FOR THE last hundred years, politicians have died, and killed, for the perks of local office—including control of substantial revenues, as well as cuts from pork barrel funds, government contracts, even jueteng and smuggling operations.
In 1991, Congress passed the Local Government Code which devolved power to local government units. The Code shifts the locus of power from manila to the regions. For the first time in Philippine history, local governments now have the authority and potentially, also the resources, to become independent power centers.
These changes also mean that local office is now more lucrative than ever. That is why local elites are contesting municipal and provincial government posts with renewed intensity.
Boss looks at five areas in the Philippines and examines what is at stake in the struggle for local office. It describes the political and economic geography of these areas and explains why, despite urbanization and economic growth, local clans, warlords and politicians remain powerful.