Two exceptional Filipinos receive recognition from US institution

May 25, 2010 8:22 pm 

MANILA, May 25 — Erstwhile Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno and Ambassador to Brunei Alexander B. Yano have recently been recognized separately by US institutions.

Puno was presented the prestigious Elise and Walter A. Hass International Award for an outstanding alumnus by the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) during the University’s commencement convocation on May 16, becoming the first Filipino and Asian to be so honored.

Yano received the Legion of Merit (degree of Officer) on May 13 from the US embassy in Manila for his exceptionally meritorious service as former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff in ceremonies held at the embassy.

Yano is a retired four-star general. As AFP Chief of Staff, he was instrumental in the successful Philippine-US counter-insurgency operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah in the southern Philippines.

According to the embassy, “these operations resulted in the capture of several dozen terrorist leaders, destruction of important terrorist bases and networks, and a significant decrease in terrorist threats to the Philippines and the United States.”

”He was a visionary leader in the implementation of the US-supported Coast Watch South maritime security program oriented toward securing the porous maritime region bounded by Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines from terrorism and transnational crime.”

Yano also ensured the execution of a vigorous bilateral training exercise program that included the Joint Staff-sponsored RP-US BALIKATAN Exercise and the major Maritime Expeditionary Unit Exercise RP-US TALON VISION/PHEBLEX.

Puno delivered his acceptance speech before the members of the UC Berkeley Class of 2012 who filled the university’s 11,000-seat capacity Pete Newell Court at the Hass Pavilion.

The award cited the Chief Justice’s sterling record of service since 1971. As chief magistrate, Puno initiated a several critical reforms and championed human rights with his introduction of the writ of amparo and the writ of habeas data as new remedies in protecting human rights as well as the writ of kalikasan (nature) to help enforce environmental laws.

He was also cited for cleaning up corruption in the judiciary and for bringing the courts closer to the people with the introduction of “mobile courts.”

Puno finished his Master of Laws from the UC Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law in 1968.

He was nominated by Johnny de Castro, a Filipino lawyer who is pursuing his Doctorate in Laws degree at the same university. When he graduates, De Castro will be the first Filipino to receive the Doctorate in Law from UC Berkeley.

Puno was also feted to an award luncheon in his honor during which he presented his lecture entitled “Protecting and Enhancing the Three Generations of Human Rights.”

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Consul General Marciano A. Paynor Jr. led several officials in congratulating the Chief Justice.

The Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award was established in 1964 by Mr. and Mrs. Walter A. Haas, Mr. and Mrs. Peter E. Haas and Mr. and Mrs. Richard N. Goldman.

It is one of the most prestigious awards conferred by the UC Berkeley which honors an international alumnus who has a distinguished record of service to his or her country. (PNA)

vcs/GJB

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