Monday, November 10, 2008

Sen. Miriam Santiago is here to stay

I recall going to the marketplace with Tita Ging when Miriam Defensor-Santiago emerged out of a van and waved her hand at us. It was the first time she was running for a senate seat, and she spoke of the Philippines of our dreams—aside, of course, from cursing President Ramos who she has since claimed to have cheated her in the 1992 presidential election. She has since been in the country’s political limelight, and people have followed her with unwavering interest. Either you like her or you don’t.

Since then I’ve looked up to Miriam as a larger-than-life personality more than a political figure—someone you don’t mess around with . . . but someone you’d want other people to mess with. I hope I’m making sense.

Her statements—in senate speeches or interview excerpts—are extraordinarily quotable, with words that you thought were non-existent until after she blurted them out. Her outbursts of anger merit news stories in prime time TV. It’s because of people like her that Philippine politics is unmatched in terms of color and excitement—better than movies, even.

Consider the recent Senate proceedings, for example, where she grilled top-ranking policemen for alleged corruption. The media called it the Euro Scandal, and Miriam, presiding over the Senate inquiry, lambasted them all, Secretary Puno included. From how it looks, she has negligible tolerance for lies, especially at a forum she presides.

No one can pull those things off better than Miriam, which is why I’m saddened that she didn’t get the post at the UN International Court of Justice. She was short of three votes from the Security Council. I’m confident she’d do a great job there, with her brilliant academic record and her accomplishments here and abroad.

But, in a way, I’m relieved that Miriam—our Miriam—is here to stay.

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