Leni: Stand up for dictators

TAKE YOU DOWN TO GLASS Fight for those who can not defend themselves, Vice President Leni Robredo gathers her audience, including the six Magsaysay laureates, at the Ramon Magsaysay Awards ceremony on Friday. -RICHARD A. REYES

In her third year as keynote speaker at the Ramon Magsaysay Awards ceremony on Friday, Vice President Leni Robredo urged her audience to "fight for those who can not defend themselves."

"The message for all of us is clear: each of us is called to focus our attention on the last, the least and the lost," Robredo said.

The vice president also made a joke about the recent remarks by President Duterte, saying that the Philippines "are better off with a dictator, such as (former President Ferdinand) Marcos", then with Robredo at the helm.

In her speech, Robredo told the six Magsaysay laureates that they should oppose dictators across the continent, and should be inspirers in creating "silent, courageous, and hard-working heroes," which the & # 39; 39, last line of defense of humanity & # 39; would be to avoid a strong man future in which "people are killed, institutions are decimated and our way of life is threatened".

Robredo's speech that was flashed on the screen in the cultural center of the Philippine main hall, called a specific dictator.

"Peaceful courage and empathy, and leaders who work hard to actually transform the lives of people, are rarities in this time, when they say that dictatorship Marcos style is better", read a fragment from Robredo's speech.

Marcos, whose 20-year-old strong men's government was buried under thousands of human rights violations and corruption amounting to billions of dollars, was expelled in 1986 during a popular uprising.

& # 39; Defiantly hopeful & # 39;

Robredo also noted how important it is to remain "challengingly hopeful" and "actively determined to change the future, the way [former] President [Ramon] Magsaysay showed us how he lived. & # 39;

"I speak of hope that is not passive, but based on a culture of discipline, excellence and service," she added.

Asia, said Robredo, is the home of men and women "who have fought over time for freedom and independence, where demanding the truth is the norm, and where power is in the hands of the people." 39;

Asians have also remained resilient and have ensured that human lives are not driven by a tyrant, the vice president said. "We have had a long history of bloody struggle in very dark times and I refuse to believe that we have suffered for nothing," she added.

Instead of looking up at dictators whose powers stem from fear and intimidation, Robredo said we should recognize the Ramon Magsaysay winners as "true heroes who draw strength from compassion."

"You are the ultimate proof that silent bravery is the most powerful form of power and that empathy conceals a deeper kind of power, not weakness," said the vice president.

At his 60th year, the Ramon Magsaysay Awards honored six people for their unselfish service.

Among the winners was Howard Dee, who served five administrations, from President Cory Aquino to her son, President Benigno Aquino III, and led peace building and reform initiatives with separatist groups.

"Do not be discouraged during these hard times Do not despair, in the darkness our lamps must be lit.In the darkness we see the stars Goodness and justice will triumph! Right and peace will reign in our country, & # 39; Dee when he received the prize.

Bharat Vatwani of India was recognized "because of his tremendous courage and healing compassion in embracing India's mentally ill," while Sonam Wangchuk, also from India, won the prize "for his unique systematic, collaborative, and community-driven reform of learning systems. in the north, India. "

Peace with nature

"By declaring peace with nature, we will have to redesign our educational system to cure the planet and people," Wangchuk said in his speech.

Youk Chhang, a survivor of the Khmer Rouge's crimes, was recognized for preserving the memory of the victims of the Cambodian genocide to bring justice, national reconciliation and collective healing.

"We have to remember mistakes from the past." Chang told the audience. "It is not easy because it requires us to consciously accept additional pain in the present so that our children will not experience them again in the future, but this is the path to justice." Justice will always begin and end with the duty of remembrance. . & # 39;

Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz from East Timor received the award for building a lay institute dedicated to improving the poor through self-help programs in the health, education and agriculture sectors.

Vo Thi Hoang Yen from Vietnam was honored for "her creative and charismatic leadership in the ongoing campaign to remove physical and mental barriers that marginalized people with disabilities have."

Each of the six winners received a medallion, a certificate and a cash prize. Since it was founded in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation has recognized 305 people and 25 organizations.

The award was recognized as the Asian version of the Nobel Prize and named after President Magsaysay, who died in a plane crash in March 1957.

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