Miriam Defensor-Santiago is probably one of the most familiar names in the upcoming 2016 Presidential Race and surely, you have heard of her. Her prominence is the effect of her having most of the youth’s support, which makes up about 37% of the total voters’ population. As a matter of fact, if not for her top four contenders, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Former Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe and Senator Mar Roxas, Santiago would have topped the recent surveys.

If you’re wondering how she got most of the youths’ support, well maybe it’s because she always tries to cope with the modern times and adapt with the young population’s ever-changing environment, unlike other candidates.

Even before she ran for presidency, she was already famous for her hugot lines which are actually a hit especially to the youth. Everytime she was invited to speak at graduation and commencement exercises, she would always have time to punch in some of her hugot lines and surprisingly, after every line, everyone would burst out laughing. This is simply because there is always truth in everything she says. She just wants to say them in a funny way.

However, she became famous not just because of her satirical hugot lines. She was famous even before that, and it was because she was globally admired for her advocacy to fight corruption in the Philippines. In fact, she was named “Laureate of the Asian Nobel Prize”, better known as the “Ramon Magsaysay Award for Government Service”, when she was 43. She was even included in the list of “The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World” back in 1997; and during her term as a Senator, she made sure that the Senate would ratify the “UN Convention against Corruption”.

Before we know Santiago as the witty Senator, we all regarded her as the lion-like Senator who always wins in debates, no matter who her challenger is. We know her as the bold and brilliant Senator who scares the hell out of everyone – even her co-Senators.

There was a point when she amazed everyone with her intellect and respected her for it. That was during the trial of the controversial Pork Barrel Scam Queen Janet Lim-Napoles, where the Senator emphasized that the latter was guilty of the charges thrown against her, through the questions she asked which Napoles couldn’t answer, thus proving her guilty.

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has always had the guts to fight for what she believes is right, and most of the time, she has the support of the Filipino people. And this is mainly the reason why, like every candidate, she has a fair chance of winning this year’s presidential elections.


Born: Miriam Palma Defensor
Birthdate: June 15, 1945 (age 70)
Birth Place: Iloilo City, Philippines
Political Party: People’s Reform Party
Spouse: Narciso Santiago, Jr.
Religion: Roman Catholicism


  • Doctor of Juridical Science (Barbour Scholar and DeWitt Fellow), University of Michigan. Requirements (except publication), fulfilled in six months, with “A” average (1976)
  • Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Centro Escolar University (1989)
  • Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, Xavier University, Ateneo de Cagayan de Oro (1989)
  • Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, University of San Agustin (1989)
  • Master of Laws (DeWitt Fellow), University of Michigan, with “A” average (1975)
  • Master of Arts in Religious Studies (without thesis), Maryhill School of Theology, Quezon City (1996)
  • Bachelor of Laws, cum laude, University of the Philippines (1969)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, magna cum laude, University of the Philippines. Finished in 3-1/2 instead of 4 years, with an average grade in the last semester of 1.1 (1965)
  • Member, Pi Gamma Mu and Phi Kappa Phi international honor societies (1969)
  • Valedictorian, Iloilo Provincial National High School. Awardee, All-Around Girl Medallion (1961)
  • Valedictorian, La Paz Elementary School (1957)


  • Visiting Law Fellow, St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University (2000)
  • Visiting Fellow, Lauterpacht Research Centre for International Law, Cambridge University (1999)
  • Paris-Geneva Summer Program in International Law, sponsored by American University (1998)
  • Summer Program in Law at Oxford University, sponsored by Florida State University (1997)
  • Summer Program of Instruction for Lawyers, Harvard University (1996)
  • Graduate, California Judicial College, University of California at Berkeley. In the practical courtroom test, American judges gave her the highest grade of 33 out of 35 (1985)
  • Fellow, Seminar on judicial writing and caseflow management in the trial courts, Institute of Judicial Administration, Supreme Court. Topnotcher of examination in judicial writing (1984)
  • Fellow, UN/UNITAR Programme in International Law, The Hague, Holland and Brussels, Belgium (1978)
  • Fellow, External Session of The Hague Academy of International Law, Tokyo, Japan (1978)
  • Fellow, Academy of American and International Law, Southwestern Legal Foundation, Dallas, Texas (1972)


In December 2011, she was elected by States Parties to Rome Statute as judge of the International Criminal Court for nine-year term. First Filipino and first Southeast Asian from a developing state to be thus elected.

But she waived the ICC privilege, after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, stage 4 (last stage). After six weeks on new medication, doctors found her cancer has regressed. She returned to work in the Philippine Senate.

Senator, Republic of the Philippines 1995 - 2016

• Chair, Committee on Foreign Relations
• Chair, Committee on Constitutional Amendments and
Revision of Codes
• Chair, Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System
• Chair, Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the
Overseas Absentee Voting Act
• Chair, Commission on Appointments, Committee on Foreign Affairs
• Chair, Legislative Oversight Committee on the Visiting
Forces Agreement
• Chair, Committee on Economic Affairs
• Chair, Special Oversight Committee on Economic Affairs

Senior Partner, Defensor Santiago Law Firm 1992 – Present
Opinion Columnist, “Gadfly,” Today newspaper 1994
Presidential runner-up
(Ranked close No. 2 in scandalous canvassing), 1992 Philippine presidential elections
President and founder, People’s Reform Party 1991 – Present
Chair and founder, Movement for Responsible Public Service 1990 –
Secretary of Agrarian Reform
• Chair, Presidential Agrarian Reform Council Executive Committee
Commissioner of Immigration and Deportation 
Member, Board of Directors:
1988 – 1989

• Public Estates Authority
• Philippine Retirement Authority
• Ninoy Aquino International Airport Authority
• Land Bank of the Philippines

1988 – 1989
1988 – 1989
1988 – 1989
Opinion Columnist, “Overview,” Philippine Panorama Sunday
1985 – 1988
Professorial Lecturer, College of Law, University of the Philippines (evening class) 1976 – 1988
Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 106, Quezon City  1983 – 1987
Legal Consultant, University of the Philippines Law Center 1981 – 1983
Legal Consultant, Philippine Embassy, Washington, D.C. 1982
Legal Officer, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland 1979 –1980
Special Assistant to the Secretary of Justice 1970 – 1980
Member, Board of Censors for Motion Pictures 1977 – 1979
Opinion Columnist, Philippines Daily Express newspaper 1972 – 1975
Professor of Political Science, Trinity University of Asia 1971 – 1974


  • Magsaysay Award for Government Service, 1988, Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, Magsaysay Awards Foundation
  • TOYM Award for Law, 1985 (The Outstanding Young Men) Opened to Women 1984, Philippine Jaycees
  • TOWNS Award for Law, 1986 (The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service), Philippine Lions
  • Most Outstanding Alumna in Law, University of the Philippines, 1988
  • Gold Vision Triangle Award for government service, 1988, YMCA Philippines
  • Republic Anniversary Award for law enforcement, 1988, Civic Assembly of Women of the Philippines
  • Golden Jubilee Achievement Award for public service, 1990, Girl Scouts of the Philippines
  • Celebrity Mother Award, 1991, Gintong Ina Awards Foundation
  • Spain - Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit (November 30, 2007)

Sources: www.senate.gov.ph, miriam.com.ph