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THE EFFECTS OF DECENTRALIZATION ON PERIPHERAL DEVELOPMENT

AND MODERN STATE FORMATION IN THE PHILIPPINES

Antonio Miguel M. Lagura, III AB EC


Yuumei Marie Esma, III AB EC
Cyril Pastor Reyes, III AB EC

A research paper for SOCSCI 110 A - Introduction to Global Studies/ The Contemporary
World to be submitted to Prof. Enrique N​iño Leviste, Ph.D.

Introduction

Decentralization cannot be simplified into a single definition because its


manifestations vary depending upon the context of which it has been applied to (Sharma
2006). According to Sharma, it is neither possible nor desirable to generalize
decentralization (2006). In fact, it is said that decentralization continues to develop as of
present. Nonetheless, decentralization, as a concept, posits two core dimensions: one that is
administrative in nature, commonly known as deconcentration and another that is political in
nature, also known as devolution; in both cases, there is a dispersal of power or authority
from the center (Brillantes 1987). In the Philippines, decentralization has been adopted as a
tool for development administration, dating back all the way to the beginning of last century.
With the West’ direction of modernity towards economic growth and development that
promotes democracy as a principle for governance, thus “decentralized power” becomes a
fundamental principle in almost every nation state in the world. Yin and Lucas (1973),
following the United States’ history of decentralization, cite that to foster development, one
of the challenges the economy must overcome is alienation. To reduce the alienation of
regions outside Manila, decentralization must encourage participatory governance from the
local government units (Yin and Lucas 1973). As decentralizing the public services instigates
political autonomy from the peripheries, ideally it reduces their economic stagnation, further
reinforcing democracy. Thus, the ideal practice of decentralization must also be an invocation
of democracy through an active participatory local government. ​However, such freedom also
perpetuates political dynasties. And with such encroachment, it questions the success of
decentralization in forwarding democracy and development of the Filipino people coming
from the peripheries. Nonetheless, the employment of a western framework signifies the role
of decentralization in advancing the Philippine state towards modernity. It is with these
notions in mind that the researchers want to address the following questions: has
decentralization been effective in upholding its own goals? Is there a need to accelerate the
course of decentralization by way of a federal form of government? Must decentralization be
viewed as an extreme end, or must it be considered in the manner of a spectrum (opposite to
centralization)? Lastly, is there a need to accelerate the course of decentralization by way of a
federal form of government?

Literature Review

Decentralization

According to Sharma, decentralization has become the “most favoured policy


priority” among the policy makers since they are methods of industrialization or development
(2006). This can be justified with the different studies across different countries which
produced different results.
To understand the different facets of decentralization, which refers to the transfer of
power from central government to lower levels, we must understand its different
implementations as noted by Yuliani (2004). One of its implementations would be
deconcentration which refers to the process of “agents of central government control” are
“relocated and geographically dispersed” (Yuliani 2004). Moreover, administrative
decentralization has a similar thematic to this which will be explained later on.
Another implementation would be devolution, which refers to the “transfer of natural
resource management to local individuals and institutions located within and outside of
government” (Yuliani 2004). As noted by Yuliani, this is a form of administrative
decentralization that deals with transfers of rights and assets within the context of national
laws (2004).
Another implementation would be delegation, which refers to the “transfer of
managerial responsibility for specified functions to other public organizations outside normal
central government control” (Yuliani 2004). However, Yuliani notes that they would still
respond to the central government as form of responsibility but not totally controlled by them
(2004).

