Speech of Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III
Opening of the Eighteenth Congress -
Second Regular Session
July 27, 2020

My dear colleagues, to all the hardworking civil servants in the Senate; to the dedicated public servants of all other government agencies; to our dear frontliners in the medical and other support services; at sa ating mga kababayan: Magandang umaga.

I open the 2nd Regular Session of the 18th Congress of the Senate with a sense of urgency and a purpose. As long as we share the burden of the COVID pandemic with other countries of the world, we must continue to work towards saving lives and easing our common anxiety. This truth is unavoidable. The Senate has promptly responded to the needs of our nation. Still, the Senate is ready to do more.

Always remember that the Senate is here for all Filipinos. Nandito ang Senado para sa inyo.

I speak for all the Senators when I say that for the 2nd Regular Session, your legislators will be proposing laws that will answer the question: How can we make this situation better for every Filipino?

My fellow citizens, mayroon po tayong kasabihan: Ang sakit ng kalingkingan ay dama ng buong katawan. Yan ang pakiramdam nating lahat ngayon.

The travails brought about by the COVID pandemic applies to us all. Since, we are all affected, therefore, the resolution to the problem must reside in each and everyone of us. In this moment of crisis, our survival depends on how strong we fight this crisis together.

We are thankful for the reported recoveries from the pandemic. We are saddened by the deaths of many. Inspired by the heroism of our frontliners. But we must not lose hope; Or turn our frustration to destructive anger. Instead, let us keep our eyes always on the Lord; because like what He constantly tells us in the book of prophet Isaiah, “Do not fear; I will help you.”

Together we must fight the feeling of uncertainty that runs rife in everyday. All of us must pledge commitment to survive this crisis, not only individually with our families, but more importantly together as a nation.

Today, I give my solemn pledge that the Senate will fight for and in behalf of the Filipino people.

The world is on fire.

The more our nation reflects this reality, the more earnest government must be in protecting each and every one in our community. The Senate is aware of its bounden duty in these times. As representatives of the people, it behooves upon your senators to stand as vanguards in this national health crisis. More than ever, we are determined to give voice to your needs.

In the previous regular session, your Senate worked for the approval of COVID-related legislations which are now being implemented by various government agencies. Through our oversight powers, we will make sure that the programs laid out in the law are followed to the letter and that transparency in the handling of funds is observed.

As your Senate enters into the 2nd Regular Session of the 18th Congress, we will continue where we left off in the shaping of adequate legislative response to this major challenge in our lives.

Nandito kami upang ipagpatuloy ang aming nasimulan.

There is no question that the COVID pandemic will leave all of us changed. In this cusp of transformation, we are all challenged to take part in building a new world.

Binabago at patuloy na magbabago ang lahat sa ating buhay dahil sa pandemyang ito. Hinahamon tayo ng panahon na makilahok sa pagbabago; ang maglilok ng bagong tao na isisilang sa bagong mundo.

Without pre-empting my colleagues in the Senate who chair various committees that have jurisdictions over specific matters, I—as Senate President—would be very willing to lead them to craft a holistic agenda in the 2nd Regular Session that will focus on the following legislative concerns:

  1. Digital landscape – For as long as the pandemic remains uncontrolled, there will be a need to upgrade and improve the digital highway in support of various communication and online transactional needs.

  2. Distance learning – As we stay isolated, we must not neglect a generation of young people who would otherwise be deprived of advancing in their studies. We must support programs that will help the education sector migrate to more plausible learning platforms.

  3. Public transport system – In order to help revive our economy, it is imperative to have a safe, efficient, and dependable public transport system that will ferry workers so that industries may again produce goods and services; and people can resume earning incomes to spend.

  4. Encouraging New Business– Experts say that this pandemic has fundamentally changed the market economy. Government can help entrepreneurs find their place in the emerging business landscape by reassessing tariffs so as to ease business burdens where appropriate, as well as providing the means for new ventures to flourish.

  5. Support for the Arts – Priority should also be given in support of the arts. We must rebuild our nation in both body and soul. Great civilizations before us endured not only because they had material wealth, but because they lived a life nurtured by writers and artists.

Sa panahon ng krisis, higit natin kailangan ang mga manunulat, mga makata, mga manlilika na tutulong sa ating intindihin ang nangyayari sa mundo. At sa gayong pagninilay-nilay, mahanap natin ang kahulugan ng buhay at hindi mawalan ng pag-asa sa gitna ng mga nararanasan pasakit.

For what good will we be if we survive all this, but lose our soul? It is my hope that the Senate help this nation emerge from the chaos of the pandemic with its mind and heart intact.

There are news of the discovery of the corona vaccine coming from the scientific communities all over the world. This is a beacon of comfort. And another reason for us to hang on.

Nagpapalakas ng loob ang balita’ng malapit ng makahanap ng kontra-bakuna. Hangga’t wala pa ito at panghabambuhay, manalig tayo sa Diyos at sa bawat isa. Hanggang sa araw na dumating ang kaligtasang ito, umasa kayong nandito ang Senado para sa inyo.

The Senate stands firm.

Together with the Filipino people, we are committed to saving lives, to reviving our economy, and to the creation of a shared future based on truth, respect, freedom, and love of nation.

 We know that our work is not easy. That is why I invite everyone to work in every possible way with your government, in the same way that your government promises to work with you.

Tayo’y magkaisa dahil sa pagkakaisa lamang tayo magwawagi.

As always, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate. I thank my fellow Senators for their trust and support, as well as their patience in the challenging work of legislation.

At higit sa lahat, gusto kong pasalamatan ang makapangyarihang Taong Bayan ng Pilipinas; kayo na patuloy na nananalig sa Diyos at nagsasabuhay ng kabutihan para sa bawat isa. Kayo ang dahilan kung bakit nandito kaming mga Senador. Hindi namin kayo bibiguin.

In closing, I would like to reiterate the Senate’s appreciation to our medical and other allied frontliners who have from the beginning and up to now, held the line.

Nagpapasalamat ang lahat ng Senador sa bawat isa sa inyo. Magpatuloy po tayo sa ating mabuting gawain.

With God’s grace, we will complete the work in the 2nd Regular Session with laws for the betterment of all.

Ibayong pag-iingat para sa ating lahat.

Marami pong salamat. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!