Sotto elected as Senate president
( - July 22, 2019 - 10:26am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 10:36 a.m.) — The Senate on Monday opened its session for the 18th Congress, with Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III again being elected to lead the upper chamber.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri nominated Sotto for the presidency of the Senate, with Sen. Panfilo Lacson seconding the nomination.

"No one is more familiar with the ways of the Senate than he is. Time and again, his colleagues have bestowed upon him their faith in his capabilities as a leader," Zubiri said.

"Having had the great honor of working closely with him in my capacity as majority leader, I can personally attest that were it not for his expert guidance, we would not have been able to achieve those numbers," Zubiri also said. 

"Whatever challenges that we faced as a body, Senator Sotto always showed us a way through. His approach to decision-making is both firm and understanding, fair to the interests not of any political party but of the Filipino people."

In a nomination speech read by Sen. Pia Cayetano on his behalf, Senate President Pro Tempore said Sotto "is better in writing laws than in writing songs. He is better in putting ideas into policies than words into music."

 "Yes, he might have built an impressive catalogue of songs, but this does not compare to his greatest hits in lawmaking," Recto also said.

There were no other nominations.

'First among equals'

In his acceptance speech, Sotto said the 18th Congress is a new beginning that brings new hope, adding that the hope began in 2016 with the election of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as president.

Sotto assured his colleagues that he is just presiding officer of the Senate and not theie superior.

He said the Senate would be "cooperative but independent" as it goes through the work of legislation.

Talk had circulated in the wake of the May midterm elections that Sen. Cynthia Villar, who topped the senatorial elections, would replace Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto III as leader of the upper house of Congress, prompting Sens. Lacson and Manny Pacquiao to spearhead the signing of a resolution expressing support for Sotto.

The resolution expressed the "full and unequivocal support of the senators to the continued leadership of Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III in the upcoming 18th Congress in order to maintain the Senate’s independence and uphold its proud tradition of being ‘the bastion of democracy’ in this country."

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, whose small minority bloc did not sign the resolution of support for Sotto, said the Senate president had "led the Senate well."

"He treats everyone fairly. He is president of the Senate and not just of the majority and he listens to everyone," Drilon, a former Senate president himself, said in June.

Drilon also said that first-term senators should focus on learning how work at the Senate is done, adding in Filipino that "changing the leadership of the Senate is not in their mandate."

"Nobody will listen to a neophyte senator who will call to replace Senate President Sotto. That's a reality that a neophyte senator must accept. If they say that they will talk to the senior senators to replace Sotto, unless Senate President Sotto committed a mortal sin, they won't follow the neophyte," Drilon also said.

This is a developing story

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