Sen. Santiago bows to Fr. Bernas on presidency

By on August 27, 2014

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. Photo by Romy Bugante, Senate PRIB / Santiago's Facebook page
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago. Photo by Romy Bugante, Senate PRIB / Santiago’s Facebook page

MANILA – Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has said that she will run for President in the 2016 national elections, if there are enough “like-minded” supporters for her led by Fr. Joaquin Bernas.

In a television interview Tuesday, Fr. Bernas said that President Benigno S. Aquino III should no longer seek a second term and to “give Miriam (Santiago) a chance.”

Bernas is a recognized authority in constitutional law. He was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that drafted the present Constitution.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the President is limited to a single term of six years.

Asked by media to comment, Santiago said: “I have licked cancer, and I’m actually thinking of several career options. By 2016, I will be disqualified by law to seek another term as senator. At present, my life projects include participation in the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) based in Rome, or writing books on foreign policy at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.”

Last June, oncologists led by world-famous lung cancer specialist Dr. Ronald Natale and Dr. Gary Lorenzo, coordinating with cardiologist and herself a cancer survivor, Dr. Esperanza Cabral, issued a diagnosis on lung cancer, stage 4 (last stage), on Santiago.

The senator was placed on medication called Tarceva (aka Erlotinib) for six weeks, at only one tablet a day.

Last Aug. 12, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City issued a report on a PET/CT Scan stating that the tumor in Santiago’s “left lung has regressed,” meaning that it has become smaller.

“The latest lab test shows that the cancer cells are waving a white flag. During this time, I only have to work on my stamina. During the six-week period of treatment, I was even able to work on the 2014 editions of some 10 law books which are scheduled for release by the end of the year,” she said.

“I’m not going to be coy. Society leaders have urged me to seek the presidency. I can rise to the occasion, although I was following the other sign posts on the road to recovery,” the senator said.

Santiago said that although she has always run for public office under her own People’s Reform Party, this time she will need to coalesce with one or both among the Liberal Party headed by Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya and the Nationalista Party headed by former Sen. Manny Villar.

“After I was diagnosed with cancer, Senator Manny went to my house and told me, among other things, that my popularity level is very high. But he also said that he is encouraging several hopefuls to raise their survey ratings,” Santiago said.

Santiago quoted from a poem that she recited during the funeral ceremonies for her son who died at 23 years old: “Do not stand at my grave and weep; I am not there. I do not sleep.”