The 1987 Philippine Constitution And Why It Matters

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The Philippines has had several constitutions but the constitution that is in force today is the 1987 Constitution. The 1987 Constitution is an important, legally binding document.

The Philipines 1987 Consitution is an essential document for the Filipino people as it outlines their rights while simultaneously limiting the powers of the government. The Consitution helps ensure a stable rule of law within Filipino Society. When you read the 1987 Constitution, you can see that many parts were borrowed or taken from the U.S. Constitution.

Table of Contents

The 1987 Philippines Constitution

Today, the Philippines has a constitution that was ratified in 1987. This constitution came into effect after what is known as the People’s Power Revolution, the EDSA Revolution, or the February Revolution.

The People’s Power Revolution was a series of demonstrations in mainly Metro Manila in 1986. As a result of these revolutions, President Corazon Aquino came into power in the Philippines.

When President Aquino came into power, she had three choices regarding the constitution. She could restore the Filipino 1935 Constitution, Reform the 1973 Constitution or pass a new constitution. She chooses the latter or passing a new constitution.

The Philippines 1987 Constitution is similar to the U.S. Constitution in that it calls for three branches of government – Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

Here is what each of these government branches means in the Philippines:

  • Executive Branch – This branch is headed by the president and his or her appointed cabinet members.
  • Legislative – The Senate and House of Representatives will enact the laws. The legislative has 24 senators, and the House is represented by district representatives.
  • Judicial – The Judicial consists of the Supreme Court and lower courts

The three branches of the government are based on the U.S. Constitution. Each of the branches shares equal power, and all have limited control.

The limits of power were instituted to safeguard against abusing martial law. The President can still declare martial law, but the martial law will automatically expire after 60 days; Congress can accept or reject martial law rule.

Inside the 1987 Philippines Consitution

The Filipino 1987 constitution is essential as it sets out the rights of the individuals along with the government’s power and authority. The constitution helps hold Filipino society together and ensures it doesn’t go into chaos. The Philippines’ 1987 Constitution is essential as it helps to add stability to the Philippines while also outlining the rights of individuals.

The Philippines 1987 Constitution consists of several sections. The summary for each of these sections are:

  • Preamble – The Preamble introduces the Constitution. It follows many past Philippine constitutions, including an appeal to God.
  • Article 1 – National Territory – The national territory section lists the Philippines’ territory, including the archipelago and all the islands and waters inside the territory.
  • Article II – Declaration of Principles and States Policies – The principles and state policies section list the basic social and political creed of the Philippines. Most notable is that the Philippines is a democratic state, and the family is the basic unit of the state.
  • Article III – Bill of Rights – The Bill of Rights talks about protecting the people against the abuse of power by the state. This is very similar to many of the provisions in the U.S. Constitution.
  • Article IV – Citizenship – The citizenship section defines who is a Filipino citizen and how a person can become a Filipino citizen.
  • Article V – Suffrage – The suffrage section covers who has the right to vote and how.
  • Article VI – Legislative Department – The legislative section is about the rights of Congress and the House of Representatives and their powers.
  • Article VII – Executive Department – The executive section provides for the power of the president, vice president, and others. It also covers terms of office and election issues.
  • Article VIII – Judicial Department – The judicial section talks about the power and role of the Filipino Supreme Court and lower courts.
  • Article IX – Constitutional Commissions – The Constitution Commission establishes three constitutional commissions independent of the three branches of government.
  • Article X – Local Government – The local government section talks about the autonomy and laws for the local government that is not already listed in the Local Government Code.
  • Article XI – Accountability of Public Officers – The public officer’s section establishes the Office of Ombudsman responsible for investigating and prosecuting corruption or other issues of government officials.
  • Article XII – National Economy and Patrimony – Article XII lays down the goals and objectives of the Filipino government in terms of wealth distribution and jobs – essentially, how to elevate the lives and livelihoods of the Filipino population.
  • Article XIII – Social Justice and Human Rights – Article XIII is about the government giving priority to protecting and enhancing the rights of the Filipino people.
  • Article XIV – Education, Science, and Technology, Arts, Culture, and Sports – Article XIV outlines how the states will oversee and supervise all these areas of life in the Philippines.
  • Article XV – The Family – Article XV recognizes the Family unites the basic foundation of the nation and gives protections for and within the family unit.
  • Article XVI – General Provisions – Article XVI contains general provisions such as the National flag, Armed Forces Media, and Advertising. It also includes the doctrine of sovereign immunity.
  • Article XVII – Amendments or Revisions – Article XVII establishes how the Constitution can be amended or revised.
  • Article XVIII – Transitory Provisions – Article XVII establishes a way to allow a clean transition to a new constitution.

The Philippines’ 1987 constitution also includes other provisions. It is a lengthy document that covers many aspects of Filipino society and life.

Revising or Changing the Philippines 1987 Constitution

It is challenging to revise or amend the Philippines’ 1987 constitution. Because of this, the constitution has received some criticism within the Philippines.

The Constitution only outlines three methods or possible ways to amend or change the constitution. The three methods are:

  • Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass)
  • Constitutional Convention (Con- Con)
  • People’s Initiative

For these three methods to change the constitution, ratification must require a majority vote in the National Referendum. Since President Aquino, several administrations have attempted to amend the 1987 Constitution but could not.

Today there continue to be groups trying to change the 1987 Constitution. But time will only tell if these groups can succeed in changing the constitution where others have continued to fail.

