Speech at the Senate’s Flag-Raising Ceremony

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On my way here this morning, I kept thinking: What if the Senate, let’s say the senators, didn’t have you? No secretariat, no staff, no employee, no rank-and-file, just us 24 senators? You know what, I stopped thinking, because it is simply unthinkable. 

Secretary Myra, Deputy Secretaries Edwin, Arnel, Louie, the other officials, employees, members of my staff who are here, the rank-and-file of the Philippine Senate, magandang umaga po sa ating lahat.

“Lunes na naman.” Sabi nila, lazy day raw. Ito na nga malamang ang himutok ng marami sa atin nang magising kaninang umaga. Mainit na naman ang ulo dahil sa trapik, at bawa’t isa ay siguradong may kanya-kanyang paraan para labanan ang antok at hangover ng nakaraang weekend.

For that reason, I will try to make this brief. As a guest speaker, it is better to leave first before your audience leaves you.

Bilang mga kawani ng gobyerno, particular na ang Senado, iba-iba man tayo nang pinagmumulan at anuman ang dinadala natin sa buhay, iisa ang destinasyon natin tuwing Lunes ng umaga – sa harap ng Senado, para sa sabayang panunumpa sa watawat ng Pilipinas at pag-awit ng ‘Lupang Hinirang.’

You know, flag-raising ceremonies should not be a mere compulsory routine. Every time we place our right hands over our hearts and sing to the hymn of ‘Lupang Hinirang,’ we pledge allegiance to the flag, to our people, to our country.

The Senate of the Philippines is founded by this very principle. We are mandated to build a prosperous, secure, honest, and democratic nation through free debate and oversight of the entire government bureaucracy of the Republic.

Sa loob nga ng isang daan at dalawang taon, nananatiling makulay, matatag, may paninindigan at buhay ang Senado sa kabila ng mga hamon na patuloy na sumusubok dito.

Truly, this democratic institution has outlived our forerunners. It will outlive us. What will remain in between the pages of history is the legacy that we will leave behind.

This present Senate of the 17th Congress has had two Senate leaders to date: Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III; and Sen. Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III. Each one of them has their own distinct leadership qualities. On two occasions I played a role beyond simply casting my vote in electing them into office.

While I have my own verdict, whoever is the better choice is better left for my colleagues in the majority and minority groups, but more so for you, the officers and the rank-and-file, to decide. We can only be sure of one thing: Every term of office, every leadership regime seeks to leave a lasting legacy behind (for) future generations of senators, Senate staff, and employees.

Speaking of our legacy, we now mark the second centenary of the Senate’s continuing service to our people. As a reminder to everyone, a celebratory banner is conspicuously displayed atop our building and it reads, ‘102nd Senate Anniversary: Ang Senado ng Pamilyang Pilipino.’

Kung ating iisipin, hindi ba’t tama lamang na kasabay ng pagsisimula ng bawa’t pamilyang Pilipino ay ang pagkakaroon ng tahanan na maituturing na sariling pag-aari?

Rightly so, we welcome the Senate’s next centenary by building a home of our own. Ang Bagong Senado sa Ikalawang Siglo ay tunay na representasyon ng dignidad ng institusyong ito at magbibigay-halaga sa isang tunay na demokratikong lehislatura.

Bilang bahagi ng pamimili ng disenyo ng Bagong Senado, naglunsad tayo ng botohan para sa People’s Choice kung saan ang bawa’t isa sa inyo ay nakilahok sa proseso ng desisyon. Sa katunayan, ang nanalong disenyo ang siyang nakakuha ng pinakamaraming boto mula sa komunidad ng Senado.

As it turned out, your vote the swing vote, or the most decisive influence, in choosing the winning conceptual design of the New Senate Building.  Kayo ang nasunod. Kayo ang maituturing na namili ng hugis at itsura ng magiging bago at permanente nating tahanan.

There is no saying, however, that building the new home of the Senate is not a collective work. Hence, as we proceed to the Detailed Architectural and Engineering Design and Construction phase, we will once again encourage you to take part in the discussion through a series of consultations we will hold in the first semester of 2019.

We are hopeful, barring any major setback or delay, that the Philippine Senate will open the Third Regular Session of the 18th Congress come July 2021 in its new building in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Marahil ang ilan sa inyo ay dito na nagsimula ang propesyon, dito na rin nabawasan o naubusan at pumuti ang buhok, nagkaroon ng kulubot sa mukha, lumaki ang mga balakang at baywang, at dito na rin magreretiro. Sa loob ng 15 taon na ako’y bahagi ng Mataas na Kapulungan, nauunawaan ko na hindi matatawaran ang hirap ng tungkulin sa Senado. Sa katunayan, kayo ang katuwang naming mga mambabatas sa pagbabalangkas ng mga panukalang batas, pagbabatuhan ng diskusyon at debate na siyang bumubuo ng mga polisiya at kautusang pinatutupad tungo sa ikabubuti ng mamamayang Pilipino.

Of all the years I have been in the office, I can say for sure that the Senate is an institution that gives importance to the welfare of its employees.

As Chairman of the Committee on Accounts, I say with conviction that Senators put forward initiatives that improve not only the morale but also the economic well-being of our employees. These initiatives translate into benefits that you deserve for your hard work, diligence, and persistence. Hopefully, these will better capacitate you and encourage you to work with excellence and vigor.

Nawa’y mapalitan na natin ang sentimyentong ‘Lunes na naman’ ng mas masiglang ‘Lunes na!’

In closing, we take comfort in the thought that a motivated and empowered Senate workforce will meaningfully contribute in building the legacy of this 17th Congress.

Muli, maraming salamat at mabuhay ang Senado!

*****

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