By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

A FILIPINA peace adviser and a former United Nations (UN) peace negotiator was among the four laureates of this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Awards, considered as Asia’s Nobel Prize.

Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, 64, was cited for her “work of advancing and sustaining peace” through her Southeast Asian Women Peace Mediators organization, which conducts dialogues and mediation initiatives in countries like Afghanistan and Myanmar.

“She emphasizes the important role that women play in inclusive peacebuilding,” Ramon Magsaysay Awards Foundation Chairman Aurelio R. Montinola III told a livestreamed event. “She is another woman who champions peace in Asia and in the world.”

In separate announcement on its website, the foundation cited the Filipina’s “deep, unwavering belief in the transformative power of nonviolent strategies in peacebuilding.”

In 2012, Ms. Ferrer served as the government’s chief negotiator during peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in southern Philippines under the late President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.

The discussions led to the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro two years later, in which the Muslim secessionist group agreed to abolish its armed wing in exchange for the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

From 2019 to 2021, Ms. Ferrer served as a UN senior mediator in peace talks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Conflicts are best resolved not through the annihilation of one party, but by the mutual transformation of all players towards a common vision and shared responsibilities and accountability,” Ms. Ferrer said in statement posted on the foundation’s website.

The three other awardees are from Bangladesh, Timor Leste and India.

Bangladeshi Korvi Rakshand,38, was cited for starting the JAAGO Foundation that provides free English language education to poor kids. His organization set up 11 traditional and online schools in 10 Bangladesh districts.

Eugenio Lemos, 51, is a Timorese environmentalist who founded the Permakultura Timor-Lorosa’e organization, which holds youth training programs on water and natural resource management, farming, aquaculture and agroforestry.

He was cited for “uplifting the lives of local communities.” His environmental youth programs have been introduced to all 13 districts of Timor-Leste.

Ravi Kannan, 59, is an Indian oncologist and founder of the Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, which provides cancer treatment for poor Indians.

The hospital, which has been around for 17 years, aims to become a “state-of-the art cancer center that will ensure no individual develops a cancer that can be prevented,” according to its website.

“These four individuals join our illustrious and inspiring community of transformative leaders who are making Asia and the world a better place for all,” Mr. Montinola said at the online event.

Last year, Filipino doctor and children’s rights crusader Bernadette J. Madrid won the award for providing medical, legal and psychosocial care to children who are victims of abuse.

The Ramon Magsaysay Awards started in 1957 and is one of the most prestigious prizes in Asia. It is given to people who have shown excellence in government and public service, community leadership, journalism and the creative arts, according to the foundation’s website.