MANILA - Malacañang believes the Prize for Freedom Award given to detained Senator Leila de Lima should not be a distraction from the drug charges she currently faces.
In a statement Sunday, the Palace refused to congratulate De Lima and pointed out that the senator's political party is allied with Liberal International, the body that gives the award.
"De Lima, we reiterate, is no prisoner of conscience. There is now a case against her before our local court and as a respect to her right to due process, all legal processes are proceeding accordingly," Malacañang said.
"While we are certain that it is an honor for the lady senator to receive such an award from her party and ideological allies, we believe that the award she received cannot distract our people from the real issue," it added.
De Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration's war on drugs, received the Prize for Freedom Award through her family on Saturday.
"One cannot claim to fight for human lives, while their hands are stained red with the blood of their victims... Anyone who suggests otherwise is no better than a wolf that pretends to be a shepherd, and delivers the flock to slaughter," she said without naming names.
Duterte earlier said the war on drugs will continue and will be as "relentless" and "chilling" as the day it started despite the protest of rights activists.
"Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives," he said in his State of the Nation Address.
Police said at least 4,200 Filipinos have died in the anti-narcotics crackdown since May 2016 after fighting back against authorities. Rights groups, however, say the death toll is 3 times higher and does not include killings by alleged state-sponsored "vigilantes."