Inaugural Speech of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III
July 25, 2016

My fellow Senators; Chief Justice Sereno, my professor in the UP College of Law, and other members of the Judiciary; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; My fellow Workers in Government; Distinguished Guests; My fellow Countrymen; Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let me begin by thanking all of you for being here today.

I read your presence here today as indicating your support for the Change that President Rodrigo Duterte has promised would come to the country.

Inevitably, then, as a part of the machinery of government, Change must also come to and from the Senate.

One evidence of that Change coming to this Chamber is the fact that you, my dear colleagues, have made it possible for the lone representative of the PDP Laban to be elected as President of the Chamber.

And why did that happen?

I suggest that it is because you, my dear colleagues in the Senate, are able to think outside of the box and apply new approaches to old set-ups.

And, more substantially, it also means that your Senators are selfless and self-denying, thus making it possible for this son of Mindanao, particularly of the City of Cagayan de Oro and the Province of Misamis Oriental, to act as THE SERVANT of the servants of the people in this bastion of freedom and democracy, the Senate of our Republic.

I am proud to say that the value of “subordination of personal interest to the common good” can be found here in the Senate of the Philippines.

I also find it greatly gratifying that for the first time in the history of our country, a Mindanaonon, Rodrigo Duterte, the extraordinary mayor of Davao City, has assumed office as the newly elected President of the nation.

And that at this very hour, coincidentally, the members of the House of Representatives are installing by overwhelming numbers the Honorable Pantaleon Alvarez, a congressman representing the 1st District of Davao Del Norte, a province in Mindanao, as their Speaker.

It had never been this way before, my dear friends.

In fact, for a long time, the people of Mindanao have felt excluded from the center of political power that defined policies and programs for the progress and development of the nation.

Now, history seems to be making up for all those times of exclusion. And it is now mandating that the two main branches of our tri-partite governmental setup, namely, the executive and the legislative departments, be led by individuals from Mindanao.

Should that circumstance, then, be a source of pride?

Forgive me, my dear friends, if I say, "Yes". Because, at the very least, it reassures our fellow Mindanaonons that we are, after all, truly on par with the rest of the country in matters of public service.

But, more important, the above-mentioned events now give us, Mindanaonons, a singular opportunity to show the nation - and the world at large - that we are up to the challenge, in serving the best interests of our people.

Hence, I pledge before all of you today that I will be fair in carrying out the mandate that you have given me as Senate President. I assure all of our colleagues that fairness will be the guiding principle in our implementation of the Program of Government for Change that the majority of Senators have agreed upon.

As President Rodrigo Duterte put it, “tinud-anay nga kabag-o-han, mao kini ang tumong sa atong gobierno.” The introduction of genuine and meaningful change is the purpose of his administration.

I am therefore putting on record the essential elements of the Program of Government for Change that your majority senators have agreed upon, that will, hopefully, lay the basis for the development and progress of our country and people:

1. We dedicate ourselves to the all-out search for Peace in our land;

2. We will move for the adoption of a Federal System of Government;

3. We support the all-out war against crime, drugs, and corruption;

4. We will reform our taxation system and make it more just and truly progressive;

5. We will strengthen the Rule of Law and make our justice system work;

6. We will reform the budget and declare a war on waste;

7. We call for sustainable and inclusive economic growth;

8. We will protect the environment;

9. We will deliver quality education and quality health care;

10. We will fight abuse and the abusive;

11. We will focus on the needs and the situation of the helpless and impoverished members of Philippine society, especially the sick, the elderly, and the children, because they need the help of government more than the others;

But even as we will do what needs to be done for the good of our people pursuant to our mandate as legislators, we will also support the legislative initiatives that President Rodrigo Duterte envisions as necessary to promote the public welfare.

In short, my dear colleagues, if we follow the mantra “The Poorest First, the Poor Second!”, we will never go wrong.

That said, the fact is that even if the people cannot realistically expect us to solve all the problems besetting our society today - the thing is, that the people who put us in power, wish us to do our best!

We, therefore, have no choice but to do just that: our best.

At this point, allow me to recall a fundamental principle so crucial to the success of our democratic experiment: that good governance is not a function of the governors alone, but of the governed as well.

Thus, even in the passage of laws - which is our primary duty - we should always keep the doors of our legislature and our legislative committees open to suggestions coming from the people for the enactment of certain legislations that will promote the general welfare and enhance the common good.

Salamat kaayo, mga higala ko sa Senado sa inyong pagsalig niining inyong ubos nga igsoon. Especially to Senator Franklin Drilon and his team, as well as Senators Tito Sotto and Loren Legarda and their group, without whose support, this event would not have come to pass. [Thank you too to Senator Cayetano and his camp for adding more substance to the majority.]

As to those who disagree with the current majority in this our beloved Senate, let me offer my hand of friendship and camaraderie, with the assurance that in the running of the affairs of our institution, we shall ever be guided by the democratic principle that even as the majority rules, the rights of the minority will always be respected pursuant to our promulgated rules, clear precedents, and well established practices.

And as I have said earlier, I will be fair to all. 

And to be fair to all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family, especially my parents, Tatay Nene and Nanay Bing, for all the support they have given me. They know my story. They know the hardships that I have gone through, which I will no longer mention, because as I have stated way back in August 2011 when I joined this Chamber, “let bygones be bygones”.

 I would like to specifically thank my Tatay, former Senate President Nene Pimentel, for inspiring me to become a Senator and for inculcating in me the aptitude of focusing on the people, their problems and their needs. 

Tatay, I may not have been able to work with you in the Senate of the 14th Congress. But at least I will join you on the list of our country’s Senate Presidents. 

My dear colleagues and our fellow Change-minded countrymen, it’s time to buckle down and start our work. Together let us build a Philippine society which is just and fair, peaceful and democratic, educated and healthy, and which is, most of all, happy and free, with overflowing love for God and Country.

May God bless the Senate and our country. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.

Maraming salamat po. Daghang salamat sa tanan.