Former Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago dies at age 71

Former Senator Miriam Defensor 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.

Santiago’s former colleague, Sen. Grace Poe, meanwhile, announced her passing during a Senate hearing on the freedom of information bill, which Santiago supported during her tenure. Poe offered a moment of silence and prayer for her former colleague.

Miriam was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer in 2014 but declared she had beaten her illness a year after. She then pursued her presidential bid despite doubts cast on her health. She lost to President Rodrigo Duterte in the May elections earlier this year.

During the last stretch of her tenure as a senator, Miriam filed an indefinite leave from the Senate due to her health. She was hospitalized last May 30 due to lung complications.

The former senator celebrated her 71st birthday last June 15.

Santiago was one of the most endearing figures in Philippine politics, pop culture and academia. For some, she could be among the best presidents the Philippines never had, after having ran for government’s top post three times and lost.

She was first elected senator in 1995. In 1997, then President Fidel Ramos initiated a people’s campaign for an infinite presidential term which Santiago criticized and and went to court. She won and preserved the people’s mandate for term limits.

She was again elected senator in 2004 and in 2010. During these two terms at the Senate, she served as chair mostly of the foreign relations committee and the constitutional amendments committee.