8 senators bid Senate goodbye

(UPDATE) EIGHT senators will bid the Senate farewell today — three ending their terms while the five others failed in their reelection bid.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon were at the end of their second six-year term.

Senators in the Philippines are elected to a six-year term. They can serve for not more than two consecutive terms.

Sotto ran for vice president in the May 9 national elections but lost.

Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan were all eligible for reelection but opted to run for higher office.

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Lacson and Pacquiao ran for president while Pangilinan ran for vice president. All three lost.

Senators Richard “Dick”Gordon and Leila de Lima sought reelection but failed to secure another fresh mandate.

“Our dear Filipinos, it is with fervent hope that the laws passed under this 18th Congress will make a difference in the lives of our fellow Filipinos,” Sotto said in his valedictory address.

“As everyone knows, I was first a musician before being a politician. For this reason, some sectors may have misjudged my capacity as a public servant. Today, as I stand before my colleagues and the Filipino people on my last day as Senate President, I have one final and earnest appeal to the incoming 19th Congress: maintain the integrity and independence of the Senate,” he added.

Sotto also thanked the journalists covering Senate events.

“As members of the press, you have a vital role in maintaining transparency and accountability in government. As our bridge to and from the public, your work is always appreciated.”

Sen. Mary Grace Poe lauded the dedication of her colleagues.

“It's never easy to say goodbye, especially to colleagues you admire and are grateful for. Eight or one-third of the seats around us will soon be vacated,” Poe said on Tuesday.

“Many of those who will answer the role for the last time, began as work colleagues, who later became allies in causes fought and ended up as great friends,” she added.

Poe said she “could not imagine a Senate without its three top leaders, namely the Presiding Officer (Sotto) who was 'equally firm and fair' in the use of the gavel, the Minority Leader (Drilon) who knew when to stand his ground and when to strike common ground and a President Pro-Tempore (Recto) who has the interrogatory and intimidatory skills of a terror teacher but from whom she learned so much.”

Poe praised Sotto, whom she classified as “medically vulnerable” due to his age for consistently showing up for work during the pandemic.

“When the pandemic bred confusion, he kept us cohesive so that we will still be able to churn out laws in the same deliberative fashion that did not sacrifice scrutiny for speed,” she said.

“He never pulled the plug on any of us when he could have done so and abbreviated debates with the pandemic as a convenient excuse. This makes this musical legend a great conductor of the symphony of legislation,” Poe added.

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