By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday said she is elated and humbled to be conferred the prestigious “Prize for Freedom” Award by the Liberal International (LI) in recognition for her outstanding efforts in defense of freedom and human rights.
De Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center over drug charges, said she is greatly humbled and grateful to LI for recognizing her unrelenting fight for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
LI, the third international organization that sent representatives to visit De Lima in detention, previously denounced her arrest “as politically motivated.”
“I am humbled and honored to be chosen as the recipient of this prestigious Human Rights Prize, which was also bestowed to former President and democracy icon Corazon Aquino,” De Lima said in a statement.
“More than a recognition, I regard this award as an inspiration that strengthens my resolve to continue opposing this murderous regime, its outright disregard for human rights and trampling of human dignity to my last breath, especially because I am not alone in my fight,” she stressed.
During its 199th Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, this week, the LI announced it was conferring the Prize for Freedom – the global federations’ highest human rights honor — to the senator.
LI said the award is given to “a well-known personality of liberal conviction who has made outstanding efforts for the defense of freedom and human rights.”
Other recipients of the prestigious award include the imprisoned Saudi liberal blogger Raif Badawi (2016), Helen Suzman (2002), and Martin Lee (1996). It was first awarded in 1986.
More than 100 liberals from 32 countries participated in LI’s 199th Executive Committee meeting.
In an official statement, Markus Löning, Chairman of LI’s Human Rights Committee who visited and met with the senator last July, cited De Lima as the “perfect embodiment of a leader who fights for what is right despite political oppression.”
“Leila De Lima has been a flag-bearer for human rights in the Philippines and beyond, setting a shining example for other human rights defenders. Even from inside the prison she keeps fighting for the rule of law and the dignity of individuals. She should immediately be released from pre-trial detention,” Löning said.
According to LI, De Lima will be the second Filipino to accept the Human Rights Prize, after then President Corazon Aquino in 1987, who was recognized “for her world-renowned advocacy of democracy, peace, and the empowerment of women.”
Tags: De Lima receives 'Prize for Freedom' award, Executive Committee., human dignity, Human Rights Committee, Human Rights Prize, Leila de Lima, Liberal International, Manila Bulletin, Philippine National Police, recognition