Administrative divisions of the Philippines

The Philippines has four main classes of elected administrative divisions, often lumped together as local government units (LGUs). They are, from the highest to the lowest division:

  1. Autonomous regions
  2. Provinces (lalawigan, probinsiya) and independent cities (lungsod, siyudad/ciudad, dakbayan, lakanbalen)
  3. Municipalities (bayan, balen, bungto, banwa) and component cities (lungsod, siyudad/ciudad, dakbayan, dakbanwa, lakanbalen)
  4. Barangays (also known as barrio)

Beyond the above divisions, there other divisions that are frequently mentioned but differ in significant ways. Specifically, they do not have separate governments or independent budgets. The national government groups provinces and independent cities into national government regions, e.g. Metro Manila or Region VI. Also. a barangay may be informally or formally sub-divided into sitios and puroks. Neither the national government's regions nor a barangay's sitios or puroks have elected leaders or government branches.

Other divisions exist for specific narrower purposes:

  1. Legislative districts for the House of Representatives, Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial boards), several Sangguniang Panlungsod (city councils) and the Pateros Municipal Council.
  2. Judicial regions for the Regional Trial Courts.
  3. Districts for specific government agencies such as "Revenue Districts" for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, "School Districts" for the Department of Education, and "Engineering Districts" for the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Local government units

The Philippines is divided into provinces and independent cities. Provinces in turn are divided into component cities and municipalities. All independent cities, component cities and municipalities are divided into barangays.[1]

Local government hierarchy. The dashed lines emanating from the president means that the President only exercises general supervision on local government.

All these (provinces, cities and municipalities, and barangays) elect their own legislatures and executives and are called collectively "local government units" or LGUs.[1] There is also a single autonomous region, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which is composed of provinces and independent cities and has its own elected government.

Map of provinces with national government regions

Autonomous region

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is an autonomous region. Unlike other administrative regions, autonomous regions have additional political power, and have a regional governor and assembly. In addition, the constitution allows for the creation of autonomous region in the Cordillera Central. However, only the ARMM has been approved by voters in a plebiscite. Voters in the Cordilleras have rejected autonomy in 1990 and 1998; hence the Cordillera Administrative Region remains as a regular administrative region with no added powers or officials.


Each province is headed by a governor. Its legislative body is the Sangguniang Panlalawigan composed of the different members from Sanggunian districts, which in most cases are contiguous to the congressional districts.[1]

Cities and municipalities

Regions, aside from having provinces may also have independent cities. Independent cities, classified either as highly urbanized or independent component cities, are cities which are not under the jurisdiction of a province. These cities are not administered by their mother provinces, do not share their tax revenues with the province, and in most cases their residents are not eligible to elect or be elected to provincial offices.[1]

Cities that are politically a part of a province are called component cities. The voters in these cities are allowed to vote and run for positions in the provincial government.[1]

Municipalities are always components of a province, except Pateros, Metro Manila, which is independent.[1]

Cities and municipalities are headed by a mayor. The legislative arm of these units are the Sangguniang Panlungsod for cities and Sangguniang Bayan for municipalities, which are composed of councilors elected at-large or in some cases, by Sanggunian district.[1]


Main article: Barangay

All cities and municipalities are further divided into barangays. The barangay is the smallest Local Government Unit in the Philippines.[1] "Barangay" is sometimes translated into English as "village". Each barangay is headed by a Barangay Captain (Filipino: Punong Barangay).[1]

Gated communities may either form part of a barangay or constitute an entire barangay by itself. An example of a barangay coterminous with a gated community is Forbes Park, Makati City.

Administrative Regions Autonomous Region
Cities and Municipalities
See: List of cities in the Philippines and List of cities and municipalities in the Philippines
See: Lists of barangays in Philippine provinces

Other divisions

Philippine island groups
The non-administrative regions of Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao
Philippine judicial regions
A map of judicial regions
Philippine legislative districts
Legislative districts for the 16th Congress of the Philippines

Island groups

The Philippines is broadly divided into three regions according to their specific island group: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. These regions are reflected in the name of the national government's formal regions (e.g. Western Visayas) but they have no administrative bodies, either elected or appointed.

Administrative regions

Administrative regions are administrative groupings of provinces; these don't have political power of any sort.

All but one region is divided into provinces. Metro Manila (the National Capital Region) is not divided into provinces, but instead is divided directly into cities and municipalities. The cities and municipalities of Metro Manila are grouped together into non-functional districts for administrative purposes.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a region must be composed of more than one province.[2]

Judicial regions

Main article: Regional Trial Court

The Philippines is divided into thirteen judicial regions, for the purpose of organizing the judiciary. The judicial regions still reflect the original regional configuration introduced by President Ferdinand Marcos during his rule, except for the transfer of Aurora to the third judicial region from the fourth. These judicial regions are used for the appointment of judges of the different Regional Trial Courts.

Legislative districts

For the purpose of electing representatives to the Philippine House of Representatives, the country is divided into legislative districts. Each province or independent city has at least one representative. If the population is more than 250,000 people, they may have two or more. The borders of the district are redrawn, known as redistricting, by the passage of an act of Congress, and signed by the president, a process that only happens rarely and only for a limited area.

If a province or a city is composed of only one legislative district, it said to be the lone district (for example, the "Lone district of Muntinlupa City").

For purposes of representation in the local assemblies, legislative districts are also used. In cases where a province or city has two or more House of Representative districts, their regional assembly (for provinces under the ARMM) and provincial board districts are coextensive with those congressional districts. In cases of independent cities included in a province's congressional district, they are not included in these provincial board districts. For provinces, certain cities and municipalities (Pateros) composed of a single congressional district, they are also divided into provincial board or city/municipal council districts. Other cities and municipalities and all barangays are composed of an "at-large" district in electing members of their respective assemblies.


In Caloocan, Manila and Pasay, barangays are grouped into zones. These zones are for administrative purposes only and do not have elected officials. Other barangays in other places may have "zone" as part of their name but are fully functioning barangays.

Sitios and puroks

Some barangays are divided into sitios and puroks. Sitios are most common in rural barangays where human settlement is polycentric, with multiple communities spread across a wide area, separated by farmland, mountains, or water (e.g. a barangay encompassing different islands). Puroks are often found in densely populated areas of barangays categorized as urban, but outside of a major metropolis, and in population-dense areas of barangays of rural municipalities. Puroks and sitio boundaries are rarely defined precisely, and may use natural landmarks such as roads, rivers or other natural features to unofficially delineate divisions. They are not a Local Government Unit and their officials are not elected in regular general elections. The selection process for sitio and purok leaders may vary from one barangay to another. There are cases where a barangay council member is officially designated as a purok leader, while sitio leaders may be appointed and drawn from the hamlet's own residents.

Other governmental bodies

The various executive departments has also divided the country into their own respective districts. The Department of Public Works and Highways and the Bureau of Internal Revenue, for example, divide the country into several "engineering" or "revenue" districts.


The following table shows the number of current regions, provinces, municipalities, and cities in the Philippines as of 13 December 2015.[3][4]

Type Head of Administration Number
English Filipino English Filipino
Region Rehiyon Regional governor[A] Gobernador panrehiyon 18
Province Lalawigan / Probinsiya Governor Gobernador/Punong-lalawigan 81
Municipality Bayan / Munisipalidad Mayor Alkalde/Punong-bayan 1,489
City Lungsod / Siyudad Mayor Alkalde/Punong-lungsod 145
Village/neighborhood Barangay Barangay Chairman/Barangay Captain Punong-barangay/Kapitan ng Barangay 42,029

only for autonomous regions

See also


External links

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