Miriam delays ICC oath due to illness

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago is not yet taking her oath as judge of the International Criminal Court

INTERNATIONAL JUDGE. Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago met with ICC President Sang-hyun Song when she campaigned to be ICC judge last year. Photo from the Official Facebook page of Sen. Santiago.

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago will work for 9 years as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) but she’s not leaving just yet.

The ICC allowed Santiago to defer her oath-taking in The Hague, Netherlands scheduled next week because of medical reasons. She and 5 other newly-elected ICC judges were set to take their oath next Friday, March 9, 2012.

In a statement, Santiago’s office said her high blood pressure and condition known as “lazy bone marrow” forced her to ask permission to skip the event.

“The senator is suffering from hypertension aggravated yesterday by a disturbance at the impeachment court, which raised her blood pressure to 190/90, as compared to normal blood pressure of 120/80.”

The cause of the rise in Santiago’s blood pressure is a near-confrontation with private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre.

BP TRIGGER. Private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre causes Sen. Santiago's blood pressure to shoot up. Photo by Edward Ganal/PRIB/Senate Pool

Aguirre enraged Santiago when he covered his ears while she was talking, and saying he deliberately did this to show that “respect begets respect.”

The Senate cited him in contempt of court, and his penalty will be known next week.

Last judge to be called

Santiago also asked the ICC for another consideration.

“Just to make sure that I shall be physically fit when I transfer residence and office to The Hague, I have already made known to the ICC president my request that of the six new judges, if possible I should be the last one to be called for duty,” she said.

Under the ICC system, new judges will not buckle down to work immediately. After the oath-taking, they are advised not to resign from their present positions yet to wait for an outgoing judge.

“An outgoing judge is required to continue working even past retirement age, until all pending cases where the judge has participated have been finished,” Santiago’s office explained.

Santiago has said that the timeframe allows her to stay as a Philippine senator and finish the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

“In all probability, I shall be able to vote at the impeachment trial by about May.”

In December 2011, Santiago won a 9-year term as ICC judge in elections held at the United Nations in New York.

The ICC tries the most serious international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. – Rappler.com 

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