Opening session manifestation

Manifestation of Senator Pia Cayetano
Opening Session of the 19th Congress

Thank you, Mr. Presiding Officer.

Let me congratulate our newly elected Senate President. May the records show that I also did not cast my vote in favor of my esteemed colleague. At this point, I would like to remain independent. I will also not participate or cast my vote on any minority leader.

But as I have told the Senate President, he knows my commitment for the amazing work that the Senate will produce. He knows that I will participate and ensure that nothing less than excellent work will come out of this Senate.

Thank you. #

Senator Pia Cayetano
Senator Pia Cayetano on being an independent member of the Upper Chamber: “I will participate and ensure that nothing less than excellent work will come out of this Senate.”

My report on the 143rd IPU assembly

Privilege speech on the Philippine Senate’s participation at the 143rd assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
January 26, 2022

Thank you, Mr. President. I believe it’s very important that we report on this trip. This is a practice I have learned from the late Senator Nene Pimentel, to be very detailed in our reports so that we can also share our learnings with our colleagues and the Filipino people.

I will make this brief, Mr. President, in the interest of time. But I will submit a full report to each of your offices, complete with pictures, and then I will also submit my speech into the record. So let me begin.

Mr. President, I rise today on a matter of personal and collective privilege.

Last November 26 to 30, 2021, I took part in the 143rd Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly and Related Meetings in Madrid, Spain, as the sole representative of the Philippine Senate.

This year’s theme was “Contemporary Challenges to Democracy: Overcoming Division and Building Community.” The IPU Members adopted the Madrid Declaration, which calls for a new approach to democracy with a renewed commitment to core democratic values, inclusiveness, and problem-solving.

Of course, these debates took place amidst COVID and we were swift to tackle policies based on evidence to immediately respond to emergencies and mitigate the negative impact of this unprecedented health event. It was discussed that all countries had sadly observed that this had negative effects on the democratic process, [thus] the need to act urgently. And these challenges were further aggravated by COVID itself.

During the General Plenary Debate, which I participated in, I stressed that our response to these challenges must be long-lasting solutions that incorporate the concept of intergenerational fairness, so that it will have a positive effect on the next generations.

Intergenerational fairness is the concept of justice among generations, which is the foundation of sustainable development, in the use and conservation of the environment and its natural resources, cultural resources, and the proper way to approach economic and social problems.

I also cited various Senate initiatives, such as the creation of the Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation, and Futures Thinking that is focused on monitoring progress in sustainable development and mainstreaming futures thinking.

Always a topic in the IPU is women’s representation. I reported that 28% of the members of the House of Representatives and 29% of our Senators are women.

This places the Philippines at the 61st spot out of 188 countries, in terms of women representation in parliament, according to the latest IPU Report. This is the highest number ever achieved in the Philippine Senate.

We also discussed misinformation and fake news. We had discussions on education, regarding the quality of education and the challenges during COVID, and climate change. Again, the details are in my report, your honor.

During the Forum of Women Parliamentarians, we discussed a Resolution entitled “Legislation Worldwide to Combat Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse from a Gender Perspective.” I joined two (2) meetings that discussed the following:

One, on child exploitation, I shared reports that confirmed cases of online child exploitation in the Philippines, where children are being sexually exploited by adults within their own households.

On abuse from a gender perspective, I decided to share an interesting reality in the Philippines, wherein we have millions of women and mothers who leave the country to make a living and serve as nurses, as doctors, and as household helps in other countries, in other homes, the effect of which is that they leave their own families behind. And this has had repercussions that will for generations have to be dealt with.

During the meeting of the Standing Committee on United Nations Affairs, we discussed the global vaccination campaign to end the COVID-19 pandemic. I mentioned in my intervention how the Philippine Senate has been instrumental in engaging our government on the adequate procurement and prompt delivery of vaccines, and ensuring enough budget for COVID-19 vaccines.

