For the first time in 12 years, an active Filipino government official will receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed as the Nobel Peace Prize of Asia.
Philippine Ombudsman Conchita-Carpio Morales is among the six honorable personalities and organizations named as this year's awardees.
Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr. told reporters on the sidelines of the announcement that Carpio’s “relentless pursuit of integrity in government” convinced the body to honor her with the award.
“She has been consistent in her determination to stop corruption even at the highest levels of government,” del Rosario said. “In this case, for a corruption fighter, the independence of mind that she has displayed, I think, are the features that have been highlighted in the nomination.”
Appointed as Ombudsman in 2011 by former President Benigno Aquino III, Carpio has been known known for her fierce statements and has earned critics through the years. Her office has filed graft and corruption cases against former Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen. Bongbong Marcos and recently told the press of a possible case against newly-acquitted former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Carpio aspires for zero backlog of corruption complaints in the Office of the Ombudsman by 2018.
Carpio is joined by five more individuals and organizations from India, Indonesia, Japan and Laos who all have “greatness in spirit,” according to del Rosario.
“Wallet of the Poor” and JOCV
One of the three organizations to be honored this year is Dompet Dhuafa Republic (DDR) or “Wallet of the Poor” of Indonesia. The organization is known for their empowering methods in the collection and distribution of zakat, the obligatory tax of adult Muslims. These alms, almost like the Conditional Cash Transfer Program of the Philippines, have enabled the poor to become better and more active members of society.
DDR transformed traditional zakat philanthropy from charity to empowerment, where the poor “could move from being dependent ‘recipients’ of alms towards becoming wealth creators, and eventually ‘contributors’ of alms themselves.” As the Foundation cited, DDR moved zakat funds from customary practices of charitable giving to social development projects for Muslims and non-Muslims, through programs of economic assistance, health services, education and training, and diverse other activities. Their beneficiaries have reached 13 million by the end of 2015.
The 51-year-old Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) is also part of this year’s awardees. The group has almost 41,000 volunteers, doing 190 fields of specialization from education to manufacturing. Volunteers have provided new sources of livelihood, like a handicraft center for some communities they visit in Laos, or training them with new skills through on-the-job automotive repair and car assembly training in Ghana.
Founded in 1965, JOCV was formed to cultivate the Japan’s friendships with different nations, which include violence-stricken Ghana, Laos, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
Vientiane Rescue from Laos, a free private 24/7 rescue service, caters to the 800,000-population of the country’s capital city, Vientiane. Formed in 2007, VR has grown from a small group of six to 200 this year, responding to an average of 15 to 20 accidents a day.
The two individuals recognized this year both came from India.
One is musician Thobur Madabusi Krishna, recognized for bringing aristocratic Karnatik music to other social divisions, particularly those at the fringes of the Indian society.
Meanwhile, Bezwada Wilson is popularly known for his work in the people’s movement of manual scavengers and their children, Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA). The organization has so far liberated around 300,000 scavengers in the country since 1993.
The noted individuals and personalities will be awarded on August 31, the birth anniversary of the late President Ramon Magsaysay.
Photos from the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation