MANILA - Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita 'Ging' Deles was among this year’s “Role Models for Peace” named by the N-Peace Network, an Asia-based multi-country network of peace advocates facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
President Aquino handed the award to Deles in an awarding ceremony organized by the UNDP and Australian AID and held at the New World Hotel in Makati.
Deles was recognized for her work primarily as the country’s peace adviser overseeing the government’s peace talks with rebel groups. Formerly an NGO leader, she co-founded Coalition for Peace after the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution and helped found PILIPINA and worked as an advocate of women’s rights.
Other awardees include parliamentarian Farkhunda Zahra Naderi and Quhramaana Kakar of Afghanistan; women’s rights advocate Suraiya Kamaruzzaman of Indonesia; Action Works Nepal founder and president Radha Paudel; Sister Lourdes of Timor-Leste; and women’s NGO leader Rupika De Silva of Sri Lanka.
Aquino lauded the awardees for their role in building peace in their respective communities.
Aquino credited Deles for her role in helping form the framework agreement between the government and the MILF.
“This is the same spirit that has informed our most recent achievement on the path to peace—an achievement in which, I am proud to relate, Secretary Deles has played an important role. Just last Sunday, our administration announced the forging of a Framework Agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, after decades of armed conflict and bloodshed—an agreement that will hopefully seal a final, lasting peace in Mindanao and in the Philippines,” Aquino said.
Noting that all the awardees were women, Aquino stressed the important role that women play in helping promote peace. She cited as examples Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and his mother, former President Corazon Aquino.
“Not even when my father was murdered, shot while disembarking from an airplane, did I hear her speak of violence or vengeance—both of which were foremost in my thoughts when I saw my father’s bruised and bloodstained body sprawled across the airport tarmac. But perhaps you will understand why I felt this way: after all, being the only son, I wanted to avenge my father and protect my mother and my sisters,” Aquino said.
“My mother was different. Even if her husband had been murdered and her children orphaned, even if she then faced the daunting task of raising her children alone—like my father, she espoused the return of democracy through peaceful means. When she eventually became the leader of the opposition and later, President; and when the Filipino people took to the streets not with weapons or violent demonstrations, but with prayer and song, solidarity and faith, this was their cry: peaceful change.”