Jamaica May Arizapa
Senate’s Woman of Steel for President
All people are deemed to be potential leaders. But only a few achieve the crucial requirements demanded to effectively lead. The capability to head is either connatural or developed. Everybody discerns that leading a country is considerably one of the toughest accountability. A common inquiry of the majority includes the information of what he or she will accomplish, the advantages to them and the probable outcomes of the leader’s limited term. The head of the country has the power to rule, thus it is his or her responsibility to use it relevantly in a righteous way with valid purposes. In addition to that, a considered instance of his or her job is to guarantee the safety and stable lifestyle of his or her fellow countrymen. No person is perceived to be foolproof; consequently, exquisite abstract characterizations should not be the whole basis in selecting a leader. However, he or she is presumed to minimize carelessness and irrational errors. Sublimely, the president’s duty is to bring in significant development in every aspect for the country.
A good leader is impelled by inspiring vision success for the country. He or she is motivated to execute excellent tasks that will help to cope with his or her country’s limitations. An effective leader doesn’t just browbeat, but also hears the voices of his or her fellow countrymen. He or she develops good communication between him or her and them. Being optimistic is not merely a favorable factor; moreover, it must be combined with being realistic so it would bring forth substantial and remarkable development in the country. An effective leader is both a critical and creative thinker that comes up with significant resolutions to many problems. A true leader works hard because of his or her genuine passion for work. Most importantly, the leader believes in his or her country and constitution.
On the upcoming elections on 2016, the Filipino voters must make a deliberate decision. Basically, the voters’ dominant choice will determine the fate of the country. As thoroughly researched and observed, the one who deserves the position the most to be granted by the Filipino citizens’ voting power on the next election is Miriam Defensor–Santiago because she visibly demonstrates commitment to public service in a way that she cares for youth and woman, fights corruption, is the Senate’s top performer in terms of bills and resolutions filed, courageously justifies her judgements through trials, and well-experienced in the field of politics.
Despite of being known as the Iron Lady of Asia according to the Asia Magazine, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has her soft heart and sympathy to the children and women. Aside from being a senator she is also a woman and a mother, and she understands the needs of children and women. As a mother, she already experienced of losing a child and she considers that children need protection. In line with this, she filed a Senate Bill No. 2446 or the Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act to prioritize and give attention to the security of children affected by natural disasters. Santiago said, “Children are the most vulnerable in times of disaster. They are at higher risk of disease, abuse, and exploitation. . . .” (Miriam Defensor-Santiago, n.d) Another bill concerning children is the Senate Bill No. 2455 Special Protection of Children against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act which she filed on November 2014. It aims to protect children against any abuses and discrimination that they are exposed to. She also protects the rights of women by a co-authoring R.A. No. 9710 or the Magna Carta for Women. It conveys a framework of rights for women based directly on international law. The different features of the law comprises act that focuses on the human rights and defying gender discrimination against women. It seeks to eliminate discrimination through the recognition, protection, fulfillment and promotion of the rights of Filipino women, especially those belonging in the marginalized sectors of the society. (Philippine Commission on Women, n.d) She also supports political participation of young people in the country. Oxfam defined activism as the Youth participation helps to promote the civic and political life of young people. According to Santiago in her inaugural speech for the public forum at the Leong Hall, Ateneo de Manila University, youth participation helps to promote the civic and political life of young people.
In country like Philippines whose corruption is all over, there is still a politician who is honestly serving the country and continuing in fighting corruption. She is Miriam Defensor Santiago who has the urged to dispute corruption. One of the biggest sources of corruption is the manipulation of the proposed budget, and as a devotee of fighting corruption she monitored the proper distribution of country’s budget. The House of Representatives approved on second reading the proposed P2.606 trillion national budget for 2015. According to Santiago this proposed budget is unconstitutional and questionable. In a privilege speech she uttered that the 2015 budget which contains two dangerous minefields leading to corruption, is not what people expect it is what administration candidates expect. She also called it as an ‘election budget’. (Miriam Defensor-Santiago, n.d) When she noticed something wrong on the distribution the national budget she immediately acts to liquidate the starting point of corruption. One evidence of this is when she immediately calls for a resolution calling for an investigation regarding the reports that the Philippine Postal Corp. (Philpost) has accumulatedP5 billion in unsettled cash advances from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Another good thing about Miriam Santiago is that she is not afraid of questioning officers even it is higher than her. In connection with the corruption scandal of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Miriam- Defensor Santiago said that banks should be required to exposed dummies. Santiago has filed Senate Bill No. 2438, mandating banks to practice monitoring of accounts beneficially owned by politically exposed persons. Santiago’s bill provides that at account opening, banks should require customers to complete a written and signed declaration identifying themselves, the legal entity for which the person is opening the account, and any beneficial owners associated with the legal entity. Banks should also be required to undertake measures to prevent money laundering of ill-gotten wealth by corrupt government officials and their dummies. Surrounded by politician who is being blind by money, Miriam Defensor Santiago still holds her integrity of not accepting bribe from anyone. This was proven when she returned the P250,000 cash gift given to her by Juan Ponce Enrile, who was then the Senate president. Santiago also revealed that on top of the P250,000 cash gift from Enrile, almost all of the senators were also given P1.6 million from the savings of the Senate (Sy, 2013).
Miriam Defensor Santiago surprised the crowd and reporters when she announced that she is suffering from Stage 4 lung cancer. Despite of being ill, Miriam- Defensor Santiago managed to be the top-ranking senator in terms of the number of bills and resolutions filed since the start of the 16th Congress. She did not let her sickness stops her from serving the country. Based on the Senate legislative bills and index service, Santiago filed the most number of bills at 437, 436 of which she was the principal author. She also filed 181 resolutions, 179 of which were introduced by her. In November 18, 2014, she filed the Senate Bill No. 2457 Newborn Infant Safe Haven Act. It is an act providing safe haven for abandoned newborn infants. Another one is she filed a bill about Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Disclosure Act. It is all about protection the public health by requiring tobacco manufacturers to disclose information on ingredients and constituents in tobacco products.
Miriam Defensor-Santiago strongly justifies her judgements based on facts and experience through trials. She heard major cases in criminal and civil law and handled special proceedings. In any given week, she might hear criminal cases ranging from bad checks through drug dealing, robbery, rape, and murder, and civil suits involving adoption, probate, or large claims between competing businessmen. The Philippine judicial system follows the European system in eschewing jury trials: the judge determines guilt or innocence and metes out sentences. Those who tried to bribe her, she threatened with citations for contempt of court. To make the point, she sent some immediately to jail, ordering them released, relieved but shaken, shortly thereafter. She admonished her staff against accepting or forwarding to her any gifts from interested parties. In a procedure manual she wrote, now used widely by other judges, she stated: “The first rule of this courtroom is no bribes, no extortion.” To a judge who sent her unsolicited advice about one of her cases, she replied through his messenger that, “if he wants to decide my case, then I should take steps to have the case transferred to him.” Rebuffing influences from all sides, Defensor-Santiago eventually got her message across. After six months people stopped trying to influence her decisions (Santiago, Miriam Defensor, 2012).
Miriam Defensor-Santiago is well-experienced in the field of politics. Besides from being a senator of the Philippines from 1995-2016, she also became the Chair of Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Executive Committee, and Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation, Presiding Judge at the Regional Trial Court (Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, n.d.).
Santiago (2012) described the problem with Philippine elections at the Far Eastern University Central Student Organization lecture series:
Let me summarize the problem with Philippine elections: Of the 50 million voters who will troop to the polls in May next year, the greater majority are not intelligent, they are not educated for voting, and the candidates they choose are not educated for serving. This problem is the result of the fact that our Constitution provides that no literacy requirement shall be imposed on voters. Furthermore, although the Constitution provides that a senator should be literate in that he should be able to read and write, the same Constitution does not require any educational attainment on the part of any candidate.
Filipino voters have the biggest contribution in determining who will be the next president and in order to have an effective president, the citizens should vote wisely. They should not be deceived by the popularity of the candidates. Voters should regard the capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of the campaigners.
Assessing that Miriam Defensor-Santiago has the care for youth and woman, fights corruption, is the Senate’s top performer in terms of bills and resolutions filed, strongly justifies her judgements through trials, and well-experienced in the field of politics, she can be a potential president of the country.
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. n.d . Retrieved November 20, 2014 from Senate of the Philippines: http://www.senate.gov.ph/senators/sen_bio/santiago_cvitae.asp
Senator Miriam Defensor – Santiago. (n.d.). Retrieved November 3, 2016, from the Senate of the Philippines: http://www.senate.gov.ph/senators/sen_bio/santiago_bio.asp
Sy, M. 2013. Retreived November 22, 2014 from The Philippine Star: http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2013/12/22/1270935/miriam-has-most-number-bills-resolutions
Santiago, Miriam Defensor. 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2016 from Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Foundation: http://www.rmaf.org.psh/newrmaf/main/awardees/awardee/biography/177