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Sen. Santiago tops election for ICC judges

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Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago was overwhelmingly elected as Judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in elections held on December 12 in New York, the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York reported.

Santiago becomes the first ever female judge from a developing state in Asia to join the ICC as Judge.

She topped the first round of elections, making it to the Court with 79 votes out of 104 valid votes, an indication of the strong support from States Parties.

To be elected, candidates had to receive two-thirds majority of the total number of votes cast, with majority of States Parties voting.

She was the first to be elected out of 18 candidates vying for six seats on the Court. For the first round of voting, she bested candidates from every region.

During the four-month campaign and run-up to the elections, Santiago gained the support of States Parties for her pre-eminent expertise in the international law and outstanding experience as trial court judge.

"Dr. Santiago is eminently qualified. She has shown competence and commitment in defense of the rule of law. She has demonstrated her intelligence and legal acumen through her decisions that have been cited by the Philippine Supreme Court. She has shown independence and integrity in her actions. She is more than qualified for this position," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.
"This is the message that we emphasized in the campaign. We are pleased that the international community has listened to us. Indeed, it is a new day for the Philippines, a day of pride for our country and a day of honor, knowing that this is a tremendous responsibility and mandate placed upon our compatriot," he added.

"The Philippines has found its rightful place in the International Criminal Court. As a strong democracy dedicated to the fight against impunity, the Philippines - under President Benigno Aquino III - considers this victory historic, as historic as the day we ratified the Rome Statute," del Rosario stated.

In her remarks during the events organized for her campaign, Santiago was candid with her experience and expertise, and also passionate and articulate in her ideas about what the ICC should be doing.

"I believe that justice delayed is justice denied, so this is one area that the Court should work on," she said.

During the campaign, Santiago was also seen as a symbol of women empowerment.

In her statements, she emphasized too the unique perspective she could give as a female judge, citing that many crimes of impunity were directed at women and that many complainants were women.

In a statement, Philippine Permanent Representative Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan said, "Dr. Santiago's triumph is a victory for the entire Philippines and a demonstration of the international community's complete faith and confidence in her outstanding abilities and of the country's commitment to the global fight against impunity."

"In our campaign, we were tireless in our pursuit, believing strongly that this was a campaign of the entire country. We are happy that all the hard work paid off. We are elated that a Filipina will sit as Judge at the International Criminal Court," he added.

By Faye P. Velasco




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