There comes a time when one starts getting bored with one’s job and starts to think about going for another one just because it looks like the grass is much greener on the other side. But when the time comes to say goodbye to the old job, realization suddenly hits and then one starts having second thoughts about leaving. That is because in most cases, just when we are about to go, that is also the time when some people we have touched show their appreciation for our contribution to the organization. Indeed, life seems more complicated when one is faced with a lot of options. This must be what Senator Miriam Santiago is feeling right now.
After her emotional outbursts on live television during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, Senator Santiago earned quite a number of both critics and admirers. While her admonishing the incompetent and law-breaking prosecutors and their cohorts on a regular basis irked enough onion-skinned members of the public to petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) to reconsider giving her a post in the court as a judge, she also renewed some Filipinos’ hope for the country again.
Senator Santiago had since been mobbed in public by people seeking a chance to be photographed with her and was welcomed with a standing ovation during a recent ballet performance. This is enough indication that there are Filipinos who can look beyond the manner with which she delivers her message across and that there are people who do know that Senator Santiago makes a lot of sense. And for as long as people like her are still around to tell it like it is, public servants who try to get away with mediocrity would think twice about doing it lest they get a tongue lashing and be branded as idiots by the feisty Senator.
Even though Santiago says she is still keen on being a judge in the ICC, nevertheless she says she cannot resign from her Senatorial post just yet. She reiterated recently “that she would not resign from the Senate until she has assumed her post at the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands.” The following are her statements:
“I regret that I am unable to determine the date of my resignation, and that the ICC itself does not know either,” Santiago said in a letter to Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr.
“Of course, I will not resign from the Senate, until the ICC calls me to duty. Hence, I respectfully submit that even only out of prudence, the 2013 ballot should list only 12 vacancies for senators,” she added.
The pressure is on for her to tender her resignation since there are so many people who are fighting for the senatorial post she could vacate prior to the 2013 senatorial election. Most of the candidates are silent about their desire for her to go but Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile made no secret about his wish that Santiago give up her post as soon as possible. It is also no secret that Enrile’s son, JPE Jr or Jack as he is known, is vying for one of the twelve senatorial slots. Here’s what he said:
Maybe she should consider… the national interest over her interest as a senator by relinquishing her slot as a senator since she’s already assured of a membership [in the ICC]
It is quite suspect that JPE is very vocal against Santiago’s decision to stay on until she is called in at the ICC. It seems the elderly Enrile wants to ensure that there is enough vacancy to secure his son’s position in the election.
It is not like it is up to the Senate President to fire any of the Senators especially a popular one like Senator Santiago. It’s not like JPE is the boss of the Senators. In fact, the Senators owe their positions of power to the voters, and they are all answerable to the people. As the Senate president, JPE simply presides over the sessions of the Senate among other administrative tasks of the legislative branch. His flaky performance as the presiding officer of the impeachment court confirmed what some people think — that it seems like JPE’s allegiance is only to himself.
It’s really such a shame that JPE has become very blatant about his desire to keep things in the family and pass on the reigns to his first-born son. It is even shameful that the people are allowing this to happen because I am pretty sure Jack Enrile will win in the Senatorial election anyway. The voters won’t even bother to ask if he actually deserves to be a senator. They’ll just vote the younger Enrile because of his father’s popularity the same way they voted for incumbent President BS Aquino because of his own parents’ popularity.
Most rational people don’t think that Jack Enrile has anything new to offer. Besides, his father has been a public servant since the 1960s and yet hasn’t really made much of a difference to the country. All the public got is one lousy puppet leader after another after JPE mounted a coup d’etat against former President Ferdinand Marcos. Let’s not forget that JPE was among the very first batch of rule breakers who inadvertedly led the society into decay. Some people might consider the 1986 Edsa revolution a successful venture into democracy but, truly, it never really yielded much that would go on to change the conditions of the poor in any significant way. It just changed the people in power. And those in power don’t seem interested in the sorts of genuine reforms that would level the playing field.
Senator Santiago seems to have a valid reason to stay on as a Senator. According to her, until the ICC calls her to duty, the court will not be responsible for her income or professional accommodation. In other words, they will not pay her while she is on stand by. It would be a mistake if she resigns too soon since she doesn’t know when she is going to be called to report for duty. Furthermore, ICC president Sang-hyun Song also advised incoming judges “not to make any irreversible commitments for the time being which could terminate your current professional engagements with a view to future engagement at the Court.”
It could take years before Santiago is called in for duty. According to the ICC charter, “any incumbent judge shall not be allowed to retire until he finishes any trial in which he participated” and “a judge assigned to a Trial or Appeals Chamber continues in office in order to complete the trial or appeal, even after the expiry of his or her term.”
Most rational people would agree that the public will benefit more from Santiago than from some of the senatorial candidates — like Jack Enrile, for example. Filipinos should actually take advantage of her presence while she is still around. Jack’s father would, of course, disagree.
Senator Santiago should forget about the ICC and continue being a public servant of the Philippines instead. It would be a privilege to be a judge at the world stage but at this point, the country needs her. There is no other one like her. No one else can speak his or her mind the way she does. She does not engage in patronage politics the way most Filipino politicians do. Furthermore, the politics in the ICC can also be frustrating. The court is also limited by “a set of founding statutes that make it subservient to national powers”. Here’s an assessment of the court’s performance from the article The New Face of Global Justice:
…as a practical tool of justice, in the 10 years since the Rome Statute established it and in the seven years since it became operational, the ICC has disappointed. There are atrocities aplenty from Syria to Sudan, Colombia to North Korea. But the ICC has managed just one conviction—in March this year, of a lesser Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga, on charges of using child soldiers.
To an extent, the ICC’s attempts to extend international justice to the world were undermined from the start by a set of founding statutes that made it subservient to national powers. The ICC has not police of its own and has to rely on national forces to serve its indictments. The rules under which it operates mean it can only rarely be proactive; mostly it must be asked to intervene, either by the country in question or the U.N. Security Council. Even membership itself is voluntary.
It seems like being a judge of the ICC has its drawbacks after all. Even though it would be an honor for Senator Santiago to act as a judge of the ICC considering she is the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to sit in as one, I doubt if she will have as much fun as she has in the Philippines admonishing our incompetent public servants.