For the fifth time since 2016, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is named as among the “5 Sheroes of 2021” or Women Heroes by the RINJ Foundation for her continued defense of human rights, which has become “legendary” in the past years.
The RINJ Foundation, a Canada-based private, non-profit association of humanitarians listed with the United Nations, cited De Lima next to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, who is first on the list of 2021 Sheroes.
“In the Philippines, opposition members are either killed, or tied up in legal knots and sent to jail. There now is no political opposition in the Philippines, except [Sen.] Leila de Lima. One of the strongest opposition voices in the Philippines, is an indefatigable defender of human rights, Shero Leila de Lima,” said RINJ NGO worker in Manila, Karina Angeles.
Last Dec. 31, 2021, the RINJ Foundation, through a popular women magazine, Feminine-Perspective Magazine (FPMag), published its list of prominent and empowered women who continue to inspire thousands of people globally for their work, principles and advocacies.
Aside from De Lima and Pres. Tasi Ing-wen, also included in the list are Hong Kong-based Canadian pop star and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho; US Congress Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and British-Iranian teacher and communications specialist Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.
“Sadly, three of this year’s women who smooth the path of humanity for a future of innovation, opportunity & safety of children and their families, are held in prison or on bail by brutal authoritarian regimes. Two more are thriving national assets and Sheroes in their own countries,” said Katie Alsop, a founding director of RINJ Women.
De Lima has been detained since Feb. 24, 2017 over trumped-up drug charges based mostly on testimonies of convicted felons, while Nazanin was first sentenced to five years in prison on a trumped-up national security charge after a reported unfair trial in Sept. 2016. Ho, who was accused of conspiring to publish seditious comment about the Communist Party of China, was only recently released from prison on bail.
RINJ described De Lima as a Senator seeking a second six-year term in 2022 whose “fight for Filipino human rights is relentless and has become legendary these past five years.”
In naming De Lima as among the 2021 Women Sheroes, Angeles notably shared that, “with more thousands of extrajudicial killings and countless more murders unexplained, just about everyone’s life in the Philippines has been touched negatively by this brutal dictatorial criminal government.”
Despite her continued unjust detention, De Lima continues to reap awards and citations here and abroad recognizing her outstanding fight for justice and human rights no matter the cost.
“I am deeply grateful and humbled to be included once again as one of the RINJ Foundation’s Sheroes of the Year. This means a lot to me. I thank you and all kindred spirits around the world for your constant support for our shared causes. With you, I am not alone and become stronger each day,” De Lima said. (30)