PRAISES and admiration for the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago have added to the grief of her husband, Narciso “Jun” Santiago Jr., who said they should have been accorded when she was still alive.
Santiago, a former undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), in a brief interview on Friday said he was deeply saddened by his wife’s death and also by the praises and love for his wife that came too late.
He and Miriam got married on June 14, 1970 and renewed their vows in 2011.
“The praises and love should have been accorded when she was still alive,” an emotional Santiago told reporters.
He said his wife dedicated her life to serving the country and people but she did not receive praises similar to what she has been receiving now.
“Like President (Rodrigo) Duterte, she devoted her life serving the country and the people. She was not given any (recognition) when she was still alive,” Santiago added.
Tributes to the late senator from her friends, foes and supporters poured minutes after news about her death was confirmed.
The feisty senator, who has been battling stage four lung cancer since 2014, peacefully died in her sleep at 8:52 a.m. on Thursday at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City (Metro Manila).
Aside from serving all three branches of government where she received numerous awards and recognition, she was also the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to be elected a judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
But Senator Santiago was forced to give up the post because of her medical condition.
The Department of Health (DOH) joined the nation in mourning her death.
In a statement, it said the senator was a “prime champion for health and contributed several laws that served as a basis for the foundation in establishing Universal Health Care.”
Among these laws, the statement added, is the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law, which seeks to promote on a national level access to information and the availability of natural and artificial contraception.
This law seeks to empower couples in responsible family planning through education and access to legal and medically safe birth control.
In 2012, Santiago forwarded a version of the Sin Tax Law to the Senate stating that 85 percent shall be used for government health programs while the remaining 15 percent shall be used for safety nets that would ensure tobacco farmers can shift to alternative crops like vegetables that have a bigger market than tobacco.
She also pushed for passage of the following health bills before her term ended: Establishing a Breastfeeding Center in Every Barangay Throughout the Country Bill; Anti-Commercialization of Human Organs, Tissues or Parts of Living Persons Bill; HIV and AIDS Bill; and Pthalate-Free Toy Bill.
On the first night of the wake for the senator, about 500 young people and public personalities mourned Santiago at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Cubao, Quezon City.
Among them was her May 2016 elections running mate, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Quezon City 4th District Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr., House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano.
The late senator was clad in a red dress.