French President Francois Hollande, through the French Ambassador to the Philippines Thierry Mathou, has bestowed upon Senator Loren Legarda the title of Chevalier dans l’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor).

Senator Loren Legarda, one of the Philippines’ acclaimed champions for environment and distaster preparedness, has received yet another honor for her efforts for environmental protection.

On February 18, the French government, through the French Ambassador to the Philippines Thierry Mathou, bestowed on Sen. Legarda the title of Chevalier dans l’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur (Knight in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor).

Legarda was given the award for her “truly invaluable contribution in strengthening the bilateral ties between Philippines and France,” as well as for her efforts in championing the cause of climate action, disaster risk reduction, and promotion of Philippine culture.


Highest Honors

Established by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in May 1802, the Legion of Honor (Legion d’Honneur) decorations are awarded to military or civilian personnel, whether French citizens or foreigners, who performed a “flawless performance of one's trade as well as doing more than ordinarily expected, such as being creative, zealous and contributing to the growth and well-being of others.”

The President of the French Republic – currently Pres. François Hollande – serves as the Grand Master of the Order and appoints all other members of the order. Its five classes are the following: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross).

Among the luminaries decorated with this distinction – regarded as the highest one given by the French government – include former American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Myanmar’s democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. Filipinos who have previously been given this recognition include the late President Corazon Aquino, General Carlos P. Romulo, journalists Teodoro Benigno and Max Soliven, former Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia, former Bank of the Philippine Islands President Aurelio “Gigi” Montinola III, and Film Development Council of the Philippines Chairman Briccio Santos.


Honoring Sen. Legarda

In a statement, the French Embassy in Manila said:

“France values its collaboration with Sen. Legarda — who previously chaired the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, and currently chairs the Senate Committees on Climate Change, Finance, and Cultural Communities — in various cultural and environmental efforts of the French Embassy in the Philippines.

“These include her support for the showcase of ancient Filipino artifacts during the Philippines: Archipelago of Exchanges exhibit at the Musée de Quai Branly in Paris in 2013 and Encounters: World Heritage Baroque Churches in the Philippines, a photography exhibit by French artist Ferrante Ferranti, inaugurated at the National Museum in the presence of French President François Hollande during his historic state visit to the Philippines in February 2015.

“Sen. Legarda, who was appointed Global Champion for Resilience by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, was also a key advocate for the climate in the road leading to the 21st UN Climate Change Summit hosted by France last December 2015.

“It was during the ceremonies at the Malacañang Palace grounds during the state visit of President Hollande that the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change was launched, the text of which was read by Sen. Legarda and French actress Marion Cotillard in the presence of the two Heads of State.”

Start of a Journey

The Senator expressed her appreciation to the French Government not only for the recognition but also for the many opportunities to work with the French Embassy in Manila, through its immediate past Ambassador Gilles Garachon, and added, “I am confident that Ambassador Thierry Mathou will be a perfect collaborator as well.”

“This award is a profound recognition that kinship and cooperation have no bounds. We are all soldiers of the bigger cause called humanity. The distinguished history of the award, and its long list of illustrious awardees leave me grateful and humbled; but more importantly, tremendously inspired to live up to the noble principles this award represents,” Legarda said during the conferment ceremony held at the residence of Ambassador Mathou in Makati City.

When she was the Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations during the 15th Congress, Legarda shepherded the treaty concurrence process, resulting in the adoption of 16 treaties under her watch. Among these was the Protocol Amending the Agreement between the Philippines and France for the Avoidance of Double Taxation.

“There have also been many opportunities for cooperation in the field of cultural and heritage preservation; but nothing can be more pronounced than our joint initiative on climate action,” said Legarda, who was helpful in the preparations for the visit of President Hollande to the Philippines in 2015.

Legarda, who chairs the Senate Committee on Climate Change, helped in crafting the ‘Manila Call to Action for Climate Change,’ which was signed by President Hollande and President Benigno Aquino III, and which the Senator read side by side with French actress Marion Cotillard in Malacañang.

Legarda was also invited by President Hollande as the Philippines’ representative to the ‘Summit of Consciences for the Climate’ last year, which was spearheaded by Hulot, as part of their commitment to ensuring the success of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference.

“I believe in our two countries determination to succeed in ensuring climate resilience and the protection of the planet. We are in this together. I personally commit, in my capacity as the recently appointed United Nations’ Global Champion for Resilience, as a lawmaker, an environmentalist and most especially as a mother, to support France as it takes the lead in assuring that the nations deliver what they promised at the Paris Climate Change Conference last December,” she stressed.

“My journey as a ‘legionnaire’ has begun. I recognize that as in any award, there are responsibilities. I intend to fulfill these by serving as a vanguard of our countries’ great alliance,” Legarda said.


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Thursday, 05 December 2019
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