SENATE President Franklin Drilon on Independence Day appealed to the people to keep their faith in their democratic institutions such as the Senate amid the pork barrel scam controversies, and to separate the institution from the controversies involving some of its members.

"During these trying times in our nation's life, I call on our people to separate the institution from the controversies involving some of its members," said Drilon.

"Let us be more discerning. Let us not allow some quarters to dishonor our institutions, because the lack of respect for our democratic institutions only dishonor the memory of the brave and selfless Filipinos who valiantly fought the foreign colonizers to liberate our country, thus giving birth to Asia's first democracy," he said.

"I believe that the relentless search for the truth and justice is a cleansing process that will strengthen this institution as a part of our government," he added.

Drilon noted that challenges to Philippine democracy have been present since the earliest days of the Philippine government: "Since we declared our independence 116 years ago, our country has been through political upheavals and economic debacles."

"Countless times our democratic institutions passed through deep waters of political intrigues and controversies, but as a nation we have always shown peerless courage to defend the national interest and protect our institutions," Drilon said.

The Senate leader thus invited the public, particularly the nation's youth, to take a more active role in "preserving our democratic values and traditions, and protecting our democratic institutions," acknowledging that public vigilance will be a key component of "restoring honor and rebuilding respect to both houses of Congress."

Drilon said that Filipinos, especially the younger generation, must take to heart their responsibility of guarding national freedom, especially when concerning realities in government.

"I call on our people to renew our commitment to democracy. Let us revitalize our sense of nationhood with all of us thinking and acting as Filipinos, for Filipinos,” he said.

For his part, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino III challenged the "me-generation" to become "we-Generation."

Aquino challenged the youth, known as the "me-generation", to prove that they're more than just selfies and gimmicks by engaging themselves in nation-building programs and projects.

"Sad to say, the perception is that majority of today's youth are synonymous with parties, selfies and video games," said Aquino, chairman of the committee on youth.

"The youth must dispel these negative perceptions by actively participating in nation-building initiatives that will help improve the country we live in," added Aquino.

The senator cited the Gualandi Volunteer Service Program, Inc., a youth-led non-government organization based in Cebu City, which leads the fight against sexual assault of deaf children and women.

The group started the Break the Silence Network Project to help hearing-impaired children and women who are victims of sexual assault.

The senator also mentioned the Tagum-based TC Youth Laboratory Cooperative, which teaches youth the value of savings and financial security by "bringing the bank to the schools."

These two groups were among the winners of the 11th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations awards last year.

Meanwhile, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said in his Independence Day message said, "Harinawang makamtan ng ating bayan ang tunay na kalayaan mula sa gapos ng kahirapan, sa tanikala ng walang-katarungan at sa rehas ng kaliwa't kanang katiwalian."

"Habang kaming mga nasa gobyerno ay buong siglang nagpapatupad ng mga mapapait ngunit kinakailangang reporma, paniniwala't pakiwari ko na ang taumbayan ay nakikinig, nagmamasid at patuloy na nakaantabay sa sinseridad ng bawat opisyal ng pamahalaang kanilang iniluklok upang makapagsilbi, hindi manalbahe," he said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)