Bureaucracy in the Philippines - Book Review

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Book Review

The Bureaucracy in the Philippines
Dr. Onofre D. Corpuz
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Institute of Public Administration: University of the Philippines, 1957. 268 pp.

This book is about the administrative history of the bureaucracy in the Philippines. It spans from the 1560’s when Spain undertook to administer the affairs of the natives of the archipelago to the 1950’s when the Filipinos assumed the responsibility of self-government. The author presented the significant phases in the evolution of our administrative apparatus to identify the important characteristics of the current form and functions of the civil service of the Philippine government.

In Chapter 1, Dr. Corpuz described the native life of the inhabitants before the arrival of the Spaniards. These inhabitants were not strangers to progress and civilization. Although the pre-Spanish Filipinos were in a state of cultural maturity, it was maturity at a low level. It was a stage of cultural inadequacy based on an old and simple framework. The author briefly discussed the transition of the Philippine bureaucracy from the time that we’re still a colony of foreign nations to the time that the Philippines became an independent republic.

The author reconstructed, in Chapter 2, the setting in which Spain’s colonial bureaucracy appeared around the middle of the 16th century. The author also described how the Spanish colonial government “organized” the colony in Filipinas. Also discussed was the expedition headed by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 21 November 1564, how his peaceful diplomacy won the allegiance of many subjects and the establishment of Manila as a city and Legazpi’s capital.

Chapter 3 discussed the two concepts on how bureaucracy may be viewed: (1) as an organization or apparatus;
(2) as a collection of individual bureaucrats, placing more emphasis on the 2nd concept of bureaucracy – the realities of bureaucratic behaviour. The chapter is devoted to a study of Spanish bureaucrats.

The author also discussed the following:
a. how bureaucrats are appointed in Filipinas and in Spain – the processes and criteria involved in obtaining the king’s favor; b. how to acquire/purchase an office where many bureaucrats obtained their positions; c. detailed conditions under which Spanish bureaucrats as a whole lived and worked; and d. how the administrative organization was centralized in Manila for control and communications purposes.

The next two chapters are dedicated in highlighting the essentials of life and service of the highest-ranking bureaucrats – the Presidente-Gobernador (Governor-General), the Oidores, Fiscales, and Reales Oficiales – who constituted the governmental bureaucracy in Manila.

The author, in Chapter 4, described the governor-general of Filipinas which had the attributes of a super-bureaucrat. Also discussed, in general, was the performance of the different governor-general appointed in Filipinas and illustrated the conflict between the clergy and the governors and the instability of the governorship – which office was considered as an opportunity for private material profit.

Chapter 5 is dedicated to the discussion of the Audiencia of Manila and its bureaucrats and the Royal Officials. The Audiencia performed functions of a superior judicial tribunal; the highest court of justice in the colonies. The author discussed the conditions, restrictions, the legislative and judicial functions and the organizational changes of the office. Also discussed are the functions and conditions of the “Royal Official” (Reales Oficiales) or the oficial de la real hacienda who are the administrators of the king’s personal estate or the royal hacienda. It should be remembered that the various dominions/colonies in the Indias are considered as the king’s personal property or estate. “As a monarch, he entrusted the government of his kingdoms and provinces to viceroys,...
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