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UNRISD Podcast: Global Civil Society Movements in the Philippines

31 Aug 2009

31 August 2009 – In this episode, Professor Teresa Encarnacion Tadem talks about her new publication on Global Civil Society Movements in the Philippines, part of UNRISD project on social movements.

Please use the link to the right of this page to access the podcast. (5mins 05secs, MP3 file, 2.33mb)

Transcript of the podcast:

Paola Villa: You’re listening to the UNRISD podcast and my name is Paola Villa. Today’s episode presents the findings of the publication on Global Civil Society Movements in the Philippines.

“Localizing and Transnationalizing Contentious Politics: Global Civil Society Movements in the Philippines” is the title of the new UNRISD publication edited by Professor Teresa Encarnacion Tadem.

Professor Tadem is director of the Third World Studies Center of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy of the University of the Philippines Diliman, where she is also Professor of Political Science.

Professor Tadem: When you define global civil society movements, these are non-state actors whose advocacies and activities are at the global level or have impact at the global level, even if they are operating at the local level.

Paola Villa: The publication looks into five transnational civil society movements: debt relief, changing international trade rules, global taxation or Tobin tax, anti-corruption and fair trade.

Professor Tadem: In the case of the movements for debt relief, our focus was on the “Freedom from Debt Coalition”, and this was basically asking for relief or forgiveness for the debt.

And this got on at the international level, where the “Freedom from Debt Coalition” became a model for other developing countries. So it has brought the issue of debt consciousness into the minds of the Filipino people.

But at the same time at the international level, the “Freedom from Debt Coalition” is been very effective in bringing out some kind of reforms, for example in the World Bank with regard to debt swap, alternatives in addressing the debt issue, which is not only benefiting the Philippines but also other developing countries with loans.

Paola Villa: The movements to changing international trade rules, said Professor Tadem, are movements that were born at a local level but have reached global dimensions, influencing decision-making. The case study of these movements was the “Stop the New Round Coalition”, in which the issue was to ask for transparency and accountability in terms of the decisions that are being made in the Philippines.

Professor Tadem: With regard to the Tobin tax movement or the movement to “Stop the Flow of Foreign Currency”, this was a result of the 1997’s Asian Financial Crisis which saw the collapse of Asian economies, including the Philippines, because of the flow of foreign currency outside the country.

It brought into the consciousness of the Filipino people an alternative to stop a speculative form of capitalism.

And at the same time, other countries like Malaysia have introduced alternative forms by which foreign currency can be controlled.

Paola Villa: The fourth movement studied in this research publication is “Fair trade”. The movement emerged from a need for fair competition and Professor Tadem analyzed how small and medium enterprises can penetrate in the bigger trading system, searching for alternative forms of trading in the global system.

One of the challenges confronting them, said Professor Tadem, is a debate in whether this movement should be looking at a political, ideological or economic level, in order to improve people’s livelihood and enable them to compete with big businesses.

Professor Tadem: The anti-corruption movement, our case study was on the “Transparency and Accountability Network”, which basically was born out of a local advocacy because of corruption cases in the Philippines.

Paola Villa: These five case studies haven’t until know been studied with this perspective and it is the first time that political theory is being applied to the particular case of the Philippines.

Professor Tadem: This book has a lot to share, not only for other studies to come in the Philippines, but also among our colleagues in the social movements, who are doing similar studies in their countries, such as in South East Asia, Latin America and Africa, who will share a more similar experience.

It is also important to point out that this book was part of an UNRISD project which brought together five countries, namely Argentina, Senegal, Turkey, Bolivia and the Philippines, to share that experience that we had.

Paola Villa: For more information, go to our website, www.unrisd.org. If you have any suggestions for future podcasts, email us at press@unrisd.org.

Thank you for listening. For UNRISD news, this is Paola Villa, in Geneva.