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Miriam Defensor Santiago (born June 15, 1945) is a Judge of the International Criminal Court

and a member of the Senate of the Philippines. She is a lawyer, former trial judge, and lecturer
on constitutional and international law. She served as the Commissioner of the Philippine Bureau
of Immigration and Deportation in 1988 and the Secretary of the Philippines' Department of
Agrarian Reform from 1989 to 1991. She is the founder and current leader of the People's
Reform Party and is a recipient of "the Asian Nobel Prize" [1][2] the Ramon Magsaysay Award
given by the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation for government service; she was cited "for
bold and moral leadership in cleaning up a graft-ridden government agency" during her tenure as
the head of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation.[3]
Defensor Santiago ran for President of the Philippines in 1992; she led the nationwide
canvassing of votes for a few days, but was defeated by a margin of less than several hundred
thousand votes. The campaign was reportedly marred by widespread election fraud, notably
power blackouts after the first five days. She filed an electoral protest, which was dismissed in
1995 when she ran for and won a seat in the Philippine Senate.[4]
Santiago has been widely featured in the international press for her outspokenness and
flamboyant personality. In 1997, the Australian Magazine named her one of "The 100 Most
Powerful Women in the World." In later years, Santiago was a keynote speaker of an
international anti-corruption conference in Sydney, Australia. As senator, she sponsored and
secured ratification by the Philippine Senate of the United Nations Convention against
On July 2, 2014, Senator Santiago announced in public that she was diagnosed of Stage 4 cancer
on her left lung. [5]

Early life and education

Born Miriam Palma Defensor on June 15, 1945 in La Paz district, Iloilo City, she grew and lived
with her parents. Her father, Benjamin A. Defensor was a district trial judge, and her mother
Dimpna Palma Defensor, a school teacher. She is the eldest of seven children.
She graduated Valedictorian of the 120 student La Paz Elementary School, and Valedictorian of
the Iloilo Provincial High School, also earning a medal for all-around exuberance. In high
school, her parents considered her to be a child prodigy. As a freshman, she won a Spelling Bee.
Also still a freshman, she topped oral examinations and was appointed by a faculty member as
editor of the high school paper, a post which she held for over four years. She was high school
swimming champion for the province during competitions sponsored by the Red Cross. She
topped the National College Entrance Examinations for the Western Visayas region.[6]
In 1965, Santiago graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, 'Magna Cum
Laude' from the University of the Philippines Visayas. It took her only three and a half years to
complete her degree. After graduation, she was elected to the Pi Gamma Mu and Phi Kappa Phi

After a three-month bout with illness, Santiago attended the University of the Philippines
Diliman. There, she continued to participate and won as champion in numerous oratorical, public
speaking, and debate contests. She became the first female editor of a student newspaper, The
Philippine Collegian and was twice made ROTC muse.[7] Her successful classmates included
former Senate President Franklin Drilon and San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora.[8] Unlike
Drilon and Zamora, who both opted to enter big law firms, Santiago chose to make her own law
firm known as Miriam Defensor Santiago and Associates. She also taught Law subjects at Trinity
College, now known as the Trinity University of Asia, and the University of the Philippines as a
part-time job.[8][9][9]
She earned a Bachelor of Laws degree, 'Cum laude', from the University of the Philippines
College of Law in Diliman. Santiago pursued higher learning, earned an LL.M. and a S.J.D. from
the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with flying colors. She also took graduate studies in
theology at the Maryhill School of Theology. She likewise attended postdoctoral courses at
various prestigious international universities.[10] In 1996, she attended the Summer Program for
Lawyers at Harvard Law School. In 1997, she attended the Summer Program in Law at Oxford
University and has since claimed alumna status at both institutions.[9] She wrote and published
her own law and political science textbooks at her own printing press.[11] She has also attended
other prestigious international universities including Stanford University, University of
California at Berkeley, and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

In 1986, Santiago was recognized as one of the Five Outstanding Professionals of the Philippine
Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1988, was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for
Government Service for her graft-busting performance as Commissioner of Immigration and
Deportation [12] In 1996, the Australian Women's Magazine ranked Santiago 69th among The 100
Most Powerful Women in the World[13]
Other awards received by Santiago are:[14]

Outstanding Young Woman of Iloilo Award for law, Ilang-Ilang Jaycees and Iloilo
provincial government, 1984
TOYM Award for Law,(The Outstanding Young Men), 1985, Junior Chamber

