Senator Leila M. de Lima is named as the 4th Most Influential Woman of the Year 2019 from across the globe by a leading business newspaper Financial Times for her courage and determination to defend human rights and defy Duterte’s vicious policies.
De Lima, a known prisoner of conscience, is the only Filipino who made it to the Financial Times’ roster of different women from different countries who “stood out” for their bold stance on current issues and inspiring advocacies.
“The Filipino senator remains detained over drugs allegations that she and her supporters say were fabricated,” read De Lima’s description on the London-based business newspaper’s Readers’ Women of 2019.
“De Lima had led a human rights investigation against Rodrigo Duterte into alleged extrajudicial killings that took place while he was mayor of Davao City. Her handwritten dispatches from her cell are incisive missives and commentary on the issues the Philippines faces,” the description added.
Financial Times, one of the world’s leading news organization, also named climate activist Greta Thunberg, businesswoman and campaigner Gina Miller, former governor of the National Bank of Ukraine Valeria Gontareva, and journalist Carrie Gracie.
Also cited were New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, US presidential aspirant Sen. Elizabeth Warren, European Union Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, among others.
De Lima, along with 15 other women awardees, were cited for breaking “new ground in 2019 or brought attention to some of the most important issues of our time, whether in their own community or at a national or international level.”
When she was chair of the Commission on Human Rights, De Lima investigated Mr. Duterte’s involvement in the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) which was suspected of the unexplained executions in Davao City where he was the mayor.
As a senator, she earned Duterte’s ire by initiating a Senate probe into the extrajudicial killings in the country which raised global awareness about human rights violations committed against suspected drug offenders.
Despite her political persecution, De Lima continues to receive awards and accolades here and abroad, including TIME Magazine’s inclusion as among its list of 100 most influential people in 2017, the Prize for Freedom award from the Liberal International in 2017, and one of the five “power women of Southeast Asia” by the Asian Correspondent in 2018, to name some.