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Maria Ressa awarded the Elizabeth Seton Medal

The College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York City awarded its highest honor to Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa for "her unwavering commitment to democratic institutions, to the rule of law, for the truth and for her courageous perseverance."

In a ceremony held at Rappler’s office in Pasig, former foreign affairs secretary Albert Del Rosario awarded the Elizabeth Seton Medal to Ressa. Del Rosario represented Mount Saint Vincent in the awarding, having been conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the college in 2015.

Mount Saint Vincent President Charles Flynn, read the citation via Zoom. It said Ressa “represents the values with which the college was founded and for what which all freedom and justice loving people must stand."

The citation, quoting preacher William Havard, also says: "Democratic institutions and the rule of law must protect every person or they protect no one. Hypocrisy is embedded in every injustice; and no rhetorical flourish or Orwellian perversion can change the truth."

Flynn also noted that the college watched with concern and empathy as the people of the Philippines faced its challenges.

International observers say democracy, human rights, as well as civil liberties like freedom of speech and press, has been under siege in the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte.

Other awardees of the Elizabeth Seton Medal were Mount alumnae former Philippine president Cory Aquino in 1986, and her son, former president Benigno Aquino III in 2010.

Ressa, in accepting the award, said, "Our generation didn't do such a good job in terms of protecting democracy. And it is unfortunately up to our younger people, the next generation. We'll hold the line." – Rappler.com

TRANSCRIPT

ALBERT DEL ROSARIO: Good morning, Maria, our distinguished awardee. Good morning, Mr. Charles Flynn, president of the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York. And good morning, everyone.

Today's a memorable one for Maria Ressa, who is receiving the highest honor, the Elizabeth Seton Medal, for her unwavering commitment to democratic institutions, to the rule of law, for the truth and for her courageous perseverance in fostering the values upon which the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York City was founded. The highest award for Maria was similarly received by President Cory Aquino, an alumni in 1986, and by President Benigno Aquino III in 2010, having been conferred an honorary doctor years ago. It is my distinct privilege to represent the College of Mount Saint Vincent in awarding Maria Ressa. At this juncture, it is my pleasure to request the president of the College of Mount St. Vincent, Mr. Charles Flynn, to share with us the citation attached to this invaluable award.

CHARLES FLYNN: Maria Angelita Ressa. The Sisters of Charity, inspired by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, founded the College of St. Vincent. From its inception, the college has prepared students for lives of accomplishment and service, grounded in three fundamental values and understanding of our common humanity (meaning our equality), a commitment to human dignity (meaning our worth), and a full appreciation of our obligations to each other (meaning our obligations to serve and to do justice).

With courage and faith, Corazon Cojuanco Aquino, class of 1953, embodied the highest ideals of her alma mater. It's a point of pride of this college that she was instrumental in the restoration of democratic institutions and the rule of law for the people of the Philippines, for her embodiment of those ideals and her service to the people of the Philippines, the college awarded her its highest honor, the Elizabeth Seton Medal, in 1986.

William Havard wrote, The greatest glory of a free born people is to transmit that freedom to their children. To secure their future and the United States, the Philippines and across the globe freedom loving people must perpetually recreate in word and action their founding principles. Democratic institutions and the rule of law must protect every person or they protect no one. Hypocrisy is embedded in every injustice; and no rhetorical flourish or Orwellian perversion can change the truth.

Maria Angelita Ressa, in your stalwart commitment to the truth, your courageous commitment to democratic institutions and the rule of law and in your perseverance in the face of intimidation, you represent the values with which this college was founded and for what which all freedom and justice loving people must stand.

Maria Angelit Reesa, the college is proud to thank, celebrate and honor you with the Elizabeth Seton Medal on this, the 15th day of October, two thousand twenty. May justice and mercy be yours every day of your life.

ALBERT DEL ROSARIO: May I present you with this.

MARIA RESSA: Charles, thank you so much, Albert. Thank you for for this award. You know, these have been what helped us move forward. You mentioned facts, rule of law, democratic institutions. We at Rappler feel like we are really standing on the precipice and looking at this abyss, because if we take the wrong steps forward right now, all of these things are gone. Democracy as we know it is dead. And I guess, you know, the first is just our battle as journalists is for the facts. And as you know that all of the cases that have been filed against this shows a weaponization of the law. Finally, I think, you know, I really believe that the award is also Rappler's because our generation didn't do such a good job in terms of protecting democracy. And it is unfortunately up to our younger people, the next generation. We'll hold the line, which is what I always say. But I think that Rappler is, you know, the median age in our company is 23 years old. And they will inherit the world we leave behind. And I certainly don't want it to be a world where democracy is dead. So I always say, you know, I look back a decade from now and know that we did absolutely everything we could. The values that you mentioned, Albert. Thank you for telling me about both the award and the university. This is it, not just for the Philippines, but as you go into elections in the United States, I think what's local is global and global is local. It's up to every freedom loving person, citizen in a democracy to stand up and fight for their rights at this existential moment. Thank you so very much.

CHARLES FLYNN: Not only thank you, but thank Ambassador Del Rosario for representing his honorary alma mater and conferring this award on you and Rappler, and I want to say that we watch with concern and empathy the challenges that the people of the Philippines are facing and that we share – and in a sense, this this this award is very much about what we share, both in challenges and in hope and in conviction. So thank you for all that you are trying to do, and I know that everyone associated with the College of Mount Saint Vincent shares the sentiments I've expressed and concern and commitment. We we want to thank the ambassador for being willing, appropriately, to represent the college and its hopes and values and conferring this award on you.