Local autonomy is the exercise of certain basic powers, i.e. police power, power of eminent domain, and taxing power, by local government units so as to best serve the interest and promote the general well being of their inhabitants.
By express constitutional mandate, enjoyment of local autonomy by the territorial and political subdivisions, i.e. all government units including the two autonomous regions (actually just one: ARMM), is now a basic state policy.
RA 7160: 1991 Local Government Code
Sec. 15. As a body politic and corporate, every LGU shall exercise its powers as a political subdivision of the government and as a corporate entity representing the inhabitants of its territory.
The Local Government Code shall
- Provide for a more responsible and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative and referendum.
- Allocate among the different local units their powers, responsibilities and resources
- Provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers, and functions, and duties of local officials
- Provide for all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units.
UPDATE: There are supposedly two autonomous regions as per our Constitution ARMM and CAR. But CAR did not have a successful plebiscite for the said purpose hence it remains as an administrative region, i.e., Cordillera Administrative Region. ARMM on the other hand has been replaced by the Bangsamoro pursuant to the 2012 Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Bangsamoro is still an autonomous region.