August 19, 2015

President Manuel Quezon was posthumously awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Medal

MANILA – The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation posthumously bestowed the Raoul Wallenberg Medal to the late President of the Philippines, Manuel L. Quezon, in recognition of his Open Doors policy which enabled the influx into his country of more than 1,300 European Jewish refugees who fled from the horrors of Nazism. The ceremony took place on 19 August.

President Benigno Aquino III led the commemoration of the former Head of State’s 137th birth anniversary and inaugurated the Quezon Museum.

An estimated crowd of 3,000 attended the event including members of the Cabinet and Diplomatic Corps, officials and employees of the national and local government units, sectoral representatives, family of Quezon, and representatives of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation. The ceremony was also attended by members of President Quezon’s family; professor Maris Diokno, Chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and by representatives of the Jewish Association of the Philippines, led by Lee Blumenthal.

On behalf of the Wallenberg Foundation Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Effie Ben-Matityau presented the Raoul Wallenberg Medal to Zenaida Quezon Avancena (94), daughter of the late President. He praised Quezon for “his moral conviction” and called him “a great leader an humanitarian”, adding that “when he saw the plight of Jews in Europe, he opened the door for those in need”.

Quezon’s grandson, Manuel Quezon III, delivered an acceptance speech in which he underscored “the importance of people’s right to asylum in a democracy”, urging “the Filipino youth to emulate his grandfather’s compassion towards those in need”. “May this encourage future generations of Filipinos to stay true to the compassionate ideal of our founding fathers”, he stressed.

“The late President Quezon epitomizes the spirit of civic courage and solidarity exemplified by Raoul Wallenberg and all the women and men who reached-out to the victims of the Shoah.”, said Eduardo Eurnekian and Baruch Tenembaum, Chairman and Founder of the IRWF, in a joint statement.