Mindanao-based peacebuilder receives Timor Leste’s highest award

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Dili, Timor Leste

Timor Leste President Jose Ramos Horta conferred Ordem de Timor, the highest honor award, to a Mindanao-based peacebuilder on Wednesday, June 22, for “his contribution to the struggle for national independence.”

Horta cited Gus Miclat, Executive Director of the Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), a regional advocacy and peacebuilding organization based in Davao City, for his “contribution to the struggle for national independence through his various activities within the scope of the organization he established together with other people in IID.”

“The activities of that organization focused on advocacy and solidarity, promoting solidarity between peoples, contributing to conflict prevention, peace building and democratization in this region of the world, particularly in countries where there is conflict.”

IID was the Secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) that was also given the same award in 2015 by then President Taur Matan Ruak who is the current Prime Minister of the country.

Miclat was the Convener and Coordinator of APCET. APCET has since transformed into the Asia-Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) in 2005.

Miclat is currently in Dili to meet with President Horta and civil society partners on behalf of the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) to explore collective efforts in sustaining democracy in the region amid the shrinking of civic spaces in the light of the ascendancy of repressive regimes.

President Horta has been vocal in calling out the Myanmar junta that dislodged the elected civilian government there through a coup in February 2021.

Thousands of civilians have been killed, imprisoned and tortured since then. Thousands of refugees have also spilled across the borders of neighboring countries.

A National Unity Government (NUG) composed of elected parliamentarians, ethnic groups and the civil disobedience movement has meanwhile been established.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) where Myanmar and the Philippines are members has yet to mediate effectively in helping resolve the crisis.

Established in 2009, the order Order of Timor-Leste was created for “prestige and dignity of East Timor’s recognition of nationals and foreigners, who in their professional or social activity, even in a spontaneous act or altruism, have contributed significantly to the benefit of Timor-Leste, the Timorese, or the humanities”.

Along with Miclat, the Secretary-General of ADN, Ichal Supriadi was also given the same award for his own contribution in regional efforts of monitoring elections in the region while he was the Secretary-General of the Asia Network for Free Elections (ANFREL). ANFREL is a member of ADN.

Supriadi is also in Dili with Miclat who is the current Chairperson of ADN. Miclat said, “I humbly share this award not only with the peacebuilding circles in the Philippines and in the Asia-Pacific region but with the peoples and communities that we serve who until today continue to confront monumental challenges of armed conflict they never wished to be part of.

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This award represents a critical triumph of peace over armed conflict.” Miclat added.

“With the new era of armed conflict and violence happening at the moment between nations, –and with wars often waged, unjustly, in the name of the people—peacebuilding through people –to- people solidarity remains an imperative strategy. As global wars intensify, we also intensify our call for a just peace and humane society. The democratic future, human rights and welfare of the people should be at the core of conflict transformation initiatives,” he said. (Press Release)

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