MANILA - Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Thursday he has "no major regrets" as a lawmaker and would now like to devote time to his family.
Drilon, along with other "graduating senators" or those who have exhausted their term limits, on Wednesday delivered his "valedictory" speech before the plenary, highlighting his legislative achievements over the years.
The senator first joined the chamber from 1995 to 2007, and began a fresh non-consecutive term in 2010.
"I was being asked to run for Congress. I thought I have served enough…I will devote time to my family who I have deprived. My grandchildren sadly have grown up and I missed playing with them because of my work in government," he told ANC's Headstart.
"I do not have any major regrets. My life in the Senate has been very fruitful, challenging. I'm proud to say I've participated in major events in our history," he said when asked about his regrets as a lawmaker.
The senator, who had also served as a Cabinet member under the administrations of former Presidents Corazon Aquino and Fidel Ramos, said he would support outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo's non-government organization Angat Buhay.
"I will fully support her desire to lead and form an NGO devoted to addressing the needs of those in the laylayan (outskirts) as she would say because the poverty in our country today is such that we need every hand on board," he said.
"I don’t intend to be active in politics. I just want to help VP Leni in whatever area. I believe in her cause."
Drilon said the Dual Citizenship Act and the Sin Tax Law passed in 1995 and 2004, respectively, were among the most notable laws he legislated. He added that the Public Service Act and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act were among the more recent bills he was proud of.
"I'm a firm believer we should create employment, we should improve our economy through policies as enshrined in our laws that would be needed to make us more investment-attractive, to make our tax collection system more efficient," he said.
Drilon, who has served thrice as Senate President, said the most difficult experience he had in the chamber was when he had to face the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on allegations he received money from a project in Iloilo City.
"I faced the investigation as Senate President. I found that quite humbling when I had to respond to questions from my peers in a committee hearing. I stood my ground, I knew I committed no wrong. It was not an experience I would later regret," he said.
The senator, meantime, said Congress during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was the most difficult period.
"There’s so many policies that had to be reshaped during her time. So many events that shaped her presidency, 'Hello Garci' is one of the most prominent and of course the impeachment of Sen. (Joseph) Estrada," he said.
"That was one of the most difficult events I had to confront. There were competing forces on both sides and you had to be firm in your convictions and be able to defend where you stand at the time."
Drilon said his stint as Senate Minority Leader was "difficult, challenging."
"One major area where I had major disagreements with this administration was the rule of law. I think this administration weakened an important pillar and basic tenet of our democratic system and that is the rule of law," he said.
"The extrajudicial killings, over 6,000 admitted by the PNP (Philippine National Police), was frustrating to me because you could not do anything in order to uphold the rule of law in our country which was being trampled upon by this administration."