Distinguished Achievement Award, National Police Commission, 1986

TOWNS Award for Law (The Outstanding Women in the Nations Service), Philippine
Lions, 1986

Gold Vision Triangle Award for government service, YMCA Philippines, 1988

Republic Anniversary Award for law enforcement, Civic Assembly of Women of the
Philippines, 1988

News Personality of the Year Award, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, 1988

Churches: Award Of Excellence In Public Service, Philippine Council of Evangelical

Churches, 1988

Award of Recognition for public service, Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops of
Manila, 1988

Woman of the Year Award, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, 1988

Leadership Award, Philippine Ports Authority, 1988

Award of Recognition for Best Agency Productivity,Government Productivity

Improvement Program Council, 1988

Award of Recognition, Joint Rotary Clubs in Tarlac Province, 1988

Civic Groups: Woman of Distinction Award, Soroptimist International of Greater Manila


Award of Distinction, Girl Scouts of the Philippines, Iloilo Chapter, 1988

Award of Honor, Federation of Filipino-Chinese Associations of the Philippines, 1988

Distinguished Public Service Award, Barangay U.P. Village Senior Citizens Organization,

Integrity of Profession Award, Soroptimist International of Quezon City, 1988

Award of Recognition, Community Publishers-Editors Association of the Philippines,


Award of Recognition, Rizal Metro Manila Tri-Media Association, Inc., 1988

Award of Distinction, Zonta International of Baguio City, 1988

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Centro Escolar University, 1989

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Xavier University, 1989

Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, University of San Agustin, 1989

Outstanding Public Servant Award, Rotary International District 378 in Quezon City,

Foreign Groups: Award for International Cooperation, U.S. Customs Service, 1989

Outstanding Ilonggo Award for good government, Iloilo provincial government, 1989

Award of Distinction, Rotary Club of Roxas City, 1989

Medal of Honor and Woman of the Year Award, Foundation of Phil-American Medical
Society of New Jersey, Inc., 1989

Special Award for Outstanding Achievement, Joint Rotary Clubs in Pasay City, 1990

Golden Jubilee Achievement Award for public service, Girl Scouts of the Philippines

Golden Cross Achievement Award, 10th Battalion Combat Team Peftok Veterans, 1990

Celebrity Mother Award, Gintong Ina Awards Foundation, 1991

Woman of Destiny Award, Philippine Independent Church Zambales Diocesan Council


Public Service Award, Pambansang Unyon ng Mamamahayag sa Medya, 1991

Achievement Award, Iloilo Association of Guam, 1991

Outstanding Achievement Award, Rotary Club of Cabanatuan City, 1994

Top Ten Newsmakers Award, Bulong Pulungan sa Westin Philippine Plaza, 1996

Government Agencies: Centennial Award for politics and legislation, National Centennial
Commission, 1998

Award of Distinction, Presidential Agrarian Reform Council, 1999

Woman of the Year Award, Sun-Star Iloilo, 2000

Top 20 Most Influential Filipinas,, 2010

Media: Ten Womanity Award for Public Service, Female Network, 2011

Private career
Santiago was an instructor in political science in Trinity College of Quezon City from 1971 to
1974 and concurrently Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of Justice from 1970 to 1980.
She was also a member of the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures from 1977 to 1979. She
served as a legal staffer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1979 to
1980. She was also one of the legal aides at the Washington, D.C. office. She was finally
rewarded with an appointment as a Trial Court Judge from 1983 to 1987, and became a most
decorated trial judge. She also taught Law at the University of the Philippines from 1976 to
1988.[9] From 1992 to 1995 and from 2001 to 2004, she has lectured at the University of
Perpetual Help System DALTA.[15] In 2011, after two year-long government lobbying campaign
spearheaded by the Dept. of Foreign Affairs , she announced that she had won a seat in the
International Criminal Court and would assume her position as one of its eighteen judges on
March 2012.[16]

Political career
Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation

Santiago was appointed by President Corazon Aquino as Commissioner of the Bureau of

