MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, one of the most senior politician in the race, showed on Sunday, March 20, why he was overdue for the vice presidency.
From start to end of the Comelec-organized vice presidential debate, Sotto did not fail to hark back to the various positions he has held in government before offering his responses.
Asked about what he would change relating to the powers of a vice president, Sotto brought up his experience as Quezon City vice mayor, his efforts in creating the Vice Mayor’s League in 1989, and his efforts to make all municipal mayors as presiding officers of their respective councils.
Like what he had done during his time as vice mayor, it’s best to make the Vice President the Senate President or the Presiding Officer of the Senate, he said.
This would mean the Vice President would become a liaison between the executive and the legislative branch.
Continuing his point, Sotto highlighted his achievements as Senate President in the topic of COVID preparation and response where he mentioned that he was behind the hazard pay in the Bayanihan 1 and 2 aid laws.
He suggested for the country to manufacture its own medical supplies, to stop importation, and better prepare for the next pandemic. He also said that improved implementation of the hazard pay is needed because the law was already there, but was not being enforced properly.
“I am tired of making laws that are not implemented properly,” Sotto said in one of the highlight responses of the night.
He also answered from the perspective of being a Senate President when his fellow vice-presidential candidate, Walden Bello, pinned him as one of those responsible for rising prices because of the TRAIN law.
Sotto also did not forget to mention his standard-bearer, Senator Panfilo Lacson (also the most senior in the race) when he dealt with the topics of research, development, and anti-corruption. Sotto mentioned their program, the Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) on the topic of computerization of government agencies.
Sotto capped the Comelec debate by staying in line with his message of seniority being his strongest asset.
“I won’t make the Office of the Vice President my training ground. I will not be groping my way in the dark. My 30-year experience in public service is enough,” Sotto said in Filipino.
He cited the Filipinos’ trust in him, and said he would not let them down.
Various polls have shown over the years that Sotto had the highest trust and performance rating among top officials of the land next to President Rodrigo Duterte. Sotto trailed behind presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as the most preferred vice-presidential candidate according to a February 2022 poll by Pulse Asia.
Sotto started his political career as Vice Mayor of Quezon City in 1988. This tied him up with Senator Kiko Pangilinan, who was elected as Quezon City councilor in 1988, for having the most experience in politics. The two were followed by Atienza who started his first term as Manila City mayor in 1992.
Aside from Sotto, Pangilinan, and Atienza, only the presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Walden Bello had experience in elected posts. Dutere was elected as vice mayor prior to her election as city mayor in 2010 while Bello represented the Akbayan party for two terms. Although having several political activities, the rest of the vice-presidential candidates, namely Rizalito David, Manny Lopez, Willie Ong, and Carlos Serapio, have no experience leading through elected seats. – Rappler.com