International human rights organization Human Rights First announced on 8 August the awarding of its 2022 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty to Philippine human rights lawyer Angelo Karlo Guillen. The Roger N. Baldwin Medal, named after one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union and the International League for Human Rights, is awarded to “extraordinary activists” as recognition and support for “advancing the protection of human rights at great personal risk.”

Michael Breen, President and CEO of Human Rights First, announced this year’s winner. He praised Guillen for being “a courageous and effective advocate whose work has made a difference in the lives of his fellow Filipinos and put a spotlight on abuses and calling for accountability.”

Guillen, currently the General Secretary of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers – Panay Island, has been a constant target of surveillance, vilification and harassment by officials of the Manila government. He and his NUPL colleagues are tagged as ‘communists’ and ‘terrorists’, and exposed to deadly attacks by state security forces. In March 2021, Guillen survived a brutal stabbing by yet unknown assailants. Three other NUPL lawyers have been murdered in recent years.

“I am honored to accept the Baldwin Medal, which I do on behalf of all Filipino human rights lawyers and defenders,” said Guillen. “This award will encourage us even more, to continue our work defending human rights and civil liberties in the Philippines, even in these difficult times.

“I am especially glad this award could be announced on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, which is also National Indigenous Peoples Day in the Philippines. Indigenous peoples, like the Tumandok community, as well as farmers, labor leaders, and activists, have borne the brunt of unjust arrests, extrajudicial killings, and other human rights violations committed by state security forces that, to this day, still take place throughout the country. Their rights must be protected, and we hope that this recognition will help bring attention to their plight.”

The award, established in 1989, is presented in alternating years by Human Rights First, which awards human rights advocates outside the US, and the ACLU, which awards advocates in the US. The 2022 Baldwin Medal will be presented to Guillen in person at an event in the US later this year.