A new generation of strategies for government accountability is needed, one that fully considers entrenched, institutional obstacles to change. Vertical integration of coordinated civil society policy monitoring and advocacy is one such strategy. Engaging each stage and level of public sector actions in an integrated way can locate the causes of accountability failures, show their interconnected nature, and leverage the local, national and transnational power shifts necessary to produce sustainable institutional change.
This case study summary is one of seven that reflect on civil society monitoring and advocacy initiatives in the Philippines – all of which aim to improve government accountability in different sectors – through the lens of vertical integration.
The Philippines has a mining law that is contested by several sectors due to the inadequate environmental protection it offers lands and communities. The law allows forest clearance, free exploitation of water, easement rights, and the use of explosives with low fees and penalties. It does not protect the rights of mining-affected communities, nor does it recognise the ownership of natural resources by indigenous peoples. In 2000, when one of the Philippines’ biggest mining companies planned new operations in Mindanao, community members began organising themselves to prevent the potential degradation of their lands. The Anislagan Bantay Kalikasan Task Force (ABAKATAF), a community-based organisation (CBO), mobilised and organised its members and engaged the barangay-, municipal- and provincial-level officials in dialogue.
Lessons for vertically integrated advocacy:
- ABAKATAF recognised its limitations as a CBO, and therefore invested efforts in seeking wider support from the Mindanao region and from national organisations involved in the anti-mining campaign
- ABAKATAF maximised integration at various levels through coalescing with national organisations, thus ensuring legal, technical and sometimes financial support to attain the goals of its anti-mining campaign.