The Philippine Council of State is an advisory body first established during the American Colonial Period by the Governor-General of the Philippines Francis Burton Harrison upon the recommendation of Philippine politicians and future Presidents of the Philippines Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña. Governor-General Harrison issued an executive order on 16 October 1918, creating the first Council of State in the Philippines "to harmonise the executive and legislative departments".
It was the Council’s duty to advise the Governor-General on matters such as the creation of policies for administering government offices. The Council's mandate included the provision that all executive bureaus (except Public Instruction) be headed by Filipinos and that these agencies assist the Philippine Legislature in creating laws. Filipinos now had equal say in all aspects of policy making and budget preparation. At the time Governor-General Harrison declared, "It will now never be so... for an executive to ride ruthlessly over the people he is sent here to govern, without due regard for their sentiments and due consideration of their wishes".
The Council held weekly meetings and whenever convened by the Governor-General. It was composed of the Governor-General, department secretaries, the Speaker of the Lower House, and the Senate President. During Harrison’s term, the executive and legislative branches of government worked harmoniously with each other.
The Council was restored during the Commonwealth of the Philippines under then-Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon.
The Council of State was an integral institution under the rule of José P. Laurel and his Japanese-controlled Second Republic.
Shortly after Philippine independence following World War II, President Manuel Roxas restored the original Council, and it became a feature of succeeding administrations. President and strongman Ferdinand Marcos, however, made no appointments to the Council of State and never convened it during his twenty-one-year-long rule from 1965 to 1986.
It was revived by President Corazon Aquino, but the Council lapsed into disuse but was never being formally abolished. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reconvened it in 2005.
Former Presidents are, among other things, customarily made Councillors of State for life, owing to their experience.