Engaging Philippine Parliamentarians
October 14, 2014
By Loreta Castro, Program Director of the Center for Peace Education
Since late 2013, the Center for Peace Education (CPE), a partner organisation of ICAN since 2012, has organised visits of its staff and Miriam College students with Philippine parliamentarians. The group has tried to engage parliamentarians in a conversation about the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and the need to have a treaty banning their production and use. CPE’s partner student organisation, Pax Christi, has also been active in this advocacy.
In the first organized visit to the Philippine House of Representatives last November 2013, the group was able to gather 25 signatories to the “Global Parliamentary Appeal to Ban Nuclear Weapons”. In the second visit on September 8 this year, 15 more signed. To date we have a total of forty (40) Philippine Representatives who have signed the Appeal.
The activity is usually a day long, beginning with an orientation in the morning to discuss central themes and issues, and to prepare students with tools and skills to interact with the parliamentarians. This is followed by the trip to the House of Representatives where the students work in small teams.
Later, the CPE meets the students to process their experiences. The students are asked to describe what happened to them and to share their feelings about it. Many students expressed their excitement and joy over their meeting Representatives who were supportive of the Appeal.
For practically all the young people, this was their first experience of advocacy work with legislators. It can be said that one of the most significant outcomes of this activity was the sense of satisfaction that they felt. They became more convinced that nuclear weapons’ abolition is an imperative and felt proud to be part of a historic and significant global civil society movement!