Press Release
September 4, 2013

Privilege Speech of Senator Vicente C. Sotto III on September 4, 2013

There is a saying that goes this way -- "May you live in interesting times." The times we live in, to my mind, fit the expression well. Every young generation thinks the older generation lived in better times. They were admittedly nobler and wiser. Often is it said that the Senate of yesteryears had heroic characters, and their names were synonymous with brilliance and wisdom and courage. Ours is supposed to pale in comparison and we here, are labeled in deprecatory tones, not only from the outside, but also within.

The present focus on possible misuse of public funds that can be earmarked by legislators for certain projects has come under fire. This charge on politicians is not new. It reverberated two thousand years ago in the Senate of Rome, where the great Cicero remarked that the senators took a long time walking home because their pockets were too heavy.

Closer to home, our political leaders were themselves charged with various public funds misuse, from revolutionary times to the present, but these charges did not burn the house down, so to speak. If there are pieces of evidence and testimonies, let us hear them first.

But let not this present crisis stir again talks to instability, of opportunistic forces out to hijack the present discontent with the imprint of their own agendas, leading to besmirched reputations. My present discomfort on this matter may only be assuaged if we lay the responsibility of searching for the truth through the proper forum and not in the court of public opinion.

This brings me to my intention today. I am submitting to you, Mr. President, a letter which I prepared sometime ago, and I believe now is the appropriate time to give it to you. With your indulgence, may I read:

Dear Senate President Drilon,

I write to formally inform you that I will forego the allocation of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) intended for my office in the succeeding years of my tenure as Senator of the Republic. My decision is intended to forestall any further controversy that may arise in the use of the PDAF, particularly that it is a vehicle for corruption and that it is used to fund "ghost" projects.

In the past, the release of our office's allocated PDAF was solely prompted by the pleas of help and assistance from the LGUs and the public. I could not have in good conscience and as a public servant, ignored our countrymen's clamor for such.

As for the remaining allocation for my office this year, I hereby submit that Fifty Million Pesos (Php 50,000,000.00) be allocated for all specialty and some regional hospitals of the government whose list is hereby attached, so that no patient may die for lack of money to get proper medical attention, and Fifty Million Pesos (Php 50,000,000.00) for the University of the Philippines and other state college and universities for tuition fee augmentations of those who cannot afford, so that no student may think of suicide for lack of funds to take an exam.

Very truly yours, Vicente C. Sotto III (Sgd)

Thank You Mr. President. I hope that this letter and my intentions are well received and executed by your Honor.

Thank you very much, Mr. President, esteemed colleagues.

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