The Dutch government has recognized a Filipino Catholic priest who was charged with sedition by the Duterte administration in 2019 for his work as a human rights defender, particularly in light of his initiatives for families who have lost loved ones to extrajudicial killings (EJKs) linked to the government’s controversial drug war.
The government of the Netherlands awarded Flaviano “Flavie” Villanueva, a missionary from the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), the Human Rights Tulip Award in 2021.
On Nov. 24, he became the first Filipino to receive the honor, which was bestowed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“This year, over 75 candidates from around the world were put forward as candidates. Of this, only 10 were shortlisted, including Fr. Villanueva was awarded the first-ever local Human Rights Tulip award issued by the Netherlands’ Embassy in Manila, as it celebrates its 70th year of diplomatic relations with the Philippines,” the Dutch embassy in Manila wrote in a statement.
In receiving the award, the Dutch embassy shared that “Fr. Villanueva dedicated the award to the memory of the thousands of lost lives, stating that he wished that he could live in a world where he would not receive the award, but that he would continue helping the bereaved.”
Villanueva was honored, according to the embassy, for his work as co-founder of the Paghilom (healing) program, a Church-based support group that works with families of EJK victims to provide a safe space for them to cope with grief and connect with others who have gone through similar experiences.
The program is an important part of Villanueva’s Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center, which he also founded. Paghilom was founded in 2016 by the priest, who is also the coordinator of the SVD’s Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office, to help drug war widows and orphans, as well as people who are “at the periphery of economy and faith.”
The award ceremony was attended by ambassadors and representatives of the international community that was held at the Ambassador’s residence.
Since 2008, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given a monetary prize of €100,000 (approximately 5.7 million) to the winners of the Human Rights Tulip.
Filipinos’ efforts towards protecting the country’s human rights activists have been recently recognized abroad including press freedom champion Maria Ressa, the first Filipino receiver of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Marichu Antonio, who won Calgary’s Citizen of the Year award for promoting inclusion and diversity in racialized communities.
Source: https://www.government.nl/topics/human-rights/human-rights-tulip/shortlist-of-candidates-for-human-rights-tulip-2021, https://www.government.nl/ministries/ministry-of-foreign-affairs/news/2021/08/24/nominations-human-rights-tulip-2021, https://www.facebook.com/NLinPhilippines