Press Release
April 21, 2018

De Lima humbled by Fortune magazine recognition

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today expressed elation over the latest conferment by the prestigious New York-based Fortune magazine as one of the 50 "greatest leaders" in the world for 2018.

De Lima, the first political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said she is deeply humbled and grateful for Fortune for this latest recognition of her work for justice and human rights in the country despite the unprecedented magnitude of harassment against her by the Duterte administration.

"Duterte and his henchmen may be successful in keeping me illegally detained but they failed to suppress my spirit and silence me, especially on matters of justice, democracy and human rights," she said.

"I am grateful that Fortune magazine saw through the lies of this administration and recognized my work aimed at putting an end to the abuses happening under Duterte's ruthless and obviously anti-poor campaign on illegal drugs," she added.

Fortune magazine ranked De Lima, a staunchest critic of the Duterte administration's war on drugs, 39th on its annual list of "World's 50 Greatest Leaders" released last April 19.

It noted that the recognition is given to "thinkers, speakers, and doers who are stepping up to meet today's challenges" and driving changes across the globe.

"President Rodrigo Duterte's hard-line policies against drug dealers are polarizing globally, but in the Philippines they've faced little dissent. De Lima, who headed a committee investigating hundreds of extrajudicial killings under Duterte's leadership, has been a noble exception," read the entry about De Lima.

The foreign business magazine further stated how De Lima was jailed for "as-yet-untried crimes" in February 24 2017, "but imprisonment hasn't stopped the firebrand from continuing to speak out publicly."

De Lima, the only senator and Filipino who made it to this year's list, joined the ranks of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Chinese Premier Liu He, French President Emmanuel Macron, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Bandung, Indonesia Mayor Ridwan Kamil , among others.

The former justice secretary said she regards the recognition as an inspiration to work harder to fulfill not only her electoral mandate as a Senator but also her role as a human rights defender.

"This latest recognition reminds me that my calls are heard all over the world, thus, I should continue opposing and speaking out against the inhumane and crooked policies of this administration even from inside the prison," she said.

De Lima added that the she would never stop calling out the Duterte administration "to start the change that we Filipinos have truly aspired for."

Prior to this award, De Lima was also recognized by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the leading Global Thinkers for 2016 and 2017, by Time Magazine as one of 100 Most Influential People, one of the Icons, for 2017, and by Amnesty International as one of the notable Women Human Rights Defenders in 2017, among others.

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