Fil-Ams divided over Santiago’s election as ICC judge
LOS ANGELES—More than a 1,000 Filipinos have signed an online petition asking the International Criminal Court to reject its election of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago as an ICC judge.
The International Criminal Court is a tribunal responsible for prosecuting individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other crimes of aggression.
President Benigno Aquino III nominated Santiago, a former regional trial court judge, to the ICC last year.
She was elected judge of the ICC by the Assembly of State Parties at the judicial elections, which was held on December 12 at the United Nations.
She is the first Filipino and Asian from a developing state to serve as an ICC judge.
Santiago was set to take her oath and start her nine year term at the Hague, Netherlands on March 9 but health problems rendered her unfit to travel.
Unbecoming of an ICC judge
“While, ironically, it should be a source of pride for Filipinos to have one of our own elected to your honorable court, we are embarrassed by the ill-considered nomination of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago,” wrote the author of the petition Rodel Rodis, one of the co-founders of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).
“Far from representing the best of us, she typifies the worst. We fear that her presence in the International Criminal Court will make us the laughing stock of the world,” it further added.
Though well-qualified for the task in hand, many people question the election of Santiago to the ICC because of her demeanor, fiery temperament and flippant outspokenness. Most recently, the protest petition comes at a time when she revealed all those attributes, berating House prosecutors in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
In the petition, Rodis describes Santiago as “emotionally or psychologically unstable, prone to fits of uncontrollable rage, lacking in patience and empathy, ruthless with the feelings of fellow human beings, bereft of civility and uncaring about decorum.”
He added she does not deserve a place in the honorable court. Many of the signees also believe Santiago does not belong in the ICC.
Connie Vergara wrote, “Miriam Defensor-Santiago is indeed very intelligent and capable but her rudeness and unethical behavior in berating people she believes are beneath her, is unbecoming of a judge in such a high court. This prestige and honor should be awarded to someone who shows integrity in words and deeds.”
Joel Nunez wrote, “I am convinced that Miriam, who is an embarrassment to the Philippines with her unique brand of histrionics, will unleash her grandstanding ways when in the ICC. While she is scholarly, she also has this documented penchant for theatrics and the desire to call attention to herself. She power-mad, and is — to put it in the simplest of terms — a bully. Moreover, she is mentally unfit, as any basic psychological test will reveal. No to Miriam in the ICC.”
Rodis started the petition in early March. As of press time Friday, March 16, 1,168 people have signed the petition.
Declaration of support
Meanwhile, a counter-petition, with more than 600 signatures has also surfaced, this time supporting Santiago as ICC judge.
In response to the protest petition, Fil-Am historian and author Maria Elizabeth Embry, wrote a Òdeclaration of support for Dr. Miriam Santiago on her successful election to the 9-year term International Criminal Court (ICC) Judge position.Ó
Quoting Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario in support of Santiago, he said:
“Dr. Santiago is eminently qualified. She has shown competence and commitment in defense of the rule of law. She has demonstrated her intelligence and legal acumen through her decisions that have been cited by the Philippine Supreme Court. She has shown independence and integrity in her actions. She is more than qualified for this position.. indeed, it is a new day for the Philippines, a day of pride for our country and a day of honor, knowing that this is a tremendous responsibility and mandate placed upon our compatriot.”
Ramon Bunag of California signed in to support Santiago’s election to the ICC saying, “I strongly endorse the candidacy of one of our finest former judge and now senator from the Philippines Miriam Defensor Santiago. She possessed high quality of professional credibility and integrity and she is fit to handle the position as ICC judge.”
As of Friday, the petition to support Santiago has received 654 signatures.
The Asian Journal tried to get a statement from Santiago regarding the petitions, but has not heard from her as of this posting. Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
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