Philippine Election History Before the Spaniards came

Philippine Election History Before the Spaniards came

Philippine Election History
Before the Spaniards came, Philippines had a government called the Barangay System headed by the Datu’s. Election was not a popular that day, but the people have unity. If there is something they need to decide, the council of elders talk about it and the citizens follow the decision of the elders. If the decision of elders was popular long ago, when was the election became popular/trend? As defined by (Gibbins, Eulau, ; Webb, n.d.), election is the formal process of selecting a person for public office or of accepting or rejecting a political proposition by voting. As stated in (ESSAYS WRITERS, n.d.), Hawkesworth ; Kogan (2004) says that elections provide a legitimate means of making political choices and therefore for an election to be effective voters should have a free and genuine choice between at least alternatives. ‘Elections are integral to democratic governance. Through the mechanism of elections, politicians are held accountable for their actions, and are compelled to introduce policies that are reflective of and responsive to public opinion’ (Teehankee). Ideally in the book of (Heywood, 2000)elections serve as a ‘major source of political recruitment, a means of making government, and of transferring government power, a guarantee of representation, and a major determinant of government policy’.
The use of elections in the modern world originated from the gradual emergence of representative government in Europe and North America in the 17th century. The election in the Philippines only started after building the First Republic of the Philippines under Malolos Constitution. However, male members of the rich classes or the Illustrado’s can only vote at that time. For example, Emilio Aguinaldo was the first president of the first Philippine Republic on the 23th day of June 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan. In short, it was not the mass who voted Aguinaldo but only the rich people.
‘After establishing total control of the Philippines by 1901, the American colonizers governed their newly acquired territory through the appointive Philippine Commission under the supervision of the United States governor general. The commission performed both executive and legislative functions, with token Filipino participation, until 1907. Soon after, the Americans introduced elections to allow greater participation of the Filipino elite in colonial governance’ (Teehankee). The voters need to be male and no women, a resident of the municipality for 6 months, those who acquire/own real property and those who can read and write English/ Spanish. With this custom, the elites won the election. Taking a cue from the elite experience at limited municipal elections during the last days of Spanish colonial rule, the American colonial government proceeded to lay down the foundation for municipal, provincial and national elections (Paredes, 1989). Initially, the Americans conducted municipal elections in areas pacified under military rule. The first election in the country was held in Baliwag, Bulacan on May 1898 under American supervision. This was followed by four Cavite municipalities, in compliance with General Order No. 40, Series of 1900, issued by the military governor, for establishing municipalities in the Philippine Islands. The military government first granted wide rights of suffrage but later limited the franchise (Teehankee). On July 30, 1907, the first legislative election was administered under the first General Election Law of the Philippines (Act No. 1532) which was enacted on 9th day of January 1907. At that time, the Philippine party politics was characterized by clientelist interactions between the Filipino politicians and their American colonial patrons. ‘The measure of success for an American colonial official was their ability to cultivate and manipulate effective local clients in implementing American policies. Thus, electoral campaigns were neither venues for the discussion of social issues nor mass appeals for voters, but negotiations between national political personalities and the provincial landowning elites’ (Teehankee).
Since independence in 1898 and the ratification of the Philippine Constitution in the First Republic, there have been 15 presidents. Starting with General Emilio Aguinaldo all the way to current president Rodrigo Duterte.
1. Emilio Aguinaldo was first (and only) president of the First Republic (Malolo Republic). He signed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato, creating a truce between the Spanish and Philippine revolutionaries. He was known as the President of the Revolutionary Government and led the Philippines in the Spanish-Philippine War and the American-Philippine War. (Presidents of the Philippines: Their Achievements and Contributions, 2016)
2. Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina Quezon fought for passage of the Tydings–McDuffie Act (1934), which provided for full independence for the Philippines 10 years after the creation of a constitution and the establishment of a Commonwealth government that would be the forerunner of an independent republic. Quezon was elected president of the newly formulated Commonwealth on Sept. 17, 1935. As president he reorganized the islands’ military defense (aided by Gen. Douglas MacArthur as his special adviser), tackled the huge problem of landless peasants in the countryside who still worked as tenants on large estates, promoted the settlement and development of the large southern island of Mindanao, and fought graft and corruption in the government. A new national capital, later known as Quezon City, was built in a suburb of Manila. Quezon was reelected president in 1941. After Japan invaded and occupied the Philippines in 1942, he went to the United States, where he formed a government in exile, served as a member of the Pacific War Council, signed the declaration of the United Nations against the Fascist nations (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. , n.d.) President Quezon was known as the Father of the National Language. President Quezon’s legacy is in the core of the Filipino people, who cherish a tradition of hospitality and solidarity with refugees.
3. Sergio Osmena became the second President of the Philippine Commonwealth after President Quezon died because of tuberculosis. He was a distinguished statesman. He led the country in its initial stage of political maturation by his honest and selfless devotion to public service.
4. Manuel A. Roxas

Works Cited
(n.d.). Retrieved from
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. . (n.d.). Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica:
ESSAYS WRITERS. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Gibbins, R., Eulau, H., & Webb, P. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved from Election Political Science:
Heywood, A. (2000). Key Concepts in Politics. London: Macmillan Press.
Paredes, R. R. (1989). Philippine Colonial Democracy. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
Presidents of the Philippines: Their Achievements and Contributions. (2016, March 9). Retrieved from
Teehankee, J. (n.d.). Electoral Politics in the Philippines. Retrieved April 4, 2018, from


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