Press Release
June 4, 2019

Valedictory Speech of Sen. Bam Aquino

Thank you Mr. President, thank you Majority Floor Leader, magandang hapon, my esteemed colleagues, ladies and gentlemen! Magandang, magandang hapon po sa ating lahat.

Before anything else, I'd like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the many individuals and groups that have supported not only our 90-day campaign, but more importantly, in my 6 years serving our country as a senator.

From the bottom of my heart, maraming maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat!

Among my colleagues, I've found mentors and friends that have come through for me even in the most challenging and intimidating times. Thank you.

And within these halls, I've come to know fierce allies in the fight against poverty. I've had the pleasure of meeting and working with kind and productive people here in the Senate, the Lower House, in the Executive branch of government, in media, in business, in development groups and organizations from various sectors. Maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat.

Lastly, in the past 6 years, I've had the honor of working with a reliable, passionate and positive staff who have become my family. May I ask them to stand up please, members of my team. Thank you very much, OSBA Team Bam.

In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare once wrote:

"The evil that men do lives after them, the good is often interred with their bones."

But for us who are here in the Senate, this is not the case.

Hindi kailangang malibing kasama ng ating mga buto ang mabubuti nating nagawa dito po sa Senado. Bagkus mabubuhay ang mga batas at repormang ating tinrabaho kahit mawala na tayo sa serbisyo publiko, o kahit wala na tayo dito sa mundo.

And I hope that every individual who is given that unique opportunity to join the ranks of the Senate has this always in your hearts -- that they have been entrusted with the hopes and dreams and aspirations of our people. And our countrymen, especially those in the fringes of our society, are waiting and hoping for the help and support that they desperately need.

Innovativeness, inclusiveness, a preferential option for the poor and a sincere faith in the Filipino's capacity to lift themselves out of poverty - these were the pillars of our legislative-making process and a guide for every reform, every vote, every stand we made in the last 6 years.

These reforms, these laws are seeds that we planted with all of your help, with the hope of a better, more compassionate, and more prosperous Philippines. They are seeds that we - each and every Filipino - can reap and sow even today and especially in years to come.

Our first law, the Go Negosyo Act now has over 1,000 Negosyo Centers around the country.

And I will never forget meeting Myrna Rojo, who returned home from Brunei uncertain of how she and her husband would provide for their family. With the support of the Iloilo Negosyo Center, they now have a successful bakery in their hometown and are true believers of the power of entrepreneurship!

Can you imagine 10 years from now? Thousands and thousands of Myrnas, Filipinos from around the country and even all over the world - can grow businesses that will help them overcome poverty, provide for their family and create a brighter future for our country.

On the other hand, our Microfinance NGOs Act continues to support and supported the micro finance industry that provides loans and training programs to our fellow Filipinos, mostly women, who wish to earn through their micro and small businesses.

Mga nanay po tulad ni Aling Ester ng Bacolod na naging kabuhayan ang kaniyang talento sa paggawa ng mga pandan bags. Hanggang ngayon, patuloy ang kaniyang negosyo para matulungan ang kaniyang pamilya.

The MFI industry currently support 8 million Filipino families like that of Aling Ester. 10 years from now, can you imagine, the industry itself estimates it will grow to 15 million families! 15 million families with better, more prosperous lives, more opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty, thanks in part to our law providing a better development framework for NGOs engaged in micro finance.

Another major reform we finished is the Philippine Competition Act - na, kung naaalala po natin, marami po sa atin ang nagpuyat para po sa napakahirap na batas na ito noong nakaraang Kongreso.

This law can really be a game-changer if implemented properly. 10 years from now, we can hope for cheaper and more convenient transport services, be it within our cities, in sky or even in the sea.

If implemented properly, we can expect lower electricity rates both in urban and rural areas, cheaper fuel, cement, even cheaper rice, garlic and onions.

At ang pinakahihintay ng marami po sa ating kababayan, kung tutukan ang pagpapatupad ng Philippine Competition Act, bibilis, magmumura, at magiging mas abot-kaya ang internet at mobile phone services sa Pilipinas.

Millions upon millions of Filipino consumers can benefit from the Philippine Competition Act, kung babantayan lang po natin ito.

At kung pagbabantay ang pag-uusapan, sigurado po ako na marami dito ang magbabantay sa maayos na pagpapatupad ng R.A. 10931 o ang batas para sa libreng kolehiyo.

Ang isang kuwento na tumatak sa akin dito sa mga naikot naming mga state university and college nitong mga nakaraang taon ay ang kwento ni Melvin mula sa Tarlac Agricultural University.

Si Kuya Melvin po, may asawa at dalawang anak na lalaki. Pero bumalik siya sa pag-aaral dahil gusto niya i-ahon ang buhay ng kaniyang pamilya mula sa kahirapan. Noong bumalik siya, wala pa iyong batas sa libreng kolehiyo.

Ano ang ginagawa niya para kumita? Gumigising si Melvin araw-araw 4am para ihanda ang manggang hilaw at bagoong na kanya pong ibebenta bago mag-attend ng klase.

Tulad ni Melvin, napakaraming estudyante ang nagnenegosyo, nagsisideline, nagpapart-time, nagpa-fastfood crew, kung anu-anong raket ang ginagawa para lang mabayaran ang kanilang tuition fee at iba pang gastos sa pag-aaral.

Pero ngayong libre na po ang kolehiyo, ang mga estudyanteng ito, nakararamdam ng konting ginhawa sa kanilang gastos. Kahit kapos, makakapagtapos na- tulad ni Melvin!

Paglipas ng isang dekada, walong milyo na estudyante na matutulungan ng batas para sa Libreng Kolehiyo. Walong milyong pamilyang may college graduate na ipagmamalaki at mas malaki ang tsansang makaalpas mula sa kahirapan.

Mga kaibigan, lima lang po iyan sa higit apatnapung batas - mga batas na atin pong pinagtulungan at atin pong tinanim upang umani ng oportunidad at kaunlaran para sa ating mga kababayan.

Together, we've planted these seeds. And though we're already beginning to see them grow, I hold on to hope that our government and the next iteration of this Senate will continue to nurture these reforms, fund these programs generously, even improve them through amendments, and oversee their proper implementation to ensure that the potential of these reforms are truly met.

Ipinagkakatiwala ko na po sa ating mga kasama dito ang ating mga naitanim para po sa bayan at para po sa ating mga kababayan. Sana po, laging manatili sa puso at prayoridad ng ating institusyon ang kapakanan ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino.

I'm often asked what it's like to be a senator. And I always say it's like those books I used to read when I was a young boy -- Choose Your Own Adventure. I'm sure marami sa atin, nabasa pa iyon.

Here in the Senate, choose your own adventure. You get to choose how many sessions you attend, how many hearings you hold, how many reforms you push and make into law. You get to choose if you wish to be more of a legislator or more of a fiscalizer, an advocate for a particularly important issue very close to your heart, or simply a voice of reason on all issues of importance. You can be one of these, or all of these or none of these, but in the end, it is your choice how you conduct yourself, your office and the vast opportunity and trust given to you by our people. It's your choice.

And I hope with all of my heart, as I move on to my next adventure, that our beloved Senate, our last bastion of democracy in Philippine history, will always, always make that collective choice for the benefit of our people, especially the 'last, the least and the lost'.

To serve our country, to shape it and spearhead reforms for the majority of our people, this was a gift that I would always, always be grateful for. And so to my colleagues in the 16th and 17th Congress and to everyone who works here in the Senate, maraming, maraming salamat.

God bless us all! Thank you very much, Mr. President.

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