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Southeast Asian Region Countries Law

Country Information

The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands (about 2,000 of which are inhabited), divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The Philippines has a population of 100 million. About 87 major dialects are spoken all over the islands. English and Filipino are the official languages. English is the language of instruction in higher education. 

The Philippines is a unitary presidential constitutional republic, with the President of the Philippines acting as both the head of state and the head of government. 

For information about the population, economy, geography, history, politics, government and culture of the Philippines, see:

Philippines Legal System

The Philippine legal system is a mixture of customary usage, Roman (civil law) and Anglo-American (common law) systems, and Islamic law. The legal system is the result of the immigration of Muslim Malays in the fourteenth century and the subsequent colonisation of the islands by Spain and the United States. The civil law operates in areas such as family relations, property, succession, contract and criminal law while statutes and principles of common law origin are evident in such areas as constitutional law, procedure, corporations law, taxation, insurance, labour relations, banking and currency. 

For a detailed historical overview of the legal system, see the ASEAN Law Association's guide to the legal system of the Philippines (open access).

See also the Globalex Guide to Philippine Legal System and Legal Research. 


Latest Philippines Legal News

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Doing Business in the Phillippines

Rule of Law & Human Rights

Update on the Rule of Law for Human Rights in ASEAN: The Path to Integration (2016)

  • includes a detailed Chapter on the Philippines

See also:

The World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - Country Profile for the Philippines (open access).

  • In 2017-18, the Philippines was ranked 88th out of 113 countries.
  • Latest World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index (Full Report)

The Rule of Law and Human Rights in the Philippines page on the Human Rights in ASEAN website. 

Sources of Law

The main sources of Philippine law are:

  • the Constitution - the fundamental and supreme law of the land
  • statutes - including Acts of Congress, municipal charters, municipal legislation, court rules, administrative rules and orders, legislative rules and presidential issuances.
  • treaties and conventions - these have the same force of authority as statutes.
  • judicial decisions - Art 8 of the Civil Code provides that ‘judicial decisions applying to or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines’. Only decisions of its Supreme Court establish jurisprudence and are binding on all other courts.

To some extent, customary law also forms part of the Filipino legal system. Art 6, para 2 of the Constitution provides that ‘the State shall recognise, respect, and protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions and institutions’.

The primary sources of Muslim law / Shariah are the Quran, Sunnaqh, Ijma and Qiyas.