Country name Republic of the Philippines
Surface area 299,404 km² (about 8 times that of Japan)
(made up of 7,109 islands)
Population About 92.34 million (2010; National census)
Population density 333.7/km² (2014)
Percentage of urban population 44.5% (2014)
GDP USD 270.2 billion (2013; IMF)
GDP per capita USD 2,790 (2013; IMF)
Percentage of employment by industry Primary industry: 31.0%
Secondary industry: 15.6%
Tertiary industry: 53.4% (2013)
Economic growth rate 7.20% (2013; Statistics of the Government of the Philippines)

Country Profile

The Republic of the Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands stretching 1,851 km from north to south. The 11 largest islands, which include Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Samar, Leyte, and Cebu, make up 96% of the country's surface area.

The Philippines is one of the most urbanized developing countries in Asia: by 1990 about half of the population was living in urban areas.

There is a large disparity between the rich and the poor among the general population, and many relocate to cities seeking work. The eradication of poverty is one of the most pressing tasks the country faces. Three quarters of the poor live in rural areas.

Situated in this predominantly Christian country (accounting for 93% of the population), the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in particular suffers marked underdevelopment.

Map of the Philippines

Map of the Philippines

Local Governments and Spatial Planning System

The local government administrative system in the Philippines is three-tiered, consisting of: 1) provinces and highly urbanized cities, 2) cities ("component cities") and municipalities, and 3) bangarays (the smallest administrative unit). The planning system as it relates to land policies from the national to regional levels entails spatial planning and socioeconomic development planning. There are plans under both of these frameworks that are implemented at the regional level, a region in this case being a division created out in order to bunch multiple provinces together for nominal administrative purposes.

Figure:Planning system

Planning system

Figure:Political / administrative system

Political/administrative system

Sources: "Report on the 2008 National Spatial Policy Seminar" (2009)
National and Regional Planning Bureau, MLIT, Japan

Major Authorities Relating to Spatial Policy

Program name or
administrative field
Organizations Webpage
Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan National Economic and Development Authority
National Framework for Physical Planning National Economic and Development Authority
Physical Framework Plan for Metropolitan Manila Metropolitan Manila Development Authority

Spatial Planning and Territorial Development Policy

Socioeconomic Planning System at the National and Regional Levels

A Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) remains in force for six years, corresponding to the term of office of the country's president (however, the recent plan is a five-year plan, "Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016", starting from the second year of the presidency). It is a national program that outlines the policies the president wishes to institute during his or her term. MTPDPs corresponding to presidential terms came into being in 1986. These replaced the four-year and five-year plans that had continued since the 1970s.

MTPDPs lay out major policy initiatives, socioeconomic strategies, and major national programs. Regional development plans, meanwhile, stipulate strategies, programs and projects that facilitate the goals of the national plans.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), which charged with drafting the MTPDPs, coordinates with related agencies in formulating the plan. The final product is subject to the approval by a NEDA committee made up of government cabinet members (the "Cabinet Committee") and chaired by the president.

The NEDA's drafts for the national development plan and its policies serve as the basis for drafting, reviewing, and deliberating the regional development plans. Regional Development Council (RDC) organized in each region (except for NCR, ARMM and CAR which have different organizations) is the counterparts of NEDA regional office established in each region (except for NCR and ARMM) that decides how plans should be implemented at the regional and municipal levels. Each RDC is made up of regional/municipal representatives, representatives from government arms in the region, and members of the private sector.

Spatial Planning Systems at the National and Regional Levels

Rooted in the notion that spatial planning should be done from a long-term perspective, the 30-year "National Physical Framework Plan, 1993-2022" (NPFP) was formulated. The second and current plan was renamed the "National Framework for Physical Planning, 2001-2030" (NFPP). Just as NFPP took over NPFF after eight years from its beginning, NFPP too is planned to be reviewed in about a decade from its beginning year and currently, in 2012, the next NFPP is under study.

The NFPP lays out policies and initiatives related to the distribution, utilization, management, and development of land and material resources. The ultimate purpose of the plan is to raise land productivity, protect and ensure the sustainability of resources, facilitate the coherent development of housing, and build an infrastructure that helps promote or assist in development. Similar to NFPF, NFPP was established through the office of NEDA by NLUC (National Land Use Committees), which consists of related ministries and is in close connection with NEDA. Today NLUC is positioned as one of the subordinate committee of NEDA committee (its position was changed by Executive Order No.770 in 2008.)

There was a reason behind the name change from NPFP to NFPP. The previous plan restricted the actions of the lower-tiered administrative authorities. The new framework, in contrast, is designed to relieve such restrictions and give local authorities more say in policy decisions.

In a development that paralleled the creation of the NFPP, at the regional level, Regional Physical Framework Plans (RPFPs) came to be drafted. Just as with the NFPP, the RPFPs presented local authorities with choices and directions for policy. The national and regional NEDA offices direct the creation of RPFPs (except for NCR and ARMM), but each RPFP must be approved by the local Regional Development Council (see above) (this also excludes NCR and ARMM, and also CAR). Except for two regions (NCR and CAR), target year of current RPFPs of all the regions including ARMM is 2030.

Figure:Zoning map of Metropolitan Manila

Zoning map of Metropolitan Manila

Source: Metro Manila Development Authority (1999) "Physical Framework Plan for Metropolitan Manila, 1996-2016"

Metropolitan Planning System

Metropolitan Manila (NCR or Metro Manila) is the only urban area in the country of which its geographical area and administrative power is legally defined (by 1995 Act for creating Metro Manila Development Authority). (There are cases out of NCR where a big city and its surrounding local government units naming themselves Metro Sebu, Metro Davao, etc., and carrying out wide-area administration for partial duties, according to their voluntary agreement, which have legal basis in the 1986 Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991).

After Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the government agency, came into being in 1995, the first spatial planning document it issued was the "Physical Development Framework Plan for Metropolitan Manila, 1996-2016" (PDFPFMM). The plan was amended in 1999 (its name and planning period remains as it was in 1996) and is maintained until now, but at the moment in February 2012, to replace it, formulation of a plan called "Metro Manila Green Print 2030" is under preparation.

As a plan corresponding to Regional Development Plans of other regions, Regional Development Plan for the National Capital Region 2010-2016 (RDP-NCR) was established. For this plan MMDA plays the role of NEDA regional offices in the cases of other regions and the plan is established through the approval of Metro Manila Council (MMC) which corresponds Regional Development Councils (RDCs) of other regions. MMC is the policymaking organization of MMDA that consists of all the cities' and municipalities' mayors in NCR and was given the status as a RDC by an executive order in 2002.

Other Policies with Significant Territorial Effects

Industrial Cluster Strategy

The Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 (PDP) sets out "Industrial Cluster Strategy" to promote creation of industrial clusters (geographical accumulation of specific industry) reflecting industrial activity and infrastructural character of respective domestic area which will contribute to the creation of regional wealth through export. In this strategy, through developing industrial clusters, the government intends to promote fostering of inter-business cooperation between small and medium tiny companies to strengthen network toward collaboration, and this is based on the understanding that the past development policy had lead the country to "fall into the path of a trickle-down jobless growth" (words from the Preface of PDP. Trickle-down is an economic thought that expresses vitalization of economic activities of large enterprises and wealthy class will make a stream of wealth pouring down onto low-income class that will finally bring benefit to the whole nation).

Figure:Zoning map of Metropolitan Manila

Zoning map of Metropolitan Manila

Source: National Economic Development Agency (2011) "Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016"