The Iron Lady in Reverse Chronology
Few Filipino political figures can lay claim to the accomplishments—and feints—of Miriam Defensor-Santiago. As much brand as leader, she had so much social capital that her more questionable actions did nothing to tarnish her image as an incorruptible bastion of the rule of law. So as we say goodbye one last time to the woman we lovingly call Tiger Lady, here’s a rundown of her highs and lows as one of the most remarkable and contentious survivors of Philippine politics.
8. She ran for President knowing she was sick
“Is Miriam sick or not?” was a question that was on everyone’s mind during the previous elections. That she had the son of a deposed dictator as her running mate made the question all the more pressing. We’re left with one certainty now: She was. Likewise, one question: What if she and her running mate had won?
7. Miriam denied Martial Law
Miriam went on record to say that the Marcos family does not owe the Filipino people an apology for Martial Law, even going so far as to say that the writ of habeas corpus was suspended with the best intentions.
6. Miriam slammed the PDAF and DAP scams
She labeled efforts to pad the supplemental budget as “Dark schemes,” and promised to jail all pork barrel profiteers if she ever won the presidential race.
5. She remained loyal to a plunder suspect, Part 1
Miriam remained a loyal ally of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo throughout the latter’s one and three-thirds terms. Even beyond: Miriam was an aggressive advocate of Arroyo’s travel rights as a plunder case respondent.
4. Miriam remained loyal to a plunder suspect, Part 2
She voted against opening the second envelope that allegedly contained evidence against then-President Erap Estrada, who was undergoing impeachment trial for, yes, that plunder thingy again. Remember that famous “I lied” quote of Miriam’s? That was about Erap’s arrest.
3. She campaigned against the US Bases
Miriam’s fight against American military presence in the Philippines goes way back to the days of Subic and Clark, and extends to present day Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA.) She even took a dig at a beauty queen for saying that having G.I.s around is nice.
2. Miriam fought Martial Law
As a young judge—and Marcos appointee—her exploits against repression are legendary. One beloved story has her conducting day-long court hearings to clear a group of student activists, whose detention stood to keep them from taking their exams.
1. Miriam wanted to give land back to farmers
As Agrarian Reform Minister, she bluntly told her appointing administration, headed by Corazon Aquino, that farmers had the right to the land they worked. Hacienda Luisita was no exception. Miriam handed in her resignation soon after.