Vicente C. Sotto III
Since its inauguration on October 16, 1916, the membership of the Philippine Senate has been composed of brilliant, dynamic and independent-minded men and women with their mandate directly coming from the people. It is therefore a distinct honor and privilege for Senator Vicente C. Sotto III to be part of this august chamber in the Ninth (9th), Tenth (10th), Eleventh (11th) and Twelfth (12th) Congress of the Philippines.
The destined rise of Senator Vicente C. Sotto III from the Vice-Mayoralty position of Quezon City to the Philippine Senate began in 1988 when he ran and won in a landslide victory unprecedented in the history of Quezon City. As Vice-Mayor, he was the presiding officer of the Quezon City Council. He founded the Vice-Mayors League of the Philippines and became its first President and was eventually elected President Emeritus of the League. It was during this term that his pursuit of a drug-free Philippines took form. Because of his crusade to protect the youth against illegal drugs from its pernicious effects, Senator Sotto was named National Vice-Chairman of the Citizen's Drugwatch. He was likewise awarded twice the International Award of Honor by the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association in Florida and California, U.S.A.
1992 marked the year when he entered national politics by overwhelmingly topping the Senatorial Elections. He acquired a total of 11,792,121 votes, a phenomenal achievement for a political neophyte. He is the third Sotto in the family to become part of the Philippine Senate. Before him were his granduncle Senator Filemon Sotto, acknowledged during his time as one of the Seven (7) Wise Men of the Philippine Assembly who served from 1916-1922 and his grandfather Senator Vicente Yap Sotto of Cebu, a maverick senator and author of the Press Freedom Law, who served from 1946-1953.
Senator Sotto of the 9th and 10th Congress (1992 - 1998)
During his first term, Senator Vicente C. Sotto III served as Assistant Majority Floor Leader and Chairman of the Senate Committees on Local Government and Tourism. He also assumed the Chairmanship of the Senate Committees on Youth and Sports Development; Illegal Drugs; and Rural Development. He was also a member of the Commission on Appointments.
Senator Sotto has successfully sponsored and steered the passage of sixty-one (61) Senate bills as principal sponsor during the Ninth (9th) Tenth (10th) Congress.
These measures include the conversion of a total of twenty-five (25) municipalities into cities such as the cities of Makati, Marikina, Pasig, Parañaque, Muntinlupa and others located in various parts of our country. The increase of cityhood bills after the delivery of Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991, confirmed the effectiveness of the concept of local autonomy as a viable strategy and vehicle towards progress and development. It is expected that the conversion of municipalities into cities will bring in more income to the local government units through greater share in the internal revenue allotment (IRA), and new sources of revenues as new cities' endeavor meet the growing demands for a better and more efficient delivery of basic public services.
Senator Sotto was also responsible for the passage of several bills, which provided for the establishment of tourist zones in our country, considered vital to the promotion and advancement of our tourism industry towards international standards.
With much needed reforms in our country's electoral process, Senator Sotto also filed a bill on absentee voting, which is one of the mandates of the Constitution left unheeded. This bill seeks to provide the mechanism for the registration of qualified Filipinos abroad in order for them to exercise their right to vote.
A conscientious lawmaker, Senator Sotto was one of the only five senators who voted against the ratification of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) amidst strong pressures from various sectors.
His genuine concern for the welfare of the Filipino youth expanded the horizon of Senator Sotto when he authored two books " Vision for a Drug-Free Philippines" and "The Filipino: Values and Vision", reflecting his dream and aspirations in building a better society. The two books clearly revealed the visionary character of Senator Sotto an his sincere desire to have a better Philippines for the future generation.
Senator Sotto's legislative record shows a deep commitment to the youth and the underprivileged, as well as, to the upliftment of the basic public services and the progress and development of the country.
Senator Sotto of the 11th Congress (1998 - 2001)
In 1998, the Filipino people gave Senator Vicente C. Sotto III a fresh mandate when they elected him number one among the re-electionist senators. This gave Senator Sotto the opportunity to pursue and continue his commitment to the people to address and actively act on the problems confronting the country within the scope of his duty and influence as a senator.
At the onset of the 11th Congress, Senator Sotto was assigned the Chairmanship of the Senate Committees on Public Services which handles all matters affecting public services and utilities; communications; land, river, and sea transportation including railroads; inter-island navigation; and lighthouses; and the grant or amendment of legislative franchises. He also chaired the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, which handles all matters relating to science and technology including scientific and technological, development and advancement. Senator Sotto filed a total of one hundred ninety (190) legislative bills encompassing a wide range of concerns that affect the nation.