Immigration and Deportation in 1988, and is tasked by Aquino to clean this graft-ridden
government agency. She served in that capacity until 1989.[4]
Miriam rose to the challenge. She ordered lightning raids on criminal syndicates and fake
passport creators. She filled the immigration detention center to bursting with foreign criminals
engaged in the pedophile industry, smuggling of illegal aliens including prostitutes, import and
export of illicit firearms and dangerous drugs, and even operatives of the infamous Yakuza. She
also fired numerous corrupt employees during her tenure as commissioner.[17]
Almost every week, the media were full of Santiago's exploits against criminal syndicates. At
this point, she earned the resentment of politicians who are patrons and benefactors of certain
syndicates;[18] When a congressman delivered a privilege speech against her for a raid that
arrested foreign pedophiles occupying a village in his district, Santiago called him, "Fungus
Face", and publicly urged him to "stick his finger in the electric socket."[4][19]
She also received threats because of the raids and being a big fan of the 1960s era American TV
series The F.B.I., told the media, "I eat death threats for breakfast".[4][20]

Secretary of Agrarian Reform

Impressed with her performance in the CID, President Aquino appointed Santiago as Secretary of
Agrarian Reform[21][22] in 1989. The president ordered her to put everything in place, institute
reforms and help plug loopholes in the present agrarian reform law.
Miriam lost no time in overhauling the departments policies. She instituted three major policies
in agrarian reform. First, to concretize the basic philosophy of the Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Law (CARL), she stressed that all doubts on the inclusion of lands in the Comprehensive
Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) should be resolved in favor of inclusion.
Second, under her term, the DAR policy was to prefer the contract-growing principle over the
lease-back arrangement, particularly with respect to corporate farms or plantations. Under the
lease-back arrangement, the tiller would end up as the lessor who receives rent and remains a
mere laborer of multinational corporations. In contrast, the principle of land to the tillers would
still be practiced under the contract-growing scheme. The contract grower would have a say on
how much would be produced and in marketing the produce.
Third and most important, under her term, the DAR shifted its land acquisition thrust from the
voluntary offer-to-sell (VOS) scheme to compulsory acquisition of lands to hasten the pace of
the CARP.
The VOS scheme implemented during her predecessors term was riddled with anomalies and
corruption. Miriam assumed her duties when the DAR was being rocked by the highly
controversial and fraudulent Garchitorena land deal. The former agrarian reform secretary was
forced to resign due to the scandal. One of Miriams first acts as agrarian reform secretary was to

halt all land transactions under the VOS method, and order the investigation of all past and
pending transactions.
Miriam sent Notices of Compulsory Acquisition to big landowners, including relatives of
President Aquino, forcing them to sell some 5,000 hectares of land in northern Tarlac province.
Miriams boldest move as agrarian reform secretary was to ask President Aquino to inhibit
herself from deliberations of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC) on the stock
distribution scheme of Hacienda Luisita. The president was the chairperson of PARC, while
Santiago was its vice chairperson.
The Cojuangcos availed themselves of the CARPs stock-transfer option scheme allowing the
Presidents family to distribute shares of stocks to the Cojuangco corporation instead of
distributing land titles from the estate. Critics decried the scheme, saying it allowed the owners
to retain control of the estate.
Miriam endorsed to Congress an alternative peoples agrarian reform program (Parcode)
drafted by the Congress for Peoples Agrarian Reform, a coalition of farmers groups including
the militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the conservative Federation of Free
Farmers (FFF). She said the Parcode was a superior piece of legislation and rational, highly
logical, and consistent. The Parcode put land retention limits to five hectares. Under the CARL,
the retention limit was 11 hectares, which virtually exempted 75% of all agricultural lands from
land reform. Miriams endorsement was hailed by farmers organizations.[23]
1992 Presidential Election
After President Corazon Aquino declared her intention not to seek another term in the 1992
elections, Santiago ran for president, seeking Aquino's endorsement. She founded the People's
Reform Party as her vehicle, inviting Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. to be her running mate. The party
did not have any other candidates at the national level, and it endorsed only two local candidates
Alfredo Lim and Lito Atienza for the position of mayor and vice mayor of Manila. Aquino
decided instead to back her Secretary of National Defense Fidel V. Ramos in his bid for the
Santiago was leading the canvassing of votes for the first five days. Following a string of power
outages, the tabulation concluded, and Ramos was declared President-elect. Santiago filed a
protest before the electoral tribunal citing the power outages during the counting of votes as
evidence of massive fraud. Her election protest was eventually dismissed. Many believed that
this election was marred by fraud because of the nationwide power outages,[4][20][21][24][25]
The public outrage over the presidential results prompted Newsweek to feature her and her rival
on the cover with the question: "Was the Election Fair?" In another cover story, Philippine Free
Press magazine asked: "Who's the Real President?"[26]

