Organized Panel Session
In the Philippines under U.S. colonial rule (1898-1941), the Philippine Constabulary emerged as a highly effective policing institution. It succeeded in suppressing armed resistance against the U.S. colonial regime, maintaining peaceful conditions throughout the American period, and even acquiring legitimacy as a force of stability and order. Yet, once the Philippines obtained independence, the Philippine Constabulary became one of the principal sources of insecurity, violence, and bossism. In explaining this puzzle, this paper problemizes existing understandings of how colonial legacies are produced, and challenges the linear notion that colonial legacies take the form of dysfunctional or oppressive colonial institutions producing negative postcolonial outcomes. The author argues that the variables that affect an institution’s ability (or inability) to maintain order, extract resources, or provide public goods and services in the short term are different from the causal mechanisms that shape an institution’s long-term developmental consequences on society. In explaining institutional change or continuity across the colonial-postcolonial divide, it is necessary to take into account the ways in which enduring colonial-era institutions interact with postcolonial political, socioeconomic, and geostrategic conditions to shape their performance and evolution under the new environment. Even institutions that provided some degree of public goods or services under colonial rule could therefore adversely affect people’s wealth and welfare post-independence.