Devolution of Local Government in the Philippines

Topics: Local government, Philippines, Government Pages: 19 (5824 words) Published: September 20, 2010

In the later part of the 20th Century there has been a dramatic shift in the manner governments around the world managed their states. Instead of having a centralized form of government, most nation nation-state now somehow adopts the idea of shifting some of the national or central powers to the local government units. This shifting of powers is called Decentralization. Decentralization is the transfer of planning, decision making, or administrative authority from the central government to its field organizations, local governments, and nongovernmental organizations as defined by Rondinellei and Cheema. According to de Guzman and Padilla, decentralization is the dispersal of authority and responsibility and the allocation of powers and functions from the center or top level of government to regional bodies or special purpose authorities, or from the national to the sub national levels of government.

Decentralization is a strategy used by the government towards democratizing the political system and accelerating the attainment of sustainable development”[1] for the reason that it will promote or allow fuller participation of the citizens in government affairs and will give the local governments and the communities a more active role in the economic, social and political development [2]. Government further assumes that through decentralization “development would be more responsive to the needs of the people and would create opportunities in the regions, promote employment and economic activities and as well strengthen people’s participation in the affairs of the government”[3].

Different forms of decentralization can be distinguished primarily in terms of the extent of authority transferred and the amount of autonomy. Decentralization may take the form of devolution and deconcentration. Deconcentration involves the “redistribution of administrative responsibilities only within the central government”[4]. It is not a transfer of power from the central government but merely to “delegate such powers and responsibilities to the hierarchical levels, primarily to facilitate the administration of national programs and services, and this approach is otherwise referred to as administrative decentralization”[5]. Administrative decentralization can take effect without the necessity of legislation but with the issuance of an executive or administrative order. Although the local units now have responsibilities bestowed to them, they are still supervised and controlled the central government; therefore all transactions cannot be done unless approved by the central government. They are not to decide on their own.

Deconcentration is the assignment of functions to ad hoc bodies and special authorities created in the region to render technical assistance on regional development. This could be done in different ways: 1) the shifting of the workload from a central government ministry or agency headquarters to its own field staff located in offices outside the national capital. 2) The transfer of some decision-making discretion to field staffs but with guidelines set by the central ministry. 3) Local administration, in which all subordinate levels of government within a country are agents of central authority, usually the executive branch[6].

Another form of decentralization is delegation or the transfer of some functions to semi-autonomous organization not directly under the control of the central government. Often these organizations have semi-independent authority to perform their responsibilities and may not even be located within the regular government structure[7]. This form is more definitely extensive than administrative deconcentration. Examples are public corporation, regional planning and development authorities, multi purpose and single purpose functional authorities and special project implementation units.

Devolution, on the other hand, “seeks to create or strengthen...
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