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Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago was elected last December 12 as a Judge of the International Criminal Court for a term of 9 years. She is the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to win an ICC judicial position.
Senator Santiago will assume her position as one of the judges on March 2012. Her election can be described as overwhelming for she got 79 of the 104 votes in the first round of voting.
EU Ambassador to Manila Guy Leroux has described Senator Santiago’s election as a “strong signal that the Philippines is a strong player in the fight of improving human rights”.
Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Senator Santiago’s ICC election: “The resounding manner by which Senator Santiago was elected, having topped the first round of the election with 79 of 104 votes, highlights her outstanding qualifications and qualities of leadership. As a former trial court judge and being an expert in international law, Senator Santiago is much qualified for the position… As a fellow Filipino and a colleague in the Senate, I take pride in her achievements. This remarkable feat is likewise brings honour to our nation. I am confident that you will bring to the ICC an inspired contribution to its work with the view to serving the global cause to end impunity with perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario commented: “Senator Santiago has shown competence and commitment in defense of the rule of law. She has demonstrated her intelligence and legal acumen through her decisions that heve been cited by the Philippine Supreme court. She has shown independence and integrity in her actions. She is more qualified for the position.”
Born in Iloilo City 1945, Senator Santiago is the eldest of seven children of Benjamin Defensor, district trial judge and Dimpna, a college dean. From elementary to high school she graduated as valedictorian, finished Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, magna cum laude, from UP Visayas and then took up law in UP Diliman where she was the Editor of the Philippine Law Journal and councilor in the University Student Council in her freshman year. Senator Santiago was the first female Editor of the Philippine Collegian.
For her excellence in student leadership she was twice awarded the Vinzons Achievement Award and graduated Bachelor of Laws, cum laude, UP Diliman.
Senator Santiago won DeWitt Fellowship at the University of Michigan where she finished her Master of Laws after a year, Doctor of Jurisprudence after six months and pursued post-doctoral studies in law at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, University of California at Berkley and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She then went to the Hague Academy of Public International Law Netherlands and to Sophia University, Japan. From Maryhill School of Theology in Manila she earned a Master of Arts in Religious Studies.
For government positions, Senator Santiago was Regional Trial Judge of Quezon City in 1983-87, Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation in 1988-89, Secretary of Agrarian Reform from 1989-1991. Then in 1992, she ran for President of the Philippines but lost to former President Fidel V. Ramos. In 1995, under her own People’s Reform Party she ran for Senator, and got elected for 1995 -2001, second term 2004 -2010, and again won in 2010.
In 1988, she received the Ramon Magsaysay Award in Government Service in recognition for her service to several government positions.
Married to former Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Narciso Y. Santiago Jr., the Senator has two sons, Narciso III and the late Alexander Robert.
The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal created under the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court signed by 120 countries which is tasked to prosecute and try individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and starting in 2017, for crime of aggression. Its headquarters is in Hague,
Netherlands and independent from the United Nations (UN) though it has a self-imposed task of handling cases referred to it by the UN Security Council. ICC must not be confused with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) within the UN whose function is to try cases between state members.
MABUHAY and best wishes to Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.