Press Release
September 27, 2017


Tributes continue to pour in for the late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago a year after her passing, with Sen. Grace Poe leading the Senate in urging President Rodrigo Duterte to nominate the feisty lawmaker for conferment of the highest civilian recognition.

In sponsoring Senate Resolution No. 508, Poe said the State should confer the Quezon Service Cross to the "brilliant and exemplary public servant" for her "immeasurable contributions to the nation" and dedicating 46 years of her life in the public service fighting graft and corruption in government.

"There are many in government who remain true to their oath and who uphold public interest over their personal interests," Poe said.

Santiago held posts in all three branches of government: Presiding Judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration, Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform, and Senator for three terms.

"Senator Miriam always made waves because of her indomitable fighting spirit. As RTC judge, she ran a very efficient sala, consistently achieving a zero-case backlog in her court and enforcing a 'no-postponement policy' to dispose cases swiftly.

"As Immigration Commissioner, Senator Miriam 'ate death threats for breakfast', and later earned the Ramon Magsaysay Award 'for bold and moral leadership in cleaning up a graft-ridden government agency."

"As Agrarian Secretary, she sought to stop the practice of conversion--wherein landlords sought to convert their agricultural holdings into commercial/residential/industrial land to escape land reform," Poe said.

Santiago, known as the Iron Lady of Asia, died at age 71 exactly a year ago on Friday, Sept. 29, after a bout with lung cancer.

Santiago excelled as a student, public official and legal scholar. She became the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to be elected as Judge of The Hague-based International Criminal Court.

Santiago was "one of the best and most prolific legislators ever," Poe said, adding that "year in and year out, she consistently out-filed us in terms of total measures filed and total laws passed."

Some of the most notable measures which Santiago worked on included the Reproductive Health law, the Renewable Energy Act, and the Magna Carta for Women. As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she spearheaded the approval of international agreements that now benefit our country, such as the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, revised Kyoto Convention, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and other treaties.

Describing the tough-talking Santiago as a no-nonsense lawmaker for her fearless "head-bashing" as her best strategy to fight graft, Poe said it is incumbent upon public servants to restore honor in the government.

Poe said Santiago's memory should serve as an inspiration to future generations, especially those who wish to enter public service.

Reminiscent of one of the most memorable quotes that Santiago delivered before she died: 'I have no illusions about myself, about my life, about leaving a legacy, or making a mark in people's lives. We are so insignificant. We are only here for a blink.'

"I daresay that this is the first time she is wrong. As insignificant as we may all be, her contributions were not," Poe said.

She then shared her encounter with Santiago.

"I only got to know Senator Santiago during her last three years here in the Senate. Her stature and reputation made her intimidating for newbies like me, but for those of us who were fortunate enough to get to know her better, she could also be very charming and sweet," said Poe.

Poe said she "cannot forget" the time when Santiago announced she would interpellate her on the Freedom of Information bill, declaring she "never felt so nervous" in her life.

"And just when I thought that I would be shamed and belittled by this intellectual genius, she surprised me by beginning her interpellation with the statement, 'I feel very maternal towards you'. After that warm greeting, she commenced with her questions which I am happy and proud to say, I was able to respond to," Poe added.

"Later on, our debate moved to a bigger stage. We both ran in the last Presidential elections. Though we were opponents, I found a comrade in her. We were two women trying to make our mark in our male-dominated history. Sadly, it was to be one of her last battles," Poe said.

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