Senator of the Philippines

First term (19952001)

Santiago ran for the Senate of the Philippines in 1995 elections, again as a candidate of her own
People's Reform Party. She was elected to the senate and served as a senator from 1995 to 2001.
As a Senator, Santiago became a vocal critic of the Ramos Administration. She filed the most
number of bills in the Senate during her term. Santiago again ran for president in the 1998
elections and invited former Marcos crony Francisco Tatad to be her running mate. Pwersa ng
Masang Pilipino candidate but lost by a landslide and Joseph Estrada won the election and
became president. After losing the election, Santiago returned to the Senate.[4]
In 2001 Santiago ran for reelection but lost.
Second term (20042010)
For the 2004 elections, Santiago ran again for senator, this time joining President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo's Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan (K4) coalition. The
Philippine Star wrote that "Santiagos turncoat move was a surprise to many, especially since she
is associated with former President Joseph Estrada, whom she supported when he was impeached
by the House of Representatives and tried by the Senate (back in 2001)." The report added that
Santiago was initially considered to be Fernando Poe, Jr.'s running-mate for the 2004 Philippine
presidential election but she declined, saying "she could not run in the same ticket with the likes
of Legarda." Legarda is (sic) one of Estrada's leading critics during the former's impeachment
However, the real reason of her switching coalition is because Estrada handpicked another movie
actor to run for president, which is why she objected, and instead ran for senator under the
administrations ticket. In 2004, Miriam won her second term as senator. In late 2006, a group of
her former students nominated her for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. All candidates were
requested by the Judicial and Bar Council, the nominating body, to submit an application and
bio-data and undergo an interview. No one showed up but Santiago. Deeply humiliated, she
threw a series of public tantrums and tried to save face by saying she would give way to the
senior associate justice, because at age 61 she was "too young for the post".[23]
She chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and Energy from 2004-2008.[28] When
Manuel Villar resigned as Senate President, Santiago lost the chairmanship of the energy
committee, and was demoted to the committee on economic affairs.[29]
Third term (20102016)
Santiago ran for reelection in the Philippine Senate election, 2010 under the her PRP and as a
guest candidate for six different political parties.[30] She finished third among other senatorial
candidates had more than 17 million votes.[31]
In 2012, Santiago proved to be the most important personality in the Impeachemt trial of the
Chief Justice Renato Corona. On the last day of the first part of the impeachment trial, she was
antagonistic towards the prosecution lawyer, Vitaliano Aguirre, when Aguirre's rude and

contemptuous gesture taunts to her on national TV. She, along with fellow Senators Joker Arroyo
and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., were the only three persons to vote to acquit the chief magistrate.
Also in 2012, Santiago sponsored two controversial bills: Sin Tax Reform Act of 2012 (with Sen.
Franklin Drilon) and the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 or RH
law (with Sen. Pia Cayetano). Both bills were passed into law. The RH law, which was assailed
in the Supreme Court, was declared not unconstitutional by the high tribunal. In early 2013,
Santiago began a feud with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile when the latter allegedly gave
PhP 2 million each to his allied senators as Christmas bonuses. Sen. Antonio Trillanes took her
side on the issue.

Election to the International Criminal Court

On December 12, 2011, Senator Santiago was elected to a nine-year tenure as judge of the
International Criminal Court (ICC).[32][33] Although she is currently listed as a judge by the ICC,
she has yet to take her oath and assume her office there. Santiago was absent during the
March 9, 2012, oath-taking of new judges due to medical reasons, citing her elevated blood
pressure and bone marrow aplasia, but later went on to reveal that she had written the president
of the ICC to request that she be the last of the six newly elected judges to take her post to allow
her more time to fulfill her responsibilities as a senator.[35][36]She officially tendered her
resignation as the ICC judge on June 1, 2014 ,citing her untreatable illness of chronic fatigue
syndrome as stated in her resignation letter addressed to ICC President .

Personal life
Miriam Defensor is married to Narciso Santiago. They have 2 adopted daughters and 2 biological
Her youngest son Alexander Robert "AR" Santiago, [4] died at the age of 22 on November 20,
Senator Santiago publicly announced on July 2, 2014 that she was diagnosed of Stage 4 cancer
on her left lung. [38]