Former PEZA Director General Lilia de Lima to receive 2017 Ramon Magsaysay Award

July 28, 2017 - 1:20 AM
Lilia de Lima
2017 Ramong Magsaysay Awardee Lilia de Lima. Philstar file photograph

The Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) has announced that two recipients of this year’s awards are from the Philippine, namely: former director general of the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA) Lilia de Lima, and the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).

Atty. Lilia de Lima is being recognized for “her unstinting, sustained leadership in building a credible and efficient PEZA, proving that the honest, competent and dedicated work of public servants can, indeed, redound to real economic benefits to millions of Filipinos.”

RMAF cited De Lima, a career public servant, fro building PEZA “into showcase of successful regulatory reform, a model institution of honest and committed public service, and a key contributor to the nation’s economic growth.”

In 2014, she was conferred the Doctor of Laws LLD (honoris causa) by Manuel L. Quezon University.

Attached to the Department of Trade and Industry, PEZA, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, was created by Law in 1995, taking over the functions of the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA).

From the original 16 economic zones inherited from EPZA, there are, as of 2016, some 358 manufacturing, IT, Tourism and agro-industrial economic zones all over the country, host to more than 2,400 mostly foreign companies, many of which are Fortune 500 listed.

These companies are estimated to employ close to one million Filipinos.

If indirect employment is considered – the subcontractors, banks and their providers of goods and services – easily around 6.3 million jobs are estimated to have been generated from these PEZA economic zones.

Nearly 90% of the Philippine manufactured export goods come from PEZA. And an estimated 60 percent of annual investments in PEZA are from expansion activities of companies that have located themselves there.

In a speech at the Ateneo de Manila University, De Lima declared: “From my day one as PEZA Director General in 1995, our mantra has been and continues to be – Absolute Honesty & Integrity and Utmost Service.”

She entrenched the 24/7 culture at PEZA, “rendering service 24 hours a day 7 days a week including Sundays and Holidays, yes including Christmas day, except Good Friday.”

PEZA is one government agency with a quality management system ISO 9001:2008 certified for all its processes at all levels in all sites nationwide.

Reflecting on her career, De Lima says: “I cannot solve the problems of the world, but if in my own little area I can make a difference, then I must make that difference.”

“The Magsaysay awardees of 2017,” says RMAF President Carmencita Abella, “are all transforming their societies through their manifest commitment to the larger good. Each one has addressed real and complex issues, taking bold and innovative action that has engaged others to do likewise. The results of their leadership are palpable, generating both individual efficacy and collective hope.”