Press Release
October 12, 2015

Senate Centennial Message
Flag Raising Ceremony
October 12, 2015


Secretary Oscar G. Yabes, officers and staff of the Senate Secretariat, friends, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant morning to all of you. Magandang umaga po.

Today, we begin the year-long celebration of the centennial year of our beloved institution. Proclamation 1091, signed by the President last August, recognized the Senate's glorious history. It cited the Senate's defense and promotion of democratic values, as well as its immense contribution to the nation's economic development, social justice and political maturity.

Indeed, the Senate has come a long way. From being part of the bicameral Philippine Legislature under the Jones Law, this democratic institution has produced groundbreaking pieces of legislation that oil the wheels of government, strengthen the fabric of society, and promote the welfare of our people and nation.

This great institution is not a stranger to spirit-breaking challenges. There were periods in our nation's history when arrows of controversy were shot at the Senate's ramparts. But never for a second did these vicious attacks diminish the institution's zeal to serve our country and people.

Instead, it became even stronger in its resolve to give the best service possible to the nation and the Filipino people.

We, who belong to this institution, view each crisis as an opportunity for introspection, and reform, that would lead us to a higher level of public service. The Senate has shown, and will continue to show, to our people that it listens and responds to their pressing concerns, and constantly feels their pulse.

Acknowledged as a bastion of democracy, the Senate has produced a legion of lawmakers who held the nation in awe because of their intellectual brilliance and boundless love for the motherland. Until now, the Filipino people have not forgotten the wit, eloquence, intellect and nationalism of Claro M. Recto, Jovito Salonga, Lorenzo Tañada to name a few. The Senate has always been a cradle of national leaders, having nurtured in its bosom ten (10) out of fifteen (15) Philippine Presidents - a record which cannot be equaled by any other institution.

The men and women who passed through the Senate's portals kept the institution's long tradition of fierce independence and remarkable courage to defend the national interest and uphold the countrymen's civil, political and human rights.

As we mark this very important milestone in the life of the Senate, let us reflect on the rich legacy of former legislators and national leaders who taught us priceless lessons in public policy making and nation building. We honor their sterling qualities, monumental work, matchless courage and integrity. Their life and work inspire past and present Senators to pass effective, relevant and timely laws.

Today, we also celebrate the life and work of a former member of the Senate -- Senator Joker Arroyo -- who sadly left us last week. In his lifetime, he dazzled the nation not only with his brilliance but also with his high sense of duty and strong commitment to defend the underprivileged.

It was a great honor to work with him; first in the executive department under the administration of President Cory Aquino, and later in the Senate. I attest to Joker's exceptional humility and simplicity as a public official. Despite his superb intellect and enormous achievements, he never saw himself as superior to anyone. He kept a small office and hated luxury and extravagance. With his frugal and prudent ways, he will always be fondly remembered for being the "Scrooge of the Senate."

Joker led a life of integrity, good character, diligence and with profound love for the masses that are dearest to his heart. His passing is the nation's collective loss. But his life will always be an inspiration to every Filipino.

With deep sorrow, we remember him in our prayers and condole with his family. We join the whole nation in mourning the loss of a gem of a public servant whose achievements as a lawyer, human rights defender, lawmaker and public servant are unparalleled.

Farewell Joker, and thank you for everything, and may I ask all of you to give him a round of applause.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve our country and people. After almost thirty years in government service, twenty years of which I spent in this institution, I am honored and humbled by the Filipinos' faith in me and their trust and confidence in my capability to lead the Senate.

It is most heart warming to note that in the most recent Pulse-Asia survey done just last month, 63 percent of our people expressed satisfaction with the performance of the Senate. This 63 percent public satisfaction rating is the highest among all the public institutions surveyed, the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court, and the Cabinet. This expression of confidence in the Senate would not have been possible without your support, hard work, and dedication. Likewise, without your support, it would not have been possible for me to have achieved the highest public satisfaction, with 61 percent of our people expressing satisfaction with our performance as President of the Senate.

Today, I sincerely thank each one of you for your outstanding service to the institution and to the Filipino people. I encourage you to remain tireless in rendering excellent service, as exemplified by the recipients of this morning's Senate Secretariat Exemplary Employee Awards, particularly our colleague Jose Rey Castillo of the Administrative Department, Jayne Monteza of the OSEC Department, and our most outstanding employee, Guillermo Sapinoso Jr. of the Legislative Department. That is the kind of service the Senate is known for through the years.

Thank you very much!

God bless you.

God bless the Senate.

God bless the Philippines.

Mabuhay ang Pilipino!

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!

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