Press Release
October 21, 2013

Speech of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon during the awarding ceremonies of the 2012 Senate Secretariat Exemplary Employee Awards (SSEEA) Monday, October 21, 2013

Mabuhay ang Senado! Batiin muna natin ang ating pinagpipitagang kalihim ng Senado, si Secretary Oscar G. Yabes, and the other officials of the Senate.

Mga kasama ko sa Senado, isang magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Una sa lahat, binabati ko kayong lahat ng isang masigabo at masayang ika-siyam-na-pu't-pitong anibersaryo ng ating minamahal na institusyon. Palakpakan po natin ang ating mga sarili.

Let me also congratulate our outstanding employees, led by Homer A. Martin, Jr., who are exemplars of good public service.

Also for the first time this morning, I heard the Senate Hymn, and I am indeed impressed and touched by the lyrics of the song. I have directed Secretary Yabes that this afternoon they should sing the Senate Hymn before the start of our session.

Today, as we mark our 97th Anniversary, let us reflect on what each of us can do to strengthen our beloved institution which, as I speak, is wounded, and limping, from the relentless public beating because of the alleged Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

My dear fellow workers, in the face of all these controversies and challenges, let us all be united in order to preserve the Senate as a bastion of our democratic life. This morning, I am happy to see your sanguine faces even if the past weeks have not been easy for us, for our beloved institution, and for our country. Apart from the controversies which our institution is facing today, our country, likewise, is faced with many difficult challenges. We have the Zamboanga incident, where some misguided countrymen of ours tried to remove part of our sovereignty; the typhoons that battered the whole country; and last week, the earthquakes that affected Cebu and Bohol that brought so much pain and suffering to our people.

It indeed saddens me to know that lives have been broken, communities have been displaced, and monuments of our rich cultural heritage have been destroyed. With the extent of the destruction, recovery may not be easy, and may even take years.

However, with the Filipino's resilience and indomitable spirit, I am very sure that the affected communities will be able to rise again sooner than expected. Our nation will emerge from these trials much stronger and united. We only have to keep faith and believe in ourselves. In the meantime, your Senate will do what it can in order to help alleviate the suffering of our people.

Wednesday last week, the Senators authorized the donation of P6 million to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to assist in the relief operations. This amount was taken partly from the savings that the Senate generated because of your unselfish act of saving the budget by doing away with the Christmas Party in December---I must congratulate all of you for that unselfish act---and also savings from our decision to not to spend the allocation for our 97th Anniversary celebration. This is the least we can do for our kababayans who are victims of these calamities and in dire need.

Moreover, we shall consider other measures that will help rehabilitate the affected areas and enable the victims to rebuild their lives. We must do our part to help our people who have been displaced, and communities which have been turned apart.

Today, I will propose a Senate resolution which will authorize the realignment, as part of the President's calamity fund, of whatever is the balance in the Senators' PDAF budget, restrained by the Supreme Court. Regardless of how the Supreme Court will decide on the Constitutionality of the PDAF, we will pass, and I will propose, a Senate resolution which will realign whatever is authorized and unused under the PDAF. Realign the same to the calamity funds, so that this fund can be augmented and respond adequately to the needs of our countrymen in the affected areas of our country.

Further, in our own backyard, we are practicing our version of corporate social responsibility. Until recently, you saw our more unfortunate brothers and sisters, about 175 informal settlers, just outside of our gates. With the assistance of Secretary Yabes and Major General Balajadia, we have relocated these 175 households in Trece Martires City, including those who were disqualified because they were not really settlers in this reclamation area. We assisted them. Now, as you go through this portion of our premises, we have relocated all of the 175 families, given them homes in Trece Martires, so that they can have safe and adequate dwelling. Also, at the same time, we were able to address a very serious security problem in our premises.

My fellow workers in government, despite the colossal challenges that we are facing now, let us not lose sight of our development goals. Let us remain loyal to the institution that we belong. Let us not lose faith in the Senate's adherence to democratic values. Let us support the meaningful reforms that our government is instituting.

Our celebration today is an opportune time to reflect on the legacy of the former members of the Senate, and the national leaders who taught us the priceless lessons in policy making; in integrity in public service; and in governance. Let us be inspired by the sterling qualities, monumental work, courage and personal integrity, of all the public officials who passed through the Senate in their careers.

The people expect nothing from all of us public servants but hard work, unwavering dedication, and relentless pursuit of excellence. I encourage you to remain tireless in rendering excellent service, the kind of service that the Senate is known for, through the years.

So, my dear fellow workers, as I conclude, I challenge you, let us consider the controversies that we are facing today, as a challenge to all of us. To be united, defend this institution and bastion of democracy, and render better public service to our people, so that they will realize that we are here because we want to do our share in nation building. So that, in the future, when others would be here, where the future generations would be before us again, celebrating our anniversary, and they look back to the 97thAnniversary of the Senate, the future generation can say, "if we are proud of the Senate, it is because of the hard work, of the dedication, of the men and women of the Senate, who were here on the 97th Anniversary".

My dear friends, my fellow workers in government, let us remain united, and let us fight for our institution, our beloved institution.

Marami pong salamat, magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat.

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