Going Vertical: Citizen-led Reform Campaigns in the Philippines

Date: December 2016
Authors: Joy Aceron and Francis Isaac
Publication type: Working Paper
Published by: Making All Voices Count, Government Watch, and Accountabilty Research Center

This study looks at seven citizen-led reform campaigns that have achieved significant and substantial reform victories in recent years. Despite the complexity of each campaign, we were able to gain a better understanding of these initiatives using vertical integration, which focuses on scale and how societal groups engage various state actors at different periods in time. Through this lens, we recognised that all the seven campaigns had mobilized various societal forces to engage on multiple levels using multiple strategies and approaches in order to achieve reforms. We also concluded that pro-accountability initiatives are able to achieve more substantial victories and gain better tangible results system-wide if the approaches that they use are strategic, multi-level, and grounded on the actual power dynamics that are present in any accountability relationship. This study is the first major attempt to use vertical integration to analyse citizens’ movements in the Philippines and to explore the lessons that can be derived from these initiatives. Our contribution is modest, to be sure, but we hope that our effort will encourage other scholars and practitioners to continue using this approach so that we can better understand that complex and dynamic process called change.

Photo credit: IMCS Facebook Page Staff of the Philippines Department of Education – Instructional Materials Council Secretariat (IMCS) checking textbooks that were up for delivery.

Joy Aceron Joy Aceron directs G-Watch, an action research initiative on citizen action and accountability that aims to deepen democracy. A graduate of the University of the Philippines-Diliman with a Master’s in Public Policy, and formerly a programme director and senior knowledge leader in the Ateneo School of Government, she is currently an independent researcher studying citizen participation, open government and political reform. She has published on civil society participation and political and governance reforms, and has more than a decade of experience in grassroots citizen monitoring and civil society–governance engagement. Francis Isaac Francis Isaac is an independent researcher who has written a number of papers on elections, social movements, human rights and agrarian reform in the Philippines. He has been involved in various human rights and citizen- led advocacy campaigns, beginning his political involvement as a student activist. Francis is currently taking his Master’s in International Studies at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines.