This file photo shows late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Christopher Toledo, File
Palace apologizes to Santiago’s sister but insists late senator’s election as ICC judge ‘void’
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - March 26, 2019 - 2:37pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday apologized to the sister of former Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago but insisted that the election of the late lawmaker as a judge of the International Criminal Court was “void.”

Lin Defensor-Evangelista, one of the younger siblings of the late senator, slammed the statement of presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo that Santiago’s appointment as a judge of the ICC was invalid, citing the oft-repeated claim that the country was never a state party to the Hague-based tribunal.

In a Facebook post, Evangelista called Panelo’s statement “inaccurate, immoral and extremely disrespectful” and called on the president’s mouthpiece to withdraw his remark and apologize.

“I am beyond upset; this is a cowardly attack and an evil attempt to undermine that which is true. I have been a close witness to Miriam’s hard work and dedication,” Evangelista said.

She added: “To say that the Philippine membership in the ICC is not valid and that Miriam was not a valid ICC judge is irresponsible, offensive and full of malice.”


In a press briefing Tuesday, Panelo apologized for hurting the feelings of Santiago’s sister but said “the concern and the hurt are misplaced.”

“I will apologize for hurting her feelings but I think she misunderstood what I said yesterday. What I said is if the theory is that we were never under the jurisdiction of the ICC, it goes without saying, as logic, that any appointment to the international court would be void,” Panelo said.

He added: “Now you ask, why was she appointed? Because the theory then is we were under the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

Malacañang has repeatedly argued that the Philippines has never been a party to the Rome Statute, saying it should have been published in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation like a regular law.

Santiago was elected for a nine-year term as an ICC judge in 2011 but she did not assume her functions at the court. In 2014, she submitted her resignation due to her health.

Santiago’s sister pointed out how the Philippines can withdraw from the Rome Statute that created the ICC if the country was not a member of the international tribunal in the first place?

The Philippines was a state party to the court’s Rome Statute from Nov. 1, 2011 to March 16, 2019.

The Philippines’ pullout from the ICC took effect last March 17. It became the second nation to quit the tribunal meant to prosecute the world’s most serious international crimes after Burundi in 2017.

Manila moved to quit after the court’s chief prosecutor launched a preliminary examination in 2018 into President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged crimes against humanity in the conduct of his war on drugs.

Another Filipino, former University of the Philippines College of Law dean Raul Pangalangan, currently sits as a judge of the ICC. Sworn in as ICC judge in July 2015, Pangalangan’s term will end on March 10, 2021.

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