MANILA, Philippines (June 1 2012) - Malacañang will not block Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s assumption of her International Criminal Court (ICC) judgeship and in fact indicated that the executive supports her despite an online petition seeking the reconsideration or rejection of her election.
“That’s a private initiative. I did see it on the news... and that will be up to them because we nominated Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
“It’s a free country, the senator’s verdict should be respected in the same way that the opinion of the other people should also be respected,” Valte said.
She said the nomination had been borne out of the record of the senator and that the government did push for Santiago and “she’s already there.”
“I think it should end there... She has been accepted, she will be assuming her post –I’m not sure if within the year – but that is something that is already done,” Valte said.
She added there was no truth to reports that the administration would strike back at the senators who did not vote for the conviction of chief justice Renato Corona.
Valte said it would be up to Santiago to decide when to assume her post because she wanted to finish the impeachment proceedings. “That was upon her own request to defer her oath taking and her assumption of duty... Her only reason given was that she wanted to finish the trial,” she said.
The petition addressed to the ICC said: “We have taken the liberty of writing to you on behalf of concerned Filipino organizations and individuals in the Philippines and overseas who subscribe to and actively advocate the goal of competent, honest and progressive governance of our homeland.
“We are respectfully bringing to your attention a serious matter that affects the image and reputation of the Philippines and, potentially, the image and reputation of the International Criminal Court,” it said.
The petition said as an independent court that “tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and as a court committed to the observance of the highest standards of fairness and due process, we respectfully assume that you require those you have elected to your roster of judges to meet the most stringent standards.”
In addition to mastery of international jurisprudence and forensic skills, the petition stated “we assume that you also require a sound mind, emotional and psychological stability, unsullied integrity and incorruptibility, as well as patience, civility and impeccable decorum.”
“We submit that a person who is 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 does not deserve a place in your honorable court,” it said. “We further submit that an individual who has admitted to having publicly lied and who has demonstrated partiality, prejudice, lack of principles and questionable integrity as a public official does not deserve to be a judge, much less a judge of the International Criminal Court,” the petition added.
In this regard, the petitioners said they “regret to inform” the ICC that such an undeserving individual like Santiago had been elected to the ICC, in a lapse of good judgment on the part of the Philippine government.
“We are bringing this matter to your attention for fear that you may construe her uncivilized behavior and her loose ethics as epitomizing the Filipino people. 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 Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. 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,” the petition said.
“While it is entirely your prerogative to determine how to deal with Senator Defensor-Santiago, in light of these revelations, we respectfully submit that the onus will also be on your collective heads should she, as a judge of the International Criminal Court, display the kind of boorish and bizarre behavior that has been her trademark in the Philippine Senate and in other public fora. We, therefore, respectfully submit that a reconsideration of her election to the International Criminal Court is called for and that her nomination be rejected upon reconsideration,” the petition read.