MANILA, Philippines – Former Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago passed away this Thursday morning while confined at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City due to lung cancer. She was 71.
“She died peacefully in her sleep this morning,” said Santiago’s husband, Atty. Narciso ‘Jun’ Santiago Jr. according to GMA News.
Santiago died at exactly 8:52 am Thursday, according to the Senator’s official Twitter page.
@senmiriam We ask for prayers as her family goes through this difficult time. (2/2)
— Miriam Santiago (@senmiriam) September 29, 2016
Santiago leaves behind husband Narciso Santiago, Jr. and son Narciso Santiago III.
Diagnosed with lung cancer
The three-term Senator, who ran in the May 9 Presidential Election but lost, was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2014. Santiago was optimistic that – like her other battles in life – she could beat the disease. “I’m not afraid of cancer. There is nothing I’m afraid of,” said Santiago, according to a Rappler report.
She showed physical weakness during her campaign but despite her illness, she still appeared in two Presidential debates hosted by various television networks. She revealed that she is taking ‘wonder pill’, which she hoped would cure her stage 4 lung cancer.
On May 31, She was rushed by an ambulance to the Makati Medical Center after she contracted pneumonia due to complications of cancer. She was later moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) the next day and transferred to a regular private room two days later after her condition stabilized.
In 1988, at the age of 43, she received the prestigious Magsaysay Award for Government Service, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize here in Asia.
In 2011, Santiago became the first Filipina and the first Asian to be elected as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the independent body that prosecutes individuals for crimes against humanity and war crimes, but the illness had forced her to resign.
In 2016, she became part of the International Advisory Council of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), an intergovernmental body that promotes the rule of law.
Dr. Santiago holds an amazing record of excellence in all three branches of government – judicial, executive, and legislative. In the judicial branch, she has been presiding judge of the Regional Trial Court at Quezon City. In the executive branch, she has been immigration commissioner; and a cabinet member, as agrarian reform secretary. In the legislative branch, she has been a senator for three terms.
Santiago has filed 1,324 bills and resolutions in the 16th Congress, which represents a fifth of the total number of measures filed by all the senators in the Philippines. Some of her notable bills filed are: anti-dynasty bill; anti-epal bill; freedom of information (FoI) bill; and Magna Carta for Philippine internet freedom.