Miriam Declines Chief Justice Nomination

MANILA, Philippines --- Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago on Wednesday declined her nomination to become the next chief justice, saying she preferred to sit as judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Santiago issued the statement after she was nominated for chief justice before the Judicial Bar and Council (JBC) by a private individual.

A former trial court judge and professor of constitutional and international laws, Santiago was nominated by Victor del Rosario, who cited her "intellectual prowess, conscientious scholarship and, most of all, her unassailable character that will inspire the trust, confidence, and respect of the Bar, the Bench and the general public."

Santiago, one of three senators who voted to acquit former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona at his impeachment trial, said she considers the post of ICC judge higher than chief magistrate of the Philippines.

She added an ICC judge gets a higher pay than chief justice.

It would also put the Philippines in bad light if she relinquished the ICC post after campaigning so hard to get elected.

Santiago said she is now waiting for ICC's call for her to assume her post.

Meanwhile, a Malacanang official described both Santiago and Senator Franklin Drilon as "well-qualified" to become chieft justice.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda was reacting to reports that both senators were nominated separately before the JBC for chief justice.

"Both of them are obviously qualified," Lacierda said. "Both showed intellectual brilliance in the Senate -in passage of several bills and in the impeachment trial, both have shown their brilliance."

"Therefore, as any other candidate for the position of Chief Justice, we believe both of them are well qualified," he said.

Lacierda however said it will be up to the two lawmakers to accept or decline their nomination. (with a report from Madel R. Sabater)

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