Decentralization in the Philippines

Brillantes (1987) states that one reason why decentralization is adopted is to enable
“maximum participation of the people concerned in the decision-making processes on issues
that concern them directly.” The training of local government units to become more
“self-reliant” has also been touted as another justification for decentralization in the
Philippines (Brillantes 1987). Lastly, application of decentralization leads to the hastening of
decision-making processes by removing the “traditional red tape” (Brillantes 1987). Given
that it decongests the central government of certain functions by delegating them to lower
levels of government, it is hoped that the needs of localities would be better addressed by
local authorities who (ideally) would be aware of the actual needs of their constituents.
In the Philippine context, the history of decentralization can easily be traced through
the changes made to the provisions of the constitution concerning local government units
throughout the years. This refers to the provisions on local government autonomy and their
functions on participation in planning and development. However, as noted by Brillantes,
there are issues in allowing the implementation of these provisions due to a safeguard of
“supervision” given to the central government (1987). This results to the lack of practice in
autonomy of local governments as argued by Brillantes (1987).
In the article done by Brillantes, it shows two modes of decentralization namely,
political decentralization and administrative decentralization. Political decentralization refers
to “devolution” which talks about the “transfer of power” for the performance of certain
functions from central authorities to lower levels of government (Brillantes 1987).
Administrative decentralization refers to “deconcentration” which is the process of
“delegating functions” from the central government to the lower levels of government. Given
the two modes, Brillantes emphasizes that decentralization in general embraces both modes.
Political decentralization produces the general theme of “local autonomy” which talks
about ability of a local government for self-government (Brillantes 1987). This includes the
criterias of having a set of elected officials within a certain area of responsibility. Moreover,
the criteria of a delineating responsibilities between the local and central government are
necessary when it comes to decision-making whether the approval of the higher-ups is
needed or not. Furthermore, the authority to generate local revenues come along as a criteria
of local autonomy.
Meanwhile, through administrative decentralization, it produces the general theme of
“regionalization” which refers to the division of the country into regions with the
organization of regional structures that facilitate planning and administration at these levels
as part of deconcentration as a form of decentralization.

Measuring Decentralization: Alienation

According to Yin and Lucas (1973), decentralization as a tool for development


administration aims to reduce citizen alienation, as such alludes to the “general citizen
orientation toward occupational conditions”. In their study, they assessed the effectiveness of
decentralization using the two dimensions of alienation - distrust and powerlessness in
relation to the three ways decentralization can reduce alienation - participation, local
awareness and service improvement hypotheses. The study concludes that there is no direct
correlation between decentralization and reducing alienation. Yin and Lucas further suggest
that though decentralization by itself cannot remedy alienation, it plays a role in instigating a
closer linkage between the government and the citizenry.

