Masks Off: Miriam is back


More like: “Watch Out, All Of You Guys”

Days after filing her certificate of candidacy for president, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago has given the public a peek of who she is now, and has always been.

Not the affable lady who cracks pickup lines when speaking in public, or even the supposed “graftbuster”, who loses her temper at the corrupt and the inept, but the blowhard who brooks no opposition.

In a statement on Tuesday, the senator, who has been diagnosed with — and claims to have been recently cured of — Stage 4 lung cancer, refused the request of Dr. Sylvia Claudio for her to release her medical records.

In a piece on Rappler, Dr. Claudio raised (very valid) concerns that she may not be healthy enough to finish her term. This is an especially troubling prospect considering her vice-presidential candidate. “You are essentially asking us to vote Bongbong Marcos into the presidency if we were to choose as you choose,” Claudio said.

Santiago has refused, citing privacy rights, as she is entitled to. But also goes further and questions Claudio’s motives for even bringing up her medical records. She said Claudio “might just be out to ruin her presidential campaign.”

She added, with a translation helpfully provided by Rappler:

“Kaya hindi natin alam sino yung babaeng yun at kung gusto lang niya mag-iskandalo sa kampanya ko. Ano’ng ibig niyang sabihin na hindi ako nagka cancer? Bakit ako nag absent for one and a half years? Wala naman sa record ko yung magbulakbol ako,” Santiago said.

(We do not know who that woman is and if she just wants to make a scandal in my campaign. What does she mean that I didn’t have cancer? Why did I have to be absent for one and a half years. It’s not in my records to be an absentee [lawmaker].)

Santiago goes even further, saying that if she can be questioned on her health, then “all candidates can be asked, aside from your health issues, do you have mental health issues? Do you have financial issues? You might have arrears and things like that.”

And you know what? They can and should be. They are applying for posts in government and should be subject to more scrutiny and to higher standards than others.

It is absolutely Santiago’s burden to show that she is healthy enough to run for — and be– president.

But this, of course, is classic Miriam. Not the Miriam who is the darling of social media, but Miriam the bully who can do no wrong.

The very Miriam who badgered lawyers during the Corona impeachment trial, not to make the case simpler to understand or even for the sake of justice, but to show off and to emphasize how much smarter she is than everyone else.

This is the Miriam who blames a supposed shady cabal of PR practitioners (led by Ronnie Puno, whom she hates as she hates hell) whenever she gets bad press, and sexism when she fares poorly on surveys.

The Miriam who accuses a veteran journalist of bias for calling her out, for example, for seeming like “a bullying blowhard, closed to any other interpretation of facts not her own.

In response, a member of Santiago’s staff writes the Inquirer to say: “It appears that [ Editor-in-Chief John] Nery has taken it upon himself to drag the senator down whenever she is widely supported by the public. We hope Nery can enlighten us on where his animosity is coming from.”

To which, Nery responds: “Does criticism have to be based on personal animosity? Can’t it be, as I trust mine was, based on deep-seated notions of civic-spirited rationality and democratic discourse?”

This is the Miriam, in other words, who is accountable to nobody. The Miriam from whom another so-called intellectual, David Yap — who justified Santiago’s choice of Marcos to those of us who are immature and lack the intellectual capacity to understand the decision — takes a cue by calling those who disagree with him stupid “point-missers”.


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