'Freedom flame' for LP members, singer, journalist

MANILA, Philippines - Several members of the Liberal Party, political personalities, a singer, and a journalist were recognized by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) on Tuesday, December 4 for their significant roles in the country's 2012 milestones.

The Freedom Flame is a recognition given to individuals for their contributions to "events that led to allowing Filipinos better experience freedom in the country," according to a statement released by FNF.

Among the awardees of the Freedom Flame were Sen Franklin Drilon, who was celebrated for pushing for the passage of the sin tax reform bill.

Drilon, who wasn't present in the event because of a prolonged Senate session, thanked the organizers for the recognition through a statement.

"It's an honor that our efforts as a legislator are gaining positive remarks among our fellow leaders. But I really believe I have only done my obligation to our countrymen: to give them the chance to live a healthier and longer life," Drilon said. "And the passage of the sin tax reform bill is one big step to achieve it."

Aside from Drilon, other Freedom Flame recipients included Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection Neric Acosta and singer Noel Cabangon for their role in helping the environment; Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles for her efforts to promote a peaceful settlement for Bangsamoro; Rep. Erin Tañada for his efforts to promote the Freedom of Information bill; Rep. Niel Tupas for his role in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona; Rappler Editor-at-large Marites Vitug for her reports and reflections on the Supreme Court and on the impeachment trial; and the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo's family, Atty. Leni, Aka, Tricia and Jillian Robredo for being beacons of hope for Filipinos who wish for better governance.

Padaca speaks

Commission on Elections Commissioner Grace Padaca, the guest speaker, described how she failed to hold her predecessors accountable when she was governor of Isabela. Padaca once defeated the Dys of Isabela.

She asked Filipinos not to "dismiss efforts to go after erring past officials as simply being vindictive," a defense of President Benigno Aquino III, who has been criticized of seeking revenge in pursuing allegedly corrupt government officials.

"It is this wrong sense of freedom from the past and the desire for a so-called fresh start that keeps us from reaching our true potentials," said Padaca.

"Many are silently suffering and quietly rebelling, but are told that is how the system goes. I hope that the President will stand his ground," she added.

The Friedrich Naumman Foundation for Freedom, which organizes the annual event, is a German foundation with liberal leanings. - Rappler.com