Five years after the downfall of Ferdinand E. Marcos, scholars of Philippine politics have yet to achieve even minimal consensus on the proper characterization of his authoritarian regime. More importantly, scholarship has failed to account for fundamental continuity, across regimes, in the way in which dominant economic interests interact with the Philippine state. The author argues that a focus on patrimonial aspects of the Philippine state will not only bring a greater sense of coherence to many disparate aspects of Marcos's rule, but will also lead to clearer understanding of enduring characteristics of the Philippine political economy. Throughout the postwar years, political administration is often treated as a personal affair, and the assignment of privileges granted by the state is largely determined by the personal discretion of those oligarchs currently holding official position. The article explores factors that help to explain why there has been no effective pressure from either domestic or external forces to undermine the patrimonial features of the state, and suggests that future research should analyze why patrimonial features have persisted in the Philippines despite enormous change, yet elsewhere seem to have subsided in the face of change.
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