Star reporter, int'l agency receive citation for peace advocacy
John Unson ( - November 16, 2015 - 9:13pm

MANILA, Philippines - The 1st Marine Brigade awarded on Saturday night with separate special citations Philippine Star reporter John Unson and a foreign-assisted, pro-peace outfit for supporting the unit’s peace-building activities.

The awarding rite, held in a seaside Marine encampment at Barangay Tibpuan in Lebak town in Central Mindanao’s Sultan Kudarat province, was personally facilitated by Marine Brigadier Gen. Emmanuel Salamat.

Salamat is commander of the 1st Marine Brigade, which covers Maguindanao’s North Upi, South Upi and Datu Blah Sinsuat towns and the municipalities of Lebak, Kalamansig, Ninoy Aquino and Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat.

Besides Unson, who is covering for The STAR a third of the Mindanao area, the brigade also gave special citation to the Cotabato City-based United States Agency for International Development-Enhancing Governance, Accountability and Engagement (USAID-ENGAGE) entity.

Salamat said the award for the USAID-ENGAGE, received by one of its executives, Clarissa Echavez-Rendon, was in recognition of its active involvement in promoting peace and political stability through governance interventions in coastal towns being secured by his brigade.

“We are very grateful to the USAID-ENGAGE,” Salamat said.

The USAID-ENGAGE also has projects in Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Sulu, all component provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

It is focused on promoting good governance and accountability practices by local government units via its continuing interventions and capacity-building engagements.

The awarding ceremony at the headquarters of the 1st Marine Brigade capped off the unit’s celebration of the 65th founding anniversary of the Philippine Marine Corps (PMC).

Salamat told guests of the program that Unson deserved the award owing to his continuing prompt, in-depth and extensive reporting of their security and diplomatic initiatives complementing the Mindanao peace process.

“He has been helping drumbeat our programs, with an adage `building communities to build peace,’ thereby helping educate the public on the importance of interfaith and cross-section cooperation in propagating the culture of peace in Southern Mindanao,” Salamat said.

The award Unson received last Saturday from a Marine unit was his fourth in 15 years. He thrice received similar awards from the 2nd Marine Brigade and from the PMC headquarters during the period.

Unson, who can speak seven southern dialects, had received 31 career-related awards from units of the Armed Forces, the Philippine National Police, from offices of foreign-funded projects involved in peace advocacy initiatives and from various government agencies since he became staff writer of The STAR on April 1, 2000.

He joined The STAR as correspondent in 1998 and was made regular reporter owing to his non-stop coverage of his areas of assignment, which include all the provinces in Region 12, the ARMM, parts of Lanao del Sur, and the cities of Kidapawan, Cotabato, Tacurong and Koronadal.

The STAR also has two other embedded staff writers in Mindanao, Roel Pareño and Edith Regalado, who are covering the Southern island provinces and the Zamboanga peninsula and the Davao, Cagayan areas and the cities in Regions 10 and 11, respectively. 

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