Posted on 2006

Senate Session Hall
The Senate Needs A New Brand of Creative Leadership

After renewing our intent and commitment to maintain this Chamber’s independence, where do we go from here?

We cannot properly move forward unless we look around. There are issues that need to be urgently addressed.

We now live in a borderless, interconnected global economy. How do we empower our human resources to be globally competitive?

Our population keeps growing at an alarming rate, exerting tremendous pressure on the government to provide basic services.  What can the Senate do to address this problem?

Global terrorism does not recognize borders and levels of economic development. What must be done to enable our law and justice system to cope with this menace?

Pump prices are going up at unprecedented levels. Is there a comprehensive and workable strategy for dealing with the problem? How prepared are we?

Those who seek change through unconventional means are continuously challenging the stability of the government. What avenues can be explored to address some of the grievances by peaceful means?

Our educational sector has its own share of pressing problems. Our schools at all levels are not at par with global standards, let alone the adequacy of classrooms and teachers. There is a decline in the English proficiency of our college graduates. There is a lack of organized and coordinated effort to promote entrepreneurial education to create employers, rather than employees. It is only by doing so that we can create and multiply wealth for the benefit of the nation.

The basic needs of health and housing are causes for concern. The general health of Filipinos shows marked improvement over the years but still due to extreme poverty, many cannot afford to buy medicines, much more consult a doctor. An increasing number of Filipinos still do not have a roof over their heads and many of those who do are squatters.

How competitive is our agricultural system? Have we really empowered our farmers to be at par with our ASEAN neighbors? Are rural credit facilities accessible and affordable? What is being done to cushion the impact of rising costs of farm inputs?

The overseas Filipino workers, our “modern-day” heroes, who have been the saving grace of our economy for so manyyears, need our support also as much as our people here.  Last year, our OFWs remitted ten billion dollars, doing wonders to our foreign reserves.  Do we provide them with adequate assistance especially in times of grave danger and distress like what our OFWs in Lebanon are experiencing right now?  Do we have reintegration programs if and when they decide to come home for good?

It is with a sense of great urgency that I raise these pressing questions because time is running short. We must do much more than what has been accomplished.

Whatever methods and solutions that worked well in the past are time bound. Different times call for different solutions as demanded by the complexity of today’s questions.

A creative Senate is what this nation needs. Such creativity is manifested by becoming, more responsive, and more proactive.

There is a need for the Senate to reinvent itself by redefining its relevance. We must strive to break new ground. This is only possible by going beyond the confines of what is familiar and traditional.

To be able to break out of our comfort zone, we must dream of things that never were. We must have the courage to test the limits of what is possible.

We need a change of heart so that we can rise above the narrow corridors of our old assumptions and lingering doubts. We need to expand our horizons so that we can all exceed the capacity of our grasp.

As your Senate President, I will dare to usher into this Chamber our own version of creativity in government to move this country forward. At the end of the day, what we all want is to make a difference in the lives of our countrymen.  Ang pinakamahalagang magagawa natin para sa bayan ay ang i-angat ang antas ng kabuhayan ng maraming Pilipino.

As we collectively formulate the Senate’s legislative agenda in response to some of the problems confronting the nation today, let us have the humility to admit that we do not have exclusive possession of wisdom. We have much to learn from others. Our power, either individually or collectively, is a sacred trust held only temporarily for the good of all.

Let the legislative thrust of the Senate be truly reflective of the real concerns and interests of a large majority of Filipinos. Our people deserve no less.

Mabuhay ang Senado! Mabuhay tayong lahat!

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