Dr. Lilia B. de Lima is a multi-awarded public official who has the distinction of faithfully serving four successive Presidents, a rare feat for any civil servant.
Dr. de Lima’s government tenure began when President Fidel V. Ramos appointed her Director General and Chairman of the Board of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) in 1995. Subsequently reappointed by Presidents Joseph Ejercito Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and Benigno S. Aquino III, Dr. de Lima ensured that PEZA would successfully attract and sustain direct foreign investments.
Under her tenure, PEZA underwent a period of reform and then went on to achieve a string of successes. The number of PEZA ecozones increased by 2,000% — the initial 16 that she inherited in 1995 increased to 343 by 2016, and the number of registered enterprises rose from 331 to 3,756. Investments reached PhP 3 trillion, and ecozone exports totaled US$ 629 billion.
Dr. de Lima’s accomplishments has gained her honors and recognition. In 2010, she received the “Management Man of the Year” award given by the Management Association of the Philippines, and remains its first and only female recipient thus far. The following year, Ateneo conferred its Government Service Award upon her. She has likewise been conferred a Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa, by her alma mater, the Manuel L. Quezon University School of Law.
For bringing hundreds of Japanese investors to the Philippines, the Government of Japan honored Dr. de Lima with The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, the highest award given to a non-head of state. She also received the 2017 Ramon Magsaysay Award and was cited 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.”
Dr. de Lima’s other notable awards include being one of The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) in the field of Law, and an Asian CEO Award.
Her exceptional contribution to the economic development of the Philippines has also earned her a special accolade: the University of the Philippines Los Baños named a flower after her, the Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Lilia B. de Lima’.
Dr. de Lima earned her Bachelor of Laws at the Manuel L. Quezon University, and is a Fellow of the Academy of American & International Law.