Press Release
March 15, 2016

Speech of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon
Necrological Service for Former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga
March 15, 2016


My esteemed colleagues, former senators, congressmen, the family of the late former Senate President Jovito R. Salonga, friends, ladies and gentlemen:

This morning, with hearts gripped by profound sorrow, we are gathered in this august chamber to pay our last respects to a great statesman whose uncommon valor, brilliance and integrity captivated generations of Filipinos.

In his lifetime, Jovito Reyes Salonga, blazed trails and created new pathways. He always took the high road and pursued excellence in a principled manner.

He topped the bar examinations, as well as three Senate elections, in 1965, 1971 and 1987. Take note that Jovito R. Salonga topped the elections in three different decades: in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's. Only Jovy could have done that. Nobody in the history of this country has ever done what Jovy did to the political field.

As member of this august chamber, he dazzled his political friends and foes alike by his brilliant oratory, while defending the national sovereignty and interest.

He neither bended his principles nor surrendered his dignity even if he was subjected to spirit-breaking conditions, such as when he was arrested, detained and tortured by the Japanese during the Second World War and during his arrest and detention during Martial Law.

Even the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing, which left him seriously injured, did not diminish his fervor and determination to fight for what he believed was right for the country and his people.

He courageously walked through the valley of shadow and death to help restore democracy in our country

Among his many outstanding traits as a leader was his fierce loyalty to our country. When he voted against the RP-US Bases Treaty in 1991, he was a politician guided by principle rather than expediency.

I recall that I was then the Executive Secretary, we held a rally with President Cory Aquino in Luneta. It rained, however, Cory led us to walk through the rain to the office of then Senate President Salonga. And in the presence of many senators, President Cory then pleaded her case for the ratification of the US bases treaty. Ka Jovy held his ground. He showed much respect to President Cory Aquino, but firmly and politely maintained his principle that the Senate and he cannot support the ratification of the RP-US bases treaty. The rest is history. To borrow the words of Heneral Luna, "bayan muna bago ang sarili." That sums up the way Jovy Salonga lived his life. Bayan muna bago ang sarili.

He set the standard for public service by leading a simple life marked by honor, humility and integrity.

At the Senate, he sowed the seeds of good governance. Principal to these is the Anti-Plunder Law that he wrote and authored.

A Pastor's son, Jovy's deep faith in God sustained him during the lowest times of his political life. His noble heart and character showed when he accepted the results of the 1992 Presidential elections with no bitterness or rancor, a trait which is so different to find today. Even if all his life, he prepared himself to lead our nation, he calmly accepted that the Presidency may not be his destiny.

Even after he retired from politics, he continued serving the Filipino people through Kilosbayan, Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, and the Bantay Katarungan.

I am fortunate to have met and shared a deep friendship with Jovy. Fifteen years ago, he recruited and inducted me into the Liberal Party. To belong to the same institution and political party with this giant of a man is indeed a great honor.

As a young senator, I would be frequently summoned by Ka Jovy to breakfast at his house. I remember the orange juice that we would always drink for breakfast at his house. Indeed those were happy times, when, as Ed Angara said, they became question and answer sessions. Indeed I was peppered with a lot of questions from Ka Jovy during those breakfasts that we had.

Senator Jovito Reyes Salonga indeed was a mentor, and I am fortunate to have met him and shared his friendship. Fifteen years ago, Ka Jovy recruited me and inducted me into the Liberal Party. To belong to the same institution and political party with this giant of a man is indeed a great honor.

Senator Jovito Reyes Salonga belonged to a rare breed of mankind: a politician with scruples and a leader with principles. His life and work inspired me and a legion of his admirers to emulate him.

Let it not be forgotten that once in this august chamber, there was a Jovito Salonga, whose wit, brilliance and undying love for the motherland held this country in awe.

To the Filipino youth who are now enjoying the freedom that generations before them paid for with their life and limb, may the life of Jovito Salonga inspire you to protect our hard-won democracy.

Let me quote a passage from the poem, "A Psalm of Life", by the great American poet, Henry Longfellow.

"Lives of great men all remind us

We can make our lives sublime,

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sands of time."

Leaders and politicians come and go, but only few leave deep footprints on the sands of time like Jovito Reyes Salonga.

He will always be remembered as a man of great courage, honor and integrity.

He may have gone ahead of us, but his legacy lives on. We join the Salonga family and the whole nation in mourning his passing, but we are also comforted with the thought that Jovy is now with his beloved wife, resting in the bosom of Our Great Creator.

Farewell, Jovy.

Thank you for the privilege of knowing you and sharing a space in our nation's political life with you. Thank you for giving the best years of your life to the motherland.

You will live forever in our hearts and in the heart of a grateful nation.


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