Difference between revisions of "Miriam Defensor-Santiago"

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| colspan="2" style="text-align: left;" | [[Image:Santiago002.gif|center|Miriam Defensor-Santiago]]
| colspan="2" style="text-align: left;" | [[Image:Santiago002.gif|center|Miriam Defensor-Santiago]]
| colspan="2" | <center>'''Senator of the Philippines'''<br>[[1995]]&ndash;''incumbent''</center>
| colspan="2" | <center>'''Senator of the Philippines'''<br>1995&ndash;''incumbent''</center>
| colspan="2" | <center>'''Secretary of Agrarian Reform'''<br>[[1989]]&ndash;[[1991]]</center>
| colspan="2" | <center>'''Secretary of Agrarian Reform'''<br>[[1989]]&ndash;[[1991]]</center>
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[[Category:University of the Philippines]]
[[Category:University of the Philippines]]
[[Category:UP 100]]
[[Category:UP 100]]
[[Category:Controversial UP Alumni]]
[[Category:Notable UP Alumni]]
[[Category:UP Personalities]]
[[Category:UP Personalities]]

Revision as of 09:53, 29 April 2010

Miriam Defensor Santiago
Miriam Defensor-Santiago
Senator of the Philippines
Secretary of Agrarian Reform
Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge
Political Party: People's Reform Party (1992 to date)
Born: June 15, 1945
Iloilo City
Spouse: Narciso Y. Santiago, Jr.

Miriam Palma Defensor Santiago (is a Filipina politician and a Senator of the Philippines. She is known popularly simply as Miriam. She is the founder and current leader of the People's Reform Party as well its former presidental candidate. She is also a 1985 TOYM Awardee for Law.


Early life and education

Santiago was born in June 15, 1945 in Iloilo City, Iloilo to District Judge Benjamin A. Defensor and Dimpna Palma Defensor. In her youth, she was an accomplished student, graduating as class valedictorian in both elementary and high school levels.

Despite a three-month bout with illness, Santiago graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of the Philippines Visayas in 1965. She finished it in only three and a half instead of four years.

She was the first female editor-in-chief of the university's student newspaper, The Philippine Collegian, in its fifty-year history. She was twice made Corps Sponsor of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. In later years, she would claim to have held a campus beauty title twice, despite not having actually won any beauty contest by any standard.

An accomplished debater, Santiago has participated in numerous oratorical, public speaking, and debate contests in high school, college, and law school. Ironically, in the 2001 Senatorial race, she refused to debate with economics professor and broadcaster Solita Monsod, another feisty and knowledgeable debater. Also, during the 2000 Estrada Impeachment Trial, she refused to debate with then Senator Raul Roco after a heated argument with a lawyer-witness.

She earned a Bachelor of Laws, cum laude, from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1969. Her classmates include former Senate President Franklin Drilon, San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora, and Eli Pamatong. Miriam took the 1969 Bar Exams and received a 78% average grade, to her great dismay. Her classmates Zamora and Drilon were first and third respectively, getting high grades, eventually landing in top law firms. In stark contrast, Santiago ended up teaching Political Science to undergraduates at Trinity College of Quezon City.

To bolster her credentials and do over her dismal performance in the bar exam, Santiago resorted to higher learning. She attended the University of Michigan Law School from 1974 to 1976, earning degrees in Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science.

Santiago continued enrolling in short courses, attending seminars, and participating in conferences locally and abroad. In 1995, at the age of fifty, she completed the academic requirements for a Master of Arts in Religious Studies at the Maryhill School of Theology with an average grade of 1.25. In 1996, at the age of fifty-one, she attended the Summer Program of Instruction for Lawyers at Harvard Law School. In 1997, at age fifty-two, she attended the Summer Program in Law at Oxford University. In later years, she would claim to be a Harvard and Oxford alumna, despite not having attended nor completed any academic degree program in these schools.

When she win in the Senate races of 2001 and 2007 and was a presidential candidate in 2004, she worked on updating her law and political science textbooks, which were last released 2002.

In 1986, Santiago was recognized as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Professionals of the Philippine Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1988, she was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the local equivalent of the Nobel Prize

In 1996, Santiago was cited by The Australian, an international current affairs magazine, as one of "The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World".

It has been claimed that the Filipino masses regard her as possibly the most intelligent living Filipino citizen and the most academically prepared public official. Many female law students view her as an epitome of women empowerment, scholastic competence, and professionalism. However, a considerable number of lawyers, academicians, political analysts, journalists, and activists measure her as a traditional corrupt politician, carrying high levels of arrogance, greed for power, and opportunism. She is often quoted as having described less educated Filipinos as "species of lower life forms".

Private career

Santiago was a political science professor of Trinity College of Quezon City from 1971 to 1974 and concurrently Special 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 officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland from 1979 to 1980.

Political life

Santiago was appointed by President Corazon Aquino as Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation in 1988. She served in that capacity until 1989. She was Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform from 1989 to 1991.

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. She invited Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. to be her running mate. The party did not have any other candidates at the national level and endorsed only local candidates Alfredo Lim and Lito Atienza for the position of mayor and vice mayor of Manila. Aquino decided instead to back her then-Defense Secretary Fidel V. Ramos in his bid for the presidency.

Following a string of power outages, the tabulation concluded and Ramos was declared the winner. Santiago filed a protest before the Supreme Court acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, claiming massive electoral fraud and citing the power outages as evidence. Her protest was eventually dismissed.

Santiago ran for the Senate of the Philippines in 1995 elections, again as a candidate of her own People's Reform Party. As a Senator, Santiago became a vocal critic of the Ramos Administration.

Santiago again ran for president in the 1998 elections and invited fellow Senator Francisco Tatad to be her running mate. Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino candidate Joseph Estrada won the election and became president, though Santiago again made claims of election fraud. After the election, Santiago returned to the senate.

On January 13 2001, Santiago and ten other senators voted against the opening of a bank envelope. The vote ended the impeachment trial and led to the Second People Power Revolution which removed Estrada from office. She announced publicly that "I will jump headfirst from a helicopter in Luneta if Estrada gets removed from power" but later recanted and said "I lied".

It was at this point in her career that tragedy struck her personal life. Her favorite son, AR, an aspiring law student, failed an exam and took his life. His last missive bewailed the peer pressure he suffered as the son of a notoriously corrupt politician. In retaliation, Miriam vowed to retire permanently from politics and devote her time to the persecution of the law school professors whom she held responsible for her son's suicide.

Santiago again ran for president in the 2004 elections and invited fellow Senator Francisco Tatad to be her running mate again. Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan sa Kinabukasan candidate Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won the election and became president, though Santiago again made claims of election fraud. After the election, Santiago returned to the senate in 2004. In the 2004 elections, Santiago reneged on her vow and ran again for senator, this time switching to the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's K4 coalition and won. She currently holds the position of chairperson and lone member of the People's Reform Party. Her office in West Triangle, Quezon City offers a library of her written books.

Santiago announced her intentions to apply as one of the possible candidates to fill the post of Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban upon his retirement in December 2006. Ultimately, the Judicial and Bar Council removed Santiago from the shortlist of candidates for the position. Santiago openly criticized the move, questioning the qualifications of Panganiban and labelling the Supreme Court an "old boy's club" for not admitting outsiders into their fold. The shortlisting came after all the nominees, save for Santiago, boycotted a public interview held by the Judicial Bar Council that aimed to improve the institution's transparency.

On July 10, 2007, Santiago said that an acquittal of ousted President Estrada will consequently cast doubts on the legitimacy of President Arroyo’s assumption into office. She advised that only a conviction will be to the best interest of Mrs. Arroyo: “If President Estrada is acquitted now, we will have a dilemma: What then is the status of President Arroyo? Two, if he is acquitted, the conclusion can only be that there was no plunder and therefore there was no basis to remove him from office. What then is the basis of President Arroyo in the elections (in 2004) that followed after she was installed (in 2001)? That in itself will create another legal dilemma,”. Further, Santiago accused some winning senators of having ‘paid their way to office’ (P200 million is the non-negotiable minimum amount to carry out a senatorial electoral campaign “which is simply unethical”). Studies made by some independent research groups yielded the names of Santiago’s fellow majority bloc members, Senators Joker Arroyo, Edgardo Angara and Manuel Villar Jr. as among the so-called top spenders in the last elections.

2010 election bid

In 2008, Santiago expressed her intent to seek the presidency in 2010 should she not get a seat in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). She said that if elected to ICJ, she would resign from being a senator; if not, she would run for president “just to put terror in the heart of her enemies.” [1]

Santiago filed her certificate of candidacy for senatorial reelection in November 2009 under People's Reform Party. She explained that she no longer wished to be president, and that whoever the people may elect will have her extended support and service. She is also a guest candidate for all political parties except for the Liberal Party, which, Santiago said, did not invite her. [2]

Campaign manifesto

Santiago's agendas for 2010 are a continuation of her advocacies for years. Among the issues most important to her are: education; job creation and support to entrepreneurs; pubic order and illegal drugs; youth, women, and family relations; health and demography; and revision of codes and laws. [1]

  • Education

Santiago lobbies for the “improvement of the quality of primary and secondary education; promotion of safety in schools and campuses; advancement of science and technology education; and strengthening of the recruitment process of Filipino teachers.” [1]

  • Business and labor

Santiago aims for the “promotion of entrepreneurship allowing disposal of unused public lands to deserving persons for use by them as collateral for bank loans; and provision of more jobs to the unemployed population by helping small and medium sized entrepreneurs establish their businesses.” [1]

  • Peace and order

Santiago aspires to continue strengthening the following: “criminal laws by providing for punishment of crimes committed through the use of modem technology and stiffer penalties for gambling; the prohibition against entry of illegal drugs; the regulation of use of firearms and motor vehicles; and the fight against terrorism.” [1]

  • Youth and women

Santiago aims to secure the “protection of children's welfare against tobacco, illegal drugs, violent programming, and firearms; protection of youth against teenage pregnancy; improvement of formal, non-formal, and special education; promotion of women's health and family relations.” [1]

  • Health

Santiago advances the “promotion of health programs and health products in order to combat diseases like cancer, fertility, hepatitis C, dystonia, and lead poisoning.” She aims to achieve these “by enacting and strengthening laws relating to anti-tobacco campaigns, reduction of metals in packaging, a national folic acid education program, research program regarding birth defects, health care cost reduction programs, poison prevention and control programs.” [1]

Personal life

Santiago is married to Narciso Yap Santiago Jr., her former classmate at the University of the Philippines. Narsing, as he is known to many, was once an undersecretary for Interior and Local Governments, and is currently a presidential adviser for revenue enhancement. He is also a businessman.

The Santiagos has two biological children, Narciso III and Alexander Robert (AR), who committed suicide on November 20 2003. AR was reported to have committed suicide upon getting a failing grade in Constitutional Law 1, a 3-unit course taught by Professor Sedfrey M. Candelaria, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the Ateneo School of Law. AR was emotionally disturbed due to the pressures of having a demanding mother who has repeatedly pronounced herself an expert in constitutional law.

Miriam has adopted twins Megan and Molly, born in 1996 and asked then President Joseph Estrada to stand as their godfather. Local media quickly reported the incident as an obvious effort on her part to make Estrada a strong political ally and backbone.

Santiago's brother, Benjamin Santiago Jr., is a retired general who served as Philippine Air Force commander and Armed Forces Chief of Staff. He is currently an ambassador-at-large for counter-terrorism. Two of her cousins are congressmen. Matias Defensor represents the third district of Quezon City, where Santiago resides, and Arthur Defensor represents the third district of Iloilo, Santiago's hometown. Santiago's nephew, Michael Defensor, is a former presidential chief of staff and is currently vying for a Senate seat in the 2007 elections.


Asian regional award

Magsaysay Award for government service 1988
Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, Magsaysay Awards Foundation

National awards

TOYM Award for law 1985 (The Outstanding Young Men)
Opened to women 1984, Philippine Jaycees
TOWNS Award for law 1986 (The Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service)
Philippine Lions
Gold Vision Triangle Award for government service, 1988
YMCA Philippines
Republic Anniversary Award for law enforcement, 1988
Civic Assembly of Women of the Philippines
Golden Jubilee Achievement Award for public service, 1990
Girl Scouts of the Philippines
Celebrity Mother Award, 1991
Gintong Ina Awards Foundation

University awards

Diamond Award for excellence in the legal profession
University of the Philippines Portia Sorority 1993
Professional Award in law 1988
University of the Philippines Alumni Association
Most Outstanding Alumna Award 1997
University of the Philippines Visayas
Outstanding Alumna Award 1995
Iloilo High School Alumni Association, Inc
Most Outstanding Alumna 1991
La Paz Elementary School Iloilo City
People's Service Award 1990
University of the East College of Law Student Government
Achievement Award 1989
Angeles University Foundation
Award of Achievement 1988
Centro Escolar University Graduate School Alumni Association
Award of Outstanding Recognition 1988
Iloilo National High School
Brown Visiting Fellow Award 1988
Trinity College of Quezon City.

Religious awards

Award of Excellence in public service 1988
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, Inc.
Award of Recognition for public service 1988
Roman Catholic Archbishops and Bishops of Manila
Woman of the Year Award 1988
Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines

Government awards

Award of Recognition for Best Agency Productivity 1988
Government Productivity Improvement Program Council
Outstanding Ilongo Award 1989 for good government
Iloilo provincial government
Leadership Award 1988
Philippine Ports Authority
Distinguished Achievement Award 1986
National Police Commission
Outstanding Young Woman of Iloilo Award for law 1984
Ilang-Ilang Jaycees and Iloilo provincial government

Civil awards

Woman of Distinction Award 1988
Soroptimist International of Greater Manila
Integrity of Profession Award 1988
Soroptimist International of Quezon City
Award of Distinction 1988
Zonta International of Baguio City
Outstanding Achievement Award 1994
Rotary Club of Cabanatuan City
Award of Distinction 1989
Rotary Club of Roxas City
Outstanding Public Servant Award 1989
Rotary International District 378 in Quezon City
Achievement Award 1991
Iloilo Association of Guam
Golden Cross Achievement Award 1990
10th Battalion Combat Team Peftok
Medal of Honor and Woman of the Year Award 1989
Foundation of Phil-American Medical Society of New Jersey, Inc.
Award of Distinction 1988
Girl Scouts of the Philippines Iloilo Chapter
Distinguished Public Service Award 1988
Barangay U.P. Village Senior Citizens Organization

Media awards

The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World, The Australian Magazine, 1996
Public Service Award 1991
Pambansang Unyon ng Mamamahayag sa Medya
News Personality of the Year 1988
ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation

Student awards

First female Editor-in-Chief, The Philippine Collegian, l968, after 50 years.
Editor for Articles, Philippine Law Journal, l968-69.
First female Editor-in-Chief, The Law Register, l966-67.
Vice-Chairman, U.P. Student Council, l967-68.
Corps Sponsor, UP ROTC, l964 and l968.
President, Corps Sponsors Association of Greater Manila, l968.
Awardee, Presidential Pin for Academic Excellence, l963, l965 and l969.
Member, Order of the Purple Feather Law Honor Society, l965-69.
Recipient, Rotary Award for Most Outstanding Graduate, l963 and l965.
Recipient, Vinzons Achievement Award for Leadership, l968 and l969.
Awardee, Ten Outstanding Coeds of the University of the Philippines, l966.
First female awardee, Carlos Romulo Gold Medal for Best Debater,
and Ferdinand Marcos Gold Trophy, U.P. Law annual debate, l967
First Prize, Iloilo Lions oratorical contest, l964.
First Prize, oratorical, essay, poetry, and short story contests, U.P. Visayas, l963.
Editor-in-Chief, U.P. Visayas monthly magazine, l961-65.
President, Iloilo Student Press Association, l962-63.
Gold Medal for Best Debater, representing U.P. Visayas, l964.
Chairman, Students' Consultative Council for the City Mayor, l960- 6l.


  • Phi Kappa Phi International Honor Society
  • Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society
  • Integrated Bar of the Philippines
  • U.P. Law Alumni Association
  • U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle
  • Philippine Society of International Law
  • Fellows of the Asia Foundation
  • California Judicial College Alumni Association
  • Association of TOWNS Awardees
  • Alumni Association of the Academy of American International Law
  • Honorary member, Zonta International of Makati
  • Honorary member, Manila Lakambini Lions Club
  • Honorary member, Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association, Inc.

Published works

  • Constitutional Law Annotated. Central Law Book Publishing.
  • International Relations. Central Law Book Publishing.
  • Politics and Governance. Central Law Book Publishing.
  • The Miriam Defensor Santiago Dictionary. Narsan Publishing.
  • The Politics of Reform in the Philippines. Narsan Publishing.
  • Inventing Myself. Narsan Publishing


  • Times have changed. It has already worn out its value.
  • The problem with the Americans is that they are overpaid, oversexed, and over here.
  • I eat death threats for breakfast.


  • 1st Filipina Secretary of Agrarian Reform.
  • 1st Filipina Editor-in-Chief of the Philippine Collegian, a student newspaper in the University of the Philippines (U.P.).
  • 1st Filipina to win the Best Debater Award in law school.
  • Considered as the most intelligent Senator the Philippines has ever produced.


  1. ^ "Legislative Agenda of Senator Defensor-Santiago," senate.gov.ph (accessed 23 April 2010)

External links

  1. ^ If she doesn't make ICJ: Sen. Santiago running for president to ‘terrorize’ foes Philippine Daily Inquirer (accessed 10 March 2010)
  2. ^ Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago files certificate of candidacy for senator Youtube.com (accessed 10 March 2010)



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