MANILA— A Filipino Catholic priest who provides support for families who lost loved ones in government's drug war won this year's Human Rights Tulip Award from the Dutch government, the first from the Philippines to receive such recognition.
The Netherlands Embassy in the Philippines said Fr. Flaviano Villanueva, a priest from the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), was given the award in recognition of his work as co-founder of the PAGHILOM program, a church-based support group that gives families of victims of extrajudicial killings a safe space to cope with grief.
“The Netherlands has a long tradition of protecting human rights defenders. Among its most visible programs is the annual Human Rights Tulip award. Every year, human rights advocates and institutions from around the world are recognized for promoting and supporting human rights in peaceful and in innovative ways,” the embassy said in a statement.
Of the 74 candidates from around the world, only 10 were shortlisted, including Fr. Villanueva, who became the first Filipino honored with the award.
The embassy said that the PAGHILOM program is a vital component of the Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center, a foundation that was also founded by Fr. Villanueva in 2016.
Fondly called Father Flavie, Villanueva dedicated the award to the memory of the thousands of lost lives, saying he wished that he could live in a world where he would not need to receive the award, but that he would continue helping the bereaved.
The awards ceremony was held at the Ambassador’s residence and attended by ambassadors and representatives of the international community.
The Human Rights Tulip Award was established in 2008 to recognize
and support "human rights defenders in their work advancing and protecting human rights around the world." The annual winner receives 100,000 euros in prize money.