Press Release
September 18, 2019

Vicente C. Sotto III
Senate President

Time and circumstance had determined early on that the late Senator Rene Espina and I would not be contemporaries. He was a member of the Senate of the 7th Congress whose term was cut short following the declaration of martial law in 1972. At that time, the Senate President was Gil Puyat, Jose Roy was Senate President Pro Tempore, Arturo Tolentino was the Majority Floor Leader, Gerardo Roxas was Minority Floor Leader, and the other senators who worked with him included Allmendras,, Antonino, Aquino, Jr., Aytona, Benitez, Diokno, Ilarde, Kalaw, Lagumbay, Laurel, Maceda, Magsaysay, Mitra, Jr., John Osmeña, Sergio Osmeña, Jr., Padilla, Pelaez, Perez, Salonga, Sumulong, Tamano, Tañada and Teves. They were all pillars of the politics of the 1970s. After close to 50 years, we fast-forward to this generation of senators who look back to those historical times in the life of this august chamber and the nation.

At the time Senator Espina was a senator, I was in another planet, in the world of sports, music and entertainment. The most psychic fortune teller then could not have predicted that I would be Senate President when the remains of the late great Senator Espina's mortal remains would be honored in necrological services as we do today in the Senate.

But there was something about Senator Rene Espina that would resonate with my origins and advocacies. That he was a Cebuano immediately located him as my kabayan, for my lolo Senator Vicente Yap Sotto also hailed from Cebu. That he was the author and sponsor of the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972 again placed him as a co-warrior in the fight against illegal drugs, the same law that I used to initiate an anti-illegal drugs campaign during my stint as Vice Mayor of Quezon City from 1987-1992. And to attune that law to present realities, I authored the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. And on a personal note, may I acknowledge that I had the privilege of campaigning with his son Eric in many political sorties and he impressed me with his campaign skills and strategies which he undoubtedly took after his father.

It has been said that the best speech delivered in services such as we have today do not emanate from the speakers, but from the deed of the person being honored. And that speech says that we must make the most out of our lives, for we know not when the curtain falls on our time here on earth. It is a speech that reminds us to preserve our souls for the transition from physical existence to the spiritual. And the late Senator Rene Espina had demonstrated to us that a life in public service is a life well-lived, from his stint at the Social Security System, to leading the Province of Cebu as its the governor, to becoming the Secretary of Public Works, Transportation and Communications, and then being elected as Senator.

On behalf of the Philippine Senate, I salute the Hon. Rene Espina for living that humble and simple life of a public servant away from the fanfare of self-praise and the selling of dreams, but simply finding comfort in the thought that here was a man who had lived so that his countrymen may enjoy the benefits of his labor.

Paalam, Rene Espina.

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