To stress the importance of vaccine equity, I highlighted that we continue to prioritize our healthcare workers for vaccination and financial protection, given that they are put in high-risk situations at the forefront of the battle against the virus.

During the discussion of a Resolution on an Emergency Item, the IPU Member Parliaments unanimously backed the African Group’s Resolution, which calls for global parliamentary support for vaccine equity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the High-Level Advisory Group discussion on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, I initially expressed my intention to vie for the vacant position at the IPU’s High-Level Advisory Group [on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism], as one of the representatives of the Asia-Pacific Group.

I have had the opportunity to engage in security studies, thus my interest in this matter.

However, During the Assembly, this representation was approached by the Honorable Eva Abdulla, Deputy Speaker of the People’s Majlis, the Parliament of the Maldives, who sought our support in her bid for the same position. She recounted her country’s, as well as her own experiences, of the surge of extremist ideas and actions in the Maldives, which included death threats on their Speaker and herself.

I felt that the proper thing to do, your honor, was to give way and support the Deputy Speaker for the aforementioned position. She was very thankful for this initiative on our part and committed to also support us in future endeavors.

This representation likewise had Other Bilateral Side Meetings with:

•The Honorable Meera Alsuwaidi, Member of the U.A.E.’s Federal National Council and a ranking Member of the IPU’s Bureau of Women Parliamentarians.

•Senator Gabriel Cuevas Barron of Mexico, immediate past president of the IPU.

•And the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PF-SALW), Ms. Karin Oloffson, whom I have met in 2018 in another conference.

I also had the opportunity to visit the exhibit of National Artist Kidlat Tahimik, who is showcasing Philippine history at the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid, Spain, something we can be very, very proud of.

In closing, I thank you, Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to represent the Senate of the Philippines and express our views on various important issues. I remain a supporter of global affiliation and continue to learn from colleagues across the globe, who encounter similar concerns that we have in the Philippines. Our participation in the IPU Assembly is important now, more than ever, considering that learning from each other and working together is vital in our survival from the COVID-19 pandemic, and other future public health events.

With that, I thank you again, your honor, and I will submit this speech and my newsletter to every office of our colleagues.

Thank you, your honor. #

Pia Cayetano
Parliaments working together is vital in addressing COVID-19 and future pandemics. Thus stressed Sen. Pia Cayetano in a privilege speech on the Philippine Senate’s participation at the 143rd assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

Tito Nene fought for things we take for granted today

Eulogy of Senator Pia S. Cayetano for the late Senate President Aquilino ‘Nene’ Q. Pimentel, Jr. (October 23, 2019, Senate Plenary)

Tita Bing, Koko, Gwen, and the rest of the Pimentel family. SP, Tita Helen. President Erap, colleagues and friends of Tito Nene.

 

I have grappled since Sunday morning to find the right words to honor Tito Nene. In a matter of hours, the news reported out the loss of a leader of a generation that fought for democracy, the father of the Local Government Code, the original proponent of federalism.

 

Tito Nene did grand things. There’s no doubt about that. But for me and those who knew him well, we will remember him for the small things. For what is greatness without kindness? Without humility? Without compassion? Traits I saw in my seatmate and mentor for many years.  Whatever he fought for on the floor, I saw it up close. Beyond the brilliant legislator and defender of democracy that he was, I got to know the kind and gentle person who was a loving husband to Tita Bing and father to their children. His kindness extended to me. I felt like I had a father who was looking after me and guiding me.

 

In the middle of my first term, there was a change in leadership and I became a member of the minority. And that’s when Tito Nene became my seatmate. I would often consult him. He always took time to provide me with his feedback. But more than that, he always encouraged me and  commended me for the work I was doing. Thinking about him while writing this, I am reminded of how generous he was with praise and how slow he was to criticize.

 

In a world where trading barbs and sometimes the use of foul language can be the norm, I cannot even recall Tito Nene saying an unkind word about someone. Don’t get me wrong, he was quick to stand up and register his opposition to something he was against, but always in a professional manner. In fact, the image I have in my mind is him in a huddle or someone approaching him and him saying, “Sige na, okay na.”

