Local government in the Philippines

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
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Local government hierarchy in the Philippines. The dashed lines emanating from the president means that the president only exercises general supervision on local government.
Map of the Philippines showing provinces

Officially local government in the Philippines, often called local government units or LGUs, are divided into three levels – provinces and independent cities; component cities and municipalities; and barangays. In one area, above provinces and independent cities, is an autonomous region, the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Below barangays in some cities and municipalities are sitios and puroks. All of these, with the exception of sitios and puroks, elect their own executives and legislatures. Sitios and puroks are often led by elected barangay councilors.

Provinces and independent cities are organized into national government regions but those are administrative regions and not separately governed areas with their own elected governments.

According to the Constitution of the Philippines, the local governments "shall enjoy local autonomy", and in which the Philippine president exercises "general supervision". Congress enacted the Local Government Code of the Philippines in 1991 to "provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of local units."[1]

Levels of local government

Autonomous Regions

Autonomous regions have more powers than other local governments. The constitution limits the creation of autonomous regions to Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras but only one autonomous region exists: the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). In 2001, a plebiscite in the ARMM confirmed the previous composition of the autonomous region and added Basilan (except for the city of Isabela) and Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. Isabela City remains a part of the province of Basilan despite rejecting inclusion in the ARMM. A Cordillera Autonomous Region has never been formed because no plebiscite has received the required support.

An autonomous region is governed by the regional governor and a legislature such as the ARMM Regional Legislative Assembly.


Outside the lone autonomous region, the provinces are the highest-level local government. The provinces are organized into component cities and municipalities. A province is governed by the governor and a legislature known as the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.

Cities and municipalities

Municipal government in the Philippines is divided into three – independent cities, component cities, and municipalities (sometimes referred to as towns). Several cities across the country are "independent cities" which means that they are not governed by a province, even though like Iloilo City the provincial capitol might be in the city. Independent city residents do not vote for nor hold provincial offices. Far more cities are component cities and are a part of a province. Municipalities are always a part of a province except for Pateros which was separated from Rizal to form Metro Manila.

Cities and municipalities are governed by mayors and legislatures, which are called the Sangguniang Panlungsod in cities and the Sangguniang Bayan in municipalities.


Main article: Barangay

Every city and municipality in the Philippines is divided into barangays, the smallest of the Local Government Units. Barangays can be further divided into sitios and puroks but those divisions do not have leaders elected in formal elections supervised by the national government.

A barangay's executive is the Punong Barangay or barangay captain and its legislature is the Sangguniang Barangay, composed of barangay captain, the Barangay Kagawads (barangay councilors) and the SK chairman. The SK chairman also leads a separate assembly for youth, the Sangguniang Kabataan or SK.


Local governments have two branches: executive and legislative. All courts in the Philippines are under the Supreme Court of the Philippines and therefore there are no local-government controlled judicial branches. Nor do local governments have any prosecutors or public defenders, as those are under the jurisdiction of the national government.

The executive branch is composed of the regional governor for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, governor for the provinces, mayor for the cities and municipalities, and the barangay captain for the barangays.[2]


The legislatures review the ordinances and resolutions enacted by the legislatures below. Aside from regular and ex-officio members, the legislatures above the barangay level also have three sectoral representatives, one each from women, agricultural or industrial workers, and other sectors.[2]

Local government Legislature Composition[2] Head
Autonomous region Regional Legislative Assembly Assembly speaker
Province Sangguniang Panlalawigan
  • varies, as of 2007:[3]
    • Cebu, Negros Occidental, Pangasinan: 12 SP members, 2 elected from each district
    • All other first class and second class provinces: 10 SP members, with varying number of members per district
    • Third class and fourth class provinces: 8 SP members, with varying number of members per district
    • Fifth class and sixth class provinces: 6 SP members, with varying number of members per district
  • President of the provincial chapter of the Liga ng mga Barangay
  • President of the provincial chapter of the League of Councilors
  • President of the provincial federation of the Sangguniang Kabataan
  • Sectoral representatives
Vice governor
City Sangguniang Panlungsod Vice mayor
Municipality Sangguniang Bayan
  • varies:
    • Pateros, Metro Manila: 12 councilors, 6 elected from each district
    • All other municipalities: 8 councilors, elected at-large
  • President of the municipal chapter of the Liga ng mga Barangay
  • President of the municipal federation of the Sangguniang Kabataan
  • Sectoral representatives
Vice mayor
Barangay Sangguniang Barangay
  • 7 members elected at-large
  • Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson
Barangay captain
Sangguniang Kabataan
  • 7 members elected at-large
Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson

ARMM assembly districts are similar in territorial composition of congressional districts, except for the Basilan assembly district, which, unlike the congressional district of Basilan, does not include Isabela City, and the 1st Maguindanao assembly district, which, unlike the 1st congressional district of Maguindanao, does not include Cotabato City. Each ARMM assembly district elects 3 members to the regional assembly that convenes in Cotabato City.

