The Philippine Islands became a Spanish colony during the 16th century; they were ceded to the US in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. In 1935 the Philippines became a self-governing commonwealth. Manuel QUEZON was elected president and was tasked with preparing the country for independence after a 10-year transition. In 1942 the islands fell under Japanese occupation during WWII, and US forces and Filipinos fought together during 1944-45 to regain control. On 4 July 1946 the Republic of the Philippines attained its independence. The 20-year rule of Ferdinand MARCOS ended in 1986, when a "people power" movement in Manila ("EDSA 1") forced him into exile and installed Corazon AQUINO as president. Her presidency was hampered by several coup attempts, which prevented a return to full political stability and economic development. Fidel RAMOS was elected president in 1992 and his administration was marked by greater stability and progress on economic reforms. In 1992, the US closed its last military bases on the islands. Joseph ESTRADA was elected president in 1998, but was succeeded by his vice-president, Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, in January 2001 after ESTRADA's stormy impeachment trial on corruption charges broke down and another "people power" movement ("EDSA 2") demanded his resignation. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO was elected to a six-year term as president in May 2004. The Philippine Government faces threats from three terrorist groups on the US Government's Foreign Terrorist Organization list, but in 2006 and 2007 scored some major successes in capturing or killing key wanted terrorists. Decades of Muslim insurgency in the southern Philippines have led to a peace accord with one group and an ongoing cease-fire and peace talks with another.
territorial sea: irregular polygon extending up to 100 nm from coastline as defined by 1898 treaty; since late 1970s has also claimed polygonal-shaped area in South China Sea up to 285 nm in breadth exclusive economic zone: 200 nm continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
uncontrolled deforestation especially in watershed areas; soil erosion; air and water pollution in major urban centers; coral reef degradation; increasing pollution of coastal mangrove swamps that are important fish breeding grounds
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants
the Philippine archipelago is made up of 7,107 islands; favorably located in relation to many of Southeast Asia's main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait
chief of state: President Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO (since 20 January 2001); note - president is both chief of state and head of government head of government: President Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO (since 20 January 2001) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president with consent of Commission of Appointments elections: president and vice president (Manuel "Noli" DE CASTRO) elected on separate tickets by popular vote for a single six-year term; election last held on 10 May 2004 (next to be held in May 2010) election results: Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO elected president; percent of vote - Gloria MACAPAGAL-ARROYO 40%, Fernando POE 37%, three others 23%
bicameral Congress or Kongreso consists of the Senate or Senado (24 seats - one-half elected every three years; members elected at large by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Kapulungan Ng Mga Kinatawan (as a result of May 2007 election it has 239 seats including 218 members representing districts and 21 sectoral party-list members representing special minorities elected on the basis of 1 seat for every 2% of the total vote but limited to 3 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve three-year terms; note - the Constitution prohibits the House of Representatives from having more than 250 members) elections: Senate - last held on 14 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2010); House of Representatives - elections last held on 14 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2010) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Lakas-Kampi 4, LP 4, NPC 3, NP 2, independents 4, others 6; note - there are 23 rather than 24 sitting senators because one senator was elected mayor of Manila; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Lakas 86, Kampi 46, NPC 29, LP 21, Party-list 21, others 36
Supreme Court (15 justices are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the Judicial and Bar Council and serve until 70 years of age); Court of Appeals; Sandigan-bayan (special court for hearing corruption cases of government officials)
Genuine Opposition or GO (coalition of oppositon parties formed to contest the 2007 elections); Kabalikat Ng Malayang Pilipino or Kampi [Ronaldo PUNO]; Laban Ng Demokratikong Pilipino (Struggle of Filipino Democrats) or LDP [Edgardo ANGARA]; Lakas Ng Edsa (National Union of Christian Democrats) or Lakas [Jose DE VENECIA]; Liberal Party or LP [Manuel ROXAS]; Nacionalista [Manuel VILLAR]; National People's Coalition or NPC [Frisco SAN JUAN]; PDP-Laban [Aquilino PIMENTEL]; People's Reform Party [Miriam Defensor SANTIAGO]; PROMDI [Emilio OSMENA]; Pwersa Ng Masang Pilipino (Party of the Philippine Masses) or PMP [Joseph ESTRADA]; Reporma [Renato DE VILLA]
