MANILA – Senators were saddened by the death of former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago who had been battling lung cancer for almost three years.
According to the official Twitter account of Santiago managed by her relatives, the feisty senator died peacefully at 8:52 a.m. She was 71 years old.
“I am saddened to know that Miriam will now be debating with a much Greater Body than the Philippine Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said in his official Twitter account.
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara thanked her for the “many years of courageous service to the nation” and noted that she would surely be missed.
Neophyte senator Joel Villanueva said that her death was “a very sad day for the Philippines.”
He also said that he was out of words to express his gratitude for the “selfless” work she has done for the country.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Santiago family during this extremely difficult time. Rest in peace, Senator Miriam,” Villanueva said.
Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II said that Santiago will leave behind “footprints in our public lives that will be hard to follow.”
He further said that the lady senator has set the bar higher for public service in terms of competence, dedication and courage.
“She belongs to history and future generations of Filipino citizens and leaders,” Honasan said.
Senator Nancy Binay enumerated the many positions held by Santiago including her being a trial judge, immigration commissioner, agrarian reform secretary, and senator.
She said that she was one of those who would “stop and listen to the wise words she would say in the Senate sessions.”
“I knew that Sen. Miriam would be ready with her witty lines and feisty attitude. Sen. Miriam – a brilliant legal mind, a loving wife and mother, and a public servant – would be missed,” Binay said.
Senator Grace Poe, Chair of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, paused the hearing on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill for a minute to pray for the late senator.
Poe also recalled how she had “sleepless nights” expecting the feisty Santiago to interpellate her when she was still a neophyte senator about to deliver a privilege speech on the FOI bill.
She meanwhile expressed hope that the measure be passed into a law in memory of her.