2022 年 68 巻 2 号 p. 27-48
In the Philippines since the 2000s, the authorities in charge of maintaining local order, such as local governments and the police, have strengthened their crackdown on informality. They have strengthened the claim that informality that deviates from the law is a problem that needs to be solved. However, previous studies on informality in the developing world have argued that authorities do not always exercise strict crackdowns. These studies pointed out that the authorities prioritized the goals they were supposed to fulfill, such as maintaining local order, and that minor deviations were tolerated to achieve these goals efficiently.
In explaining the changes in the Philippines in the 2000s, this paper uses the case of electricity theft, which is the use of electricity without paying regular fees. A medium- to long-term analysis was conducted based on newspaper articles from 1986 to 2020 and parliamentary minutes on laws to control electricity theft. The power distribution companies began to crackdown on electricity theft from 1986 on and the percentage of electricity theft was already decreasing in the 2000s. Thus, the incentive for the authorities to participate in the crackdown was considered to be low in the 2000s. However, the authorities began to consider electricity theft as a problem from that period. The factors that led to a change in the authorities’ stance toward informality will be explained by examining this case.
A review of the said newspaper articles and parliamentary minutes revealed the following points. From 1986 to 2000, electricity theft had been seen as a problem by the power distribution companies as it was mainly committed by industrial and commercial users and the elite, causing negative effects on economic growth and higher electricity prices. However, since around 2000, electricity theft has been seen as a problem by the authorities because it is mainly committed by the poor and causes damage, such as fires and accidents. The reason the authorities began to see electricity theft as a problem could be attributed to two factors that arose from the economic growth in the late 1990s. Firstly, the use of electricity by the poor has increased and the proportion of electricity theft by them has also increased. Secondly, the middle-income group, who are highly anxious about damage to their bodies and their property, has expanded. Before 2000, electricity theft was considered to be a problem in an economic context, which did not overlap with the objectives of the authorities. However, since the 2000s, electricity theft has been seen as a cause of fires and accidents, and the authorities that aim to maintain local order have an increased need to crack down on electricity theft to achieve their goals. In other words, it can be hypothesized that the situation discussed by previous studies on informality, where strict crackdown is not implemented as long as the goals of the authorities are achieved, has no longer applied in the Philippines since the 2000s.