De Lima named as ‘woman to watch’ in SE Asia – The Diplomat


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima is named as “Woman to Watch” in Southeast Asia for her courage to speak out against the injustices and the culture of impunity besetting the Philippines under the leadership of a looming authoritarian.

The Diplomat, a Tokyo-based international current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific region, 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.

“She (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.

“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,” it added.

Last March 10, The Diplomat named five prominent women from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar whose work, legacy, and influence it claimed 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. (Cf.

Aside from De Lima, the list included 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.

The Diplomat noted that De Lima, who remains unjustly detained for more than a year now over trumped-up illegal drug charges, has continued to inspire the likes of Pope Francis with her unwavering fight to promote freedom, justice and the rule of law.

“De Lima marked one year since she had been jailed on drug charges widely to seen to baseless. De Lima had used her position in the Senate in 2016 to rail against the bloody war on drugs and call for an investigation into extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte,” it said.

“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,” it further noted.

It may be recalled that in August 2017, De Lima received what she described as a “beautiful rosary” by Pope Francis, who, according to the PNP Chaplain, promised to pray for the Senator.

The Diplomat also recalled the misogynistic attacks hurdled against De Lima by no less than President Duterte and his minions.

“Duking it out in Manila, however, rose the stakes. In a particularly vicious and misogynistic series of attacks, de Lima was accused by Duterte and his supporters of being engaged in sexual affairs and importing drugs and arms into the country. These charges led to her imprisoned in February 2017,” it said.

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.

Last March 10, she was also named as one of the “Power Women of Southeast Asia” by Asian Correspondent.

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