Ambassador Howard Dee: Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for 2018

The Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, was created in 1955 to “celebrate the memory and leadership example” of former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay. It is given to select Asians who are models of service and excellence in addressing issues affecting their societies. Previous Filipino awardees include Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.

On July 26, 2018, the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) announced the 60th batch of awardees. The awarding ceremony will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on August 31, the birth anniversary of President Magsaysay. President of RMAF Carmencita T. Abella said: “We assert our belief that good is happening in the positive constructive power of greatness of spirit and its expression in moral leadership that upholds the moral good.”

For this year, the awardees are Youk Chang from Cambodia, Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz from East Timor, Bharat Vatwani from India, Vo Thi Hoang Yen from Vietnam, Sonam Wangchuk from India, and the Philippines’s Howard Dee. According to Abella, the works of these awardees are a “defiant declaration of hope, (not giving up) despite meager resources, daunting adversity and strong opposition. Their approaches are all deeply anchored on a respect for human dignity.”

Howard Q. Dee was former Philippine ambassador to the Holy See and Malta (1986-1990). RMAF Chairman Senen Bacani said Dee is being recognized for “championing the human face of peace, justice and economic growth… and for his quietly heroic acts of service 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.”

In 1993 Dee chaired the government panel for the peace talks between the Ramos administration and the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the National Democratic Front. He also served as Presidential Adviser (Cabinet Secretary) on Indigenous People’s Affairs in 2002 during the Arroyo administration, and as member of the Bangsamoro Basic Law Peace Council during the Aquino administration.

The former Unilab president was also one of the Founding Trustees of Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) back in 1970. The PBSP is an NGO that he helped establish to allow member-companies to contribute a portion of their profits for sustainable development and poverty reduction programs. A few years later, he started the Assisi Development Foundation Inc. together with Jesuit priest Francisco Araneta to help Filipinos in need. He was also the founding chairman of the Philippine Development Assistance Program (1984) and the lead convenor of the National Peace Conference in 1990.

Ambassador Howard Dee, now 87 years old, also served as cochairman of Tabang Mindanaw and vice chairman of Caritas Manila and Pondo ng Pinoy. We salute you, sir, for your passionate service and years of hard work. Congratulations and Mabuhay!

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Atty. Jose Ferdinand M. Rojas II received his Law degree from Ateneo de Manila University in 1994. He is currently engaged in the General Practice of Law through the firm he established, Jose M. Rojas Law Office. Prior to getting his Law degree, Atty. Rojas graduated Cum Laude in Economics and Political Science from the University of Massachusetts. He used to chair the Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) and, more recently, used to sit as Vice-Chairman and General Manager of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Atty. Rojas is an opinion columnist for the Business Mirror and Pilipino Mirror, and 2014 awardee of People Asia’s “Men Who Matter.” He is a member of the Saturday Group of artists and is married to Atty. Patricia A.O. Bunye.