Types of government

Types of government

The political system in the Philippines while the country was under Spanish Control was largely based on the Feudal system developed in medieval Europe. However, the complications involved with introducing a new political system to a collection of previously self-governing islands meant a more complex approach was needed.

The main government levels in place were:

National government

On a national level, the King of Spain governed via the powerful and highly important Council of the Indies, which was overseen by his representative the Governor-General of the Philippines. This seat of power was based in Manila, where he was responsible for heading the supreme court and Commander-in-chief of the army and navy, as well as acting as the country’s economic planner.

Provincial government

On a more local level, provinces that had been settled by the Spanish were governed by the provincial governor - or the alcalde mayor - while those provinces that weren’t settled were governed by corregidores. Both alcalde mayors and corregidores had a number of rights and privileges when it came to ruling their provinces, including acting as judge, chief of police, tribute collector and capitan-general of the province. While the King did pay their salaries, some of their income would be delivered via “indulto de commercio”, which forced locals to do business with him.

Municipal government

Each pueblo, or town, was headed by a separate governor known as a gobernadorcillo. While the governor of these smaller areas was mainly responsible for smaller administrative duties, larger responsibilities included recruiting and distributing labour and military conscription. While most government roles were given to men of Spanish origin, any native Filipino or Chinese mestizo was allowed to become a gobernadorcillo as long as he was over 25 years of age and was proficient in oral or written Spanish. However, they must also have been a cabeza de barangay - leader or chief of a barangay - for at least four years.

Barrio government

Cabeza de barangay’s were also responsible for governing barrios, which made up the larger barangay’s. These men acted as administrators and took responsibility for maintaining peace and managing communal public works. Once these men had worked in this capacity for 25 years they were made exempt from forced labour.

MLA Citation/Reference

"Types of government". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.