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De Lima named most distinguished human rights defender by Amnesty International PHL

Detained Senator Leila de Lima has been recognized as the Most Distinguished Human Rights Defender by human rights group Amnesty International Philippines.

The organization's first Ignite Awards will honor De Lima in the individual category, while DAKILA – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism, Inc. will receive the same award for organizations.

In a statement on Tuesday, Amnesty International said the awards aim to recognize the impact of the works of human rights defenders (HRDs) in changing the lives of people through policy advocacy, mobilization, and activism.

“We live in very challenging circumstances for justice and human rights, with battles over natural resources, rising inequality, increasing movement of people within and across borders, ongoing crises and conflicts, and unlawful actions by states against its citizens," said board chairperson Ritz Lee Santos.

"Despite these, people always come together in solidarity with the help of individuals and organizations who are in the forefront of our fight for our rights,” Santos added.

De Lima, a fierce critic of the Duterte administration, is presently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center on drug-related charges. She has denied the allegations.

In March, foreign news website Asian Correspondent called De Lima the "flag-bearer for human rights in the Philippines and beyond."

De Lima had authored bills and resolutions in the Senate advocating the rights of women and human rights defenders.

Other individuals to be recognized by the Ignite Awards are Floyd Scott Tiogangco, named Outstanding Young Human Rights Defender; and Christia Angela Roque, for Art that Matters for Film.

“Over the past few years we have seen HRDs around the world increasingly face harassment, intimidation, smear campaigns, ill-treatment and unlawful detention, some are even being killed," Santos said.

"But they carry on. Amnesty would like to honor that unwavering commitment today," he added.

The recipients will be awarded on June 2 at the Luxent Hotel in Quezon City. — Anna Felicia Bajo/BM, GMA News