Ombudsman Morales, 5 others named 2016 Magsaysay awardees

Katerina Francisco
Ombudsman Morales, 5 others named 2016 Magsaysay awardees
(3rd UPDATE) The 6 awardees are dubbed 'heroes of Asia,' who have created solutions to problems in their own countries and in the region

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is one of the 6 awardees of the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Awards, the lone Filipino recognized this year in Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize.

The honorees were announced on Wednesday, July 27, ahead of the winners’ arrival in Manila.

Morales was recognized for “restoring faith in the rule of law,” according to the Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation (RMAF).

The foundation also noted her “moral courage and commitment to justice in taking head-on one of the most intractable problems in the Philippines.”

Morales, the head of the Philippine agency tasked to hold public officials accountable, joins 5 others recognized by the foundation for their “greatness of spirit.”

RMAF president Carmencita Abella said the awardees are “heroes of Asia,” who have created solutions to problems in their own countries and in the region.

HONOREES. RMAF president Carmencita Abella announces the 2016 Ramon Magsaysay Awardees, July 27, 2016. Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

“They have transformed their societies, and therefore there is a lot of room for inspiration and hope,” Abella said.

The 6 awardees are:

  • Indonesia: Dompet Dhuafa – recognized for expanding the transformative impact of zakat
  • Japan: Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers – recognized for building a world of genuine solidarity
  • Laos: Vientiane Rescue – recognized for volunteering to save lives at risk
  • India: Bezwada Wilson – recognized for asserting the inalienable right to a life of human dignity
  • India: Thodur Madabusi Krishna – recognized for ensuring social inclusiveness in culture
  • Philippines: Conchita Carpio Morales – recognized for restoring faith in the rule of law

The awarding ceremony will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Pasay City on August 31, the birth anniversary of former Filipino President Ramon Magsaysay.

‘Greatness of spirit’

RMAF chairman Ramon del Rosario Jr said Morales’ determination to stamp out corruption was one of the basis for her nomination and win.

“We believe that her lifetime of commitment in the pursuit of integrity in government, in particular, and her courage in pursuing corruption cases even among the highest officials are events that should inspire other government officials from other countries in Asia to do the same thing,” del Rosario said.

He also noted that the common feature among the awardees was their “greatness of spirit, selflessness and desire to help others, even sometimes at great risk to themselves.”

In a statement, Morales said she was “deeply honored” for being chosen as one of this year’s awardees.

She added that the recognition also honors the men and women of the Office of the Ombudsman “who have faithfully toiled and persevered with me in our shared commitment to excise the cancer of corruption that has afflicted our country for decades.”

She also acknowledged that the fight against corruption remains challenging, but added that the recognition provides them with inspiration and encouragement to carry on with their work.

“Every day we continue to deal with inadequacies in the justice system and vestiges of entitlement among powerful individuals,” she said.

“The Foundation’s affirmation of our work gives my co-workers and me added inspiration and encouragment to carry on and remain focused, undaunted by those who persist in not only plundering public funds but, more seriously, destroying our moral fabric as a people,” she added.

Spirit of service

Aside from Morales, two individuals, both hailing from India, received the prestigious prize: Bezwada Wilson, recognized for leading a grassroots movement to uplift the dignity of dalits, or India’s untouchables; and Thodur Madabusi Krishna, recognized for using art and music to break barriers of caste and class in the country.

Meanwhile, 3 organizations were recognized for their contributions in their respective communities.

The Indonesian organization Dompet Dhuafa was given the award for “redefining the landscape of zakat-based philantrophy in Indonesia, unleashing the potential of the Islamic faith to uplift, irrespective of their creed, the lives of millions.”

The organization has worked to practice transparency and accountability in the collection of zakat, an obligatory tax on an adult Muslim’s wealth that is set aside to help the needy. The collection and management of zakat has long been prone to abuse, a problem that Dompet Dhuafa has tried to address.

For their idealism and spirit of service, the members forming the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers were also hailed for their contribution in the reconstruction and progress of developing countries, and for helping communities other than their own.

The same spirit of service was recognized in the Lao non-profit organization Vientiane Rescue, comprised of unpaid volunteers providing 24/7 rescue and emergency services. The RMAF hailed the group for its “heroic work in saving Laotian lives in a time and place of great need.”

The 6 Magsaysay awardees join the community of 312 laureates who have been recognized for their work. 

They will each receive a certificate, a medallion with the likeness of the late President Magsaysay, and a cash prize. –

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