MANILA, Philippines — A Philippine peace award has been canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, marking only the third disruption in six decades for the annual prize regarded as an Asian Nobel.
The Manila-based foundation that hands out the Ramon Magsaysay awards said Tuesday it has no choice “with the COVID-19 pandemic practically immobilizing the world.”
The awards were also cancelled due to a financial crisis in 1970 and a disastrous earthquake in 1990. They are named after a popular Philippine president who died in a 1957 plane crash and honor “greatness of spirit in selfless service to the peoples of Asia.”
The five recipients last year included a South Korean who helped fight suicide and bullying; a woman who became a human rights defender after losing her husband to violence in southern Thailand; journalists from India and Myanmar; and a musician credited with helping to shape modern Philippine musical culture.
The Philippines has confirmed about 22,400 infections, including more than 1,000 deaths. It has eased lockdowns for millions of people in a tightrope move to bolster its economy, which contracted in the first quarter.