Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III
Valedictory Speech
June 4, 2019
3rd Regular Session, 17th Congress

My esteemed colleagues, the Senate of the 17th Congress is a tale of two Senate Presidents. I was preceded by the young bar top-notcher and politically-pedigreed Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III whose term commenced in July 2016. It was historic and the first time that a father-and-son team served as Senate Presidents. I even served for his father. He was as good as his father, I can assure you that, together with eight other senate presidents that I have served. On my part, my tenure as Senate President began on May 21, 2018 up to the present.

With the sine die session of the Senate today, we pull down the curtain on the 17th Congress of the Philippines. The place of this Senate in our legislative history may be difficult to determine without the requisite passage of time demanded by historians. Like a photographer too close to his subject, we cannot situate our Senate in relation to its predecessors. Be that as it may, nothing prevents us from attempting to make an initial assessment of the Senate of the 17th Congress.

Our Secretariat lists our output in these statistics: Number of bills filed: 2,235

Number of resolutions filed: 1,048. Number of bills signed into law, as mentioned by the majority floor leader: 592

Among the notable landmark laws that our Senate tenure are proud to lay claim to are the following:

The Bangsamoro Organic Law, The National Identification System, The Universal Health Care Law, Mental Health Law, Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act, The Mandatory PhilHealth Coverage for PWDs, Corporation Code of the Philippines, Telecommuting Law, Magna Carta of the Poor, The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Programs (4Ps) Act to name a few.

These are some of the proofs that we delivered on our promise when this representation accepted this post to continue in helping the passage of laws that will be beneficial to our country and to every Filipino.

But more than the numbers of our performance, let us try to answer some questions regarding the roles we played in the life of this nation these past three years:

Firstly, did we preserve the doctrine of separation of the great powers of government -- Executive, Legislative and Judiciary?

I believe we did.

Late last year, inspite of a perceived preference of the Prosecutorial Service and the Courts to serve a warrant of arrest on one of our members, we took the view that the same may not be served while the subject of said warrant was in our castle. We did not prejudge the case in favor of our colleague. We only meant to consider our premises as inviolable while in the discharge of its functions. The late revered Senate President Gonzales once said “Let us be conscious of the fact that the fundamental principle of our constitution is the theory of separated powers wherein the three great branches of government are arranged in such a manner as that each may be a check to the other.”

Secondly, did we insist on the due process of law especially when it came to legislative enactments?

I believe we did.

Just recently, there was a budget impasse wherein we contended that no amendments may be made after the bicameral conference committee had terminated its proceedings and the report ratified and adopted in each House of Congress. In those two months of stalemate, we insisted on our position, both the majority and the minority, and made known our stand when the budget was submitted to the Office of the President. Though we eventually signed, we made known our observations, and it was even an advice coming from the minority leader himself, Senator Drillon, which was agreed upon by the readers of the House, with Senator Recto, Senator Zubiri, Senator Lacson, and Senator Legarda. The Executive Department sustained our position.

Now, were we vigilant in the scrutiny of the performance of public duties, ferreting out acts of corruption in the bureaucracy?

 I believe we were.

In the numerous hearings conducted by the Committees concerned, Blue ribbon and all, we were steadfast in the search and exposure of anomalies attendant to the performance of public functions. Most notable among these were the hearings on:

1. Shabu slipping past the Bureau of Customs.

2. Alleged Election fraud involving Smartmatic.

3. Irregularities involving the Department of Health’s barangay health stations (BHS) projects.

4. The recent water crisis in Metro Manila and nearby areas.

Again to name a few. How then did the public rate us?

Modesty aside, the various survey organizations with integrity and credibility gave us more than passing grades. The most recent one was for the first quarter of 2019; the Social Weather Stations survey found a 72% satisfaction and trust rating relative to the performance of the Senate. This has been the highest rating ever according to SWS and even the Pulse Asia Survey says so on the Senate.

These figures could not have been garnered without the dedication and focus of each of the Senators of the 17th Congress. So my gratitude goes to all of you, my colleagues- the hard working, efficient, wonderful, cerebral prowess of the men and women of the 17th congress.

You were mentioned one by one, allow me to how… allow me to mention you again based on my perspective. I thank all of you. I thank you one by one.

Thank you RALPH RECTO, for your diplomacy, level- headedness, incisive amendments, and for being the Senate’s resident economist.

Thank you MIGZ ZUBIRI. Your enduring diligence for having perfect attendance for 15 years as a legislator and very difficult to do and neutral and efficient facilitation of the sessions.

Thank you FRANK DRILON. My compadre. Masterful, accomplished, seasoned, judicious, and objective.

Thank you Brother SONNY ANGARA. Contemporary, opportunity giver thru education; and a reformist.

Thank you BAM AQUINO for being a prime-mover of micro financing and a hard worker.

Thank you NANCY BINAY for being the voice of Filipino mothers and for your modesty and humility.

Thank you LEILA DE LIMA for your Embodiment of professionalism, nakakulong na nagtratrabaho pa.

Thank you JV EJERCITO. Prolific and tenacious young solon, we will see you back.

Thank you CHIZ ESCUDERO. The Eloquent legislator who will perhaps turn out to be the source of empowerment of his constituents in Sorsogon.

Thank you my party mate SHERWIN GATCHALIAN. Innovative and meticulous.

Thank you DICK GORDON. Passionate, visionary and fervent.

Thank you RISA HONTIVEROS for being the committed activist and reformist.

Thank you my comadre and party mate LOREN LEGARDA. A stalwart woman, truthful and straightforward, and committed environmentalist.

Thank you to our champ MANNY PACQUIAO. The epitome of a fighter in life as a whole, patriotic and a true soldier of Christ.

Thank you FRANCIS PANGILINAN. The champion of modern agriculture.

Thank you KOKO PIMENTEL. Lawyer par excellence, dedicated and prudent and was a good Senate President.

Thank you GRACE POE. Insightful, conscientious and a woman of conviction.

Thank you Sen. SONNY TRILLANES for being candid and forthright.

Thank you Pastor JOEL VILLANUEVA for being dynamic and zealous.

Thank you Ms. CYNTHIA VILLAR. Senator Cynthia for your tireless commitment and hard work, and being the philanthropist that you are.

And finally, to my two favorite buddies, my kuyas, they’re both older than me.

Thank you Sen. PING LACSON. Iron-willed free-thinker, for being resolute and steadfast.

And to my dishonorably discharged best friend GREG HONASAN. The humanitarian soldier, compassionate, amiable and highly dependable, you can be sure of that. Thank you.

Salamat po ng marami sa inyo. The senate secretariat for your diligence for all the employees of the Senate.

 And so, with this in mind, we have sought to provide the legal framework for an independent and progressive Philippines in the span of three years. We wish the coming Senate to carry on the task we are passing on to them. Let us remain cooperative but independent, balanced, transparent and sincere. And may the divine providence continue to guide the Senate and this nation as a whole and in each of our personal capacities to take its place in the proud member of the family of nations dedicated to peace, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.

Maraming salamat po.