Press Release
July 22, 2019

Nomination of Sen. Ralph G. Recto as Senate President Pro Tempore
Sen. Juan Miguel F. Zubiri
Opening of the 18th Congress
22 July 2019

What makes a Senate President Pro Tempore? What made colleagues vote Senator Recto as the Second highest official of the Senate in 2013 and again in 2017? I will venture to answer these questions.

Mr. President, I have the privilege of nominating Senator Ralph Recto as the Senate President Pro Tempore of the 18th Congress. It is a post he was unanimously elected to by peers in the 17th Congress. He served us well. He was a facilitator, a unifier and a leader. He was also a critic and a bull but not a bully, with a calculator, Mr. President.

He personified that space between a rock and a hard place. In 24 years as a Solon, he consistently shone the light, and the numbers, on dark and gray areas of a bill. Or, Blue Ribbon inquiries. Thus, helping us to uncover the truth and make better laws.

He reminds us of Plato who warned: "We can easily forgive a child, who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life, is when men are afraid of the light". Senator Recto has time and again heeded that warning. He hasshone that light.

Give him the goods, so he could do the numbers, and he will help you craft your pet bill into a pro-people, pro-Pamilyang Pilipino law.

I had the opportunity of seeing him in action at the House of Representatives where he espoused Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation, Trade Liberalization, creation of Economic Zones and reforming the Tax Code. And, I'm happy to note that while I was still in the Lower House in 2006, he supported here in the Senate, one of my pet bills, which became the Biofuels Law.

He was a true Recto to the core. In 2001, older colleagues welcomed their Benjamin and baptized him the good Nicomedes. He was given the un-enviable task of chairing the Ways and Means committee. He proved to be a Barako who munched on algebra, calculus and what have you, as the government's dakilangfundraiser. Thereupon, he rightfully earned the title, and, to this day, he is still, the undefeated Boy Numero ng Senado. His grandfather Claro M. Recto said "Nationalism... is not a passing emotion, not a naive longing for the trappings of sovereignty. It is persevering, militant and mature." Senator Recto displays such "perseverance, militancy and maturity" as he crafted laws that increase social goods and services to Filipinos, especially the poor.

Among those are: granting P100,000 to each Filipino Centanarian here and abroad (RA 10868);
free public wi-fi along with the creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (RA 10844);
protecting OFWs by strengthening the OWWA (RA 10801);
more benefits to PWDs (RA 10754);
more benefits to National Athletes and Coaches (RA 10699);
modernizing PAGASA (RA10692);
increasing tax exemption ceilings on 13th month pay and other benefits (RA106530);
Philhealth Coverage for All Senior Citizens (RA 10645);
Philippine National Railways Charter extension (RA 10638);
The K-12 Program (RA10533);
energizing all barangays by strengthening the NEA (RA 10531);
improving Kindergarten Education (RA 10157);
putting a cap on rent increases (RA 9341);
protecting OFWs against illegal recruiters by strengthening the POEA (RA 9422);

He co-authored the following by increasing benefits:
the Unifast Act or free college education (RA 10665);
education for out of school youth, working & returning students in Open Leaning and Distance Education Act (RA 10650);
access to education & job opportunities Ladderized Education Act (RA 10647);
expanding subsidies and services under PhilHealth (RA 10606);
stronger military in the AFP Modernization Program (RA 10349);
benefits to PWDs in the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (RA 9442);
Preventing the Detention of Live or Dead Patients in Hospitals on Grounds of NonPayment of Hospital Bills (RA 9439); and,
Strengthening the Office of the Solicitor General (RA 9417).

There are many more.

We clearly recall how Senator Recto hammered on, to my own initial perturberance, about the major peace-building law, the Bangsamoro Organic Law, the BOL. His questions extended the Sessions and Bicameral Conference Committee Meetings into the late hours. He tinkered on each formula incorporated.

He, very early on, signified support. Then came his tough questions on funding the law. He, in fact saved the day for Bangsamoro, and peace in Mindanao region and the whole country. Sen. Recto's effort and of many others who graced this Hall, the BOL will not be an unfunded law gathering dust. Today, the Bangsamoro is a functional body funded and supported by the Filipino people. Thank you. Ralph.

On his 15th year as Senator, I know he will be as consistent and persistent as he was on Day One. Mr. President. Therefore, I respectfully nominate Senator Ralph Recto to the position of Senate President Pro Tempore.

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