Leila de Lima
Filipina lawyer, human rights activist and politician
"Leila de Lima is a Filipino lawyer, human rights activist and politician. She was appointed by president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights in May 2008 and she served in the commission until June 30, 2010, when she was appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino III as the Philippines' Secretary of the Department of Justice.
She resigned as justice secretary on October 12, 2015, to focus on her candidacy for a seat in the Senate of the Philippines in what was then an oncoming 2016 Philippine general election. She won one of the twelve contested seats and currently serves as a Philippine senator in the Philippines' 17th Congress.
She is a known critic of the Philippine Drug War of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. In February 2017, days after garnering international awards for her campaign against extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, she was arrested allegedly due to 'aiding' drug lords according to the police. Her arrest was a bailable offense; nonetheless, her release was blocked by the Department of Justice. The evidence against her consists of the testimony of prison inmates, and the Department of Justice is considering their applications for pardon or clemency following their testimony. In October 2017, the prestigious Prize for Freedom was awarded to her for her brave stand against a dictatorial regime. She was designated as a 'prisoner of conscience' by numerous international human rights organizations…
De Lima joined the Philippine government in 1993 as a clerk and secretary of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal. She resigned in 1995 to return to private practice. She then joined Roco, Buñag, Kapunan and Migallos law firm as its junior partner.
In 1998 she set up her own firm, The De Lima Law Firm, and served as counsel in various election cases, most notable of which was the electoral protest of Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III in the 2007 Senate election over the 12th seat occupied by Miguel Zubiri. De Lima also served as a legal counsel to the campaign of Alan Peter Cayetano during his campaign in the Philippine Senate election, 2007. She was also a professor of law at the San Beda College of Law during her private practice…
Under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Leila de Lima was appointed Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights. As human rights commissioner, de Lima investigated the Davao death squads, Jovito Palparan, and the Maguindanao massacre. These investigations would later lead to her feud with Rodrigo Duterte, who would later become president and would imprison her through the usage of the Department of Justice…
When Benigno Aquino III took over, de Lima was tapped as Secretary of the Department of Justice under the President-elect's new Cabinet. On July 2, 2010, de Lima took over the helm of the Philippine Department of Justice. On August 27, 2015, Justice Secretary de Lima assisted Isaias Samson, an expelled Minister of Iglesia ni Cristo, in filing a case against the sect. Allegations that de Lima used her position as Justice secretary with regards to the New Bilibid Prison resulted in criminal complaints against her in 2017. However, it would later be revealed that she was the first justice secretary to investigate the drug lords of New Bilibid Prison, running counter to the complaints filed against her. Despite this, her arrest was made concrete with the backing of Rodrigo Duterte…
De Lima condemned the Philippine Drug War and urged the Philippine Congress to investigate. She called for an end of vigilante killings of drug suspects. On her privilege speech at Senate on August 2, she noted that "we cannot wage the war against drugs with blood..." De Lima laments the indifference of the new government to extrajudicial killings and warns that more innocent people will suffer if the killings fail to stop…
In December 2016, de Lima received praise from international human rights advocates and journalists for her criticism of Duterte's Drug War despite political repression against her. On February 17, 2017, a local court pressed drug-related charges against de Lima. On February 23, a Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court issued an arrest warrant against de Lima for allegedly violating the drug trafficking law. De Lima faces drug related cases for allegedly using her position as Secretary of Justice to acquire money from drug pushers to make their drug business operational even though they are imprisoned. De Lima turned herself in the following morning of February 24, officially becoming the first political prisoner under the regime of Rodrigo Duterte. She has also been referred to as a 'prisoner of conscience' by numerous international human rights organizations…
MetroBank Foundation Professorial Chair for Public Service and Governance (2010)
Excellent Public Servant Award (2010)
Defender of People’s Rights (2010)
“Agent of Change” Award (2010)
2016 Global Thinker Award by Foreign Policy
Top Most Influential People for 2017 by Time Magazine
Women Human Rights Defenders for 2017 by Amnesty International
On October 31, 2017, Liberal International awarded de Lima the Prize For Freedom, the federation's highest human rights honor. De Lima is the second Filipino to obtain the award after former President Corazon Aquino in 1987.
2017 Leading Global Thinker Award" (1)