More than a week ago Earth First! Philippines, raised questions about World Wide Fund for Nature Philippines’ (WWF) affiliation with McDonalds, Aboitiz Power and their usage of tarpaulins in their materials on their Facebook page. Being an activist that values the capability of social media as a valid avenue of facilitating informed discourse I was taken aback by the response that the Facebook Page admin did. They deleted the comment.
Seeing that happen comes as a shock for me and when I tried asking about it all I got is a comment from another person affiliated with WWF saying that its because they’re about being positive and not negative. The answer gave me the impression of how ill-informed they are at the basics of social interaction within social media.
It wasn’t until a few days later when the people involved with the struggle to stop SM Baguio, from cutting down and earthballing 182 trees in Luneta Hill, to pave the way for their mall expansion project engaged them en masse about having SM as a venue provider and supposedly as their sponsor for their Earth Hour activities, wherein they responded with a vague and condescending ‘official statement’ that it has become obvious that what’s posted as legitimate concerns are not really in their radar of priorities.
I am writing this not because I am a part of Greenpeace which has always been compared to WWF. I write this because I value informed discourse and consensus so much that I believe legitimate concerns of individuals and groups should be given due priority if we are to establish a civil working relationship within the broader world of civil society and within the broader environmental movement.
But instead the response that WWF gave is that they have been branded people posting in their Facebook page their personal concerns as counter-productive, because we chose not to remain silent in expecting consistency between the praxis of what they are asking of us and the kind of work that they are doing. From the very beginning no one called in for a boycott of Earth Hour but rather we inquired in anticipation for a qualified answer to valid concerns since the whole essence of Earth Hour is for people like me to pledge to do something for an hour and to put it beyond that. That is the reason why I personally asked and was passionately irking WWF is for them to answer questions based on the issues raised first by Earth First! and also of the many individuals who may be attached to personalities of other environmental groups but have nevertheless spoken up as individual activists.
Instead what they did is they posted a statement that not only defers the issues but have labelled us as being counter-productive and divisive. But I would beg to differ: I cannot begin to say how this whole thing affected me personally as a one who considers them as fellow sojourners in the journey of working for a better planet. Because concerns about the broader issues of interests, pronouncements of where WWF stand in practice to the usage of toxic materials like PVC, their affiliations and the kind of relationships that they have with corporations are legitimate concerns of people in their niche who just want to understand why they are doing what they are doing even if news and broader consensus on a whole lot of other groups’ findings run counter to their position.
By choosing to censor comments by deleting them, by choosing to avoid making categorical answers and by making saliently patronizing remarks of WWF being positive and all the rest of us as being ‘divisive ‘and ‘negative’ they have closed the door for mutual conversation, learning and of finding common ground and exploring avenues for collaboration even if we do not see eye-to-eye.
Their silence and adamant refusal to engage in informed debate put forward by people on their page has spoken more about whose voice they consider as legitimate and whose opinion they have considered as valid. The first two paragraphs that enumerates the volume of support they have sounds more like a boast rather than a statement of their conscious responsiveness to the needs not only of the environment but also of the needs put forward by the social contract that they have with the broader environmental movement.
I rest my case. The whole ordeal feels more like talking to a condescending brick wall that would not take into consideration a voice such as mine. Thanks to WWF’s disparaging reaction on their Facebook page they made me lose all respect for the organization and the work that they’re doing.