The name Miriam Defensor-Santiago always rings a bell. She’s the Iron Lady. When she speaks, everyone listens. Perhaps, except for Prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre who covered his ears with his hands when the senator was lecturing and calling names the prosecution panel on the process of impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
For flaring up the feisty senator’s famous fiery temper, Aguirre was cited in contempt and later on apologized for “hearing no evil” because he cannot stand the shrill sound of senator’s voice.
For calling “gago” the prosecution’s purported incompetence, the acid tongue senator got an earful sermon from Fr. Catalino Arevalo saying Miriam was liable for fires of hell because of her insults while demanding her for a public apology.
“Jesus said that if you call anybody ‘you fool,’ you are worthy of the fires of hell. And she called them gago, which is Filipino for fool, before millions of people,” Arevalo was quoted as saying in his homily at Our Lady of Edsa Shrine during the First Saturday Mass in honor of the Blessed Mother.
But hell hath no fury like Miriam’s scorned. Miriam did not take the priest sitting but turns the tables with a mouthful preach to the man of the cloth.
“I can engage in a public debate with the priest and we can exchange quotation for quotation from the Bible. But that would be foolish because the Bible can be interpreted in as many ways as there are Christian churches. And I thought humility in spiritual matters is a virtue. The priest is saying that he is close to God and I’m not. I say to the priest, judge not, that you shall not be judged,” said Miriam who has a Master’s Degree in Theology.
Every time Miriam opens her mouth, she gains friends or foes. Everybody loves or hates her. Everyone looks up to or try to pull her down. But she’s always on her own right and stands up for her own.
Outstanding as she is, Santiago has been elected as a judge to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands by the Assembly of States Parties at elections held at the United Nations, New York, USA, Dec. 12, 2011.
Santiago became the first Filipino and the first Asian from a developing state to serve as ICC judge, thus earning a place of honor for the Philippines in ICC history.
Santiago said “this is a victory for the Philippines in the international legal community – this victory means that in this region of the world, the Philippines stands as a champion of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and the rule of international law in global affairs.”
But it seems that not every Filipino is happy with such recognition – some fellow Filipinos want Santiago out of it. The US Pinoys for Good Governance members have petitioned the ICC administrators and officials, seeking for Santiago’s ouster following her fooling outbursts.
“She does not realize what she is saying, how hurtful it is, how completely arrogant it is, how she believes she can get away with it, how she can say things with total impunity. How can we allow her to be a judge in the ICC with her mentality, with her absolute sense of no justice,” argued Rodel Rodis, the group’s president.
“A person who is emotionally or psychologically unstable, prone to fits and uncontrollable rage, lacking in patience and empathy, ruthless with the feelings of fellow human beings, bereft of civility and uncaring about the decorum does not deserve a place in court,” petitioned the US Pinoys for Good Governance.
Santiago was first nominated as judge of the older court known as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) but although she won in the General Assembly voting, she lost in the hands of the influential Security Council.
Santiago’s earlier candidacy to the ICJ was blocked by the US because of her stand against the Visiting Forces Agreement; China because of her close friendship with the Dalai Lama; and Japan because of her efforts to amend certain provisions of the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) to favor Philippine nurses.
Now it’s even the fellow Filipinos wanting to stop and judging Santiago as ICC judge. Will Miriam make it to the ICC soon? Let’s wait and see – you’ll be the judge.