6 senators seek Senate medal for Maria Ressa after Nobel prize win
Journalist Maria Ressa.
MANILA, Philippines — At least six senators have so far pushed for a Senate Medal of Excellence to be awarded to veteran Filipino journalist Maria Ressa after her Nobel Peace Prize win.
Senator Risa Hontiveros led Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Leila de Lima and Francis Pangilinan in filing a resolution urging the Senate to recognize Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize by bestowing her a Senate Medal of Excellence.
In a statement on Tuesday, Hontiveros said awarding Ressa with the Senate medal “is mandatory and procedural” and should not be “up for vote or debate.”
“Whatever side you look at it from, Maria Ressa’s feat is important for our country and all freedom-loving nations,” Hontiveros said.
“We have a duty at the Senate to uplift and acknowledge our fellow Filipinos when we make our mark in the world,” she added.
Hontiveros then warned against “purposely ignoring” Ressa’s accomplishment, saying this could be “damaging to women’s important role in Philippine history.”
“To purposely ignore this achievement would be to wash away an amazing victory of a Filipina from our history books. This is a chance for the Senate as an institution to show that it remains true to its values of free speech and genuine democracy,” she said.
“I urge the Senate to give Maria Ressa the recognition she is due so that we may inspire Filipinos to continue to be brave. Filipinos are many things, and now we also have a Nobel Peace Prize awardee. This is a Pinoy Pride moment. May there continue to be many others,” she added.
Senator Richard Gordon also filed a separate resolution calling on the Senate to confer upon Ressa the chamber’s “highest award.”
“The Nobel Peace Prize is the most coveted award that is granted annually to a meticulously selected individual who shall have ‘conferred the greatest benefit on mankind’ during the preceding year,” Gordon said in an earlier statement.
“This historic feat is a first for an individual Filipino nominee since the first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901 and a first for journalists since the Nobel Peace Prize of 1935,” he added.
‘Demonstrate political sportsmanship’
In a separate statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto committed to voting for the grant of the Senate medal to Ressa.
According to Recto, Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize win “satisfies all the conditions” in the Senate resolution governing the conferment of the Senate honor.
“But most important[ly], it is the right thing to do. We cannot ignore an accolade which has been met with universal praise. Never has a Nobel winner been snubbed in his or her own homeland,” he said.
Jokingly calling the Senate a “commendable institution,” Recto said it should not snub Ressa’s Nobel prize.
“Mga beauty contest placers, may pinapasa na resolution of commendation. Manalo sa boxing, may resolution of commendation. Tapos itong Nobel prize, dededmahin natin?” he pointed out.
Recto said he expects some of his colleagues to voice out of the Senate medal to Ressa.
“But I think come voting time, every one of us will demonstrate political sportsmanship,” he, however, added.
Recto also stressed that “being examined by a critical press is in the job description of a public official.”
“May kasabihan na ‘a politician who complains against the press is like a ship captain who complains about the sea’. You can be pilloried and praised in equal doses. But the worst fate is to be ignored,” he said.
“As a Filipino, I am proud that a compatriot has deservingly won the Nobel for work that is essential for democracy to flourish,” the senator added.
Ressa is the first Filipino to receive the prestigious award, which she will share with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov for “their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”
In August, the Senate adopted Resolution No. 110 , an award to be conferred upon Filipinos who are awarded the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, the A.M. Turing Award, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, or an Olympic Medal.
The resolution, however, states that the awarding of the medal will be conferred “upon the unanimous vote of the members of the chamber.”
The first recipients of the are Olympic medalists Hidilyn Diaz, Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial.