Office of the Vice President
August 31, 2017
Leaders who put others before themselves are needed amid “a surplus of anger and frustration” in these changing times, Vice President Leni Robredo said, as she lauded six new laureates of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards.
In her keynote speech at the RMA presentation ceremonies on Thursday night, VP Leni noted how the stories of the awardees were about helping people and communities in their respective efforts towards inclusivity.
“If we want to see even more growth, exciting innovation, and prosperity in the next century, we must accept the fact that we cannot move forward without taking care of each other and making sure that no one is left behind,” she said.
The Vice President, who noted that “progress that leaves people behind is not real progress,” underscored the importance of transformative leadership.
She said that people and organizations who lead “must be willing to spend the time necessary—even if it takes most of their lives—to work tirelessly on a chosen goal,” a feat shown by the RMA laureates, past and present.
This, VP Leni pointed out, is especially necessary in these trying times, as a “dangerous narrative” threatens democracy and freedoms in various parts of the world.
“[T]he problems of social and economic inequality loom larger than ever. People left behind by progress seem to be drowning in frustration and anger because of the neglect that those in power had shown to those who were left behind… I do not look down on that anger. I, too, believe, that more attention could have been given to the last, the least and the loss,” she said.
“But a dangerous narrative is creeping in. People are using this to say that democracy has failed mankind, because freedom has caused the poor to remain poor, while the rich gained more. Perhaps it’s time for change, they say, and so populism, protectionism, and nationalism started to gain support,” she added.
“But are we willing to give up our principles because of this? Are we really ready to throw out our freedoms and our rights for change that goes against old-fashioned values of empathy and collaboration? The path that the world chooses now will determine what kind of lives our children’s children will have,” she went on.
She said the work of RMA recipients take on “a deeper meaning” in this regard, as they are now tasked to continue “keeping darkness at bay.”
“Our world today has great need of you: those who would attempt to take on trenchant difficulties no matter the personal cost and sacrifice; those who would do something not because it is easy, but because no one else will take on the challenge; and those who are living examples of transformative leadership and inspiring service,” she said.
This marked the second time that VP Leni was invited to deliver the keynote address for the RMA ceremonies.
She also again led the presentation of awards to the six laureates for 2017, which include long-time Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) director-general Lilia de Lima and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).
The award-giving body—considered the Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize—also recognized this year Yoshiaki Ishizawa of Japan, Abdon Nababan of Indonesia, Gethsie M. Shanmugan from Sri Lanka, and Tony Tay from Singapore.
VP Leni’s late husband, former Interior Secretary and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, was recognized by the RMA in 2000 for his work for participatory governance in their home city.