Presidents Of The Philippines Through History

The President of the Philippines is the country's Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.

The Republic of the Philippines is one of the island countries that form the Southeast Asian region. Being an island nation, the Philippines an archipelago comprised of 7,641 islands within the Pacific Ocean. The country gained its independence on July 4, 1946, but the celebration of independence has since been moved to June 12, the date Emilio Aguinaldo, the country’s first President, declared the country as independent. The Philippines is a unitary state with a democratic government under the Presidential system. The President, who serves a single six-year term, is elected through a popular vote. He or she is both the head of government and state. As the head of government, the President has a responsibility of appointing and chairing the Cabinet. The President is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and has the powers to declare Martial Law. Through consultation with the Commission on Appointments, he or she can appoint departmental heads, ambassadors, and other high-ranking government officials. The most notable Presidents of the Philippines through history are looked at below.

Emilio Aguinaldo

Emilio Aguinaldo was a military, political, and revolutionary leader who served as the inaugural President of Philippines. Aguinaldo served from January 23, 1899 until March 23, 1901. Before becoming the President, he led the country against Spain in the Philippines Revolution between 1896, and 1898. Upon assuming office, he again led the country against the US in the Philippines-America War between 1899 and 1901 during which he was captured ending his Presidency and dissolving the Republic. He unsuccessfully ran for the Presidency in 1935 losing to Manuel Quezon. He died on February 6, 1964, due to coronary thrombosis.

Manuel L. Quezon

Manuel L. Quezon was a military soldier, statesman, and a politician who became the Commonwealth of Philippines’ President at the end of America’s occupation of the region. He assumed office on November 15, 1935, after defeating the country’s first President, Emilio Aguinaldo. He became the first Senate President to be elected President and also the first President to be elected through a national election. During his tenure, he largely resolved the pressing issue of much needed land reform, as the lingering legacy of the Colonial Spanish land ownership system continued to plague the countryside with institutionalized income disparity and inescapable poverty among the rural masses. He also reorganized island military defense and promoted foreign relations and commerce. To some extent, he managed to root out corruption and mismanagement in the government. He exiled to the US upon the Japanese invasion where he died on August 1, 1944.

Sergio Osmeña

Sergio Osmeña had been the Vice President during Manuel Quezon's tenure as President. He became the Fourth President of the Philippines upon the death of Quezon in 1944 at the age of 65 years. He was able to restore the Government of Commonwealth of the Philippines upon the liberation of Manila. With the restoration, Sergio Osmeña reorganized the government and appointed cabinet which he charged with the responsibility of solving the problems that confronted the nation. President Sergio Osmeña lost his reelection bid of 1946 after which he retired from politics. He died on October 19, 1961, at the age of 83.

Relations with the United States

Philippines did not have a President between 1901 and 1935 because of the US military occupation of the country. The sovereignty of the US was recognized in the country when the then President Emilio took an oath of allegiance to the US. However, the country has had a peaceful transition with the current President, Rodrigo Duterte, who is now serving as the 16th President. He is notably pushing his government and law enforcement to wipe out the illegal drug trade in the Philippines. Duterte, however, is not entirely pleased with the still ongoing U.S. military presence and American interests in his country.

Presidents Of The Philippines Through History

Presidents of the Philippines Since Independence from SpainTerm in Office
Emilio Aguinaldo
Vacant due to U.S. Military Occupation1901-1935
Manuel L. Quezon
José P. Laurel (as leader of a Puppet State during the Japanese Occupation)
Sergio Osmeña
Manuel Roxas
Elpidio Quirino
Ramon Magsaysay
Carlos P. Garcia
Diosdado Macapagal
Ferdinand Marcos
Corazon Aquino
Fidel Ramos
Joseph Estrada
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Benigno Aquino III
Rodrigo Duterte (Incumbent)

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