Strong-Arming, Weak Steering: Central-Local Relations in the Philippines in the Era of the Pandemic

Paul Hutchcroft, Weena Gera

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This article examines central-local dynamics in the Philippines in the era of the pandemic, demonstrating that the national government has not provided the type of “central steering” necessary to confront a foe as tenacious as COVID-19. Instead, there is another type of power that emanates from the center - namely the strong-arming of local politicians by President Rodrigo Duterte. While this form of power may help conceal the government’s “weak steering,” and make the president appear to be in control, it does not produce the quality of national-subnational coordination required for effective pandemic response. It is an escalation of Duterte’s earlier approaches, from 2016 to 2019, albeit no longer accompanied with rhetoric supporting local autonomy. Through examination of key elements of the government’s pandemic response, we advance our core argument: strong-arming is no substitute for effective central steering - whether in responding to this crisis or to other crises that may emerge in the future.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)123-167
    JournalPhilippine Political Science Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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