Local Governments and Autonomous Regions in the Philippines

The territorial and political subdivisions of the country are barangays (smallest local government units). The barangay is the basic political unit. A group of barangays forms a municipality or a city. A city may be classified as a component or a highly urbanized city, depending on its population and income level. A group or cluster of contiguous municipalities or municipalities and component cities comprises a province. At present, there are 41,943 barangays, 1,495 municipalities, 115 cities, and 79 provinces. Barangays are created by ordinances passed by city or municipal sanggunians (councils). Laws enacted by Congress create municipalities, cities, and provinces. The creation of a local government or its conversion to another type is based on three criteria: income, population, and land area.

Under the 1991 Local Government Code, barangays serve as the primary planning and implementing units of government policies and forums where collective views may be expressed and disputes amicably settled. The municipality and the city are general-purpose governments that coordinate and deliver basic, regular, and direct services to their inhabitants. A province is a political and corporate government unit providing a mechanism for development processes and effective governance. Local government powers are vested in officials who are elected to serve 3-year terms. Chief executives are the punong barangay (barangay chairman), municipal mayors, city mayors, and provincial governors. The legislative bodies are the sangguniang barangay (barangay council), sangguniang bayan (municipal council), sangguniang panglungsod (city council), and sangguniang panlalawigan (provincial board).

Local governments enjoy local autonomy, with the president exercising general supervision over them. Provinces, with respect to component cities and municipalities, and cities and municipalities, with respect to component barangays, also exercise general supervision over their component local governments and ensure that the acts of the latter are within the scope of prescribed powers and functions.

Autonomous regions in Mindanao and the Cordilleras also exist. These regions consist of provinces, cities, municipalities, and geographical areas that share common and distinctive historical and cultural heritage and economic and social structures. The organic acts that govern these regions provide that they exist and function within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and that they uphold national sovereignty and preserve national territorial integrity. The president also exercises general supervision over the autonomous regions to ensure that laws are faithfully executed.

Here are the summary of other information you may want to know about Local Governments in the Philippines (for a more specific discussion of the following, consult the Local Government Code of 1991):


  1. Defined area
  2. Population
  3. Continuing Organization.
  4. Authority to undertake and power to carry out public activities.


It refers to a public corporation created by the government for political purposes and having subordinate and local powers of legislation. It consist of six (6) elements:

  1. Legal creation or incorporation.
  2. Corporate name
  3. Inhabitants
  4. Place or Territory
  5. Charter
  6. Legislative Power


  1. Barangay
  2. Municipality
  3. City
  4. Province
  5. Region


There are five (5) general powers of the Local Government, namely:

  1. Corporate powers
    • To have continuous succession in the corporate name (b) To sue and be sued
    • To have and use a corporate seal
    • To acquire and convey real or personal property
    • To enter into contracts
    • To exercise such powers as granted to corporations.
  2. Governmental Powers
    • Promotion of health and safety
    • Improvement of poverty
    • Improvement of morals
    • Maintenance of peace and order
    • Preservation of the comfort and convenience of the inhabitants.
    • Exercise the right of eminent domain (See discussion on Art. IIISec. 9 on the general powers of the government).
    • Has the power to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes.
  3. Legislative Powers
    • Has the power to make laws
      (Sangguniang Pambaranggay for Baranggay ordinances; Sangguniang Panlalawigan for Povincial ordinances; Sanggunian Panlunsod for city ordinances; Sanggunian Bayan for municipal ordinances) legislature also takes the form of resolutions, and excecutive orders from the different levels of the Local Government.
    • Directional Powers
      Refers to the power to establish fiscal policy through the local budget; makes plans for capital improvement; adjustment of departmental organizations; establishment of personnel policies, etc.
    • Executive Powers (in the Legislative Powers)
      Refers to the power to confirm or reject the mayor or governor’s appointment to the position of department heads.
    • Administrative Powers
      Refers to the power to:
      (1) review ordinances, resolutions, executive orders appropriations
      (2) Grant franchise
      (3) Conduct committee activities
    • Public Relations Functions
  4. Executive Powers
    • Sending executive notes to the Sanggunian
    • Using the veto power
    • Appointing and removing subordinates
    • Preparing the budget
    • Issuance of directives, licenses and permits
    • Conduct of meeting and conference which require reports
    • Conduct of investigation
  5. AdministrativePowers
    • Departmentalization of the local administrative mechanism to simplify administrative processes. This is according to:
      (i) by purpose
      (ii) by process
      (iii) by area clientele


The Baranggay

Task: “To broaden the base of citizen participation in the democratic process and to afford ample opportunity for the citizenry to express their view on important national issue.”

Role: “ To constitute the base for citizen participation in governmental affairs and the collective views of the people in the Baranggay shall be considered in the formulation of national policies and programs and, whenever practicable, shall be translated into concrete and specific decisions.” (PD No.86, 1972;PD No.86-A1973)

The Municipality

Serves as the general purpose for the coordination and delivery of basic, regular, and direct services within its jurisdiction.

The City

Also serves as the general purpose like the municipality, the city provides all basic services to its constituents. The city is more able to operate and develop the area on its own resources. The city is meant to concentrate all its resources on urban problems.

The Province

To serve as an effective mechanism in the development process and assume basically area-wide functions, roles and activities.

The Region

Establish as an intermediary political tier between the national and the local units.