Theoretical Framework

In analyzing the effects of decentralization on the Philippine state, this paper will be
relying on several theoretical frameworks from various papers on decentralization. This paper
will take off from the premise that decentralization, as a policy of modernization, is intended
to promote participatory governance and peripheral development in the Philippine state.
The main definition of decentralization which will be used as the cornerstone of this
study is provided by Brillantes (1987), which states that “in most general terms,
decentralization may be defined as a state or condition in a governmental system where there
is a dispersal of power or authority from the center” (Brillantes 1987). In the Philippine
context, this is further propounded by the existence of the Local Government Code of 1991,
which serves as the primary statute which governs the implementation of decentralization in
the Philippines. The 1987 Philippine also tangentially touched on decentralization via Section
3, Article X, which was the specific provision which led to the crafting of the 1991 Local
Government Code. These documents will provide the underlying foundation for defining and
identifying concepts pertaining decentralization.
Decentralization as a concept is considered a core component of the development of
modern states. Eaton et. al. (2010) posits that “roughly since the emergence of the modern
nation-state, struggles between and within national and subnational government entities over
which levels do what, and with whose revenues, have been at the core of state formation.”
Additionally, Faguet (2011) states that “the trend (of decentralization) encompasses all of the
world’s regions, and includes nations rich and poor, large and small, and with very different
colonial histories.” Following this framework, this study will be approaching various issues
and notions surrounding decentralization with a view towards considering decentralization as
a component of the larger process of state formation. As a corollary to this analysis, the
notion of decentralization as an ongoing process will also be adopted as central to our
analysis. This is supported by a statement in Caldwell and Harris (2006) that “in nations
around the world, the balance of centralization and decentralization is constantly changing.​”
In order to closely evaluate the tangible effects of decentralization in the Philippine
context, this paper will employ several specific approaches towards the concept of
decentralization. The notion of participatory governance is encapsulated by Brillantes (1987)
when he states that decentralization is intended to enable “maximum citizen participation of
the people concerned in the decision making processes on issues that concern them directly
(Brillantes 1987). Participatory governance will be a focal point of the discussion on
decentralization, as it is one of the principal justifications for the implementation of
decentralization in the Philippines.
Another aspect of decentralization that this paper will focus on is the concept of
peripheral development. This framework is supported by the analysis provided by Self (2009)
on the economic criteria of decentralization, which enables “local communities to choose
(through their representatives) that bundle of government services which they prefer, thus
increasing the scope for consumers’ choice within government.” It is from this very notion
that peripheral development, which refers to development in areas away from the capital
(“Imperial Manila”), is assumed to be a desired outcome of decentralization.
A portion of the analysis will also be dedicated towards the inadvertent strengthening
of political dynasties as a result of the provisions behind decentralization. Several
mechanisms of such entrenchment are analyzed in this paper (Mendoza and Banaag 2017;
Capuno 2013; Porio 2012), such as gerrymandering (Capuno 2013) and networked
governance practices (Porio 2012). The analysis will conclude on an evaluation of this
unavoidable trade-off, as well as a portion focusing on measures which the Philippine
government can employ in order to mitigate the harms of this reality, while allowing them to
reap the benefits that decentralization brings to the fore.
An analysis on the relation between decentralization and modernization will also be
made in this paper. Emphasis will be placed on the notion of decentralization as a tool of
development administration, as well as on the ever-changing nature of decentralization which
coincides with the ongoing process of state formation which is a cornerstone of the wider
process of state modernization.
Lastly, a portion of the analysis will also be dedicated to discussing a possible
framework for approaching decentralization in the Philippines. The “Filipinization” of
decentralization, which entails an exhaustive analysis and review over the provisions of the
1991 Local Government Code and their tangible applications in the Philippine governance,
could potentially serve as a framework in which to place the debate on adopting a federal
form of government for the Philippines.

Methodology

For the purposes of this study, the researchers will be employing archival research, as
well as relying on documents such as statutes (e.g. The 1991 Local Government Code and the
1987 Philippine Constitution) and studies by reputable scholars in order to establish a
theoretical framework with which to address the various issues and problems surrounding
decentralization. Additionally, empirical data extracted from other studies will also be used to
illustrate certain points that will be posited in this paper, such as when comparing
development indicators between one area and another.
The nature of this study is largely qualitative in the sense that it aims to explore
certain themes and issues which are relevant to the concept of decentralization on the
Philippines. Aside from exploring the central themes of decentralization, this study will also
explore the effects of decentralization on the Philippine state. After laying down the various
theories posited by various scholars regarding the different aspects of decentralization, the
researchers will provide their own unique analysis of such theories by juxtaposing them with
the actual condition and state in the Philippine context.

