Only 12 and not 13 vacant Senate seats.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago advised the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to list only 12 vacancies in the 2013 senatorial elections “out of prudence” since she could not predict when she would leave the chamber to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Responding to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes’ suggestion that she resign before October 5, the deadline of the filing of certificates of candidacy, Santiago on Wednesday said she was unable to determine the date of her resignation because she has not yet been called to active duty by the ICC.
Brillantes had explained that the Comelec was in a dilemma whether or not to finalize the traditional 12 vacancies or to make it 13, in case Santiago leaves the Senate to fulfill her job as judge of the ICC.
Santiago was chosen earlier this year as the first Asian judge of the international judicial body. She was supposed to take her oath as a new member of the ICC earlier this year but was unable to fly to The Hague because of hypertension.
No date yet
As it is, the senator has already asked that she be among the last of the six new judges to be called to the ICC, given her commitments in the Senate.
The ICC also cannot give a specific date when Santiago is needed to report for work and replace one of the 18 incumbent judges in The Hague. This is because while each ICC judge has a nine-year term, he or she cannot retire until all cases assigned to that judge has been decided.
“Of course, I will not resign from the Senate, until the ICC calls me to duty. Hence, I respectfully submit that even only out of prudence, the 2013 ballot should list only 12 vacancies for senators,” Santiago wrote Brillantes.
“In order to observe the provision that the ICC should consist of only 18 judges, a newly-elected Judge has to wait until an incumbent Judge has disposed of all his pending trials, even if the tenure extends beyond the retirement date of the incumbent,” she further explained.
Santiago added that ICC President Sang-Hyun Song wrote all six new ICC judges, including her, on February 22 advising them “not to make any irreversible commitments for the time being which could terminate your current professional engagements with a view to future engagement at the Court.”
Santiago said she “took this statement to mean that I should not yet resign as senator. Subsequently, in March 2012, the six new Judges were invited to The Hague for oath-taking. I was unable to go, because I was suffering from hypertension of a potentially dangerous level.”
“In hindsight, it was fortuitous that I did not take my oath as judge, because it could have disqualified me from remaining as Senator,” she added.
Santiago also told Brillantes that should she resign now, before the ICC calls her to duty as he demanded, the Senate “will have no responsibility for my income or professional accommodation” while leaving her in the dark about when she starts her stint as a judge.
“This is why I cannot resign from the Senate, until the ICC indicates that I should do so. I will simply have to wait until the ICC president makes a decision on when I should report,” she said.
Originally posted: 5:34 pm | Wednesday, July 4th, 2012