Malacañang yesterday lauded the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for winning the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, citing the fact that a Filipino heads the inspector training at OPCW.
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Aquino administration leads the Filipino nation in lauding the OPCW, whose head of inspector training is Franz Ontal, 49, of Negros Occidental.
Ontal grew up at Victorias Milling Co. and in Bacolod City.
Ontal is the fourth of six children of the late Dr. Pat Ontal, a company physician of VMC, and the former Lydia Teves Gamboa.
He graduated from La Salle High School Bacolod, Class of 1980, completed his undergraduate degree in Biology and began pre-med studies at La Salle College Bacolod, before immigrating to New York in the 1980s.
Before OPCW, Ontal said he worked as a paramedic for the Fire Department of New York's Emergency Medical Services Division, working mostly in Brooklyn from the late 80's up to 2006.
Ontal joined OPCW in the Netherlands in 2006 as an Inspector, Health and Safety Specialist.
“In 2009 I joined the Inspectorate Training Cell as an instructor and eventually became the Head of Inspectorate Training in 2012. So now I supervise all matters related to the training of inspectors, but first and foremost, I remain an inspector and still deploy on missions,” he said.
The country has reason to celebrate as Ontal being a part of the organization, Coloma said.
As head inspector of OPCW training, Ontal plays an important role in the battle to put an end to use of chemical weapons, Coloma added.
The OPCW is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the first international treaty to outlaw an entire class of chemical weapons.
The OPCW, formed in 1997, currently has a team on the ground in Syria to destroy President Bashar al-Assad's reported stockpile of chemical weapons.
In its citation, the Nobel committee said the organization and the treaty under which it was founded in 1997 “have defined the use of chemical weapons as a taboo under international law.”
“Recent events in Syria, where chemical weapons have again been put to use, have underlined the need to enhance the efforts to do away with such weapons,” the citation said. *CPG