UPF USA, Office of Asian-Affairs 1st Assembly
New York, NY – Hon. Mario L. de Leon Jr., the Philippine Consul General to New York, said Saturday that in order to achieve peace and settle disputes in Southeast Asia, there is a need for countries to adhere to the rule of law.
“I think this is important. Countries need to be bound by something higher than themselves, and that is being mindful of international relations,” said de Leon in his acceptance appointment as Ambassador for Peace by the Universal Peace Federation USA (UPF USA) through its Office of Asian Affairs (OAA) on March 28, 2015 in Mid-Manhattan.
De Leon led a set of appointees, composed of diplomatic officials, businessmen, and community leaders in communities with Southeast Asian roots.
The Philippines has its share of territorial disputes that remain unresolved, including the Philippine claim to the Kalayaan group of islands versus China, and the Sabah territorial claims versus Malaysia, as well as government initiated peace efforts vis-a-vis the separatist movement in Muslim Mindanao.
In his acceptance speech, Hon. de Leon stressed that he will do his best to instill peace in his jurisdiction, in line with the theme “Security and understanding in the South East Asian Region.”
Aside from New York, Hon. de Leon has concurrent jurisdiction over the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Representatives and guests from Asian countries including Nepal, India and Japan as well as New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts gathered at the event. Participants were also witnesses to the first assembly for the successful launching of the UPF USA’s Office of Asian-Affairs.
The Universal Peace Federation (UPF) is an alliance of American leaders dedicated to building a nation of peace and happiness through God´s true love by living for the sake of others.
The Office of Asian-Affairs is a local expression of UPF’s peace effort on the east coast and is headed by Rev. Greg Agulan. It will hold peace dialogues in various cities in the US as well as a multi-cultural festival this year in hopes to forge local unity and understanding.
“The Ambassadors for Peace are appointed by the UPF in order to localize peace efforts, starting from the homes and to communities, with the values of respect and cooperation as the main ingredients to achieve peace,” explained Rev. Agulan, now in his position as the official director of UPF USA Office of Asian-Affairs.
Rev. Agulan said that in achieving peace in the region, there had been two approaches in settling disputes: one is based on historical territorial claims backed by up treaties while the other approach is through sovereignty.
Rev. Agulan cited that the dispute over Mindanao in the Philippines was controlled by the Philippine Muslims until the 1950s. “In the 1950s, President Ferdinand Marcos began to send Christian Filipinos to settle in Mindanao, resulting today in their becoming the overwhelming majority of the population.
Likewise, today, the Moro people, invoking sovereignty, demand the return of their ancestral land to gain autonomy from the rest of the Philippines.”
Mr. Ricardo de Sena, President, UPF USA then presented the purpose, structure and activities of UPF as well as emphasizing UPF’s five Principles of Peace. “Transcending racial, religious and ethnic barriers is an imperative of our time. Faith can give people the power to forgive, and the love to overcome even generations of hatred, resentment and violence.”
President Ricardo de Sena emphasized that our common goal and purpose is to have unity and peace as an individual, family, nation and world. He shared about how to expand peace and a basic way to gather the family under one vision. Not merely a presentation, he also gave a clear and very touching speech inspiring to all those present.
Esther Faith Batino, the OAA executive secretary said that the formal launch of the OAA and the appointment of Hon. de Leon is a great leap forward in the peace movement in the United States. She said that her office is planning more innovative ways to unify the community with pursuits of cultural understanding as a way to peace.
The event was also an opportunity for participants to share their knowledge and expertise with their common goal being propagated heart to heart.