'A woman way ahead of her time': Lawmakers remember Miriam Defensor-Santiago

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  • Senators, congressmen, and former running mate in the 2016 elections also extended their condolences to Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago battled cancer beginning 2014, and her death on Thursday was a loss for colleagues and other officials.

"We have lost an intellectual giant — a woman of great caliber and certainly a woman who was very assertive," said Senator Richard Gordon.

Gordon remembered her unique personality. 

"She always has a ready witty remark, a joke. Pero when she is very serious, you tend to give her a wide swat para hindi kayo magkabanggaan... Miriam also respected people who stand up to her," he said.


Former Senator Bongbong Marcos, who was her vice-presidential running mate, last talked to Santiago after the polls in May.

He recalled that although she was struggling with her health at the time, Santiago still gave him legal advice.

"Her mind was still sharp as a tack and her humor was always there," Marcos said.

Related: Miriam Santiago rethinking 'soul-devastating' political life

He also remembered Santiago's anecdotes during the campaign. She was disappointed during one sortie because of the limited time to speak during a rally; she was prepared for a longer talk.

"For the next hour, she regaled me with her stories and jokes. The two of us sat there giggling away like school children. It is something I will never forget," Marcos said.

Santiago's health was deteriorating during the campaign. She took long pauses and gathered her bearings before answering questions, but Marcos said she remained sharp.

"Her irrepressible humor and intelligence would always come through," Marcos said.


Former Senator and now Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano recalled how they both pressed for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill.

"I drew strength from her constant vigilance over that law," she said.

They were together in the Senate for two terms, but Cayetano said Santiago was more than a colleague.

"She became a mentor to me. Not just a work mentor, but a life mentor because we became very close. In many, many ways she was a mother figure to me. She was an adviser, a mentor. She had a profound impact to me in my 12 years [in the Senate]," she said.


Malacañang also paid tribute to the late senator with an "uncompromising stand and acid humor."

"Her passing signals the passing of era of politicians with wide-ranging intelligence and courage to express their true convictions," said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella.


Outpouring love for Santiago

Other senators, congressmen, former rivals in the 2016 elections also extended their condolences.