Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago was elected judge of the International Criminal Court by the Assembly of States Parties at elections held Monday, 12 December at the United Nations, New York.

Santiago is 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.

Together with five other new judges, Santiago will take her oath of office this March, but will not immediately assume her post in The Hague, Netherlands, until the ICC calls her to report for duty.

Thus, it is likely that Santiago will remain as a senator in the next six months or even longer, depending on when she is called to The Hague.

The senator said she expects to play an active role as a trial judge in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Renato Corona, and to urge her fellow senators to pass the Reproductive Health bill, of which she is the author and co-sponsor.

“This is a victory for the Philippines in the international legal community.  The tribute belongs to President Benigno Aquino, who nominated me; foreign affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, who maximized his unerring generalship over all Philippine posts abroad; foreign affairs undersecretary Rafael Seguis, who was the campaign manager; and most of all to Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, the Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who was the model diplomat in networking with the UN ambassadors.  All members of the Philippine mission (embassy) in New York did splendid field work,” she said.

Santiago placed No. 1 in the first round of voting, followed by a candidate from Trinidad and Tobago.

At this writing, the second round and possibly other rounds still need to be conducted, in order to complete the number of six new judges.

The ICC has 120 states parties, of which 117 voted in the first round last Monday.  The Philippines was No. 1 with 79 votes, the highest number.  Trinidad and Tobago was No. 2, with 72 votes.  The Philippine mission said that some of Santiago’s votes may have been inadvertently invalidated, because of complex balloting rules.

ICC elections are extremely complicated, but the process this year was made simpler when the Coalition for the ICC commissioned an Independent Panel of Experts to assess the qualifications of candidates.  In the assessment report, Santiago was rated “Qualified,” while four other candidates were rated as “Unqualified.”

Interviewed by radio stations early yesterday morning, Santiago said she was ready to resign as senator if the ICC officially calls her to report for work, but that she personally prefers to stay as long as possible in the Senate.

“I entered the campaign to try and bring honor to the Philippines.  But at the same time, I would like to serve as long as possible in the Senate, because I was elected for a six-year term and I have only served for a little over a year,” she said.

After she reports to The Hague, Santiago will serve a 9-year term.

“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.  It is a very tough personal challenge, but I have always liked challenges in my life,” said Santiago, who ran for president in 1992 and placed a very close second, but was denied the right to continue her electoral protest after she was elected senator.

The ICC was established by a treaty called the Rome Statute, in the deliberations of which the Philippines took an active part.  However, under American pressure, the Philippine administration at that time refused to ratify the Rome Statute.

After President Barack Obama was elected, he changed American foreign policy by announcing a new policy of “principled engagement” with the ICC.

Following Obama’s policy change, the Philippine Senate, on the sponsorship of Santiago, voted overwhelmingly to ratify the Rome Statute.  President Aquino immediately nominated her as judge.

In the past, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo similarly nominated Santiago as judge of the older court known as the International Court of Justice. But although Santiago won in the General Assembly voting, she lost in the Security Council voting.

Santiago’s prior 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.#


  1. madam senator, whatever your decision will be, we will support you all the way! keep it up ma’am! we are all very proud of you!!

  2. It is a great honor for the Philippines to be represented in th ICJ. However, now that the rule of law is in danger because government institutions that are supposed to be the champions of the Constitution are working very hard to promote even more misinformation through trial by publicity, we need someone like Sen. Santiago who would undoubtedly vote based on evidence and not for a few minutes of televised politicking.

  3. My humble congratulations Mam Miriam. Pero sana po huwag na kayong umalis ng pilipinas because no one is yet to represent the kind of Miriam in the Philippine Senate. But, if you go I’ll run immediately for the elections as senatorial and “I’ll smash there teeth In”. We will miss you mam.

  4. amazing senator mariam santiago! i have been so proud of you since i saw you talking in TV during your presidential campaign, no doubt, you are brilliant! paano na lang ang bansa natin kung walang mga kagaya mo, with sen. jinggoy, president noy2, sen. kiko, sec. mar roxas? and also, thankfully, good that you are still present sa impeachment trial ni corona. i wish mawawalan sya ng corona!

  5. To my No.1 senator..i am super happy that you are now present sa impeachment.please dont be absent..we need you there..bring na lang your med sa HB.GLP3Kod bless you.

  6. To my No.1 senator..i am super happy that you are now present sa impeachment.please dont be absent..we need you there..bring na lang your med sa HB.God bless you.

  7. Imagine THAT! Even the world’s BIG THREE countries against her, our brilliant senator-judge TOPPED the balloting for a slot in the ICC! MABUHAY KA, SENATOR-JUDGE MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO! YOU ARE OUR PRIDE AND JOY IN THE PHILIPPINES FOR YOUR BRAINS, TALENTS NOT TO MENTION BEAUTY!

  8. Please stay here senator Santiago. We need you here. Being in the ICC may be the next logical stepto take in your distinguished career, but the Filipinos need you.

  9. Sen Miriam, you are my only hope why I still believe in Philippine justice… please do not go…

  10. You are more needed here in our country than in the ICC.Please don’t bite the bait hook line and sinker. These people who nominated you knows that you are a hindrance to these government of pnoy who had the ambition as a one man ruler.

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