FNF Plants New Seeds of Freedom in the Philippines
“Ours is a work of great relevance.”
This resounding validation of liberals’ struggle to reinvigorate the values of freedom, respect for human rights and rule of law in the Philippines and in many societies across the world was articulated by Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, President of the Liberal Party of the Philippines, during the Freedom Speech – an annual year-end gathering where the state of freedom is examined, and where pockets of freedom milestones are celebrated and fortified. The event was held on 28 November 2017 at the Zuellig Sky Garden in Makati City.
Since 2011, the Freedom Speech has been a venue to discuss the state of freedom in the Philippines. In the inaugural speech delivered by Liberal stalwart and former Budget Secretary Butch Abad, he posted the question, “Are we really free enough?” Since then, it has been followed by thoughtful and empowering speeches by individuals who, in one way or another, fight for liberties in their own spheres: then Governor Grace Padaca, who became an epitome of strength as she rose victorious over a political dynasty in her locality; Senator Bam Aquino, whose legislations level the playing field and promote a culture of healthy competition for micro, small and medium enterprises in the Philippine market; Vice President (then Congresswoman) Leni Robredo, whose principled service and genuine love for the marginalized propels her to push for the Freedom of Information Bill and the People Empowerment Bill; and finally, formerPresident Benigno Simeon Aquino III, whose formidable and decent leadership restored people’s trust in government institutions.
But in some countries, Philippines included - populism and protectionism are back in vogue and are spreading and accelerating across societies. Freedom has to be earned, again and again. Faith in a better future in freedom must be kept alive. This fuels FNF to become more earnest in its mission to increase, strengthen and defend freedom.
Senator Pangilinan shares this sentiment as he highlighted in his speech, “it is because the woes of our world are so demanding that it becomes our critical, necessary task to stand up, to speak out, to defy, and to do something using our skills, assets, and time. Building democratic institutions, responsive governments, and robust civil societies is the work of generations, and it is up to us to keep the work going to chart the future we seek. We have to reverse the reversals, and continue the march forward -- towards freedom, democracy, and prosperity.”
FNF is committed to work with individuals like Senator Kiko, by exploring new thinking and new ways of promoting the values of freedom and liberalism against a backdrop of a volatile political landscape. Through its programs, FNF advances its advocacies by tapping new breed of audience and influencers or like-minded individuals, who will support FNF’s mission to buoy up freedom. In this light, FNF, through the annual Freedom Flame Awards, is recognizing individuals, groups who and projects that have made breakthroughs in upholding freedom in different areas – economic freedom, culture and the arts, human rights and government. Here are this year’s Freedom Flame bearers:
- The Slingshot Project
In recognition of its efforts to promote innovation-driven economy by developing and nurturing the Philippine startup ecosystem.
- “Respeto” Movie
For courageously depicting the controversial issues surrounding human rights violations in the Philippines through exceptional artistry.
- The 5th Commission of the Commission on Human Rights
Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit
Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana
Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz
Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento
In recognition of the Fifth Commission’s unwavering service to the Filipino people in
upholding human dignity and freedom - as watchdogs and protectors against human
rights abuses – despite difficult times.
- Hon. Jose Christopher “Kit” Belmonte
Representive, 6th District of Quezon City
For being steadfast in defending freedom and human rights by voting against the death penalty bill and the slashing of CHR’s budget, among others.
“Today, we celebrate our power to actively and collectively think, express and act on ideas that will flourish into something potent, something that will reinvigorate freedoms and move people to respect and defend their rights and the rights of others,” Country Director of FNF Philippines, Wolfgang Heinze.
Mr. Heinze added, “we applaud each and every one of you who are here today. We are thankful for all of you who have journeyed with FNF through the years. This is our way to strengthen relationships and build bridges as we campaign for civic and economic freedoms and human rights. We look forward to creating new ideas with you as we move forward and think new, for freedom.”
The event concluded with FNF's partners symbolically planting seeds of ideas that they would like to nurture and grow into a garden of thoughts and actions that will promote, uphold and defend freedom and democracy in the Philippines.
FNF is a German non-profit organization that supports human rights, free market and rule of law. It facilitates local and international dialogues and other forms of civic education that aim to uphold freedom and democracy. It operates in more than 60 offices worldwide, and has been in the Philippines since 1986.