Reflections on a Weak State and Dilemma of Decentralization

Amando Doronila


The weakness of the state’s capacity to get things done, especially in the context of the emphasis placed by the government of President Ramos on expediting growth, raises questions about whether the project of decentralizing the authority and resources of the central government in favor of local governments are creating mutually exclusive tensions between central and local governments. These seemingly contradictory tendencies of centralism and localism pose a dilemma to the building of a strong Philippine state. This paper examines this dilemma and its ramifications. It concludes by challenging the argument that decentralization is a democratizing tendency in the Philippine context, as it has only pushed to the surface the historic tensions between centralism and localism in Philippine society. At present, the country still needs a chief executive that has the capacity to generate initiatives toward economic development. Maintaining a policy of decentralization today could lead to a permanently weak executive and a weak state.

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