• Gusi peace awardees back PH on sea row

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    A United States senator, a son of a former Chinese leader and a former president of Lithuania, along with several other dignitaries from at least 15 countries, on Tuesday expressed their support to the Philippines’ position on seeking peaceful resolution to territorial disputes with China over reefs and islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

    “Conflicts are part of the political landscape, not only in the Philippines. Other countries
    have similar problem. At any time, countries should not resort to violence but to negotiation and diplomatic intervention,” said US Sen. Emmanuel Jones of Georgia.

    “We do not want tension to escalate, we must communicate,” he added, because failure to do so will have “devastating effects.”

    Jones is in the country for the 2014 Gusi Peace Prize awarding ceremonies to be held today where government and private sector leaders around the world will be recognized for their contribution to world peace.

    The awardees include Vitautas Landsbergis, former president of Lithuania, and Dr. Manson Fok, a well-respected Chinese business tycoon and son of the late Dr. Henry Fok, former vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and adviser to former Chinese leader Deng Xioping.

    The international delegates visited the National Press Club of the Philippines in Intramuros, Manila, where they discussed issues on regional and world peace with local journalists. They were received by NPC President Joel Sy Egco and directors Paul Gutierrerz, Boying Abasola and Jean Fernando and treasurer Mina Navarro.

    The lone Filipino recipient of the award, Sen. Cynthia Villar, was absent during the event.
    Dr. Fok, the awardee from China, echoed the position of Jones, saying while “conflicts” are “everywhere,” these can be resolved on a “civil level.”

    “The Philippines and China have been friends for many, many years, and both countries have changed so much and we can make this a better relationship [for both countries],” Fok added.

    Another awardee, Dr. Hans Koechler of Austria, who has been involved in peaceful resolution of the armed conflict in Mindanao, noted that the sea dispute is a “regional issue,” referring to the other claimants to territories within the South China Sea.

    “There are two ways to achieve a peaceful resolution of conflict. Avoid ‘proxy war’ and instead, negotiate within a regional framework and, achieve peace thru abiding with the basic principle of international law,” Koechler said.

    “There are [international]mechanisms that exist such as the ICJ [International Court of Justice] and the UN [United Nations] and we must get the consent of member-states to refer the dispute to international bodies,” he added.

    Dominique Hoppe, an awardee from the Netherlands, cited the importance of involving international organizations in attainment of peace.

    “We need them . . . peace relies on the acceptance of our differences. International bodies are [avenues]to accept these differences,” Hoppe said.

    Over 2,000 delegates are expected to attend the Gusi awarding ceremonies at the Philippine International Convention Center.

    The other awardees are Dr. Atiur Rahman of Bangladesh, Prof. Virima Mudogo of Congo, Prof. Gerhard Bringman of Germany, Dr. Achyuta Samanta of India, Parviz Pargari of Iran, Dr. Luigi Pellegrini of Italy, Dr. Yoshinori Asakawa of Japan, Bhojraj Pokharel of Nepal, Dr. Kazimierz Glowniak of Poland and Hon. Saad Nahar Al-Baddah Almutairi of Saudi Arabia.

    The Gusi Peace Prize recognizes individuals and organizations who have contributed to global peace and progress through various fields.

    The awards ceremonies are held yearly in Manila on the fourth Wednesday of November.

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