For the second year in a row, the influential Washington-based Foreign Policy magazine has named detained Sen. Leila de Lima as one of its Leading Global Thinkers for 2017, citing her “unfettered criticism” of President Rodrigo Duterte and his brutal war on drugs.
The senator and the 49 other honorees from across the world were honored in a simple reception gala on Tuesday in Washington led by Foreign Policy Magazine associate editor Benjamin Soloway. She was represented by her chief of staff Fhillip Sawali.
The other global personalties in the list included French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei, and South Korean President Moon Jae-In.
“From the beginning, [Senator] De Lima knew how dangerous her unfettered criticism of her country’s leader might prove. But [she] has refused to shut up,” said Soloway during the reception gala.
“While she fears for her safety, she is convinced that the international community’s scrutiny of Duterte’s rule is helping keep her alive,” he said.
From her detention quarters in Camp Crame, De Lima welcomed the latest recognition of her continued fight for truth, justice and democracy.
Human rights awards
“I thank them for their continued faith in me for two consecutive years. This latest accolade further bolsters my courage and strengthens my resolve to continue standing up for my principles and causes despite the unprecedented magnitude of harassment against me by the Duterte regime,” she said.
Early this year, De Lima was also named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People and Icons, and Amnesty International’s Women Human Rights Defenders. Liberal International also accorded her its highest human rights honor, the Prize for Freedom award.
‘Very serious charges’
But Malacañang on Tuesday downplayed the decision of Foreign Policy magazine to name the detained senator as one of its Leading Global Thinkers of the year for standing up to the Duterte administration.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said De Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, was facing “very serious charges.”
“What can I say? That’s the decision of the magazine? No. So c’est la vie? No,” Roque said in a press briefing.