Press Release
Valedictory speech of Sen. Ralph G. Recto
June 4, 2007

To Be Right than Popular

As the Good Book says : There is a season for every thing and a time for every reason.

A time to sow, and a time to reap. A time to weep, a time to laugh. A time to fight, a time of peace. A time to triumph, a time to lose.

For me, this is the time to accept the will of the people.

I am grateful that 10 million of my fellow citizens expressed belief in my abilities to represent them.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank each one of you for the trust you have reposed in me V including the 22 men and women here who wrote my name on the ballot.

But fate has not smiled kindly on us this time.

The outpouring of votes is impressive, and warmly appreciated, but not enough to constitute a mandate to serve.

It is a verdict I accept without rancor or bitterness.

I will go gently out of this institution, comforted in the thought, that in every waking day that I had served out my mandate, I did it to the best of my ability, and always with the best interest of the country in mind.

And this is what gives me the optimism to hope that after passions of the moment have become distant echoes of the past, history's judgment of my work here will be kind.

If I shall end up as a footnote in history, I shall be blissfully content of being remembered as one who chose principles over popularity and did what was right rather than what was expedient.

That I shall be remembered as one who did not hide in safe harbors but who sailed in open seas, sometimes against the gale of public opinion, out of the belief, like sailors of yore, that one can only make progress if he loses sight of the land.

The duty of a member of this chamber is not to pander to what is popular but to uphold what is right, a senator who came before us said.

That is true, otherwise those who will sit in this chamber will be a hostage to constant reinvention, depending on where the political wind blows, when duty requires adherence to core beliefs.

The Filipino senator I was talking about made that comment long before Kennedy, in writing about the eight senators who took on unpopular causes, defined what a profile in courage is : To defy public opinion of their constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism.

That senator was Claro M. Recto, whose devotion to his principles led him to courses unpopular at that time but which history later upheld as right.

My grandfather practiced supply-side politics, and that involved voicing contrarian opinions, when popularity contests otherwise known as elections require a candidate to take the safest course to a new mandate, and that is to say what everybody is thinking but in the loudest voice.

I shall now pay the price of my intransigence. But I have no regrets.

For the time being my destiny is to serve the people not from this chamber, but in other capacity though not less exalted than what I aspired for.

As I do my duties as Citizen Ralph Recto, I am inspired by the saying that there is an office higher than the Senate, even higher than the office of the President, and that is the office of the patriot.

And as I discharge my duties as one, routine they may be, like paying taxes, obeying traffic laws, picking up trash, helping a fellow man in need, it is these individual acts, multiplied a million times, and not the bombast in Congress, that sustain and nourish our democracy.

Let me also remind you that in our scheme of things, the senator is the employee, and the citizen is the employer, lest you forget about that.

Though I am three summers past 40, I have already logged 15 years in Congress, 9 in the Bigger House and 6 in this one.

I do need this break to catch up on my reading, and to savor simple joys as driving my kid to school, take him out swimming, honing his putting skills, or going with him to the mall.

I have one more deficit to fight V and that is years of accumulated parental deficit to a precocious kid on the throes of adolescence.

I imagine reading him a book at bedtime with the same ease that I lull you to sleep when I quote you the tax code.

To my supporters, thank you for traveling with me in the high but hard road. This is a short detour, a momentary pit stop. We shall resume our journey soon.

To the staff of the Senate, collectively you constitute one of the formidable arguments against unicameralism. Midnight coffee would never taste as good without you.

To my dear colleagues, thank you for the enlightening company. We may debate ferociously on the floor but we do not throw civility out of the window. When the mace is up, we may go for each other's throats, but in the lounge, the majority-minority divide dissolves.

Barbarians will soon appear at the gate to tear this institution down. Believe me, they shall not pass.

To the love of my life who've stood by me through these years, whose grit and grace continue to inspire and amaze me, now I can say : Honey, I'm home.

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