Elected officials

All elected officials have 3-year terms, and can only serve a maximum of three consecutive terms before being ineligible for reelection.[6]

LGU Official Minimum age (18 is the voting age[7])
Autonomous region Regional governor 35 years old on election day[8]
Regional vice governor Same as regional governor
Regional legislative assembly member 21 years old on election day[8]
Provinces Governor 23 years old on election day[6]
Vice governor Same as governor
Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Same as governor
Highly urbanized cities Mayor Same as governor
Vice mayor Same as governor
Sangguniang Panlungsod member (Councilor) Same as governor
Independent component and component cities Mayor 21 years old on election day
Vice mayor Same as independent component and component city mayor[6]
Sangguniang Panlungsod member (Councilor) Same as independent component and component city mayor
Municipalities Mayor Same as independent component and component city mayor
Vice mayor Same as independent component and component city mayor
Sangguniang Bayan member (Councilor) Same as independent component and component city mayor
Barangay Barangay captain 18 years old on election day
Barangay kagawad Same as barangay captain
Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson 15 to 21 years old on election day*
Sangguniang Kabataan member Same as Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson*

*a Sangguniang Kabataan official who has surpassed 21 years of age while in office is allowed to serve for the rest of the term.[2]

Offices that are common to municipalities, cities and provinces

There are 21 offices in a government, whether it's municipal, city or provincial. There are some mandatory and optional offices to the government.

Office Head Municipality City Province
Office of the Secretary to the Sanggunian Secretary to the Sanggunian
Treasurer's Office Treasurer
Assessor's Office Assessor
Accounting Office Accountant
Budget Office Budget Officer
Planning and Development Office Planning and Development Coordinator
Engineer's Office Engineer
Health Office Health Officer
Office of the Civil Registry Civil Registrar X
Office of the Administrator Administrator
Office of the Legal Services Legal Officer ?
Office of Agricultural Services/Office of the Agriculturist Agriculturist ? ?
(Office of) Social Welfare and Development Office Social Welfare and Development Officer
(Office of) Environment and Natural Resources Office Environment and Natural Resources Officer ? ? ?
Office of Architectural Planning and Design Architect ? ? ?
Office of Public Information Information Officer ? ? ?
Office for the Development of Cooperatives/Cooperatives Development Office Cooperatives Officer X ? ?
Population Office Population Officer ? ? ?
Veterinary Office/Office of Veterinary Services Veterinarian X
(Office of) Public Safety Office Public Safety Officer ? ? ?
(Office of) General Services Office General Services Officer X


- Mandatory

? - Optional

X - Not Applicable

Source: Local Government Code of 1991[9]


Among the social services and facilities that local government should provide, as stipulated in Section 17 of the Local Government Code, are the following:

Creation and modification of local governments

As a matter of principle, higher legislative entities have the power to create, divide, merge, abolish, or substantially alter boundaries of any lower-level local government through a law or ordinance, all subject to approval by a majority of the votes cast in a plebiscite to be conducted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in the local government unit or units directly affected.[2] The Local Government Code has also set requisites for creating local government units.[2] A summary can be found in the table below:

Local government Area Population Income Legislative bodies that can create, merge, abolish or substantially alter the boundaries of the LGU
Province 2,000 square kilometers* 250,000* P20 million for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices
City 100 square kilometers* 150,000* P100 million for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 2000 constant prices[10]
  • Congress^
Municipality 50 square kilometers 25,000 P2.5 million for the last two (2) consecutive years based on 1991 constant prices
  • Congress
  • ARMM Regional Assembly
Barangay None 5,000 (Metro Manila and highly urbanized cities)
2,000 (rest of the country)
  • Congress
  • ARMM Regional Assembly
  • Sangguniang Panlalawigan, with recommendation from the concerned Sangguniang Bayan(s) required
  • Sangguniang Panlungsod

*either area or population; meeting only one of these requirements is sufficient
^The ARMM Regional Assembly was conferred by Congress (through Article VI, Section 19 of Republic Act 9054[8]) the power to create or modify lower-level LGUs under its jurisdiction, including provinces and cities. However, the Supreme Court's decision on the unconstitutionality of the now-defunct province of Shariff Kabunsuan[11] has effectively confined the regional assembly's powers to creating or modifying only municipalities and barangays.

See also


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