Sen. Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III
MANILA, Philippines – While Sotto has been silent on Corona, he was vocal in criticizing the Aquino administration’s efforts to bar the Arroyos from leaving the country. A former chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) under the Arroyo government, Sotto belongs to a party and bloc whose members in the Senate have yet to come up with a unified stand on the issue.
In 2007, Sotto ran under the Arroyo administration’s Team Unity senatorial ticket. He lost the election. In 2008, Mrs Arroyo then named him chair of the DDB.
Sotto, however, was implicated in a drugs controversy in 1997. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that he was accused of harboring links with drug lord Alfredo Tiongco, who allegedly financed his 1992 senatorial campaign. Sotto denied any ties but admitted that he sought police protection for Tiongco who he said approached him after allegedly receiving death threats.
Sotto chose to take his oath of office before Corona in July 2010.
Education: AB English, Colegio de San Juan de Letran
Senate committee: Senate Majority Leader, Chairperson of the Committee on Rules
(As chairman of the Committee on Rules, Sotto helped finalize the rules for the impeachment trial. He moved to convene the Senate as an impeachment court.)
Current term: 2010 to 2016
Eligible for reelection? Yes, in 2016. Sotto served for 2 consecutive terms earlier (first term: 1992 to 1998; second term: 1998 to 2004). He held no elective posts from 2004 to 2010. He is still allowed to bid for another 6-year term.
Political Party: Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC)
Observers say that Sotto is part of the bloc of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. The Philippine Star reported that the other members of the bloc are Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Gregorio Honasan.
Role in the Estrada impeachment trial:
In 2001, Sotto was among 11 senators who voted against opening the controversial second envelope allegedly containing incriminating evidence against then President Joseph Estrada. The senators argued that the envelope was inadmissible because it was not included in the impeachment complaint. That vote triggered a walk-out in the Senate and the People Power uprising that ousted Estrada.
Sotto told the Inquirer in December 2011, “People thought the vote against the envelope was a favor to the former president. And of course, we all know the consequences that followed.”
Position aired or published on Corona and on issues related to the Articles of Impeachment:
Before the SC issued the TRO, Sotto criticized the Justice Department’s watch list order against the Arroyos as illegal. He said allegations that former President Arroyo will try to flee the country are baseless.
He said in a statement in November 2011, “How can you make someone accountable for something you have not charged her with in court? Their (Aquino administration) arguments raised is a fallacy of non sequitur, it does not follow, it lacks causal connection.”
Sotto then scored Justice Secretary Leila de Lima for defying the temporary restraining order the Supreme Court issued when she barred the Arroyos from leaving the country. “Mali na nga from the start, pinaninindigan pa (It was wrong from the start but they refuse to change their stand). Now, they’re getting a dose of their own medicine. Immaturity and recklessness, that’s the kind of message they seem to be trying to send now to the public.”
Speaking on the TRO, he said, “The High Court has already spoken, the right to travel cannot be curtailed. That is a constitutionally-guaranteed right of every Filipino. And judging from what happened, GMA is not prohibited from traveling even when the SC decision is under appeal.” – Rappler.com