Apr 172013


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The present crop of political leaders should emulate the integrity, competence and efficiency of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the first woman prime minister of the United Kingdom, who died recently, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago said.

Santiago said the influence of Thatcher, called the Iron Lady of the ’80s, on world politics will remain indelible in political history.

She identified Thatcher, who was buried Wednesday, as one of her role models, together with Cleopatra and Marie Curie.

“She was a nonpareil political genius,” the senator said.

Santiago recounted to the Inquirer how she met Thatcher in Manila in 1994 after Santiago lost the 1992 presidential election to Fidel V. Ramos.

Epitome of forcefulness and conviction

“She was amazing. Lady Thatcher had obviously read up on me. She called me ‘Miriam’ and in effect taught me that in politics I should be thorough, passionate for change, tenacious and fueled by determination,” she said.

“Thatcher was the epitome of forcefulness and conviction. Like a student, I was so happy to listen to her,” the senator recalled.

Santiago said that when Thatcher came to Manila, she had lost weight but was still sharp as ever.

She described her British idol as a person of few words, a “disciplined mass of kinetic energy,” both intellectual and physical.

“I sensed that she did not suffer fools gladly,” Santiago said.

Santiago said that at the time, she brought to the meeting a copy of Thatcher’s bestselling biography, “The Downing Street Years,” and Thatcher obligingly autographed the title page.  In return, Santiago gave her a copy of her own book, “Cutting Edge,” which Thatcher requested her to sign.

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