It's final: Miriam steps down as ICC judge

She was the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to be elected to the International Criminal Court, but her chronic fatigue syndrome forces her to step down

Ayee Macaraig

5:51:38am June 3, 2014

9:38:13am February 25, 2016

NOT LEAVING. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is staying in the Philippines after resigning as ICC judge. File photo

NOT LEAVING. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is staying in the Philippines after resigning as ICC judge. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – Nearly 3 years after she was elected judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said she is stepping down from the post she never assumed.

In a letter to ICC President Sang-Hyun Song, Santiago said she is foregoing the position due to health reasons. 

“Pursuant to my commitment, I hereby confirm that the Court should proceed on the basis that I am stepping down as elected Judge. Since I was elected in December 2011, I have secured neither alleviation nor treatment from the medical profession for my illness, known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,” Santiago wrote on Tuesday, June 3.

“I will support the procedures of the Assembly of State Parties later this year, so that a replacement judge can be duly elected,” she added.

She gave copies of her letter to President Benigno Aquino III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Senate President Franklin Drilon, and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

An international law expert, Santiago is resigning as judge of The Hague-based ICC, the independent body that prosecutes individuals for the most serious international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. 

In 2011, she hailed her election, which the Philippines campaigned hard for. She was the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to be elected ICC judge.

Yet Santiago deferred taking her oath and assuming the post in 2012, then citing her high blood pressure and condition known as “lazy bone marrow.”

She held on to her position as Philippine senator, turning down calls to open an extra seat in the 2013 midterm election.

Last year, Santiago indicated that she might no longer join the ICC because of her chronic fatigue syndrome illness, which has also prevented her from regularly attending Senate session. 

Still, as chairperson of the Senate foreign relations committee, Santiago has weighed in on foreign policy matters, including the Philippines’ territorial row with China, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the Philippine-US military agreement.

Santiago’s decision comes following speculation she might run again for president in 2016, an idea she turned down. Santiago first ran for president in 1992 but lost to Fidel Ramos in an election she claims was rigged. 

Below is Santiago's letter to the ICC: 

– Rappler.com