Miriam Defensor Santiago passes away

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2016 10:44 AM | Updated as of Sep 29 2016 05:07 PM

Former senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. File Photo

MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - Former senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has passed away after a long bout with lung cancer. She was 71.

Senator Grace Poe announced Santiago's passing Thursday, as she offered a prayer during a Freedom of Information bill hearing.

In a Twitter post, Santiago’s staff said the former senator died “peacefully” at 8:52 a.m. Thursday. The wake will reportedly be at the Cathedral Grottos of The Immaculate Conception Cathedral of Cubao.

Santiago's passing came just weeks after she was brought to the hospital after suffering complications.

The former lawmaker, known for being feisty and fearless, first announced on July 2, 2014 that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She was then teary-eyed speaking to reporters but still went on to tell jokes, even saying that she was "excited" she had the disease.

In October 2015, or over a year after her announcement, Santiago declared she would seek the presidency for the third time after having supposedly "conquered" cancer.

TRIBUTES POUR FOR MIRIAM

Senator Franklin Drilon, who had known Santiago since their college days in the 1960s, lamented the passing of a "pillar" of the justice system.

"We have lost a brilliant mind, a pillar in the legal profession and we will miss her," Drilon told ABS-CBN News Channel.

Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III also extended his sympathies to the family of Santiago, his former law professor at the University of the Philippines

"She has made her position on a lot of issues on... If you want to remember the good senator, then you can always look at her record in the Senate for her philosophy in life, her beliefs. We are blessed in that way -- that once upon a time, there was a Miriam Santiago who became senator and who shared her intelligence and insight in the Senate," he said.

A LIFE WELL-LIVED

Santiago served in all three branches of the government. She was a former presiding judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (judicial branch); immigration commissioner, agrarian reform secretary (executive branch); and a senator for three terms (legislative branch) or from 1995 to 2001 and 2004 to 2016.

She had filed the most number of bills in the Senate. Some of her pending bills are the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill, which seeks an end to political dynasty in the country, and the Anti-Signage of Public Works Bill, which aims to bar politicians from claiming credit for projects built with public funds by putting their names on signages.

Santiago was the first Filipino to be elected as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2011. She, however, let go of her post in 2014 due to her chronic fatigue syndrome.

A cum laude graduate of Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines, she was also a UP law professor for some 10 years.

Her most prestigious feat is winning the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, the Magsaysay Award for Government Service, in 1998.

Santiago also wrote books on law and the social sciences.

Her recent books, best-selling "Stupid is Forever" and sequel "Stupid is Forevermore," are compilation of jokes, one-liners, pick-up lines and speeches that she had delivered.

SEEKING PRESIDENCY

Santiago narrowly lost to Fidel V. Ramos in the 1992 presidential race and filed an election protest. In 1998, she placed 8th in a 10-person contest which saw then Vice President Joseph Estrada win the presidency by a wide margin.

Throughout the presidential campaign for the May 9, 2016 elections, Santiago repeatedly dismissed questions about her health and her capability to lead the country.

She was, however, not active in the campaign trail with her running mate, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. She only attended a few provincial rallies.

She also failed to attend the second presidential debate on March 20 because she had to undergo a clinical trial for a new anti-cancer pill.

During the third and final debate, she also stuttered at times as she answered questions and presented her platforms.

Santiago lost and placed last in the presidential race dominated by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. She got only over 3% of the votes cast for president.