The Philippine condition was a reflection of the political, economic and socio-religious developments of Spain. During the 16th and the 17th century almost all European monarchs adopted the political idea of absolutism as well as the economic system of mercantilism. Under the system of mercantilism, the king was involved in extensive intervention of any economic life to foster national growth. The Spanish government was highly centralized in form.
All the Spanish governmental powers were all undertaken by this council; executive, legislative and judicial, and were transmitted to all governor-generals in each respective colony. The royal orders and edicts became the guides of any governor-general in administering the Philippines. He was at first appointed by the Viceroy of Mexico and later by the monarch of Spain. His vast powers and the distance of the Philippines from either Spain or Mexico shaped natural tendencies of a governor-general to be abusive. The Philippines was divided into provinces and special districts.
They were known as alcaldias and each under the charge of an alcalde mayor. The special districts were the unconquered regions or corregimientos, where Filipino resistance still went on. Unlike the governor-general, the alcalde mayor never had any legislative power. Only judicial cases over his towns were under his jurisdiction cases involving the amount of not more than Php200. The church prevailing principle of adaptation greatly influenced the Spanish government to relatively retain the prehispanic political structure of the Filipinos.
In the beginning of Legaspi’s conquest, the office of gobernadorcillo, which is equivalent to the present town mayor, was heredity; opened to descendants of the datu or chieftains. The mayor political change in the choice of a gobernadorcillo came in 1847, when the Spanish Crown directed and sent the first Spanish Code of Laws for the native Filipinos. The election laws of 1847, according to Arcilla, required the following qualifications: a) he must be a native born; b) he must be 25 years old; c) able to read and write in Spanish; and d) never been guilty of any crime.
The election was set in November, for a term of 2 years. The cabeza de barangay remained appointive; all were under the supervisory of the local priest and the alcalde mayor. The governadorcillo was tasked to supervise the collection of taxes in his town and pay the difference from his pocket if the collection of the taxes would not tally to the defective; inadequate census prepared and estimated by the Spanish friars. What made the Philippines government form unique was the union of church and state.
By virtue of the Patronato Real, the Spanish king had the right to rule lands discovered, with a duty of supporting the material needs of the church in those lands. In other words, the king had the right to command and demand what was necessary to carry out the task he accepted from Rome, in order to help spread the Christian religion. The mighty Philip II, who had assumed these religious rights, seemed that his interest was in his mind, so, when we speak of the church in the Philippines during the Spanish regime, we mean particularly the Spanish church serving the ends of Spanish empire.
The marriage between the church and state enabled the religious to occupy and dominate significant governmental positions. Historians acknowledge the fact that the real representative of the Spanish Crown was the church not the state. The Spanish Church was too conservative while they were responsible for the Christianization of the Filipinos they were also deterrents to nation’s progress thus, in the 19th century the Filipino propagandists, reformists and revolutionists demanded their expulsion from the Philippines.