MANILA — Three "graduating" senators, or those who have exhausted their term limits, on Wednesday delivered their "valedictory" speeches before the plenary, highlighting their legislative achievements over the years.
"I can and I will show off my legislative accomplishments not only to my grandkids but to the younger generations, proud and guilt-free that I have not abused my position to enrich myself or any member of my family. I have kept my credibility intact and my name, unsullied," said Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III.
Sotto, who lost in the Halalan 2022 vice presidential race, urged the incoming 19th Congress to “maintain the integrity and independence of the Senate.”
“Huwag ninyong payagan na mabahiran ng politika ang inyong serbisyo sa taumbayan. Ingatan niyo ang respetong ibinibigay ng bawat Pilipino sa Senado at sa mga miyembro nito,” he said.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri is poised to be the next Senate President, following the withdrawal from the race of rival Sen. Cynthia Villar.
Meanwhile, Sen. Ralph Recto in his speech gave a shoutout to each of his co-senators.
"To Bong [Go], your moonlighting days as a presidential aide is over. Relish your freedom. But never give up your bisyo na magserbisyo," he told President Rodrigo Duterte's longtime assistant.
"To the other half of the DDS, or Davao Dedicated Senators, Senator Bato (dela Rosa), I salute you for your ramrod straight integrity. Your laws are as good as chiseled in stone. Itaga mo sa bato!" Recto told the other close ally and former national police chief of Duterte.
For Sen. Cynthia Villar, Recto's message goes, "To Ma’am Cynthia, from whom the country’s richest man gets his weekly allowance, your Goldilocks principle in making laws is the reason why they have become good ones. Ano ang Goldilocks principle? Remember the fable of the lugaw: Too hot, Papa Bear complains. Too cold, cries Baby Bear. Just right, says Mama Bear. Pag sinabi ni Mama Bear na tama na ang timpla, ihain na!"
Recto said he is a fan of Sen. Nancy Binay's "one-liners and self-deprecating humor."
"Your lacerating tweets prick the ego of the rulers, and the conscience of the ruled, while giving us all a laugh," he added.
Addressing Sen. Sonny Angara, Recto said: "I ask the genie to grant you three miracles: First, that the Celtics be champions. Second, the Sox win the World Series. Third, that you continue to perform the budget equivalent of the miracle of making wine out of water, and bread for the multitude from a single loaf. Of the three, the last one is the easiest."
He also honored Sen. Lito Lapid.
"Kay Senator Lapid, ang Pinuno nating lahat, tanda ko pa ang sabi ni Joker. Aniya, kung gusto mo malaman ang pulso ng masa, kung nais mong alamin ang epekto ng isang batas sa mamamayan, hindi mo kailangan ng survey. Tanungin mo si Lito, huwag si Laylo, kasi mas alam niya ang pulso ng tao," said Recto.
Sen. Koko Pimentel is indeed his father's son, according to Recto. "In recent days you have become like him, one who does not seek comfort in numbers, but draws strength from your convictions," he said, referring to the late Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel, Jr.
Meanwhile, Recto appealed to President-elect Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. to free detained Sen. Leila de Lima, who has been incarcerated since 2017 over drug-related charges which she regards as political persecution.
For Drilon, "graduating" from the Senate means having more time to spend with family and loved ones.
"After being in public life for more than thirty five years, I am stepping back to my private space to spend more time for myself and with my loved ones. What used to be pockets of time carved out of my schedule for family will now be replaced by unlimited time at home. How time makes fools of us all," he said.
Drilon thanked his Senate colleagues and asked them to "remember me fondly and kindly."
"[I]t is my privilege and honor to have served you and our beloved nation for most of my life."
He added: "My dear colleagues, the work of democracy is never finished. The challenge is to do better, to never be complacent, to not be disillusioned by our imperfect democracy or be attracted by the tempting notion that we have too much of it."