Senators nominate Miriam Defensor Santiago for highest civil service award days before death anniversary

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2017 07:07 PM

MANILA - At least 2 lawmakers have nominated late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago as a recipient of the Quezon Service Cross, the highest award the republic accords its civil servants.

Senators Grace Poe and Sonny Angara have filed separate resolutions "urging" President Rodrigo Duterte to confer the award on Santiago who "dedicated her life to public service through her work in all the branches of government: judicial, executive, and legislative."

The lawmakers filed the resolutions a few days before Santiago's first death anniversary on Sept. 29. She had succumbed to lung cancer at 71. 

"As a Senator for three terms, Santiago consistently filed the highest number of bills and resolutions," Poe's resolution read.

"Throughout the nearly 5 decades she served the public, Miriam Defensor Santiago exemplified academic, professional, and moral excellence - values that she herself demanded not just from fellow public servants, but also fellow Filipinos," Angara said in his resolution.

Santiago, known for her fiery and impassioned interpellations at the Senate and funny pickup lines in speeches, spent much of her life in public service. 

She was presiding judge of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, immigration commissioner, agrarian reform secretary, and a Senator from 1995 to 2001 and from 2004 to 2016.

Among laws Santiago authored were The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, The Data Privacy Act, The Cybercrime Prevention Act, The Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, The Anti-Bullying Act, An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco Products, The Fair Competition Law, The Intellectual Property Code, The Oil Pollution Compensation Act, The Biofuels Act, The Anti-Torture Act, and the The Magna Carta of Women.

Santiago was the first Filipino to be elected 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 chronic fatigue syndrome.

The tough-talking senator also received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, "for bold and moral leadership in cleaning up a graft-ridden government agency" when she sat as Immigration chief in 1988.

The Quezon Service Cross is an award granted by the President with the concurrence by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Duterte and Santiago were among the friendlier rivals in the five-way race for the presidency in May 2016. A show of mutual admiration during one of the debates spawned the viral hashtag "DuRiam."

Duterte's youngest son, Sebastian, had his picture taken with Santiago before another debate, and asked her to give his father the "fight of a lifetime."