MANILA, Philippines – Amid an overwhelming majority vote, Senator Vicente Sotto III became the 29th Senate President on Monday, May 21, to the dismay of his critics.
Sotto is the most senior member of the chamber, having been a senator for two decades. He has also served 9 Senate presidents. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: The goals and challenges of the Senate under Sotto)
Despite this, criticisms against Sotto abound. Critics of Sotto, who began his career in the entertainment industry as part of comedy trio Tito, Vic & Joey, have questioned his qualifications to lead the chamber and have called him a plagiarist, misogynist, and unworthy of his post. (READ: Tito Sotto and the blurry lines of showbiz, politics)
Issues continue to hound him, such as the “na-ano” remark against single mothers, the 2012 plagiarism controversy, victim-blaming, his conservative stance on bills, and other street-language statements, which others deem inappropriate for a public official.
Some senators, however, see a different view of their new leader. During the turnover, former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel III cited Sotto’s experience and hard work, saying Sotto is the go-to person for solving problems in the chamber.
“My nominee is an institution in the Senate. He has been there and done that in his long career in the Senate,” Pimentel said.
He also praised Sotto’s “dedication to his work,” adding that “he is always present, always on time, always prepared.”
Before being elected to the Senate in 1992, Sotto served as Quezon City vice mayor starting 1988, where he said he met his friend, President Rodrigo Duterte. It was the same time he founded and organized the Quezon City Anti–Drug Council.
In 2008, after losing the senatorial elections the previous year, he headed the Dangerous Drugs Board.
With his long stay in the Senate – from 1992 to 2004 and 2010 to present – let us take a look at some of the bills that he passed into law.
In his first two terms, here are some the significant measures that Sotto passed into law:
- Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165), which serves as the government’s framework in battling illegal drugs
- Family Courts Act of 1997 (RA 8369), which established family courts with exclusive jurisdiction over child and family cases
- Laws that converted many municipalities into cities like Makati, Marikina, Pasig, Parañaque, and Muntinlupa, among others citihood laws
In the 15th Congress, where he served as majority leader, he passed these laws:
- Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act of 2012 (RA 10856)
- Kasambahay Law (RA 10361)
- Rural Farms School Act (RA 10681), which establishes rural farm schools as an alternative mode of secondary education
- Amendment to the Juvenile Justice Law, mandating the creation of Bahay Pag-Asa, an intensive juvenile and intervention center, in LGUs
- Amendment to the Intellectual Property Code, which strengthens IP rights protection by granting enforcement powers to the Intellectual Property Office. However, the law’s provision allowing warrantless searches, raids, and seizure was criticized for being a violation of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution.
- While he did not sponsor the Cybercrime Prevention Act, he drew criticisms for proposing a provision on cyber libel, which was eventually adopted by the Senate and the House.
These are the laws he passed in the 16th Congress, where he was with the minority:
- Expanded Senior Citizens Act (RA 9994)
- Open High School System Act (RA 10665)
- Children’s Safety on Motorcycles Act (RA 10666)
- Children’s Emergency Relief and Protection Act (RA 10821), mandating protection for children before, during, and after disasters
- National Athletes, Coaches, and Trainers Benefits and Incentives Act (RA 9064)
- Maritime Industry Act (MARINA) (RA 10635)
- National Teacher’s Day (RA 10743)
In the current 17th Congress, where he served as majority leader and then Senate President, Sotto has so far passed 7 laws, with 4 bills** awaiting President Duterte’s signature. These include:
- Anti-Hazing Law**
- Mental Health Law**
- Pagkaing Pinoy Para sa Batang Pinoy Act**
- Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act**
- Anti-Hospital Deposit Law (RA 10932)
- Postponement of the 2017 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (RA 10952)
- TRAIN law (RA 19963)
Some of the measures he filed this Congress include the bill seeking to ban firecrackers, the bill to hike the SSS monthly pension, the proposed Maternity Leave Monetization Act, the protection of online and broadcast journalist from revealing their sources, and the bill seeking to mandate 14th month pay of employees. – Rappler.com