The 24-member Senate formally convened for the opening of the First Regular Session of the 19th Congress as it prepares to legislate important measures to help the economy recover from the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and political conflicts.

Senate President Migz Zubiri banged the gavel at exactly 10 a.m. to signal the opening of the session.

All 24 senators were present, signifying the return to normal proceedings from the previous virtual and hybrid sessions due to the pandemic.

Zubiri was elected Senate President by majority of the senators, with Senators Risa Hontiveros, Koko Pimentel III, and siblings Alan Peter Cayetano and Pia Cayetano abstaining.

“We could prefer to be independents but committed to help the institution succeed.”

The Cayetanos said they would prefer to be independent but committed to helping the institution succeed.

Senator Loren Legarda was elected Senate President Pro-Tempore while Senator Joel Villanueva was elected as the Majority Leader.

Pimentel will lead the 2-man minority bloc, with Senator Risa Hontiveros as member.

Pimentel will lead the 2-man minority bloc, with Senator Risa Hontiveros as a member.

Also elected was Atty. Renato Bantug Jr. as the Senate Secretary.

The new senators formally took their oath as the Senate opened its session.

They are reelected Senators Zubiri, Villanueva, Hontiveros, and Win Gatchalian; returning Senators Legarda, Francis Escudero, Cayetano (Alan Peter), Joseph Victor Ejercito, and Jinggoy Estrada; and neophyte Senators Robin Padilla, Raffy Tulfo, and Mark Villar.

Right after the suspension of the session, the Senators also participated in a photoshoot with their spouses.

After the morning session, the Senators proceeded to the House of Representatives for a joint session of Congress to listen to the first State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In his acceptance speech, Zubiri thanked colleagues for the trust they bestowed upon him and vowed that the Senate under his leadership would remain independent.

He said the Senate would prioritize passing the 2023 national budget that would include funding for a stimulus package, including assistance to distressed industries and sectors affected by the pandemic and current political issues.



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