Former President Benigno “Noynoy” S. Aquino III, Vice President Leni Robredo and other known personalities have commended Senator Leila M. de Lima for her latest “Prize for Freedom” Award in recognition for her unwavering fight for human rights.
In an interview during the awarding ceremony at the Novotel Manila, Araneta Center, Quezon City last July 28, Aquino said De Lima deserves to be recognized for her achievements and her courage to stand up for what is right and just.
“It means a lot for a person in her situation to be recognized for her achievements and her struggles. She inspires those who are undergoing some of the pressures that she has undergone. Her ability to keep the faith should continue to inspire us,” he said.
Aquino, who vouched for De Lima’s innocence from all the politically-motivated trumped-up drug trading charges, said he remains optimistic that his former justice secretary will be vindicated in time because she is on the side of truth.
“Gabi-gabi pinagdadasal ko po si Senator Leila, atin pong mabuting kaibigan at talagang tapat na public servant. At hindi natin maiwasan na parating naiisip ‘yung kalagayan niya sa kasalukuyan. Pero tayo ay buong tiwala na lalabas at lalabas ang katotohanan,” he shared.
Robredo, who considers De Lima a friend, said the latest recognition is testament to the Senator’s “fearlessness and indomitable spirit as a freedom fighter.” Both Robredo and De Lima are Bicolanos who hail from the same province, Camarines Sur.
“It proves that fighting for what you know is right and just–no matter where you are and who you are up against–matters deeply in healing our nation’s shattered spirits and hopes.
“And that fighting for human rights has become one of the most important struggles of today’s world, affecting with increasing urgency, the everyday lives of our people,” Robredo said.
Both Aquino and Robredo, along with other leaders from the Liberal Party (LP), graced the awarding ceremony where the Liberal International (LI) formally conferred its highest human rights award to De Lima at Novotel Manila, Quezon City last July 28.
Meanwhile, LP President Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, who was also present during the awarding, thanked LI for recognizing “the sacrifices and resistance” of the Senator against the “prevailing darkness.”
Despite their absence during the ceremony, other prominent personalities have conveyed their congratulatory remarks to De Lima through their respective social media accounts.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros wrote: “She is only the second Fil (after former Pres Cory Aquino) to be awarded this prestigious Prize for Freedom, the highest human rights award. Mabuhay, Sen. Leila! Tuloy Ang Laban!”
Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, on his part, said: “In her [De Lima] fight to uphold the rights of every Filipino, she talked truth to power and paid with her freedom. Even from behind bars, she continues to share her voice to defend justice, democracy and the Filipino people.”
In an official statement, the LP said it is proud to have De Lima as one of its members, saying that her award brings great honor for the Philippines.
“The award is a reminder for all of us to follow her lead and have the courage, as she has, to stand up against oppression, and to be willing make big sacrifices in defense of freedom and human rights of the Filipino people,” it said.
Some of the personalities who also commended De Lima for the award include Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV, Rep. Gary Alejano, LP Spokesperson Lorenzo Tañada III, former Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, and lawyer Florin Hilbay, among others.
The groups Tindig Pilipinas, Pwersa ng Pamayanan para sa Voluntarismo at Reporma, #EveryWoman, Democratic Warriors, and Libertarian Advocates for Philippine Progress, Inc. also released their respective statements congratulating De Lima for the Freedom Prize award.