Category Archives: The Philippines

‘Difficult’ cases – The Philippines 1981-1986

This is series of posts that identifies countries that almost comply with the definition of semi-presidentialism that is used in this blog, but which fail to do so on the basis of a certain, sometimes unusual provision, or where the date when semi-presidentialism started can be contested.

Last week, I identified the difficult case of the 1933 Peruvian constitution. The regime in the Philippines from 1981-1986 represents an equally difficult case.

In January 1981 President Marcos ended martial law and a month later the legislature passed a series of amendments to the 1973 constitution. These were then ratified in a referendum in April.

After the changes, the relevant articles of the constitution read as follows:

Art. VII, SEC. 3. The President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years.

Art. VIII, SEC. 13. (1) The Batasang Pambansa [legislature] may withdraw its confidence from the Prime Minister by a majority vote of all its Members … Within ten days from receipt of the written advice of the approval of the motion of no confidence, the President may submit a nominee for a Prime Minister to be elected by the Batasang Pambansa.

Art. IX, SEC. 1. The Prime Minister shall be the head of the Cabinet. He shall, upon the nomination of the President from among the Members of the Batasang Pambansa, be elected by a majority of all the Members thereof.

Art. IX, SEC. 2. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet shall be responsible to the Batasang Pambansa for the program of government approved by the President.

So, here we have almost exactly the same situation as in Peru in 1933. There is an explicit mention of collective cabinet responsibility. This is Art. IX, SEC. 2, which presumably refers to an investiture vote. However, there are absolutely no other details in the constitution about how this mechanism might work. By contrast, there is explicit mention of procedures for individual prime ministerial responsibility.

For some, these provisions may be enough to classify the Philippines as semi-presidential from 1981-1986, when a new presidential constitution was adopted. However, like Peru 1933, I tend to exclude this period in the Philippines from the list of historic cases of semi-presidentialism because of the emphasis on individual responsibility.

The 1986 constitution is available in English here.

This post replaces a previous one on the Philippines.