Miriam Defensor-Santiago passes away at 71

Former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.  INQUIRER PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Former Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago passed away Thursday morning after battling lung cancer. She was 71.

“She died this morning in her sleep, she was unconscious when she passed away,” her husband, Narciso “Jun” Santiago, told the Inquirer.


BACKSTORY: Miriam Santiago: ‘I got lung cancer’

He said Santiago passed away at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City, where she had been taken on and off for complications of her ailment. Santiago was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 2014.


READ: Miriam Santiago back in hospital, daughter-in-law says

Senator Grace Poe, who was presiding over the hearing of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, confirmed Santiago’s passing during its hearing on the Freedom of Information Bill.

Poe paused the hearing to offer a prayer for her former colleague.

“I would like to ask we take a moment of silence to pray for the soul of an esteemed, a respected courageous colleague, a woman who had helped us in the past pass the freedom of information bill. May we pray for Senator Santiago, she passed away a few minutes ago,” she said.

Santiago served in all three branches of the government, in a public service career that spanned almost three decades.

After serving as a regional trial court judge, Immigration commissioner and then as Secretary of Agrarian Reform, Santiago ran for president but lost in the 1992 race. She ran and lost again in the 1998 presidential polls.

She served as senator from 1995 to 2001, and then from 2004 to 2016.


She won a seat as a judge at the International Criminal Court, but failed to serve her term due to her illness.

Claiming that she has licked cancer, she threw her hat in the 2016 presidential race, but lost to President Rodrigo Duterte. IDL/rga

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