Remembering Miriam: Poe seeks highest national award for late senator

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Sen. Grace Poe urged President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to nominate the late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago for the Quezon Service Cross, the highest national recognition in the country for her legacy of “dedicated, outstanding and selfless” service to the Filipino people.

Poe made the call in a resolution she has filed at the Senate.

In Senate Resolution No. 508, the senator urged Duterte to nominate the “highly esteemed constitutional and international law expert, author, professor and mother for conferment of the award, posthumously.”

Santiago died on September 29, 2016 after a two-year bout with cancer.

“Miriam Defensor Santiago [has] dedicated her life to public service through her work in all the branches of government: judicial, executive and legislative. Throughout her 46-year career in the public service, Santiago embodied values that she herself demanded of leaders: academic, professional and moral character,” Poe said in the resolution.

She said Santiago’s “crusade against the culture of corruption, steadfastness on the rule of law and determination to hold public officials to a higher standard reverberate across generations.”

“Bestowing upon Santiago the Quezon Service Cross will ensure that her legacy of dedicated, outstanding and selfless public service will endure for Filipinos to emulate,” Poe added.

As a public servant, Santiago had received countless accolades, including: the Ramon Magsaysay Award, dubbed as Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize, in 1988 for her exemplary government service; the Philippine Judges Association Hall of Fame in 2015; outstanding alumna of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (Iloilo Chapter) in 2015; Girl Scouts of the Philippines Golden Jubilee Achievement Award for Public Service in 1990; YMCA Philippines Gold Vision Triangle Award for Government Service in 1988; Civic Assembly of Women of the Philippines Republic Anniversary Award for Law Enforcement in 1988; University of the Philippines’ Most Outstanding Alumna in Law in 1988; The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service Award for Law in 1986; and Outstanding Young Men Award for Law in 1985.

As a senator, Santiago consistently filed the most number of bills and resolutions and authored several notable laws including the Reproductive Health Act, Data Privacy Act, Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act, Anti-Bullying Act, Cybercrime Prevention Act, Anti-Torture Act, Law Restructuring Alcohol and Tobacco Excise Tax, Fair Competition Act, Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act, Intellectual Property Code, Fair Election Act, Oil Pollution Compensation Act, Biofuels Act, and Magna Carta of Women, among others.

As chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, the late senator sponsored the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, United Nations Convention Against Corruption, International Labor Organization Convention on Migration for Employment, Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement, Revised Kyoto Convention, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Charter, ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response, and ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

She also brought honor to the Philippines in 2013 when she became the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to be elected as judge of The Hague-based International Criminal Court, an independent body that prosecutes individuals for the most serious crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In 2016, she became a member of the International Advisory Council of the International Development Law Organization.

The Quezon Service Cross is the top recognition given to a person for exemplary service to the nation in memory of late Pres. Manuel Quezon. The approval of the both chambers of Congress is needed to confer the award.

Since its creation in 1946, the award has been conferred to only five people: Quezon Service Cross: Interior Sec. Jesse M. Robredo in November 2012; Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr. in August 2004; President Ramon Magsaysay in July 1957; President Emilio Aguinaldo in June 1956; and President Carlos P. Romulo in April 1951.  –

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