 

During the session breaks, Tito Nene attended conferences abroad. He would then deliver a privilege speech detailing his trip. He told me I should do the same. Thus, I adopted the habit of documenting and reporting out on the floor the meetings and conferences I attended abroad, just like him.

 

Tito Nene also was constantly writing and editing his papers and books. When I asked him how he keeps track of all the details, he told  me to record everything that happens in a day because one day the information will be useful. Just a name, just a place, and from there it will help you remember more details. I do that now too.

 

Tito Nene and I were both very active in the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the oldest and largest organization of members of parliaments from all over the world. In 2010, I was ending my term as Vice President for what is now known as the IPU’s Women Bureau. I had the opportunity to run for higher office but I hesitated because of the workload. I went to him to basically inform him that I wasn’t going to pursue it. He said, “Sige na, kunin mo na. It will be a great honor for the country.” I trusted him completely, and then and there, I changed my mind. I ran and won and became the first Asian President of IPU’s Women Bureau.

 

During the many conferences we attended together, I also became close to Tita Bing who was his constant companion. Over the years, I heard the stories of what they went through as a family, how Tita Bing held them together during the difficult times while Tito Nene was fighting for the causes he believed in. When I got to know Tito Nene and Tita Bing, it was much more quiet times. Tita Bing was always there. And it’s true, beside every great man is a great woman.

 

Yesterday, when I paid my respects, ito na po ‘yung nakakatawa, hindi na po ako iiyak sa part na ito. Yesterday, when I paid my respects, I sat by Tita Bing and I said I was at a loss on what to say because many of my stories about Tito Nene were very personal. Stories I would tell his family but was not very comfortable sharing in a eulogy.

 

Tita Bing asked me, “Like what? Tell me.” And I said well, one day out of the blue, Tito Nene said to me, “Pia, I don’t do this, it’s not my thing, but you deserve to be happy and have a good man.”

 

Tita Bing burst out laughing and said, “Totoo ‘yan. Ikuwento mo yan para they will know that side of your Tito Nene.” So there. Kwinento ko na po. I’m including that part of Tito Nene. He proceeded to introduce me to someone, the outcome of which I will leave to your speculation because it will remain forever a Pimentel and Cayetano family secret. Of course my dear sister Gwen knows all about this, but I was surprised that even Koko knew and he was laughing last night recounting his version of the story.

 

One last story, the late Joker Arroyo who was also my seatmate after Tito Nene retired, sat behind me and Tito Nene.  True to his name, Joker often ribbed Tito Nene saying that he could not understand what was Nene’s obsession with the poor and his fight for democracy. According to Joker, Nene was an unico hijo and a brilliant lawyer who did not have to bother fighting on the streets. Tito Nene would just laugh heartily. Kilala na niya si Joker. They go back a long time. They were comrades in the parliament of the streets. But it’s true, Tito Nene used his best days fighting for things we take for granted today.

 

I hope my contributions add to your appreciation of the Honorable Nene Pimentel, who was great in the big ways and marvelous in the small ways that made him human and beloved to those of us whose lives he touched.

 

I’ll end with this… The Senate staff would know that we were still in the building because my pink water bottle and his cup of pencils and pens would still be on our table. I have since upgraded my water bottle to a bamboo tumbler. He has turned in his cup for one that flows eternally.

 

When I saw Tita Bing last night, she said to me, “Love ka nun.” Tita Bing, love ko din siya. #

The remains of the late Senate President Aquilino ‘Nene’ Q. Pimentel Jr. arrives at the Senate of the Philippines.
Senators led by Senate President Vicente Sotto III stood in front of the Senate Building as honor guards carry the casket of former Senate President Nene Pimentel.
Senator Pia S. Cayetano: “Tito Nene used his best days fighting for things we take for granted today.”
Senators present Senate Resolution No.168 honoring the late Senate President to the Pimentel family.