By Corina Oliquino | FilAm Star Correspondent
MANILA — The Diplomat, a Tokyo-based international current affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region last March 10 named Opposition Sen. Leila De Lima as one of its “Woman to Watch” in Southeast Asia for her “courage to speak out against the injustices and the culture of impunity afflicting the Philippines under the leadership of a looming authoritarian.”
According to the press statement released by the Senate regarding the recognition, The Diplomat has made the citation in recognition of the work, legacy and influence of prominent women in Southeast Asia during the International Women’s Day last March 8.
“(De Lima) has continued her fight against the Duterte administration from behind bars and inspired progressive Filipinos and international human rights activists alike, including Pope Francis,” The Diplomat said via a press statement by the Senate.
“Her refusal to stay quiet is an important message often obscured that while Duterte continues to enjoy high polling and support in the country, there is a robust resistance determined to make the Philippines safe,” the magazine added.
Aside from De Lima, The Diplomat also named four other prominent women from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar (Malaysian activist Maria Chin Abdullah, Indonesia’s Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti, former Thailand Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi), “whose work, legacy, and influence will shape the year ahead in Southeast Asia as they are making their voices heard not only in their home country but also in the region.”
De Lima’s feature has been titled “Locked up but not silenced in the Philippines” and The Diplomat highlighted the Opposition Senator’s one year of being jailed on “drug charges widely seen too baseless.”
The Diplomat cited that De Lima used her Senate seat in 2016 to “rail against the bloody war on drugs and call for an investigation into extra-judicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte.”
“The President and the Senator have been enemies for years, tracing back to his time as mayor of Davao City during which time de Lima was chair of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights,” the magazine wrote.
According to the magazine, De Lima has been accused by President Rodrigo Duterte through “vicious and misogynistic series of attacks” of being engaged in sexual affairs and importing drugs and arms into the country, which led to her imprisonment in February 2017.
According to the Senate press release, despite her unjust detention, “De Lima continues to perform her duties by introducing bills and resolutions in the Senate and issuing policy and political views through her dispatches and press statements.”
In another report by GMA News, according to a Twitter post, Human Rights Watch Deputy Director Phelim Kine said De Lima’s citation was “well-deserved.”
Earlier this month, De Lima was also named as among the “power women” in Southeast Asia by the Asian Correspondent for being the “flag-bearer for human rights in the Philippines — a cause that the country’s top diplomat and the president’s spokesperson have tried to link to drug lords and the illegal narcotics trade.”
The Opposition Senator was also included in the list of Foreign Policy’s 2016 Leading Global Thinkers and Amnesty International’s Women Human Rights Defenders for 2017.