Philippine Presidents

Philippine Presidents, which are locally known as "Ang Pangulo", are the head of state and government of the Republic of the Philippines. Philippine Presidents serve a term of six years in office. The President of the Philippines heads the Executive Branch of the government that includes the Cabinet and all executive departments.

The President of the Philippines is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Philippines has undergone many transitions in the government from the First Philippine Republic going to the Fifth Philippine Republic. Note that the Presidents under the Commonwealth of the Philippines were under United States sovereignty, and that of the Second Republic is considered to be a puppet government of the Japanese during World War II.

The country has had a total of fourteen Philippine Presidents. Below is the list of the Presidents of the Philippines.

General Emilio F. Aguinaldo. First President of the Republic of the Philippines. Aguinaldo’s presidential term formally began in 1898 and ended on April 1, 1901, when he took an oath of allegiance to the United States a week after his capture in Palanan, Isabela. His term also featured the setting up of the Malolos Republic, which has its own Congress, Constitution, and national and local officialdom -- proving Filipinos also had the capacity to build. Aguinaldo is best remembered for the proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite.

Philippine Presidents - Emilio F. Aguinaldo

Manuel L. Quezon. First of the Philippine Presidents of the Commonwealth. He won the elections held in September 1935 to choose the head of the Commonwealth Government. It was a government made possible by the Tydings-McDuffie Law, which Quezon secured from the U.S. Quezon’s term (1935 - 1944), though chiefly known for making Pilipino the national language, tried to solve nagging problems inherited from the Spanish and American administrations.

The Commonwealth Government was interrupted by the Japanese invasion of 1941. Quezon and his government were forced to go into exile in the U.S. He died on August 1, 1944, in New York. Jose P. Laurel. President of the Second Republic of the Philippines. He was elected by the National Assembly as President of the Republic on September 25, 1943 and inducted on October 14, 1943. This unicameral assembly was created through the sponsorship of the Japanese authorities.

Sergio Osmena. Second President of the Philippine Commonwealth. He was elected Vice President of the Philippines in 1935 and succeeded Quezon to the Presidency in-exile.

Manuel A. Roxas. Last of the Philippine Presidents of the Philippine Commonwealth. First President of the Third Republic of the Philippines. He won the elections by a slim margin. He was inaugurated on July 4, 1946, the day the U.S. government granted political independence to its colony. The short-lived Roxas administration (1946 - 1948) embarked on a course that resulted in what were considered as his greatest achievements, namely: the ratification of the Bell Trade Act; the inclusion of the Parity Amendment in the Constitution; and the signing of the 1947 Military Bases Agreement.

Roxas was not able to complete his presidential term; he died from a heart attack at Clark Air base on April 15, 1948.

Elpidio Quirino. Second President of the Third Republic of the Philippines. Being the Vice President, he took over the Presidency after Roxas’ death. And, he managed to retain the position after winning over Laurel in the infamous fraud-tainted 1949 elections.

The Quirino administration (1948 - 1953) focused on two objectives: 1) to regain faith and confidence in the government; and 2) to restore peace and order. He was more successful in the second objective – breaking the back of the Hukbalahap Movement in Central Luzon.

Ramon Magsaysay. Third President of the Third Republic of the Philippines. He was largely famous for his success in the peace campaign. He defeated Quirino in the 1953 presidential elections by an unprecedented margin of votes. Many regard Magsaysay as one of the Philippine Presidents whose heart truly bled for the common man. He toured the barrios, opened up Malacanang to the public, solicited and acted upon their complaints, built artesian wells and roads. He had Congress pass the Agricultural Tenancy Act of 1954, providing greater protection to tenants. Death came to Magsaysay when his plane crashed at Mount Pinatubo in the early morning of March 17, 1957.

Carlos P. Garcia. Fourth President of the Third Republic of the Philippines He presided over the eight months of Magsaysay’s remaining term and went on to win the 1957 elections, “the noisiest and the most expensive in Philippine history.”

Garcia’s administration (1957 - 1961) was anchored in his austerity program. It was also noted for its Filipino First policy – an attempt to boost economic independence.

Diosdado Macapagal. Fifth President of the Third Republic of the Philippines. He defeated Garcia in the presidential elections of November 14, 1961. Mapacagal – who styled himself as the “poor boy” from Lubao (Pampanga) – completed pre-law and Associate in Arts at UP; however, he was a law graduate of the University of Santo Tomas.

Macapagal’s administration (1961 - 1965) is best remembered for resetting the date of the celebration of Philippine Independence Day – from July 4 when the U.S. turned over the reins of government in 1946 to the more correct date of June 12 when Aguinaldo declared independence in 1898.

Ferdinand E. Marcos. Sixth and last President of the Third Republic of the Philippines. He defeated Macapagal in the 1965 presidential elections. And the two-decade era of Marcos (1965 - 1986) began. Marcos entered politics with an eye to eventually capturing the presidency. In his maiden campaign in 1949, he said: “Elect me your congressman now and I’ll give you an Ilokano President in 20 years.” He won that election and was returned thrice to Congress as Ilocos Norte’s congressman. In 1959, he was elected to the Philippine Senate and in 1963, he became its president. Completing the presidential term in 1969, he won a reelection . In 1972, he declared martial law. The rest, as the most infamous of Philippine Presidents is history.

Corazon C. Aquino. First President of the Fifth Republic of the Philippines. First Woman among Philippine Presidents of the Republic of the Philippines. President from 1986 to 1992, she is associated with the EDSA Revolt. She refused to run for reelection in the 1992 presidential elections; but instead endorsed and worked very hard for her chosen candidate – Fidel V. Ramos.

Fidel V. Ramos. Second President of the Fifth Republic of the Philippines. He was the military hero of the February 1986 Philippine People Power Revolution and victor of the first multiparty presidential elections in 1992, thus becoming the 12th President of the Republic of the Philippines.

Joseph M. Estrada. Third President of the Fifth Republic of the Philippines. As vice president, Estrada headed an anticrime commission from 1992 to 1997. In 1998 Estrada won the Philippine presidential elections. In October 2000 he became mired in a corruption scandal, however, and the House of Representatives impeached him in November. Estrada was forced from power on January 20. That day, the Supreme Court declared the presidency vacant, effectively ousting Estrada from office, and Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was sworn in as president.

Gloria M. Arroyo. Fourth of the Philippine Presidents of the Fifth Republic of the Philippines. She is the incumbent President. She replaced deposed president Joseph Estrada midway through his six-year term. She is the 14th president of the republic and the second woman to hold the office.

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