Miriam gets top civilian award


President Rodrigo Duterte is slated to formally confer the Quezon Service Cross posthumously on Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Monday, 3 December, in a ceremony to be held in Malacañang.

The late lawmaker is the first female recipient of the country’s highest civilian service award.

Duterte himself endorsed Santiago’s name late last year to Congress for its approval of the award.

The Senate gave its approval on 11 December 2017, while the House of Representatives followed suit on 20 February this year.

In his letter to both chambers, the President said Santiago “inspired generations of Filipinos to aspire for excellence and remain steadfast against any challenge and adversity.”

“Throughout her life, Miriam Defensor Santiago used her considerable talents for the service of our people and our nation while exhibiting remarkable passion, courage and integrity,” the letter added.

Only five people have received the award since its inception in 1946 in memory of the late President Manuel Quezon.

The Quezon Service Cross was previously awarded posthumously to former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo (November 2012), former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. (August 2004) and former President Ramon Magsaysay (July 1957).

Receiving the award during their lifetime were former President Emilio Aguinaldo (June 1956) and former United Nations General Assembly President Carlos Romulo (April 1951).

Santiago inspired generations of Filipinos to aspire for excellence and remain steadfast against any challenge and adversity.

Known for her fiery personality, high intelligence and a no-nonsense discharge of her duties in various positions she held in government, Santiago served as a trial court judge, immigration chief, secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform and served for three terms in the Senate.

She was elected judge to the International Criminal Court in 2011 but had to step down from the post after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome in 2014.

Santiago, who succumbed to lung cancer in September 2017, also ran for president thrice but lost to Fidel Ramos in 1992, Joseph Estrada in 1998 and Duterte in 2016.

Other awards the late senator received throughout her illustrious 46-year service in government included the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize, in 1988; the Philippine Judges Association Hall of Fame in 2015; The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service Award for Law in 1986 and Outstanding Young Men Award for Law in 1985.

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