HomeCA Research Journalvol. 4 no. 1 (2013)

Justice and Health: The Ambivalence of Democracy and Justice in the Devolution of Health Services in the Philippines

Jeffrey Bartilet

Discipline: Philosophy



Hinting on the spirit of the law the architects of the 1987 Constitution has indeed stressed that Philippine society should be participatory, democratic and oriented towards a government that would be pro-people. To accomplish such task legislators incorporated provisions on local autonomy and decentralization which would allow local governments to have a free hand in terms of administration, policy making and delivery of social services. The devolution would then allow the decentralization of power and that governance would be more participatory and make local executives more attentive and accountable to their constituents. The Local Government Code of 1992 provided the legal foundation for this end by putting forth the provisions for shared responsibility in delivery of services to local governments from the provincial level down to the barangay. One primary responsibility of the central government that was put to the process of devolution was the delivery of health services. Years after its implementation problems were encountered not only within the law (the Local Government Code) but also specific policies that were supposed to ensure democratic processes and fair distribution of burdens and responsibilities of the local and national governments. Add to the fact that implementation of devolution have brought to the surface grey areas within the law on devolution. Addressing these issues legally seems to be inadequate. Perhaps a step back would be necessary to re-assess the aims and gains of the devolution of health. It seems that the idea of a deliberative democracy put forth by the German sociologist/philosopher Jurgen Habermas could shed light on this problematic.