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July 29, 2008



Hiya torn,

I agree completely, esp. with your assessment of local authorities here in the UK. Council taxes are extortionate! And yet all you can expect them to do is collect your rubbish twice a week (in Hackney, once a week in Sheffield--which now has an overall LibDem majority for the first time in...centuries).

Dispute with a neighbor? Call the police, is your more likely recourse. (Although it has to be said in certain Manila neighborhoods, the police is your ONLY recourse.) This of course does nothing to build/rebuild trust and 'social capital' within the country.

In the Philippines, we have barangay 'courts'. These function as the first level of mediation, assuming both parties are from the same barangay, and serve to prevent resolvable cases and nuisance suits from reaching the lower courts.

The distrust for and the dysfunctionality of national governments in the Philippines are probably partly rooted in history and geography: the central government used to be synonymous with colonial government. Local settlements had reached high levels of social organization before the Philippine nation and was even founded or before Manila emerged as a hub. Don't know if the same can be said of the UK, where London is way older (as a seat of power and center of commerce) than the rest of the nation.

Bruce in Iloilo

Good post and I agree completely. The barangay system is a wonderful invention. So what if it is tainted by Marcos? Many a positive, democratic political reform were instituted by politicians with selfish reasons. Afterall, how often to politicians support any change that doesn't benefit them? Fortunately, politicians are often short-sighted and don't foresee the good consequences of their selfish act. Further, they eventually leave, either alive or dead, and leave behind their reform.

Regardless of why Marcos create them, the fact that they are elected are their saving grace. If they ever become appointed, as some argue, they will become merely a tool of their appointers and their value would be reduced.

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