In this June 4, 2019 photo, outgoing and remaining senators are seen embracing each other at the last session of the 17th Congress.
Twitter/Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
‘Senate camaraderie at its best': Binay offers teaching post to Trillanes; outgoing senators sign off
Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - June 5, 2019 - 6:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — The members of the Senate depicted “camaraderie” as they concluded the third regular session in the 17th Congress on Tuesday.

Five graduating senators Bam Aquino, JV Ejercito, Chiz Escudero, Gringo Honasan and Loren Legarda on Tuesday delivered their valedictory speeches at the Senate hall as they are set to end their terms of office this June. The remaining senators, on the other hand, thanked them for their contributions and hard work.

READ: Infographic: Outgoing and remaining senators

Sen. Bam Aquino

In his speech, Aquino expressed his gratitude to the individuals and groups who supported him during his 90-day campaign and showed support in his six years as a senator.

The Otso Diretso candidate failed to reclaim his seat at the Senate and lost the 2019 midterm polls. He said being a senator is a gift he would always be grateful for.

He also thanked the “productive people” he worked with in the Senate, Lower House, executive branch of government, media and organizations from various sectors..

Aquino said that at the Senate, he found mentors and friends who supported him “even in the most challenging and intimidating times.”

“Within these halls, I’ve come across fierce allies in the fight against poverty,” Aquino said.

“In the past six years, I’ve had the honor of working with a reliable, passionate and positive staff who have become my family. Thank you, Team Bam. I am truly grateful for this opportunity to have served alongside all of you,” he added.

Aquino is hopeful that every individual given the opportunity to join the ranks of the Senate has in their hearts the desire to fulfill what has been entrusted to them including the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the people.

“And I hope with all of my heart, as I move on to my next adventure, that our beloved Senate, the so-called last bastion of democracy in our history, will always, always make that choice for the benefit of our people, especially the ‘last, the least and the lost,’” he said.

Sen. JV Ejercito

Ejercito, who tagged himself as “the good one”, marked his last day at the session as a Senator on Tuesday.

He thanked the public for the chance to serve as a senator.

The outgoing senator said he was teary-eyed when he thanked the Senate employees Tuesday.

Despite signing off, Ejercito vowed to be back at the Senate floor.

“Can’t thank Senate employees and staff enough for their show of love and support as I bid them farewell yesterday. Never expected the people I worked with would really be so concerned and be as affected,” Ejercito said.

“Time flies so fast! Service to the Filipino people unfortunately cut short by stubbornness and self interest of one. Nonetheless, it was a good six years. We MADE A DIFFERENCE! The GOOD ONE will be back,” he said.

Ejercito, who ran in the 2019 midterm elections, also failed to enter the top 12 of the senatorial race.

Sen. Chiz Escudero

Escudero, who bid farewell in his Senate seat on Tuesday, said the last session of the 17th Congress was also his last as a lawmaker in the past 21 years.

He recently succeeded in the gubernatorial race and is now governor-elect of Sorsogon.

“Maraming salamat po sa pagkakataong ipinagkaloob ninyo sa akin para kayo po ay aking mapaglingkuran bilang inyong kinatawan sa Kamara at Senado!

(Thank you very much or the opportunity you have given me so that I can serve as your representative at the Lower House and the Senate)

Sen. Gringo Honasan

Veteran public servant Honasan also officially bid goodbye to his job of 25 years on Tuesday. Honasan, who now heads the Department of Information and Communications Technology, thanked the public for giving him the “privilege and honor” to serve the country and upheld democracy.

The senator served the upper chamber for 21 years. After his speech, Honasan received hugs from his colleagues.

His daughter, singer Kai Honasan-Del Rio penned him a letter as a tribute to his more than two decades of public service.

“I will be proud of the name you’ve given me every day for the rest of my life papa,” Honasan’s daughter wrote.

Sen. Loren Legarda

Another veteran public servant, journalist turned senator Legarda, also delivered her last speech at the Senate session on Tuesday.

In her valedictory speech, Legarda recalled her first years at the Senate during the 11th Congress.  

“I was 38 years old then, the youngest among the Senators of the 11th Congress, and honored to be working alongside legal luminaries,” Legarda said.

“Now, I am a “Tita” to the younger senators, but still the youngest among the senior legislators—Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Gringo Honasan—all of whom were also my colleagues in the 11th Congress,” she added.

Legarda, who will be serving Antique as their representative at the Lower House, thanked those who were with her for the past 20 years.

“This does not mark the end of my journey in serving our kababayans though as I look forward to joining the Bigger House,” Legarda said.

“At this point, I would like to thank everyone who has been part of my journey for the last two decades. First and always foremost is God who is the source of our strength, wisdom, peace, and life itself,” she added.

Minority bloc says goodbye to Aquino, Trillanes

Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon also gave tribute to outgoing opposition bloc members Aquino and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. He called them as two of their “most productive” members.

Drilon said Trillanes’s 12-year stint “set the bar higher for professionals, advanced the welfare of both the public and private workforce and increased the base pay and benefits of government workers and uniformed personnel.”

“We thank them for their immense contribution to lawmaking and, as part of the minority bloc, for being true fiscalizers and vanguards of democracy,” Drilon said.

“We will miss them in the Senate,” he added,

Trillanes was the lone senator who did not deliver any valedictory speech apart from former Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who served as foreign affairs chief.

Binay offers Trillanes teaching job, hospitalization perks

Meanwhile, Sen. Nancy Binay, an outgoing senator who got reelected in the 2019 polls, offered Trillanes a teaching job at the University of Makati.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a tweet, said this gesture depicted “Senate camaraderie at its best.”

“Senate camaraderie at its best in the 17th Congress: Sen Nancy Binay offered graduating Sen Trillanes a teaching job at the University of Makati with 24-hr free parking at the Makati parking lot, plus free admission to the Ospital ng Makati and free burial in the Makati cemetery,” Lacson tweeted.

Lacson in reports, however, said he just added the parking and burial offer because Trillanes led the investigations into the alleged corrupt practices of Binay's father, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, and her brother, Junjun, during their time as Makati Mayor. The hearings involved probe into the anomalous University of Makati and parking lots.

Trillanes appreciated Nancy’s offer but he reportedly declined out of “delicadeza.”

De Lima still 'not forgotten'

On the other hand, opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros also shared a light moment at the adjournment of the 17th Congress where detained Sen. Leila de Lima’s chair was wrapped with scarf to commemorate her Senate efforts.

She added hashtag “not forgotten” in her post as she remembered her seatmate who has been detained since February 2017 for alleged drug trafficking charges.

For her part, De Lima, in a statement, thanked Senate President Vicente Sotto III and her colleagues at the Senate "for acknowledging  my efforts and hard work as a Senator despite my political persecution."

"Their support – with the assistance of my diligent and competent staff and the relevant units of the Senate secretariat – have made all the difference in achieving our shared goals for the Filipino people," De Lima wrote.

17TH CONGRESS SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
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