PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte joined the nation yesterday in mourning Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who is dubbed the “graftbuster.”
Santiago, who ran against President Duterte last May, died in her sleep in the hospital after a long bout with lung cancer. She was 71.
Duterte who is in Vietnam for a two-day official visit, praised the feisty senator for her “sterling career in public office.”
“She is best remembered as a graftbuster and constitutionalist ‘eating death threats for breakfast’,” Duterte said.
“She has always been an advocate of the rule of law,”according to Duterte.
“Rest in peace, Madam Senator. May your legacy continue to guide this nation for many years to come,” the President said.
“Her passing also signals the passing of an era of politicians with wide ranging intelligence and the courage to express their true convictions,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement to Palace reporters..
“She was a shining light in Philippine political annals for her sharp legal mind, uncompromising stand and acid humor,” Abella said.
Abella also acknowledged Santiago's “profound influence” on the youth.
“ Walang sinumang senadora o senador ang pwedeng pumantay sa isang Miriam kung ang pagganap sa Senado ang pag-uusapan... ang naiwan niyang tatak ay hindi puwedeng gampangan ng sinuman kahit sa pelikula. Maaaring noon pa bago pa siya mawala ay huminto na ang Lumikha sa paggawa ng isang tulad ni Miriam!”according to People’s National Artist film director Carlo J. Caparas.
“We will miss a stateswoman with brilliant mind and people’s anchor of rule of law,” said Chief Public Attorney Dr. Persida V. Rueda Acosta.
Santiago, 71, succumbed to cancer on Thursday morning, her husband Atty. Jun Santiago said.
“She died peacefully in her sleep this morning,” Santiago said.
The former lawmaker passed away while confined at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Bonifacio Global City.
Her official Twitter account posted a message midmorning that former Sen. Santiago died at 8:52 a.m.
It was in 2014 when the former lawmaker said that she had stage 4 lung cancer.
Santiago ran but lost in the May 2016 presidential elections, along with her running mate former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Santiago had been dubbed as the “Iron Lady of Asia” for her no-nonsense drive against graft and corruption when she served all the three branches of government -- judicial, executive, and legislative.
“In a nation where many public officials are charged with, or suspected, of plunder, her honesty shines like a light in the darkness,” her Senate biography read.