26 July 2012
President Benigno S. Aquino III honored the country’s first Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Apolinario Mabini, and conferred the Gawad Mabini to distinguished officials and personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in twin celebrations held at the DFA home office in Pasay City.
The President led a flower offering at the statue of Apolinario Mabini, known as the sublime paralytic, located inside the DFA building lobby to commemorate Mabini’s 148th birth anniversary. Members of the Mabini family led by his grandnephew, Primo Mabini Rodriguez, were also present during the occasion.
In the program proper, President Aquino conferred the Gawad Mabini to eighteen (18) DFA recipients, both in the Home Office and in the Foreign Service, who embody the ideals of the Department’s first secretary and who have rendered distinguished service or steadfastly promoted the interests of the country both here and overseas. The Gawad Mabini is composed of three ranks namely, the Grand Cross (Dakilang Kamanong), Commander (Dakilang Kasugo) and Member (Kasugo).
In his speech, the President congratulated the awardees for their notable contributions in promoting the country’s national security, strengthening economic and diplomatic relations, and ensuring the protection and welfare of Filipino nationals all over the world. “Buo ang aking suporta sa inilatag ninyong DFA Strategic Plan 2012-2016 na naglalaman ng inyong mga adhikain at estratehiya upang mapabilis ang pagbabago sa inyong ahensya at paglilingkod sa Pilipino. Sa kasalukuyan, mayroon na po tayong limampu’t siyam na career diplomat, na katumbas ng walumpu’t apat na porsyento ng kabuuang bilang ng ating mga embahador,” President Aquino said.
The Chief Executive also lauded the DFA for their continuing efforts in promoting the code of conduct in order to protect Philippine sovereignty in the West Philippine Sea, including the country’s claim to Benham Rise that was recognized by the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. “Malinaw po ang ating paninindigan: may mga teritoryo pong kailangang pag-usapan at pagpasyahan ang pagmamay-ari, at may mga lugar na hindi na dapat kuwestyunin dahil malinaw na teritoryo natin. Sa lahat ng pagkakataon, bukas tayo sa mapayapang paglutas sa usaping ito nang naaayon sa batas at kasunduan ng mga bansa,” President Aquino emphasized.
* * *