Senate floor leader Pete P. Reyes’ (Ind-Saipan) retirement tour continued in the Saipan and Northern Islands Legislative Delegation yesterday with the 68-year-old this time reminding his colleagues and incoming lawmakers to not forget their loved ones and families.
“I ask you members to please divide your time. Serve the public to the best of your ability but also take time to pay a little more attention to your family. They’re children now but before you know it they’re already teenagers,” said Reyes, who is retiring after 23 years in the House of Representatives and Senate.
“We’ll miss the time when we should cherish watching our children grow. It’s difficult for those with family and you need to once in a while show appreciation to your wife,” he added.
Reyes said he laments the times he was so absorbed with his work in the Legislature that his children sometimes forgot they had a father.
He shared a moment a few years ago that after months of coming to work early and coming home late and not even seeing a glimpse of his children, his daughter had begun calling him Uncle Pete because she rarely saw him anymore.
Aside from the value of family, Reyes also asked incoming members of the 19th Legislature not to forget prioritizing education, which he believes is the lifeblood and future of the islands.
“Never forget to assist and support the education of our children. Invest in our children,” he said.
The former U.S. Army veteran has donated over half a million of his salary as a legislator to the CNMI Scholarship Office. To the estimates of Reyes’ wife, Glenna, the senator has donated some $550,000 to the scholarship agency since 2000.
Aside from his valedictory speech in SNILD sine die, people in the gallery also heard other members of the delegation shower Reyes with praises while a box of napkins was jokingly passed around. Reyes shed some tears during his sine die speech in the Senate just days before.
Rep. Antonio Sablan (Ind-Saipan) said the retiring lawmaker is one of a kind and there probably wouldn’t be anyone like him in the Legislature.
“To put together a clear picture of what the good senator is, I remember the first day here at the Legislature. As I walked around the building I noticed something different about this one office. I remember seeing a sign that was different from all others—both at the House and the Senate. Over this one office the sign read: ‘Sen. Pete Reyes, Office of the People.’ I believe the simple sign went a long way in defining his record as a public servant…Hope you find enough things to do in your retirement. If you need someone to kill time with, I’m here,” he said.
House Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) said Reyes is one of the most respected members of the Legislature and incoming lawmakers would sadly be missing that sagely figure.
“One of the first things you learn when you come into this body—we call it ‘How To Congress 101’—is to know who to approach when you need something done.”
Deleon Guerrero said SNILD chair Ramon Tebuteb and Reyes, who is also the floor leader of the delegation, are the two people you need to approach when you need bills to be passed or appropriations to be made.
“When you have their support you can almost guarantee safe passage.”
The speaker echoed Sablan when he said Reyes is indeed unique.
“This gentleman has been my mentor as well since I came in. I think the passion he has exhibited over the years hasn’t diminished. That is not easy. For some who have been here many, many years the light tends to flicker or likely diminish but not in the case of my good friend, Sen. Reyes. He has always had that passion to serve the public and I think this Commonwealth will be losing a great leader.”
Sablan and Deleon Guerrero are among two of Reyes’ closest friends in the Legislature.
Rep. Anthony Benavente (Ind-Saipan) and Rep. Ralph Yumul (Ind-Saipan) also saluted Reyes for his long service to the CNMI.
“He’s a good mentor and I’ve admired him since Day 1. When I grown up I want to be like you!” said Benavente.
Yumul described Reyes as one of the pillars of the Legislature. “I’m still wet behind the ears and would continue to like to learn from veteran lawmakers like Reyes.”
Vice Speaker Francisco Dela Cruz (Ind-Saipan) said when he first came in during the 15th Legislature he had the pleasure of meeting Reyes, who is his cousin.
He said he learned a lot from Reyes and worked on many legislations with the senator, one of which is the creation of the Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission.
Rep. Ramon Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan) said the retiring senator was instrumental when he first ran for the House of Representatives. Tebuteb said Reyes was one of his advisers when he threw his hat in the political arena in 2001. He also remembered that Reyes was his SNILD chairman when he came in and he was the vice chairman.