Press Release
July 23, 2006

Cory leads nation in paying tribute to Drilon

Former President Corazon Aquino led a grateful nation in paying tribute to Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon who will relinquish the Senate leadership tomorrow to Senator Manuel Villar in accordance with a term-sharing gentlemen's agreement forged between them two years ago.

"Today, I join the Filipino people in expressing our heartfelt gratitude to Senate President Franklin Drilon, an outstanding public servant," Mrs. Aquino said in a prepared statement.

Drilon is the longest serving Senate President in the post-martial law Congress. He served for five years and seven months as Senate President followed by then Senate President Jovito Salonga (four years and four months) and Senate President Neptali Gonzales (three years and seven months).

"As a Senator, Franklin Drilon steered the passage of landmark laws that would improve the economy and create a better political and social environment for our people. As Senate President, he worked hard to ensure that the upper chamber continues to be a vanguard of democracy. I hope his sterling achievements as a public official will help to inspire more Filipinos to serve our country," Mrs. Aquino said.

Incoming Senate President Villar, who is Nacionalista Party (NP) president, praised Drilon for his successful efforts in keeping the independence of the Senate despite efforts by Malacañang to discredit the chamber by publicly advocating for its abolition.

"The Senate as an institution went through tough times and received more than its fair share of criticisms in the past few years under Senate President Drilon's watch," Villar said. "I admire his boldness and braveness."

In her statement, Mrs. Aquino recalled that she awarded Drilon with the Philippine Legion of Honor, degree of Commander, for his public services as labor, justice and executive secretary under her administration. "I shall remember his many contributions to the promotion of our democracy, especially during the dangerous coup attempts in 1987 and 1989," Mrs. Aquino said.

Other political leaders also joined in paying tribute to Drilon who is scheduled to deliver his valedictory address tomorrow morning, when the Senate opens the Third Regular Session of the 13 th Congress.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, president of the United Opposition, lauded Drilon's leadership of the Senate that opposed the repressive policies and authoritarian tendencies of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and exposed massive corruption in government such as the scandalously overpriced NorthRail project and the multi-million peso Fertilizer Scam.

"Frank Drilon is a true gentleman under whose leadership, the Senate became a pillar in the defense of truth and democracy," Binay said.

Senate Majority Leader Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, who is also national chairman of the Liberal Party, cited Drilon's penchant for relentlessly demanding transparency and accountability among public officials.

"He has served the Filipino people well through his efforts to promote good governance, economic development as well as transparency and accountability in our government. His leadership will be missed," Pangilinan said, noting that Drilon was his "mentor" in the Senate.

Senate President Pro Tempore Juan Flavier invoked a personal touch in his tribute to Drilon. "From a Small Man to a Big Man. Thank you, bossing, for making me look intelligent," Flavier said.

Prominent lawyer Victor Lazatin, managing partner of the ACCRA law office, noted that Drilon was responsible for several landmark legislations that benefited millions of ordinary Filipinos.

Lazatin cited Drilon's pet bills such as the Absentee Voting law, the Dual Citizenship law, the Anti-Money Laundering law and the Anti Human Trafficking law which have empowered and protected over eight million overseas Filipino workers.

On the economic side, Lazatin recalled that Drilon was sponsored or co-sponsored several revenue generation-enhancement measures responsible for bailing the country out of a near-financial crisis a few years ago.

Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Joel Cadiz said Drilon enacted laws that significantly improved the country's administration of justice such as measures increasing the pay of judges, prosecutors and law enforcers. As justice secretary, Cadiz noted, Drilon built numerous Halls of Justice in several cities and towns.

Aside from building decent courtrooms, Drilon also was responsible for constructing over 1,900 school buildings nationwide, courtesy of a graft-free school building program jointly implemented with the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce, said Batangas Rep. Hermilando Mandanas.

LP Secretary General Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta said Drilon "has been the bedrock of democratic struggle in the country" both as a cabinet member and as a Congress leader. "He has always been uncompromising in upholding the values of good governance and integrity in public service."

Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon and Quezon Rep. Erin Taada said they were impressed by Drilon's steadfastness in maintaining the independence of the Senate despite Malacanang's move to undermine it.

"Drilon's tenure as Senate President ensured the preservation of the independence of the democratic institution known as the Senate. His leadership of the chamber manifested the Senate's loyalty to the people and not to personalities," Biazon said.

Cagayan Rep. Manny Mamba, another raising LP stalwart, said Drilon was the "most honest and most decent public servant" he ever met in his political career.

Cavite Rep. Jun Abaya said Drilon's leadership was not defined by personal loyalties or tolerance for bad governance. "He is committed to the highest ideals of public service. Hopefully, what Senate President Drilon has shown would pave the way for a new form of politics which our people long deserved," Abaya said.

Tarlac Rep. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, who is LP national vice chairman extolled Drilon's selflessness in his political decisions. "At a time when our politics is dominated by people motivated purely by self interests, Senate President Drilon, sacrificing all to do what is right. He is an example of what is the best in the Filipino," Noynoy Aquino said.

Former Transportation Undersecretary now private citizen Josie Lichauco said Drilon has displayed a record of public service that was "enviable as it is excellent."

"Senate President Drilon has given us a prime example of government official who has always defended the precepts of democracy," Lichauco said.

News Latest News Feed