Press Release
October 11, 2021

Zubiri: Nobel Awardees Deserve Senate Medal, Open to Discussion Amending Senate Rules

I personally believe that any Filipino who is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize should get the Senate Medal of Excellence. And Maria Ressa's win is especially remarkable and worth celebrating for being the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded to a Filipino. But the Senate Medal of Excellence is an institutional recognition, so the whole Senate body has to be in agreement, as worded in the approved resolution creating the award.

As I recall the discussions on this award, our distinguished Minority Leader Sen. Franklin Drilon had concerns that the award may just be given to anyone not deserving of the Senate's standards of achievement and may cheapen the distinction of the award, so he proposed an amendment and moved to insert a phrase, and I quote, "Resolved, Finally to confer the Senate Medal of Excellence to such other Filipinos and Philippine Institutions upon the Unanimous vote of the Members of the Chamber."

This was adopted unanimously by the Senators and can be read clearly on the last paragraph of the approved resolution amending our rules for the creation of this medal. Reading the transcripts of our records that day, even the Senate President agreed with Sen. Drilon that it should be a unanimous vote and not just unanimous consent.

That's how it was for our Olympians as well, as I had to put on record that each of the Olympic medal winners were unanimously voted upon to receive the Medal of Excellence.

If my colleagues wish, we can amend our rules further to clarify that for certain awards such as the Noble Peace Prize, Turing Awards, Magsaysay Awards, and Olympic Medalists, the Senate Medal of Excellence can be given automatically. That can be discussed and proposed, and we only need a majority vote of all those present to amend our rules under Sec. 136.

And to be sure, this will be taken up immediately when we resume session in November. We will have to clarify when the clause for a unanimous vote does and does not apply, and if need be, we will introduce the proper amendments to avoid any further confusion in the future. Until then, I join the whole country, not just as a legislator but as an ordinary Filipino, in celebrating Maria Ressa's historic achievement.

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