Discussion and Analysis

The Promise of Participatory Governance

As stated earlier, administrative decentralization establishes the notion of


participatory governance through the operationalization of “regionalization” wherein there
are two models involved namely: the department model and the bureau model. For the
department model, a regional office is set up as a “mini” department office of a certain
agency in performing one function (Brillantes 1987). For example, the Department of
Education has regional offices which are designed to function in “parallel” to the central
office and has a direct line authority between the agency head (department secretary) and the
regional director (Brillantes 1987).
Another model would be the bureau model wherein there is still direct line authority
between the central office’s major units and the regional offices (Brillantes 1987). However,
the regional director acts as the mediator since the functional specialists, who are in the major
units of the central office, “provide advice” to their regional counterparts (Brillantes 1987).
Another difference of the bureau model from the department model would be the function
that it should be implemented in departments performing a wide-variety of functions
(Brillantes 1987). This projects an image of bureaus between the line authority of the central
office and the regional offices. For example, the Department of Natural Resources has four
bureaus with different specific functions namely: mines regulation, fisheries, aquatic
resources and lands. Given the numerous functions of a certain agency, the difficulty of
coordination and integration in a single regional office can be present (Brillantes 1987). This
is remedied through the bureau model.
However, Brillantes emphasizes that not all government agencies can follow a
regionalization model. This is because their unique missions do not need an “extensive
network of regionalization” (1987). An example cited would be the Department of National
Defense and the Department of Foreign Affairs wherein Brillantes states that they require a
different mechanism for operating regionalization due to their different functions.
An important point of discussion would be issues of coordination also pose a threat to
the “regionalization” process introduced by Brillantes (1987). This comes from members not
taking this matter “seriously” which then weakens the activities of development planning in
their areas. Thus, resulting to negative gains to as argued by Brillantes since there is a lack of
effort on making efficient plans (1987). With that said, the promise of participatory
governance is not actualized if this matter is not taken seriously and given great importance
in terms of implication.
However, one must take note that when implemented properly, not only do the local
government units take part in this participatory development but also its citizens in the local
areas. This can be seen through the notion stated earlier about responding to the needs of the
area which may pertain to the needs of the citizens. It may also take a direct form through
surveys which may serve as form of forum in choosing certain projects in addressing the
development needs of the community. In short, the responses of the beneficiaries can be
taken as important information in planning certain projects for the community.
Peripheral Development and Decentralization

Given how Brillantes connotes the role that decentralization plays in the development
of the country through notions of efficiency in the manner of devolution, Sharma argues
differently on how decentralization takes on a different form in affecting various countries.
Given that there are different measures and degrees of decentralization present in various
countries, there are different results produced. This can be due to the fact that decentralization
is multifaceted. For instance, Sharma cites that positive gains such as “improved
macroeconomic management” which are conventionally attached to decentralization “are not
always” directly proportional to the degree of it (2006). Meaning, there are negative gains
like corruption that are also associated with decentralization. Moreover, it becomes more
problematic when we take into account the instances where the level of autonomy is unclear.
For example, in comparing two local areas wherein one has significant resources through
fiscal decentralization but deconcentrated authority through administrative centralization with
one that has few resources due to fiscal centralization but concentrated authority due to
administrative decentralization (Sharma 2006).
Given the example, the indicators of decentralization also pose a problem due to the
fact that it is multifaceted which then brings “contradicting findings” (Sharma 2006).
Furthermore, we take into account the issues that decentralization faces when taking into
account its goal on promoting development. For instance, Sharma argues that legacies or
problems encountered in centralization can affect the decentralization efforts like
“institutional rigidity, asymmetry in information and supply-driven interventions” which
impedes the effectivity of decentralization in achieving effective local institutions.
As we approach the Philippine context after the discussion on different measures and
degrees it is important to note that Brillantes notes some issues in the implementation of
decentralization in the Philippines. For instance, a section in the Local Government Code, as
noted by Dumogho, talks about the state exercising general “supervision” over local
governments (2006). Given that, Brillantes argues that central governments had a tight hold
over local governments despite autonomy provisions through “order[s] of investigation of the
conduct of local government officials” as a power which entailed the provision of supervision
(1987).
Given that argument, one can argue that peripheral development is halted due to the
constriction of the government on local institutions. This is because in practicing their
autonomy, their ability in creating sources of local revenue that will meet the needs of the
people in their area are affected. This means that, the generation of revenue is necessary in
achieving development through projects. Moreover, if local institutions are unable to address
the needs of their respective constituencies, slow development occurs. This presents itself as
a negative gain, which runs contrary to the stated goals of the Local Government Code on
local development. This can be supported through the supervision provision of the
government which depicts the notion of seeking approval and reviews on decision-making
given the interference.

