What you need to know: Filipinos and the Nobel Peace Prize

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa on Friday, October 8, received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021, becoming the first Filipino to win the prestigious award.

She and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov were named recipients “for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

The Nobel Peace Prize comes amid continued threat against journalism not just in the Philippines, but in the world.

Ressa, a veteran journalist, is at the forefront of the global fight against disinformation and is also facing legal cases from the Duterte administration over Rappler’s persistent reporting on the bloody war on drugs, among others.

Ressa is the first Filipino named as Nobel Laureate. There are also several Filipinos who were part of organizations, based overseas, that received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Jasmin Nario Galace and Loreta Castro – International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (2017)

Two Filipinos are part of the Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a group that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

Jasmin Nario Galace and Loreta Castro are ICAN's campaign regional leads in Asia. The two are officials of the Center for Peace Education (CPE) in Miriam College, an ICAN member.

ICAN received the Nobel Peace Prize for “its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

The awarding committee also recognized the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted by the United Nations (UN) in July 2017.

An announcement published in 2017 said Galace and Castro “have also actively campaigned Asian delegates to the UN to support the treaty.”

“CPE, together with Pax Christi-Miriam College members have for the past few years, helped raise awareness on the issue through education sessions, lobbying and public actions,” the report read.

10 Filipinos – Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (2013)

Ten Filipinos, led by Franz Ontal, were with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) when it won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

The work of OPCW, according to the Nobel Prize press release, “defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law.”

In January 2014, the Philippine Senate passed a resolution commending these 10 Filipinos:

  • Franz Ontal
  • Criselda Javelosa van Dasler
  • Helen Andriessen
  • Gemma van Oudheusden-Vincoy
  • Jenniefer Balatbat
  • Allan Laroza
  • Roycelynne Reyes
  • Mary Ann Nieto-Schroor
  • Michael Conche
  • Emily Castriciones

Ontal worked with the OPCW as head of inspectorate training from 2006 to 2016, as stated in his public LinkedIn account. He hails from Victorias City in Negros Occidental, according to a 2013 report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Before moving to the Netherlands, Ontal was a New York-based paramedic and emergency medical technician instructor.

"Global peace is an ongoing effort and Ontal's continued achievements in this area have helped make the world a safer place," a profile from the De La Salle Alumni Association website read.

Jett Villarin – Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007)

Former Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) president Father Jett Villarin was part of the Geneva-based Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, together with former US vice president Al Gore.

Villarin, a multi-awarded climate scientist, focused on greenhouse grass emissions with the IPCC.

According to his profile on the ADMU website, “it was the issue of global warming in the early 1990s, which ignited [Villarin]’s academic interest and passion.”

He was a Global Change scholar during his time at Georgia Tech, and was awarded the National Outstanding Young Scientist in 2000 in the Philippines.

Villarin also worked with various organizations focused on the environment and climate, including the Climate Change Commission. He was also the lead reviewer of the United Convention on Climate Change, among others.

Villarin led the Climate Studies Division of the Manila Observatory from 1997 to 2005. He served as ADMU president from 2011 to 2020.

Members of the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines – International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997)

The Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL) is a member-organization of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, together with its coordinator Jody Williams.

The ICBL received the prestigious prize "in recognition of its efforts to bring about the Mine Ban Treaty, which aims to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by antipersonnel mines."

The Philippine coordinator then was lawyer Soliman Santos Jr (now chair emeritus), with Miriam Coronel-Ferrer following his term. PCBL, established in 1995, is now headed by Alfredo Lubang, who also served in the ICBL advisory board.

In September 2021, the PCBL signed a memorandum of agreement with the Commission on Human Rights to further their campaign against the use of prohibited explosive weapons in the Philippines.

"Contaminated or hazardous areas becomes places of hate and suffering," Lubang said during the event. "Every bomb that detonates and destroys farms or structures slides back a family, even a community to the cycle of poverty."

– Rappler.com

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.