The Philippines is a country situated in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. It is composed of around 7,641 islands that are grouped into three main geographical categories (from north to south): Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Manila is the capital city, while the most populous city is Quezon City, both of which are part of Metro Manila. The Philippines is bounded by the South China Sea (west), the Philippine Sea (east) and the Celebes Sea (southwest), and shares maritime borders with Taiwan (north), Vietnam (west), Palau (east) and Malaysia and Indonesia (south).
The Philippines is both extremely biodiverse and prone to natural disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes. It covers an area of 120,000 square miles with a population of at least 100 million, making it the eighth-most populated country in Asia as well as the 12th most populated country on the planet. Roughly 10 million Filipinos also live overseas.
The Philippines has undergone much governmental change over the last two centuries, culminating in what is now a unitary sovereign state. It is remains a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the East Asia Summit, and also houses the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank. The Philippines is an emerging market, as well as a newly-industrialized country. The Philippines, along with East Timor, is considered one of Southeast Asia's Christian nations.
The legislative branch
The Philippines Congress is bicameral in structure, with an upper house (the Senate) made up of 24 senators elected through plurality-at-large voting. The senators collectively elect a Senate President from among themselves. The lower house in Congress, which comprises 292 members, is known as the House of Representatives, which is headed up by the Speaker.
In order for a bill to reach the president for his signature, it requires the consent of both houses; if the president vetoes a bill, Congress can override him with a two-thirds majority. Congress' decisions are primarily achieved through a majority vote, except in the case of votes on constitutional amendments. Each house of the Congress wields its own form of power: the Senate retains the power to vote on treaties, while the House of Representatives is responsible for introducing financial bills. Congress is constitutionally endowed with powers of impeachment – the House of Representatives has the power to impeach, while the Senate has the power to try an impeached official.
The largest parties in Congress currently are the Liberal Party, Nationalist People's Coalition, the National Unity Party (Philippines), the Nacionalista Party, the Lakas-CMD and the United Nationalist Alliance. The House of Representatives is essentially controlled by the party of the president, with the Senate retaining more independence.
The executive branch
The President of the Philippines delegates his power to a Cabinet, though he remains both the head of state and head of government. The executive cabinet made up primarily of executive department heads, which render services to the population. Presidents are directly elected for a term of six years through the ‘first past the post’ method. The Vice President, who is elected entirely separately from the President and can even derive from a different political party, assumes charge in the event that the sitting President cannot lead the country. The vice president can be granted a cabinet office by the president despite not having any constitutional powers of his own.
As with many republics, the president is the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He is also constitutionally granted a number of military powers, though these can be tempered by Congress. The president is responsible for proposing a national budget, which Congress also has the final say over. The presidential office of the Philippines is considered to be significantly powerful.
The judicial branch
The judiciary branch of the government comprises the Supreme Court and additional lower courts. The Supreme Court is the court of last resort, and has the final say on the validity of laws through judicial reviews. The president appoints justices and judges from among nominees presented by the Judicial and Bar Council. The Court of Appeals is the second highest court – the Court of Tax Appeals makes rulings on tax matters, while the People's Advocate investigates alleged government irregularities.