Press Release
July 23, 2018


It has been a practice of former Senate Presidents to mention the achievements of the past regular session as a preliminary statement in the opening of the new regular session; however, today, I will breakaway from that tradition as I will just submit to you the Senate's accomplishment - with special thanks to the leadership of Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III.

Today, we commence the third regular session of the 17th Congress on the part of one of its two component Houses, the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. Like all beginnings, it is a fine time for looking back, a time to presently locate ourselves, and a moment to reflect on the path towards our dream for peace, prosperity and happiness for all.

Those who do not look back to their history, as one threatened, are condemned to repeat it. We had senators elected by districts before, then we changed the system to nationally-elected senators to prevent regionalism, and now some think regional-states may be right after all.

We've had single house legislatures before -- the National Assembly in the early decades of the 20th century, then bicameral with President Quezon as first Senate President; then single house again when we had the Batasang Pambansa under the 1972 Constitution, back to bicameral in the 1987 Constitution, and now we debate again which is best.

We had a four-year term of office before, with one re-election for President, then we said it made the President political in the first term, so we decided to have a single six-year term, and now there are those who think it might have been right to have a four-year term with one re-election after all.

We therefore recall the saying that goes: "Of forms of government let fools contest, that which is best administered is best."

The road towards progress serves as our way forward, but that same road doubles as a limitation of our moves, too. We must abide by the rules of driving - such as staying on the right and inside your lane, passing on the left and driving at appropriate speed. The careless and reckless driver is bound to land us in a roadside canal or muddy rice field.

1 In lawmaking, that road where we travel as a nation is limited by our 1987 Constitution, our laws, Supreme Court decisions, and our sense of reasonableness, equality, fairness and justice. Tradition is also a useful guidepost to temper our desire for novel adventures and experimentation. To do otherwise is to court disaster. Ang lumalakad ng matulin, kung matinik ay malalim.

We, in the Senate, comprise one of two essential component Houses of the Legislative Department, as set forth in Article VI, Section 1, of the 1987 Constitution which states: "The legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines which SHALL CONSIST OF A SENATE AND A HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES...". The use of the word "SHALL" as any student of law learns early in his studies, means that it is compulsory.

Our Constitution further states that the Senate shall be composed of twenty-four (24) senators; while the House of Representatives shall be composed of not more than two hundred and fifty (250) members.

The Senate is essential in any and all matters pertaining to legislation and whenever Congress is mandated to exercise some functions. It is obvious that 250 beats 24 anytime. But to claim that the procedure in the Legislative Department is a purely numbers game is to miss the point bigtime. There would be no need for any Senate counterpart bills, no need for bicameral conference committees, no need for joint resolutions, and no joint assemblies if that lame argument is carried to its absurd conclusion.

Sa pagpapalit ng pangalan ng escuela o paaralan sa isang liblib na sulok ng Pilipinas kailangan ang Senado.

Sa pagtatakda ng umpisa at katapusan ng Christmas break ng Kongreso, kailangan ang Senado.

Sa pagpapalit ng pangalan ng mga kalsada, kailangan ang Senado.

Sa pagtatalaga ng isang espesyal na araw sa isang maliit na bayan ng bansa, kailangan ang Senado.

Sa maliliit na bagay kailangan kami.

Pero sa pag iiba ng Konstitusyon ng Pilipinas hindi kailangan ang Senado? 2 If our consent is needed in small things, more so in bigger things!

It is not my intention to preside over an unnecessary body of the Legislative Department of the Philippine Republic. It would be a dishonor to the memory of this august body whose name brings us back to the glory days of Rome up to the great Manuel Luis Quezon whose tenure as Commonwealth President intersected at some point with my grandfather Senator Vicente Y. Sotto. To say, or even insinuate, that we are unnecessary and irrelevant, is unacceptable. I do not wish to preside during my watch over the necrological services of the Philippine Senate.

Especially so today, when we are confronted with a number of momentous choices affecting our nation: Do we shift from presidential to parliamentary form of government? Do we retain a unitary Republic or try the federal system?

Do we transform our Regions to states themselves?

Pray tell, bakit?

The Senate is the forum, the ring, within which these ideas will struggle for supremacy. It is the stage where these ideas are proposed and debated. And finally, it is the rostrum from which far-reaching decisions are promulgated. In this 3rd regular session, we look forward in passing more relevant measures that will be beneficial to the Filipino people. The Senate has a distinct role and DNA to preserve in the life of our nation, an integrity to defend, and an honor to die for. The memories of the giants who sat in this august hall will forever hound us if we drop the ball at this crucial hour.

This afternoon we shall hear the President address the nation through us. We shall listen with our hearts and minds. And afterwards, we shall do what is best for our country, in our mandated role as the Senate of the People of the Philippines.

May the God of our fathers, the Allah of our Brother Muslims, and our own Bathala and Maykapal guide us always.

Thank you. Shukran. Salamat po ng marami.


1) Republic Act No. 10923 - Barangay/Election Postponement
2) Republic Act No. 10927 - Designating Casinos as Covered Persons under AMLA
3) Republic Act No. 10928 - Philippine Passport Act
4) Republic Act No. 10929 - Free Internet Access in Public Places Act
5) Republic Act No. 10930 - Extending the Validity Period of Driver's Licenses to 5 years
6) Republic Act No. 10931 - Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act
7) Republic Act No. 10932 - Anti-Hospital Deposit Law
8) Republic Act No. 10951 Amending the Revised Penal Code (Adjusting the amount involved on which a penalty is based)
9) Republic Act No. 10952 - Postponing the October 2017 Barangay/SK Election to the 2nd Monday of May 2018
10) Republic Act No. 10962 - The Gift Check Act
11) Republic Act No. 10963 - Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN)
12) Republic Act No. 10968 - Philippine Qualification Framework (PQF) Act
13) Republic Act No. 10969 - Free Irrigation Service to Small Farmers Act
14) Republic Act No. 10970 - National Tech-Voc Day
15) Republic Act No. 10973 - Amending PNO Reorganization Act
16) Republic Act No. 11037 - Free School Feeding Act/PAgkaing Pinor Para sa Batang Pinoy Act
17) Republic Act No. 11032 - Expanded Anti-Red Tape Act of 2017
18) Republic Act No. 11036 - Mental Health Act
19) Republic Act No. 11035 - Balik Scientist Act
20) Republic Act No. 11033 - Davao Oriental State University
21) Republic Act No. 11053 - Anti-Hazing Act of 2018
22) Republic Act No. 11038 - Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act
23) Republic Act No. 11039 - Electric Cooperative Emergency Resiliency Fund Act 24) Republic Act No. 11040 - Lapu-Lapu Day


1) SBN 1103 - PUP-Sablayan Campus Act
2) SBN 1317 - Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act
3) SBN 1459 - Personal Property Security Act
4) SBN 1738 - Philippine Identification System Act of 2018
5) SBN 1762 - Retirement Law (Office of the Ombudsman)


1) SBN 1233 - Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund (Coco Levy Fund)
2) SBN 1255 - Shield Law/Sotto Law (Expanding the Coverage of Exemption from Revealing the Source of Information Obtained in Confidence)
3) SBN 1537 - The Healthy Nanay and Bulilit Act
4) SBN 1620 - Road Board Regulatory Agency of Motor Vehicle Use's Charge, Abolition
5) SBN 1717 - Bangsamoro Basic Law
6) SBN 1623 - Recoverable System Loss Act

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