AKBAYAN [Etta ROSALES, Mario AGUJA, and Risa HONTIVEROS-BARAQUIEL]; ALAGAD [Rodante MARROLITA]; ALIF [Acmad TOMAWIS]; An Waray [Horencio NOEL]; Anak Mindanao [Mujiv HATAMIN]; ANAKPAWIS [Crispin BELTRAN and Rafael MARIANO]; Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC) [Sunny Rose MADAMBA, Ernesto PABLO, and Edgar VALDEZ]; AVE [Eulogio MAGSAYSAY]; Bayan Muna [Satur OCAMPO, Joel VIRADOR, and Teodoro CASINO, Jr.]; BUHAY [Rene VELARDE and Hans Christian SENERES]; BUTIL [Benjamin CRUZ]; CIBAC [Emmanuel Joel VILLANUEVA]; COOP-NATCO [Guillermo CUA]; GABRIELA [Liza MAZA]; Partido Ng Manggagawa [Renato MAGTUBO]; Veterans Federation of the Philippines [Ernesto GIDAYA]
two equal horizontal bands of blue (top; representing peace and justice) and red (representing courage); a white equilateral triangle based on the hoist side represents equality; the center of the triangle displays a yellow sun with eight primary rays, each representing one of the first eight provinces that sought independence from Spain; each corner of the triangle contains a small, yellow, five-pointed star representing the three major geographical divisions of the country: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao; the design of the flag dates to 1897; in wartime the flag is flown upside down with the red band at the top
The Philippine economy grew at its fastest pace in three decades with real GDP growth exceeding 7% in 2007. Higher government spending contributed to the growth, but a resilient service sector and large remittances from the millions of Filipinos who work abroad have played an increasingly important role. Economic growth has averaged 5% since President MACAPAGAL-ARROYO took office in 2001. Nevertheless, the Philippines will need still higher, sustained growth to make progress in alleviating poverty, given its high population growth and unequal distribution of income. MACAPAGAL-ARROYO averted a fiscal crisis by pushing for new revenue measures and, until recently, tightening expenditures. Declining fiscal deficits, tapering debt and debt service ratios, as well as recent efforts to increase spending on infrastructure and social services have heightened optimism over Philippine economic prospects. Although the general macroeconomic outlook has improved significantly, the Philippines continues to face important challenges and must maintain the reform momentum in order to catch up with regional competitors, improve employment opportunities, and alleviate poverty. Longer-term fiscal stability will require more sustainable revenue sources, rather than non-recurring revenues from privatization.
general assessment: good international radiotelephone and submarine cable services; domestic and inter-island service adequate domestic: domestic satellite system with 11 earth stations; cellular communications now dominate the industry; combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone density exceeds 50 telephones per 100 persons with more than 10 mobile cellular subscribers for every fixed-line subscriber international: country code - 63; a series of submarine cables together provide connectivity to Asia, US, the Middle East, and Europe; multiple international gateways (2006)
total: 383 ships (1000 GRT or over) 4,542,681 GRT/6,164,312 DWT by type: bulk carrier 75, cargo 120, chemical tanker 16, container 5, liquefied gas 5, livestock carrier 16, passenger 7, passenger/cargo 66, petroleum tanker 34, refrigerated cargo 14, roll on/roll off 13, vehicle carrier 12 foreign-owned: 135 (Bermuda 31, China 2, Greece 3, Hong Kong 2, Japan 69, Malaysia 2, Netherlands 22, Norway 2, Singapore 1, UAE 1) registered in other countries: 34 (Australia 1, Bahamas 1, Belize 1, Comoros 1, Cyprus 1, Ecuador 1, Hong Kong 10, Indonesia 1, Panama 12, Singapore 4, St Vincent and The Grenadines 1) (2007)
Philippines claims sovereignty over certain of the Spratly Islands, known locally as the Kalayaan (Freedom) Islands, also claimed by China, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam; the 2002 "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," has eased tensions in the Spratly Islands but falls short of a legally binding "code of conduct" desired by several of the disputants; in March 2005, the national oil companies of China, the Philippines, and Vietnam signed a joint accord to conduct marine seismic activities in the Spratly Islands; Philippines retains a dormant claim to Malaysia's Sabah State in northern Borneo based on the Sultanate of Sulu's granting the Philippines Government power of attorney to pursue a sovereignty claim on his behalf; maritime delimitation negotiations continue with Palau
domestic methamphetamine production has been a growing problem in recent years despite government crackdowns; major consumer of amphetamines; longstanding marijuana producer mainly in rural areas where Manila's control is limited