The (Unintended) Strengthening of Political Dynasties

While the aforementioned paragraphs have outlined the effects of decentralization on


participatory governance and peripheral development, another unintended effect of
decentralization needs to be discussed: the inadvertent ​strengthening of political dynasties.
Mendoza and Banaag (2017) state that “some analysts point to the expansion of dynasties
under the country’s decentralized governance.” In order to further illustrate this point, they
provide this testimony in their study:

Numerous empirical studies point to the detrimental clan-based practices in


public finance. Disaster reconstruction funds are historically allocated based on
clan ties according to a study by University of Michigan economists including
Nico Ravanilla and Allan Hicken. Joseph Capuno of University of the
Philippines found evidence that gerrymandering (the creation of new political
jurisdictions) favors the expansion of political clans. Finally, several studies by
ADB, AIM, Ateneo and UP economists show how political dynasties thrive in
the poorest underdeveloped regions in the Philippines, where human
development and economic progress fails to take root (Mendoza and Banaag
2017).

Capuno (2013) posits a specific mechanism by which decentralization may


potentially enable political dynasties. The study posits that, as a result of the fiscal transfer
system under decentralization, local authorities (particularly those part of political dynasties)
may be motivated to advocate for “alternative administrative configurations” (Capuno 2013)
due to self-serving interests such as increased “revenue shares or fiscal grants from the
national government” (Capuno 2013), or increasing the number of positions (both elective
and appointive) available for their family members to occupy (Capuno 2013). The main crux
of this point stems from the fact that redistricting is primarily decided by legislative fiat.
Such “legislative fiat,” in turn, is largely influenced by the patron-client relations of which
political dynasties (particularly those at the local level) are very much a part of.
Consequently, it can be said that “an unintended consequence of the fiscal transfer system
under decentralization” is gerrymandering, which is the manipulation of electoral district
boundaries to favor certain political interests. In this particular instance, the advent of fiscal
motivations could potentially push political dynasties to leverage their political capital in
order to receive the aforementioned benefits, further entrenching their hold on power at the
local level.
Porio (2012) argues that while “decentralization has allowed some local governments
to initiate effective, efficient, and accountable structures, thus becoming more responsive to
the needs of their constituents,” the study also states that decentralization “has also led to the
strengthening of the traditional elites/political families and allied power structures as well as
the creation of new ones” (Porio 2012). The study further argues that:

Traditional power elites like the political families of Pasig City and Las Pinas
City in Metro Manila are able to mobilize the spaces that the forces of
decentralization/democratisation have opened up by utilizing ‘networked
governance practices’ in establishing their hold over local government and
their constituencies (Porio 2012).

By “networked governance practices,” Porio (2012) refers to the usage by local chief
executives of “socio-political and economic networks strongly connected to civil society
when implementing their priority programs” (Porio 2012). Such mechanisms allow local
chief executives to procure “socially produced power” which is subsequently “reinforced in
governance structures and practices” (Porio 2012). While such power technically allows
these politicians to better implement policies and programs which would benefit their
constituents, it is also equally likely that they will employ such mechanisms in order to
further entrench themselves in power.
The point illustrated by the aforementioned studies point to the apparent reality that
an unfortunate trade-off that comes with the benefits of decentralization is the inevitable
strengthening of political dynasties. This is problematic because political dynasties continue
to dominate Philippine politics: in 2013, it has been shown that 72 out of 80 provinces were
governed by “178 political clans or dynasties” (Pascual 2013). Another alarming fact is that a
significant number of citizens around the country are either apathetic towards political
dynasties, or even accepting towards them. In a 2016 survey conducted by Pulse Asia, “some
34% of Filipinos saw nothing wrong if candidates belong to political dynasties and would in
fact vote for them in the (then) coming May elections” (Adel 2016).
The realities highlighted by the aforementioned paragraphs is that, in implementing
decentralization, there is an unavoidable trade-off between harnessing its benefits and
inadvertently enabling political dynasties (both old and new). Since most political dynasties
are firmly grounded at the local level (such as the Binays of Makati, and the Garcias of
Cebu), it is highly likely that they will serve as the interlocutors between their local
constituencies and the national government (whether it be through patronage politics,
electoral support, or other means). Being the ones who will occupy political positions at the
local level, they stand to benefit from the increased powers that decentralization brings to the
fore.

