This paper examines the conflicts arising from the layered legal treatment, fragmentation and multiplicity of institutions involved in Philippine water governance. Using a thematic analysis of national legislation, a survey of 299 water managers in 10 provinces, and five cases illustrating local contestations, the paper tracks the diversification of formal institutional stakeholders which have been found to lack coherence and inter-agency connectivity. Water managers are not grounded in policy shifts, have little understanding of formal water rights and settle local conflicts with little reliance on formal mechanisms. The select cases reveal that water rights provide weak currency in local contestations.

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