10 Interesting Facts About the Philippines and Philippine Law

The Philippines, an archipelago of over 7,000 islands, is not just renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and warm-hearted people but also for its unique and fascinating legal system.

Here are ten intriguing facts that shed light on both the country and its legal framework:

  1. Origin of the Name: The Philippines was named in honor of King Philip II of Spain during the Spanish colonial era. The archipelago was previously known by various names such as “Las Islas Felipinas” and “San Lázaro.”
  2. Three Branches of Government: The Philippine political system is divided into three branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary. The 1987 Philippine Constitution ensures the separation and equilibrium of powers among these branches.
  3. Batasang Pambansa Complex: The country’s legislative branch, where the Congress convenes, is located in the Batasang Pambansa Complex. The term ‘Batasang Pambansa’ translates to ‘National Assembly.’
  4. Civil Law Tradition with Common Law Features: While the Philippines primarily follows the civil law tradition due to its Spanish colonial heritage, it has incorporated features of the common law system (from American colonization), especially in its procedural laws.
  5. Rizal Law: Republic Act No. 1425, better known as the Rizal Law, mandates that all schools in the Philippines include the study of national hero José Rizal’s life, works, and writings in their curricula. This ensures that every Filipino student understands Rizal’s role in the country’s fight for independence.
  6. National Language and Official Languages: While Filipino is the national language, both Filipino and English are official languages. Notably, legal proceedings and legislation are primarily conducted in English.
  7. Unique Marriage Annulment Laws: Unlike many countries, the Philippines does not have divorce for its Catholic populace. Instead, annulment is the legal recourse for couples seeking to dissolve their marriage. This means the marriage is declared null and void from the beginning as if it never existed.
  8. Longest Christmas Celebration: The Philippines holds the distinction of celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season. Starting as early as September and extending until early January, this fact, while cultural, has legal backing since many of the holiday-related activities and breaks are enshrined in Philippine laws and regulations.
  9. The Barangay Justice System: Before taking certain disputes to court, the involved parties are often required to undergo a barangay (smallest administrative division) conciliation process. This system emphasizes community-based dispute resolution.
  10. Death Penalty Abolished… Twice: The Philippines has had a tumultuous relationship with the death penalty. Initially abolished in 1987, it was reinstated in 1993, only to be abolished again in 2006. As of my last update in January 2022, the Philippines remains a country without capital punishment.

The Philippines is a mosaic of history, culture, and law. Its legal system, like its islands, offers a diverse blend of traditions, influences, and practices, making it a captivating subject of study and understanding.

Listen To Our Podcast About The Constitutional Chronicles: Navigating The 1987 Philippine Constitution Below or By clicking here.

 Constitutional Chronicles: Navigating The 1987 Philippine Constitution

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of the 1987 Constitution for the Filipino people?

The 1987 Constitution is essential for the Filipino people as it outlines their rights and limits the powers of the government, ensuring a stable rule of law within Filipino society.

How does the 1987 Constitution protect the rights of the Filipino people?

The 1987 Constitution includes provisions that protect various rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. It also guarantees due process, equal protection under the law, and the right to a fair trial.

What are some examples of the rights protected by the 1987 Constitution?

The 1987 Constitution protects a range of rights, including the right to life, liberty, and property; freedom of expression, religion, and the press; the right to education, healthcare, and a clean environment; and the right to participate in governance.

How does the 1987 Constitution limit the powers of the government?

The 1987 Constitution establishes a system of checks and balances by separating powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. It also sets specific limits on the exercise of power and provides mechanisms for accountability.

How does the 1987 Constitution contribute to a stable rule of law in Filipino society?

The 1987 Constitution provides a legal framework that ensures stability and predictability in the governance of the Philippines. It establishes the rule of law, which promotes fairness, justice, and the protection of individual rights.

How does the 1987 Constitution compare to the U.S. Constitution?

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines drew inspiration from the U.S. Constitution and contains similarities in certain provisions. However, it also reflects the unique historical, cultural, and social context of the Philippines.

Can the 1987 Constitution be amended?

Yes, the 1987 Constitution can be amended. The process of amendment requires the approval of Congress, either through a constituent assembly or a constitutional convention, and subsequent ratification by the Filipino people through a plebiscite.

What are the key features of the 1987 Constitution?

The 1987 Constitution features a Bill of Rights that protects individual freedoms, a system of checks and balances, the establishment of a presidential form of government, and provisions for social justice, among other important aspects.

Why is Filipino spelled with an ‘F’ when the Philippines is spelled with a ‘Ph’?

When people look at the “a”e Filipino, it c”n “ecome confusing because it is spelled with “F” and not with a “Ph” like the Philippines is.

By clicking he’e‘ you can learn more by reading Why is Fi’ip’no spelled with an ‘F’ when the Philippines is spelled with a ‘Ph’?.

10 Myths Debunked About The Philippines

Some of the myths aboutit’s Philippines are that doctors and nurses can have tattoos, if it’s okay to drink the tap water and whether or not you are allowed to wear shorts in the Philippines. Also, there are some myths that people think everyone in the Philippines is skinny, has no diabetes, and vegetables are one of the main staples of their diet.

You can learn more by reading 10 Myths Debunked About The Philippines by clicking here.

Anita L Hummel
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One response to “The 1987 Philippine Constitution And Why It Matters”

  1. nimabi Avatar

    Thank you very much for sharing, I learned a lot from your article. Very cool. Thanks. nimabi