We associate ourself with the Senate Minority in the 18th Congress not because we are so-called obstructionist but because we believe that a strong Minority is critical to a democracy.
Being in the Minority is not a deterrent towards being able to work together and perform our legislative mandate. In fact, in the 17th Congress, key laws have been enacted because of the diligence of the Senate Minority. These key laws include Senator Drilon’s Revised Corporation Code, former Senator Aquino’s Free College Education Act, Senator Hontiveros’s Mental Health Act, former Senator Trillanes’s Magna Carta of the Poor, Senator De Lima’s institutionalization of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), and my 2016 campaign promise which is the Sagip Saka Law.
While the administration made strides in the 17th Congress with several progressive laws, it also delivered a blow to the people with the TRAIN law. TRAIN pushed the prices of fuel and basic commodities up, eclipsing what it touted were gains from the extra take-home pay of salaried individuals with the restructured income tax rate.
Then came the other controversial law of Rice Tariffication, which may be the nail in the coffin for our rice industry and our dream of food security, deeply wounding our farmers with the unbridled importation of rice.
While the final version of the Coco Levy bill was not the one we envisioned, having a law would have been a good start to slowly give coconut farmers and the industry what is due them.
So even if the Senate Minority is now only down to four members, we continue to serve as fiscalizers and maintain the balance in the Chamber.
As decent jobs, lower food prices, and better incomes remain a daily worry and an almost-impossible dream for many Filipinos, we the Senate Minority in the 18th Congress, will continue to champion the welfare and future of the Filipino people.
As the late John F. Kennedy said, “Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed, and no republic can survive.”