A vulnerable political institution has just turned a century old.
And the historic event is worthy of greatful commemoration by the people.
The aptly called Upper house is one half of the Congress, the other being the House of Representatives.
There is more to the term than meets the eye.
The Senate is the highest deliberative body in the land, and it is the training ground for future presidents.
Both senators and the president have the same constituency. That’s why senators often stand up to directly challenge the actions or decisions of the president.
This collegial and co-equal power between them and the Chief Executive makes the chamber an effective counter-weight to Malacañang.
And so we pause and reflect on the achievements of the Senate over the pass 100 years and its contribution to the shaping of the country’s political history.
Former and present senators convened last Wednesday, October 6, to celebrate the Senate centennial anniversary and its hundred-year legacy of serving the Filipino nation.
Around 40 incumbent and former members of the Senate attended the Senate Centennial Dinner and Reunion held at the old Congress building, which now houses the National Museum in Manila.
The celebration, which lasted for around three hours, came 10 days before the Senate commemorates its 100th year of existence since it was established on October 16, 1916 during the American occupation period.
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III led the contingent of current senators in the event, along with Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Senate Minority Ralph Recto, and other Senators.
“Dedication, devotion to Filipino people” Senate President Pimentel III, the event’s keynote speaker, said the Senate is proud that since 1916, the institution continued to be the vibrant repository of the country’s democratic ideals.
“Why has the Senate lasted this long? Because all of us, who have served the Senate -- and that means all of us here -- have served with utmost dedication and devotion to the best interests of the Filipino people,” he said.
Pimentel said that throughout the years, different generations of senators have enacted relevant laws, checked abuses in government, and concurred in beneficial treaties “but rejected some which were deemed not to be to the best interests of the nation.” The Senate has also performed its check-and-balance function as an impeachment court, he added.
Former senator Joey Lina, who delivered the message in behalf of former senators, agreed with Pimentel and said that the “Senate continues to be relevant and more important, especially in the upcoming few weeks or months that I believe the Senate will be called once more to shape Philippine history.” “When I look at our young Senate President, the son of a great colleague and friend, Nene Pimentel, and the rest of his colleagues at the incumbent 17th Congress, I am assured that the Senate will faithfully carry out its moral obligations to create a just and humane society, and to provide every Filipino an opportunity for a better life,” Lina said.
Pimentel admitted that the present generation of senators faced many challenges -- such as the proposed shift to federalism -- but assured everyone that they were more than up to the task.
“Whatever be the challenge, the Philippine Senate will fulfill the Filipino people’s dreams of a better Philippines. We will stay true to our duty and continue to be relevant to our peoples’ lives and our country’s history,” Pimentel said.
The Senate Chief also allayed fears that a federal form of government may put the Senate out of existence, and stressed that the institution would remain a “political firmament” even in a federal Philippines.
“I assure you that although I am very happy to be remembered as the Centennial Senate President, I do not want to be remembered as the last Senate President,” Pimentel quipped.