A Filipino Transnational Advocacy Network: The Case of the US Bases Clean-up Campaign in the Philippines and the US

29 November 2011
Dr. Ma. Larissa Lelu P. Gata, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Forestry and Forest Governance, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, UPLB
In cooperation with Gamma Sigma Delta-Honor Society of Agriculture (GSD-HSA)

After being abandoned by the Americans, Clark Air Base became an evacuation center when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991. As families stayed longer in the site, hidden secrets left behind by the Americans were uncovered. Toxic wastes leaked into the area’s main sources of water leading to contamination and poisoning. In response to this, local environmental campaigns, which turned national then international, were launched. They were helpful for a time but eventually disappeared. What really happened to the Transnational Advocacy Networks (TANs) formed during this period?

This is what Dr. Ma. Larissa Lelu P. Gata uncovered in her dissertation entitled A Filipino Transnational Advocacy Network: The Case of the US Bases Cleanup Campaign in the Philippines and the United States. TANs refer to a group of actors based in different countries bound together through shared values and exchanges of information.By understanding and analyzing their lived experiences, Dr. Gata came up with some major insights.

She argued that the emergence of the environmental campaign can be regarded as an offshoot of the continuing social movements against the interventionist US policies in the Philippines.

“The social movement dated way, way back to the time they adopted this victimization frame to bring forth the claims of the victims of the toxic contamination exposure,” Dr. Gata said. She also theorized that organizations within TANs have the capability to strengthen the relationship as partner organizations from mere information sharing into a more engaged collaboration.

However, as the saying goes, no one stays on top all the time. Many factors led to the decline of the once successful TANs.

“There was premature deradicalization of the campaign,” argued Dr. Gata. This refers to termination of the campaign’s vision and belief in people’s power to influence the workings of the states involved. “The revolutionary vision of the campaign eventually disappeared,” she furthered.

Lastly, with the decline of TAN, the former partner organizations were taken up by other abeyance structures, organizations which absorb those whose activities suddenly declined. However, the better resourced partners encountered greater success in moving forward.

Dr. Gata reiterated that scientists are also transnational non-state actors. They too can contribute in advocacy networks in the science community (DAMDomingo)