By Florangel Rosario Braid
At its 70the founding anniversary last December 20, the United Nations Association of the Philippines (UNAP) commemorated the legacy and contribution of “Mr. United Nations,” former ambassador and chief of the Philippine Mission to the UN, General Carlos P. Romulo, to “World Peace” by honoring two Filipinos who exemplify the ideas of its illustrious founder. UNAP undertakes a continuing program of activities in response to the needs of national development and international cooperation in consultation with the UN Information Center and in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Commission on Education and the Department of Education. It has a youth arm – the UN Youth Association of the Philippines. Its 2017 honorees were Dr. Mona D. Valisno and Judge Aurora Recina.
Dr. Valisno was recognized for her invaluable contribution in the field of education as secretary of the Department of Education, chair of the Commission on Higher Education, chair of the Advisory Council of the Professional Regulation Commission, presiding chair of Board of Regents/Trustees of State Universities and Colleges, presidential assistant for education, Office of the President, and Commissioner of UNESCO National Commission and the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women. Among other awards, she was a recipient of the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Bayani Award by President Gloria Arroyo . Her achievements which include research, book publication, and advocacy had been recognized through various awards and citations. She has been actively involved with several civic and nongovernmental organizations.
Judge Recina, a staunch human rights advocate served the government for 43 years as the first woman lawyer of Sulu, the first woman provincial sheriff in the country, assistant fiscal of Manila, and RTC judge of Pasay City. As chair of the Commission on Human Rights she was given the privilege of speaking at the Palais de Nacion for four consecutive years. She was instrumental in the passage of RA 9946, a social legislation for the benefit of retired judges. This was a laudable achievement as it had taken eight years before its approval. She also served as president of the Women Lawyers Association of the Philippines, Retired RTC Judges of the Philippines, Asociacion de Damas de Filipinas, International Social Services, PRESO Foundation, Retired Officers’ Wives, and Association of War Widows, Parents, and Orphans.
Dr. Valisno is the current president of UNAP while Judge Recina is president emeritus.
The founding members include Mariano de los Santos, educator, Senator Geronima Pecson, Leticia de Guzman, Education Secretary Narciso Albarracin, Helena Benitez, Vidal Tabm Manuel Gallego, Rafaelita Soriano, Pura Santillan Castrence, and Minerva Laudico. Past UNAP awardees include Fidel V. Ramos, Leticia R. Shahani, Jose W. Diokno, Lorenzo Tanada, Claudio Teehankee, Lea Salonga, Patricia Licuanan, Estefania Aldaba Lim, Rosalinda Tirona, Lauro Baja, Loida Nicolas Lewis. Adora Pili was past president and Rosalina Zambrano is executive director.
There had been varying perceptions about the relevance of the United Nations in our present global society. Although some have been critical about some of actions and response, the majority opinion among members of this world body is that it plays an important role especially in our present world which is continually faced with threats and challenges. UN had played a significant role as peace mediator and catalyst in the search for solutions to global problems that include resource and geopolitical conflict, human rights, climate change, the refugee crisis, terrorism, pandemics, and recently, the nuclear threat in the Korean peninsula. It has its critics like President Duterte and US President Trump, who has expressed dissatisfaction with the world body, saying that each country should act on its own. And this statement was followed by his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But this unilateral act has been drowned recently when the UN Assembly voted 128 to 9, against the United States’ declaration of its recognition of Israel’s capital “null and void.”
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Charter reiterate the universal desire for peace and the protection of our human rights. On the question of relevance, we feel that in our increasingly connected world, there is need for a world body like the UN to help each country connect and interact and to mediate in the case of conflict.
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