Decentralization as a Project of State Modernization

The motivations behind adopting decentralization as a tool for development


administration vary across states. Nonetheless, regardless of the motivation, employing
decentralization for governance promotes a democratic public sector. With decentralization
becoming the “fundamental democratic principle” (Diamond 2004), it is emblematic of a
global trend towards state modernization. In consideration to Rostow’s theory that states a
linear relationship between democracy and economic development, decentralization is used
as a strategy to facilitate state modernization. As a state ‘modernizes’ and incorporates
modern symbols (i.e., economic growth and development, higher standard of living etc.), it is
compelled to adopt policy transformations that endorses democracy as such enables for profit
maximization. With less interferences from the national government, local autonomy is
promoted therefore development designs that meet area-specific needs and concerns are
construed. Consequently, an active locality stimulates development. Similar to a free trade
system, by reducing the encroachment of the national government on rural areas, it allows
localities to direct and maximize their resources towards their own development. In fact, one
of the provisions under the Local Government Code of 1991 is to increase the share of LGUs
in the International Revenue Allotment (IRA), which increases the resources of LGUs to
sustain their development projects (Pagsanghan 1993). Furthermore, such freedom stimulates
political competition that instigates political executives to offer “better public services at a
lower price”, as stated by Myerson, quoted by Faguet (2011). This allows for individual
modernization, such as a higher standard of living for those in the peripheries.
As decentralization extends the reach of the state’s authority by bringing political
democracy to the local levels, it also legitimizes the state further through representation. This
encourages trust and support from the peripheries, and such expansive participatory public
incentivizes state modernization. In a sense, state modernization addresses the modernity
issue about the alienation of peripheries through decentralization. By stimulating a
democratic public sector, it reduces the stagnation ergo alienation of the peripheries both
politically and economically. However, when contextualized, others would argue otherwise.
Decentralization does not necessarily result to the development of the rural areas and
modernization of the peripheries because it remains susceptible to the dominating power
relations. Given the capital-intensive demands of modernization, decentralization pressures
the rural areas to depend on the urban areas, which may reinforce the polarization between
the two thereby alienating the former further. The fact that federalism (a means for
decentralization) remains a big debate in the Philippines because of the economy’s financial
dependence on the urban areas is emblematic of this. In this regard, notions such as
decentralization (and centralization) must not be fixed on the frameworks purported by the
West. Different states, especially coming from developing countries, manifest
decentralization differently as they require varying degrees of decentralized power to achieve
modernization. To further, this alludes to a diverging notions of state modernization. Some
states would employ complete devolution of power, which is a trend seen from most
developed countries (World Bank 2008). Others would necessitate towards a weaker degree
because the nature of their areas, such as the presence of warring groups, may incite disorder.
And with an unregulated democracy, decentralization leads to a level of mobilization
exceeding the level of institutionalization (Huntington 1968).

