Press Release
May 18, 2020

Senate adopts resolution expressing condolences to family of former Sen. Tessie Aquino Oreta

The Senate today adopted a resolution expressing its profound sympathy and sincere condolences to the family of former Maria Teresa Aquino Oreta who passed away at the age of 75 last May 14, 2020.

Senate Resolution No. 406 was sponsored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Majority Leader Migz Zubiri, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon, Pia Cayetano, Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr., Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Manuel "Lito" Lapid, Joel Villanueva, Sonny Angara, Francis "Tol" Tolentino, Cynthia A. Villar, Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, Imee Marcos, Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, Leila De Lima, Win Gatchalian and Grace Poe.

Oreta was elected senator in 1998 and served during the 11th Congress.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Oreta was like a sister to him and former Senator and current Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan.

"We are very saddened by her passing. I remember her as a very passionate and strong legislator whose advocacies focused on empowering women and children through landmark legislations like the Solo Parents Act, Early Childhood Care and Development Act," Sotto said.

He said Oreta work for the improvement of the country's educational system as she believed that education is the key to the improvement of the quality of life of the Filipinos.

Sotto said the Philippine Sciences System High School Act and the Governance of Basic Education Act as some of Oreta's bills that were enacted into law.

"She sought to improve the employment status, working conditions and welfare benefits of public school teachers," according to Sotto.

Villanueva said Oreta served as a legislator for 17 straight years. He said it was quite a feat for a woman of her time to be elected in the legislature. On her first term as a congresswoman, Villanueva said Oreta became Assistant Majority Leader, the first woman to hold such post in the history of the lower house.

"I experienced in person how Senator Tessie loved the Filipino people, and I bear witness to it. She used to invite us to her house when I was a neophyte congressman, together with party-list representatives. She endlessly talked passionately on issues close to her heart. Especially dear to her were matters of education and how families can benefit from it. She often said that, "education is the lifeblood of the family," he said.

Villanueva said nothing compared to Oreta's love for the teachers. In 1999, she spearheaded the Project TAO, which was the most comprehensive survey of its kind involving 420,000 teachers nationwide. The project revealed situations besetting public-school teachers. The survey results served as the compass for many educational reforms at that time.

"Her initials are T.A.O. or tao which symbolizes her legacies as a public servant. In the over two decades of public life, the causes that she believed in and chose to fight for speak in volume. They evidence how she put the tao at the forefront. The Filipinos, especially women and children, are at the center of her public service," Villanueva said.

Pacquiao said Oreta was a strong advocate of education, women and children. He said she filed almost 200 bills and resolutions during her term.

"We mourn her death but at the same time celebrate her legacy. We are offering prayers of God's comfort and strength to be upon her husband, her children, relatives and friends," Pacquiao said.

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