January 12–13, 1999
Co-hosted by the World Bank and
The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Abstracts of Papers Presented
Local Governance and Metropolitan Coordination in the Philippines
Romeo Ocampo, University of the Philippines
The paper begins by discussing the implications of globalization and localization for the nation state. It emphasizes the continuing role of states and local governments in development, and the need for them to take on a more entrepreneurial role. In Metro Manila, urban growth was largely unplanned, although the government has recently played a larger role in promoting development. The power of local government in the Philippines has been constrained by a strong central presence—including direct presidential control for much of the country's independent history. The current metropolitan authority remains appointed rather than elected. Local government units (17 municipalities) under it are voted into office, and they have been given increasing power. Nonetheless the paper argues that political dynasties, opaque methods of governance and other limits on popular participation remain widespread, and the Metro Manila poor remain more victims than clients of government activities. The paper argues that this suggests the need for broad-based reform to increase participation and effective governance.