“Filipinization” of Decentralization

The considerations cited above regarding decentralization leads us to question


whether or not it would be wise to continue applying Western standards of decentralization in
the Philippine context. After all, the existence of multiple case studies which focus on the
Philippines purport to the fact that there are several unique factors which could potentially
affect (both positively or negatively) the implementation of decentralization in the
Philippines. Going back to the argument that “in nations around the world, the balance of
centralization and decentralization is constantly changing” (Caldwell & Harris 2006), the
Philippine government should not be so quick to impose radical changes to the governmental
structure put in place without a thorough assessment of the unique factors which affect the
effectivity of decentralization as tool for development administration in the Philippines.
Tangibly speaking, such “radical changes” are clearly manifested in the clamor for
federalism in the Philippines, which represents an extreme form of decentralization which
would radically alter the ability of government to render services to their constituencies.
While there are valid arguments supporting the implementation of a federal system (such as
the perceived inequality between the “Greater Manila Area” and the peripheral areas), issues
which plague decentralization as of the present, such as the strengthening of political
dynasties and issues with the IRA allotment and design (such as inadequacy of the IRA to
fund expenditure functions assigned to them, among others) (Manasan 2007), are bound to
plague a federal state. In fact, due to the fact that federalism constitutionally delineates duties
between the federal and the local states (instead of a top-down devolution of powers), there is
a greater possibility of certain localities “being left behind” in the event of a federal system in
which the issues currently plaguing decentralization are left unattended.
How are these issues addressed? This paper posits a process which can be loosely
called the “Filipinization” of Decentralization. Roughly speaking, it calls for an exhaustive
review of the current decentralized system of the Philippine government, covering all aspects
and dimensions (political, fiscal, and administrative). Once these issues have been identified,
steps can be taken to tactically address them through targeted solutions such as amendments
to the 1991 Local Government Code, and even the recentralization of certain aspects which
have been deemed inefficient under decentralization in the review. Instead of working with a
framework which aims to adopt Western standards of governance in the hopes that local
conditions and circumstances would eventually “adapt,” the government must make an effort
to identify local conditions, issues and problems which could potentially give insight as to
how decentralization in the Philippines can be improved. If this is done properly, the
Philippines can avert the disaster of implementing a flawed federal system which was
doomed from the start by the problems surrounding decentralization to begin with. While
decentralization is much more malleable (due to the relative easiness of amending a statute),
federalism (which requires a constitutional revision) is much more difficult to reverse if it
proves to be the wrong framework for developing the Philippine state.

Conclusion

Decentralization, as a project of modernity in the Philippine state, has not always


yielded consistent results. In fact, there are many instances in which the intended goals of
decentralization have been subverted by other factors in the Philippine state which are not
necessarily beneficial to the interests of the primary stakeholders: the Filipino people. While
there are instances in which decentralization has brought about greater efficiency and
accessibility to local communities, problems such as the prevalence of political dynasties and
inefficiencies brought about by institutional conflicts threaten to retard the progress that
decentralization is intended to bring about.
From the preceding paragraphs, it can be said that while decentralization has indeed
forwarded the interests of the Filipino people in certain aspects, it has also been detrimental
in some respects. The notion of a trade-off between the benefits of decentralization, and the
inadvertent rise of political dynasties as a result of decentralization is one example of the
many dilemmas policymakers face in trying to balance the pros and cons of decentralization.
Can we definitively say that decentralization has upheld its own goals? The answer may be
far from a simple “yes or no,” since decentralization has been shown to be adaptable to the
conditions which are largely present in the Philippine context. While rigid in theory (due to
being encapsulated in a statute), decentralization has proven to be an ongoing experiment
which needs to be carefully managed and observed in order to find the “perfect fit” which
will suit the needs of the Philippine state.
Part and parcel of this experimentation is the acknowledgement that decentralization
is not the solution to every problem in government. Therefore, governments must not be
afraid to decide in favor of re-centralizing certain areas of government if it has been deemed
more efficient. In the Philippine context, there should be no rush to increase the extent of
decentralization unless it has been proven beyond a doubt to be the best course of action.
Connected to this point would be the debate regarding federalism in the Philippines. While
this paper cannot definitely accept or refute the necessity of changing the system of
government towards a federal one, what has at least been established is the importance of
understanding and scrutinizing decentralization as part of the decision-making process.
Decentralization, after all, is the ​de facto ​predecessor of federalism, and if there are
significant issues which hamper the impact of decentralization on the Philippine state, it
would not be wrong to assume that such issues are likely to affect the Philippine state in a
more profound manner under a federal form of government, which is harder to reverse as it
would entail a constitutional change.
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