Philippines Current Affairs
Two Indians Bharat Vatwani and Sonam Wangchuk are among six who have been declared winners of 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award, often referred to as Asian version of the Nobel Prize. Others are are Youk Chhang (Cambodia), Maria de Lourdes Martins Cruz (East Timor), Howard Dee (Philippines) and Vo Thi Hoang Yen (Vietnam). The winners will each receive certificate, medallion bearing image of late Filipino leader Ramon Magsaysay and cash prize. They will be conferred with award during formal presentation ceremony at Cultural Centre in Philippines in August 2018.
Bharat Vatwani: He is a psychiatrist who works for mentally-ill people living on the streets in Mumbai. The award recognizes his courage and compassion in embracing India’s mentally-afflicted destitute and his dedication to work of restoring and affirming human dignity of even most ostracized.
Sonam Wangchuk: He is educational reformer from Ladakh. In 1988, he had founded Students’ Education and Cultural Movement of Ladakh to coach poor Ladakhi students. The award recognizes his uniquely systematic, collaborative and community-driven reform of learning systems in remote Ladakh region which has helped to improve life opportunities of youths. He is widely regarded as inspiration for Aamir Khan’s character, Phunsuk Wangdu in the film ‘3 Idiots’.
Ramon Magsaysay Award
It is Asia’s highest honour and is often regarded as the region’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It was established in 1957 by trustees of the New York City based Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Philippine government in the memory of Philippines’ third President Ramon Magsaysay who had died in air disaster in March 1957. It is awarded annually to individuals or organizations from Asia region for their altruistic and philanthropic service. It carries Medallion bearing the likeness of the late President Ramon Magsaysay, cash prize and a certificate.
Philippines has announced to withdraw from International Criminal Court (ICC) citing reason of international bias and held that ICC was being utilised as a political tool against it. It will make Philippines only second country to withdraw from the Rome statute, following Burundi in 2017. South Africa attempted to leave in 2016, but its withdrawal was revoked by UN.
Philippines had ratified Rome statute related to Hague-based ICC in 2011. Its ratification was seen as big step forward for human rights in Asia. Now its withdrawal is seen as blow for international accountability in the region.
The ICC in February 2018 had announced that it was launching preliminary examination of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody anti-drug crackdown that has drawn international concern. It is clamed that nearly 4,000 drug suspects were killed as part of campaign, while human rights groups claim the toll is around three times the numbers given by authorities.
International Criminal Court (ICC)
ICC is the world’s first intergovernmental legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is based in The Hague, Netherlands. It began its functioning on 1 July 2002, the date that Rome Statute entered into force. It has 123 member states (India is not its member). The Rome Statute is multilateral treaty which serves as ICC’s foundational and governing document. India has not signed Rome Statute. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals and is independent of United Nations (UN). But it may receive case referrals from UN Security Council and can initiate prosecutions without UN action or referral.
Note: US signed the treaty (Rome Statute) in 2000 but never ratified it, citing concerns over sovereignty, similarly with Russia. Israel signed it for a short period but also never ratified it into law. China has not signed it.