Quirino Grandstand in Manila, took her oath of office at Cebu City before then Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., then the next day held the first Cabinet meeting at Butuan City in Mindanao, with the intention of celebrating her inauguration at three places symbolizing the three main island groups in the country: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
In the past, elections were held in November and the President's inauguration was held on December 30, or Rizal Day. Thus, when the inauguration was usually held at Quirino Grandstand, the new President could see the monument to the national hero whose death anniversary was being celebrated that day. However, Ferdinand Marcos transferred the dates of the elections and the inauguration to May and June, and that is what is now being followed.
According to tradition, the proper attire to wear to an inaugural is traditional formal Filipino clothing, such as the terno, baro at saya, or what is more commonly called "Filipiniana attire", and the Barong Tagalog.
Term of Office
The president's six-year term begins at noon on the thirtieth day of June following the election and ends at noon of the same date six years thereafter. He/she may no longer run for reelection, unless he/she becomes president through constitutional succession and has served for no more than four years as president.
Before entering into the execution of his/her office, the President takes the following oath or affirmation:
In case of affirmation, last sentence will be omitted
Under the 1987 Constitution, the line of presidential succession is the Vice President, Senate President and the Speaker of the House. In case of death, permanent disability, or inability of these officials, Congress shall, by law, provide for the manner of selection of the person who is to act as President until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
At the start of the term
If a President was elected but failed to qualify - the Vice President who was elected will act as President until the President qualifies.
If there was no President elected - the Vice President who was elected will act as President until a President is elected and qualifies.
If at the beginning of the term of the President, the President-elect dies or has become permanently disabled - the Vice President who was elected becomes President.
If neither President and Vice President had been chosen or had qualified, or if both had died or had become permanently disabled - the Senate President or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House, will act as President until a President or a Vice President is chosen and qualifies
During the term
If the President dies, becomes permanently disabled, is removed from office, or resigns—the Vice President becomes the President and serves the unexpired term.
If both the President and the Vice President dies, becomes permanently disabled, is removed from office, or resigns—the President of the Senate or, in case of his inability, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, will act as President until a President or Vice President is elected and qualifies.
If the Acting President dies, becomes permanently disabled, is removed from office, or resigns, Congress shall, by law, provide who shall serve as President. He shall serve until the President or the Vice President shall have been elected and qualified, and be subject to the same restrictions of powers and disqualifications as the Acting President.
Powers and Immunities
The President has the following powers:
The president heads the executive branch of the government, which includes the Cabinet and all executive departments. The executive power, as such, is vested on the President alone.
The president exercises general supervision over local government units.
The president is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and as such, may call out such armed forces necessary to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.
The president may grant reprieves, commutations, and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after conviction by final judgment, except in cases of impeachment. He may also grant amnesty with the concurrence of Congress.
The president may contract or guarantee foreign loans on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines with the prior concurrence of the Monetary Board, and subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
The president appoints, with consent of the Commission on Appointments, members of the Constitutional Commissions, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, or officers of the armed forces from the rank of colonel or naval captain, and other officers whose appointments are vested in the President in the 1987 Constitution. The members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president, based on a list prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council. These appointments do not need the consent of the Commission on Appointments.
The President, as head of state, is immune from suit.
Limitations and Prohibitions
The President's powers and privileges are not absolute. The following are the limitations and prohibitions on the Presidential office:
Aside from his/her salary, the president cannot receive any other emolument from the Philippine Government or any other source.
Unless otherwise provided in the Constitution, the president cannot also hold any other office or employment or directly or indirectly practice any other profession, and cannot participate in any business, or be financially interested in any contract, franchise, or special privilege granted by the Government, including government-owned or controlled corporations or their subsidiaries, during his/her tenure. Also, the President's spouse and relatives by consanguinity or affinity up to the fourth civil degree may not be appointed as members of the Constitutional Commissions, or the Office of the Ombudsman, or as Secretaries, Undersecretaries, chairmen or heads of bureaus or offices, including government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, during the President's tenure.
Starting two months before the next presidential elections and up to the end of his/her term, the president cannot anymore appoint anyone to offices or positions, except temporary appointments to executive positions, and only when continued vacancies therein will prejudice public service or endanger public safety.
Also, suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or declaration of martial law may only be made for a period of 60 days, and within 48 hours after such suspension or declaration the president must submit a written or personal report to Congress, which then has the power to extend or revoke such proclamation or suspension by majority vote of all its members. Furthermore, the Supreme Court may review the sufficiency or legality of such suspension or declaration in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen.
The president may not grant pardon to a person who has been found guilty in an impeachment case.
Any treaty or international agreement entered into by the President must have the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate in order to be valid.
Symbols of Office
Official Coat of Arms
The Official Coat of Arms of the President is as follows:
The Seal of the President of the Philippines consists of the Coat-Of-Arms of the President of the Philippines, and a white circle around the Coat-of-Arms enclosed by two golden-yellow marginal rings. The white circle contains the words "Sagisag ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas" in black letters on the upper arc, while the lower arc is divided by three (3) five-pointed golden-yellow stars.
The Flag of the President of the Philippines consists of the Coat-of-Arms of the President in proper colors, with a rectangular blue background (instead of the circular blue shield) and a fringe of knotted yellow silk. The shade of the blue background conforms to the blue color of the Flag of the Philippines enumerated in Republic Act No. 8491, the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines. 
The official title of the president is the “President of the Philippines”, as mandated in the Constitution of the Philippines and stated in the oath of office. His/her honorific is “His/Her Excellency (Filipino: Ang Kanyang Kamahalan)”. When addressing the President in conversation, he/she may be simply called “Mr. President” or “Madam President.”
The commonly used, but erroneous, term “President of the Republic of the Philippines” dates back to the Japanese-sponsored Second Republic, when President Jose P. Laurel (de facto) wanted to emphasize the difference between his government and the previous Commonwealth (then in exile) under President Manuel L. Quezon (de jure). The constitutionally-mandated title “President of the Philippines” was restored with the restoration of the Commonwealth in 1945 and the subsequent independence of the Philippines.
Then, President Ferdinand E. Marcos proclaimed martial law in 1972. He also wanted to differentiate his government from all those who came before, thus, in the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines, the title “President of the Republic of the Philippines” was again adopted. However, the 1987 Constitution restored the more traditional “President of the Philippines”.
The only person entitled to the honorific "Excellency" is the President of the Philippines. The only way to introduce the President of the Philippines is, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the Philippines." The only way to toast the President is, "Ladies and Gentlemen, to the President of the Philippines," as he/she needs no further introduction by virtue of his/her position.
- Batasan.org. 1987 Constitution of the Philippines (accessed November 19, 2007).
- The Philippine Presidency Project. Article by Manuel L. Quezon III about presidential inaugurations (accessed November 19, 2007).
- Office of the Press Secretary. Executive Order No. 310 signed April 20, 2004 (accessed November 19, 2007).