As soon as news about Sotto succeeding Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III as Senate president came out, the former’s critics immediately went to work on social media, mocking him as someone who could not be taken seriously because of his longtime career as a comedian and entertainer.
Geremy Pintolo/File
Sotto takes bashing in stride, focuses on Senate leadership
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - May 25, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III is taking the bashing he has been receiving in stride, opting to tune out and focus on his work as the new leader of the Senate.

As soon as news about Sotto succeeding Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III as Senate president came out, the former’s critics immediately went to work on social media, mocking him as someone who could not be taken seriously because of his longtime career as a comedian and entertainer.

Asked about his feelings regarding the comments during a forum yesterday, Sotto said he would rather ignore the negative and just let his accomplishments do the talking.

“Apparently, we were that good as actors and comedians because they cannot move on. That was how effective we were, from 1973 to present, Escalera brothers and all, we made a huge impact on them. That means we were really that good,” Sotto said, referring to his hugely popular collaboration with his younger brother Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon as comedians.

The three started out as misfits in the hit TV show Iskul Bukol in the 1970s, where Sotto played the role of Tito Escalera, De Leon as Joey Escalera and Vic as Vic Ungasis.

They eventually became the frontrunners of noontime variety show Eat, Bulaga!, which first aired in 1979 and is still on the air today.

Sotto sarcastically noted how he has managed to pass over 160 laws and yet all his critics could remember him by are his comedic exploits on film and television.

The Senate President has taken a leave of absence from Eat, Bulaga! where he has been appearing every Thursday to Saturday or when there are no session days at the Senate.

A week before he was installed as Senate president, Sotto said he already informed De Leon, Vic and producer Tony Tuviera about his plan to take a leave of absence.

Now that he is Senate president, Sotto said he did not want the public to associate him with the show, fairly or unfairly.

He said it was De Leon who reacted negatively to his decision, saying that his critics should mind their own business.

“I would like to remain positive, especially now that I am Senate president. I no longer pay attention to distractions,” Sotto said.

“I will focus on my job. These are natural reactions to public figures. Silly accusations or fake news, I don’t mind them anymore,” he added.

Since assuming the Senate presidency, Sotto has already initiated several key changes in policy and organization in the chamber.

Sotto has made it a point to start plenary sessions on the dot at 3 p.m. in order to emphasize to his colleagues the importance of being on time.

By starting on time, Sotto said the Senate would be able to do more things during its three session days per week.

Sotto said he would also suggest to his colleagues to revive the holding of sessions on Thursday mornings to take up the bills of local coverage.

He explained that there are times when local bills, such as the renaming of roads and schools, take up a lot of the time during the session days because of their sheer number, so it would be better to allocate an entire session for these measures.

The Thursday sessions would not be held every week, but on a case-to-case basis or as the need arises, according to Sotto.

He also revealed that Pimentel, who is now an ordinary member of the Senate, is looking to take a more active role as chairman of several committees.

So far, Pimentel has been given the committee on trade, commerce and entrepreneurship, which was previously chaired by Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who is now Majority Leader.

Sotto said Pimentel is also interested in the committee on local government, which is being handled by Sen. Sonny Angara.

On top of this, Sotto said Pimentel is being eyed as chairman of the ethics committee and two other committees that he declined to name.

Pimentel has also taken over the membership of Sen. Manny Pacquiao in the Commission on Appointments.

AQUILINO PIMENTEL III SENATE VICENTE SOTTO III
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