Press Release
July 30, 2018

Speech of Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III
During the Senate's Flag Ceremony
July 30, 2018

Thank you very much, Director Bondoc. Mukhang mas-mahaba pa yung introduction kesa yung sasabihin ko.

You know why, when I was in high school, what I hated the most during the flag ceremony was if we have a guest speaker and he speaks lengthily na napaka-haba ng sinasabi. Kaya siniguro ko na yung sinulat namin maikli lang ang ating mensahe. Maikling importante.

Secretary Myra Marie Villarica, Deputy Secretary Edwin Bellen, Deputy Secretary Arnel Bañas, Deputy Secretary Louie Papa, Attorney Tina Cruz, and Director General Ronald Golding, Director General Rudy Quimbo, at lahat po ng mga Senate employees, my fellow workers in government, good morning po sa inyong lahat.

Last week we opened the Third Regular Session of the 17th Congress with renewed commitment and stronger resolve to give the Filipino people the best service possible. On my part, I assure you that I will do my very best to protect and defend the Senate from forces that may be planning to consign this venerable institution to the dustbin of history.

Through the years the Senate has zealously guarded its independence, and has remained a bastion of truth, freedom, and democracy. The Senate may have had its fair share of controversies, but history readily attests that it has contributed immensely to the economic, political, and social health of our nation. And under my watch, and with all your help--all of your help, I intend to continue to do so.

The Senate will continue to open its doors to the Filipino people from all walks of life, we will always extend a warm welcome to the youth, the students, local government officials and ordinary folks, who visit and learn about the role of the Senate in governance and nation-building.

I appeal to all the offices of the secretariat to respond quickly and courteously to the requests or queries from the public. The Filipino people should feel that this is their Senate, that the Senate truly cares for them.

Kayo pong mga empleyado rito, luma man o bago, I am proud of you. I have been here since 1992. Some of you have been with me during that time. I am proud of you, the hardworking men and women of the Senate secretariat, for delivering excellent results in all the tasks assigned to you. Please know that your services and the technical and administrative support that you provide to your Senators are very much appreciated.

Our plate is full in the Third Regular Session of the 17th Congress and I trust that you will deliver the same quality of service and will have the same dedication to your work. And so I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge your good work, and personally thank all of you for your hard work, dedication and support.

Maraming salamat sa inyong suporta at tulong.

Ngayon hindi naman po pwedeng puro salita lang. Upang maipakita naman ng inyong liderato sa Senado ang pagkilala sa inyong dedikasyon at kasipagan sa trabaho, at bilang pag-unawa sa mga situwasyon na dulot ng epekto ng pag-taas ng mga bilihin, I would like to announce that we have considered the request of the S.E.N.A.D.O. union, for an increase in the grocery and transportation expense allowance (GRTE).

Upon consultation and based on the recommendation of our Chairman of the Committee on Accounts, Senator Ping Lacson, upon studying our financial and budgetary situation, we have decided to give an increase in the GRTE in the additional amount of P5,000 effective July 1, 2018. More than anything else I would like to assure everyone na kahit ano po ang mangyari, at sa abot ng aking makakaya, ay hindi po namin pababayaan ang Senado at ang mga empleyado nito. Together we will face the challenges ahead and head-on.

Now, before we end, I have been informed that as part of the Senate's commitment to a drug-free environment and workplace, and pursuant to our revised policy and guidelines, there will be a random mandatory drug testing to be conducted today immediately following the flag-raising ceremony. This will be conducted by the Senate Medical and Dental Service headed by our very capable Dr. Cristeta Cocjin, in coordination with the Human Resource Management Service under Dir. Ulla Tioseco.

For the first time, the Senate will be using a five-panel test to screen for all types of illegal drugs. This makes this five-panel test a more sensitive and comprehensive drug test compared to the usual two-panel test. We must set the example as the Senate.

Ito ay nilalaman ng Civil Service 2017 Circular No. 13, at ito ay nilalaman ng Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 na ang inyong lingkod po ang principal author, kaya to show my support for the mandatory drug testing program of the Senate, I have decided to undergo drug-testing myself today. I will be the first in line, in the 2nd floor Padilla Room, which has been set-up for this purpose. I have asked my BFF, Senator Gringo Honasan, to join us. He will be second in line.

I therefore urge all Senate employees whose names are called, to submit themselves immediately, to the mandatory drug test. Let us clear the way in ensuring that we have a healthy and drug-free workplace and workforce in the Senate.

Mabuhay ang Senado! Maraming Salamat, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

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