|Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago|
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Tuesday was elected judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the independent body that prosecutes individuals for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, the senator’s media officer Tom Tolibas confirmed that Santiago won in the first round of voting with 79 votes.
She garnered more votes than Trinidad and Tobago’s Anthony Carmona who got 72 votes, according to the Twitter account of the American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court.
“It’s a big deal since she got enough votes in the first round of voting,meaning she doesn't need to go through the second round,” Tolibas said.
In August, the Senate approved a resolution concurring with the ratification of the Rome Statute, which provides for the establishment of the ICC, which is based in The Hague, The Netherlands.
Santiago said 117 other state parties are signatories to the treaty.
Under the treaty, the ICC can step in only when countries are unwilling or unable to dispense justice when it comes to the “most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression," according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Santiago said there are 18 judges on the ICC, six of whom are scheduled to be replaced this year.
Won't resign yet
A radio dzBB report said the ICC's gain may be the Senate's loss as Santiago had said in October that she has to resign from the Senate and move to Europe.
“I’ll have to resign [as senator]. Isn’t that good news for my enemies? I would have to live in The Hague. I will look like a European and speak like a European and I will be as snooty as a European when I come back," she said.
Santiago’s term as a senator ends in 2016.
But in an interview with radio dzBB on Tuesday, Santiago said she may still stay for at least one more year before she is called to The Hague to assume her post.
"Wala namang conflict of interest. As long as I'm not called by the ICC in The Hague, I shall remain in my present job," she said.
Santiago, who won a nine-year term as judge in the ICC, said her oath-taking won't take place until March 2012.
Asked if this means that she can still take part in the impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato Corona as a senator-judge, she said, "that's right."
"May masamang balita ako sa aking kalaban. Hindi ako agad aalis ng Pilipinas. Sa March pa ang oath-taking. Kahit oath-taking hindi pa kami maka-report sa korte sa Netherlands," she said.
"Maaring isang taon pa ako rito," she added.
Santiago said that once she leaves the Senate, her Senate post will remain vacant until the next polls.
‘Qualified’ to become ICC judge
Earlier, an independent civil society panel found Santiago “qualified” to be an ICC judge.
A former trial court judge and an expert in international law, Santiago was among 19 candidates seeking six vacant seats on the ICC, the DFA earlier said.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) that listed Santiago as one of several candidates qualified for the job, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The CICC established the Independent Panel on International Criminal Court Judicial Elections in December 2010, to urge state parties to nominate the most qualified candidates for ICC judge.
CICC includes 2,500 civil society organizations in 150 countries working in partnership to strengthen international cooperation with the ICC.
Based on geographic representation, one of the six is reserved for Asia.
The DFA said “one other country from Asia is competing for that seat," but was not among those that the independent panel found as qualified.
In 2008, Santiago lost her bid for a seat at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). She was the only female candidate.
But Santiago had already said that she had better chances at the ICC because there was only one level of voting unlike in the ICJ.
Voting in the ICJ is first conducted on the General Assembly level and then on the Security Council level.