Samal Moro - Sociopolitical Organization

The modern Philippines is a constitutional democracy with a president, vice-president, and congressional and local officials, all popularly elected.

Social Organization. Principles of hierarchy that apply throughout Philippine society are based on age, occupation, wealth, residence, ethnicity, and, in Sulu, on inherited status. Class mobility has obscured status at both regional and local levels: poor datu families and rich commoner families have emerged. The priestly class ( pakil ) stands above the status conflict. Patron-client relationships are also hierarchical and often involve petty bureaucrats and their relatives in the chain.

Political Organization. The province, each with its capital, is the major political and administrative division in the country. Provinces are organized into districts; each district, into municipalities; and each municipality, into barrios and/or baranggays. The barrio often corresponds to a village or a group of hamlets. The province is run by an elected governor and council, and it sets policies for its constituent municipalities. Municipalities, in turn, elect their mayors and councils, and their baranggay constituency elects the baranggay captain and council. The seat of the municipality is the poblacion, where some measure of urbanism is recognizable. Chartered cities are specialized municipalities governed in parallel to the provinces. Districts elect representatives to the national congress but senators, like the president and vice-president, are elected at large. The national government, through its appropriate bureaus, provides for its citizenry free elementary and selected secondary schools, competitive national universities, public health dispensaries and selected hospitals, public records, tax collection, courts, police, national highways, and water systems. As a rule, the political regions closer to Manila have better access to these facilities. In Sulu many of these services are nonexistent.

Social Control. In Samal villages gossip provides an effective but informal source of social control. Fear of strangers and evil spirits is also invoked in socialization techniques. Both the baranggay captain and the pakil in their advisory capacity can influence or arbitrate on matters that concern the village, via the village council. Beyond the village, the religious court, agama, is the ultimate source of social control.

Conflict. Status distinction between the nobility and commoners often translates into political campaigns for public office, competition for government appointments in a patronage system, and marriage alliance and preference.

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