PH’s Howard Dee, 5 others named 2018 Ramon Magsaysay awardees

Sofia Tomacruz

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PH’s Howard Dee, 5 others named 2018 Ramon Magsaysay awardees
Other awardees of Asia's equivalent of the Nobel Prize are Youk Chang of Cambodia, Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz of East Timor, Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk of India, and Vo Thi Hoang Yen of Vietnam

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former Philippine ambassador and government peace negotiator Howard Dee is among the awardees of the prestigious 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Awards.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) announced the 60th batch of awardees on Thursday, July 26.

“(Dee) is being recognized for his quietly heroic acts of services to the Filipino people, his abiding dedication in pursuit of social justice and peace in achieving dignity and progress for the poor and his being by his deeds, a true servant of his faith and exemplary citizen of this nation,” RMAF Chairperson Senen Bacani said.

Dee is former Philippine ambassador to the Holy See and Malta. During the Ramos administration, he chaired the government peace panel in negotiations with communist rebels and was a member of the Social Reform Council.

He served the Arroyo administration as presidential adviser on indigenous peoples affairs, and the Aquino administration as a member of the Bangsamoro Basic Law Peace Council.

In 1970, Dee helped establish the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the largest business-led social development nongovernmental organization which helps companies that wish to contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction.

In 1975, Dee founded the Assisi Development Foundation with Jesuit priest Francisco Araneta, a foundation in pursuit of “peace through development with justice.” Since its establishment, the ADF had implemented 4,123 projects that benefitted 10.5 million Filipinos.


Here are the other awardees:

Youk Chang (Cambodia) is a survivor of the 5-year Cambodian genocide who has devoted his life to documenting Khmer Rouge atrocities. He is recognized for “his leadership and vision in transforming the memory of horror into a process of attaining and preserving justice in his nation and the world.”

Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz (East Timor) founded Instituto Seculare Maun Alin Iha Kristu ( Secular Institute of Brothers and Sisters), which is dedicated to uplifting vulnerable members of society through self-help projects in health care, education, and agriculture. She is recognized for her “pure humanitarianism… her nurturing the development of autonomous, self-reliant, caring citizens.”  

Bharat Vatwani (India) devoted his life to serving the mentally ill living on the streets. He established the Shraddh Rehabilitation Foundation, which provides free shelter, food, treatment, and the chance to reunite the mentally ill with their families. He is recognized for “his steadfast and magnanimous dedication to the work of restoring and affirming the human dignity of even the most ostracised in our midst.”  

Vo Thi Hoang Yen (Vietnam) has dedicated her life to providing livelihood, skills training, and job placement to persons with disabilities (PWDs) through the Disability Research and Capacity Development organization, which she founded. She is recognized for “her creative, charismatic leadership in the sustained campaign to break down physical and mental barriers that have marginalized PWDs (persons with disabilities) in Vietnam.”

Sonam Wangchuk (India) is acknowledge for his efforts in pioneering a partnership with local governments to develop educational reform programs that focus on “creative, child friendly, and activity-based” education in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. He went on to open the Students’ Education and Cultural Movement of Ladakh school and is recognized for “his constructive engagement of all sectors in local society to harness science and culture creatively for economic progress.” 

2018 AWARDEES. The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation announces this year's awardees on July 26, 2018. Photo by Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler

The 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Awards will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on August 31, the birth anniversary of former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award is given to persons who address issues of human development in Asia “with courage and creativity, and in doing so have made contributions that have transformed their societies for the better.” (READ: By the numbers: Ramon Magsaysay Awardees)

Created in 1957, it is regarded as Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.