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WASHINGTON - Senator Leila de Lima received an award from a popular international political magazine for standing up to popular leader President Rodrigo Duterte.
The lady senator was among the 100 Foreign Policy Global Thinkers recognized in Washington D.C. on Monday.
Organizers said its honorees prove there are individuals who could step in to ease the suffering of others, especially in today's world where challenging strains of populism seem to be redefining the new normal: from Europe's Brexit and US President-elect Donald Trump's triumph to Duterte's deadly war on drugs that has left thousands of Filipino dead.
De Lima was included in the category "Challengers" and was honored as a global thinker for "standing up to an extremist leader."
"I'd like to think it's because of my stance against the extra judicial killings and other policies ng ating kasalukuyang administrasyon (of our current administration)," De Lima said.
The lady senator warned that the state of human rights and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines will not get better anytime soon.
"Napaka-deplorable po ng sitwasyon natin sa Pilipinas, hinggil sa usapin ng karapatang pantao," she said. "Walang katapusan, araw-araw na pinapatay in the name of the war on drugs... Talaga pong tinutukan natin from day 1."
(The human rights situation in the Philippines is deplorable... There had been countless killings in the name of the war on drugs and we have been monitoring these since day 1.)
"Bihirang-bihira naman tayo nakakita ng mga pinapatay nila na mga high profile drug lords so napaka-questionable talaga," she added.
(It is very seldom that we see high profile drug dealers get killed and that is highly questionable.)
De Lima said these so-called extrajudicial killings in the Philippines will not stop if no one will stand against it.
"Meron tayong pangulo na talaga namang openly na pino-promote na openly ine-encourage ‘yung killings, di ho ba sa kampanya pa lang niya, ganun na, akala nung iba biro lang ‘yun," De Lima said.
(We have a president who openly promotes and encourages killings. He had mentioned this during the campaign and people thought this was merely a joke.)
For De Lima, her recognition has a higher purpose and meaning, especially in a democracy where critics should be able to dissent without fear of retaliation or retribution.
"Eto po ay para sa Pilipinas, eto po ay para sa… I'm offering this award sa ating mga kababayan lalo na 'yung mga lumaban noon para sa ating demokrasya, 'yung mga lumalaban pa rin ngayon para i-preserve ‘yung gains of democracy," De Lima said.
(This award is for the Philippines. I dedicate this award for our countrymen who fought for our democracy, and for those currently fighting to preserve the gains of democracy.)
Another honoree on the Challengers category is transgender lawmaker Geraldine Roman for "redefining fitness to govern."
Roman was not able to make it to the awarding ceremonies.
Other awardees include outgoing U.N. Secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon "for outrunning Donald Trump to save the planet," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "for designing a humane refugee policy," and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton "for going high when others go low" during the 2016 US election cycle.