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, Senator Sotto tackled major issues assigned to his Committee. One of the first legislation enacted into law in the 11th Congress, Republic Act No. 8750, also known as the Seats Belts Use Act of 1999,” also emanated from his Committee. The Senate Committee on Public Services conducted a total of thirty-six (36) public hearing addressing major issues like the Princess of the Orient maritime tragedy, the Philippine Airlines controversy, interconnection, the cable industry, and issues confronting the telecommunications industry, among others. These came side by side with the tedious deliberations of legislative franchises applications. The Senate Committee on Public Services has approved a total of thirty-nine (39) legislative franchises vital to our country's industrialization and attempt for modernization.
Senator Sotto during his tenure as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, filed Philippine Senate Resolution No. 86 directing the appropriate Senate Committees to make an inquiry, in aid of legislation, the impact on the computer industry and possible problems arising from the 'millennium bug' or 'Y2K bug' and the preparations which are being undertaken in anticipation thereof with the coming of the year 2000. He then co-authored and led the Committee to deliberate on Senate Bill No. 1505 that led to the enactment of Republic Act Number 8747, entitled “An Act requiring disclosure of Year 2000 statements and readiness of computer-based systems and products, providing funds therefore, for other purposes” that prepared the country to cope with the Y2K bug threat.
In spite of his busy schedule as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, Senator Sotto continued his advocacy against the proliferation of illegal drugs by filing a number of bills addressing this menace plaguing the country. He filed several bills covering the different aspects to curb the drug problem. Senate Bill No. 383 entitled “An Act creating a Presidential Drug Enforcement Agency” is an organizational approach to control and eventually eliminate the drug problem by creating an agency that will focus on the coordination of the different anti-drug entities and the implementation of government policies addressing the drug problem. Senate Bill No. 384 entitled “An Act providing for the inclusion of “methamphetamine hydrochloride” commonly known as “shabu” under the classification of dangerous and prohibited drugs,” on the other hand, is a direct approach to ban certain substances prone to abuse.
Senator Sotto is a proactive advocate for the modernization of the telecommunications sector in the country. He filed a number of Senate Bills addressing the common problems besetting the telecommunications sector today like Senate Bill No. 1660 entitled “An Act mandating interconnection between and among public telecommunications entities” and Senate Bill No. 2084 entitled "An Act providing a service area scheme to all internet service providers (ISPs), liberalizing the granting of its operational license to offer expanded services and deploy internet broadband infrastructure and for other purposes."
A pragmatic nationalist who envisions a country free from the dictates of violence and internal threats, Senator Sotto voted for the approval of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), opening a new era of military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States of America. At the height of the issue concerning the proposal of some sectors to change the Philippine National Anthem, Senator Sotto delivered a privilege speech in defense of the existing anthem citing it as a fundamental symbol of our sovereign nation.
To further enhance his knowledge and competency in public governance, Senator Sotto embarked in an Executive program for Leaders in Development at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and completed it in June 2000.
Senator Sotto likewise served as Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and handled the deliberations of the annual budget of the Office of the President, Congress of the Philippines and the Department of Health. As a member of the majority party in the 11th Congress, he was also kept busy as the Assistant Majority Leader guiding and facilitating the deliberations and debates in the august Chamber.
Senator Sotto of the 12th Congress (2001 2004)
Now in his final three years, Senator Vicente C. Sotto III continues his hard work and education through his experiences and challenges in the Senate halls. From a neophyte senator who faced the immense pressure from the prying eyes of critics and expectations of his colleagues, Senator Sotto has proven his mettle and has earned the respect and trust of the other senators and most importantly, the Filipino people. He is now considered as one of the senior legislators in the Senate and is looked upon for guidance by his new Senator-peers trying to grasp the dynamics of the Philippine Senate.
Senator Sotto has always been an advocate for a drug-free Philippines, for a more efficient local government, for a modern information technology, and for a well-represented citizenry in government. He has filed one hundred and twenty six (126) Senate Bills and two (2) Senate Resolutions in the 12th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines.
Senator Sotto is currently one of the Assistant Minority Floor Leaders by virtue of his seniority and clear grasp of various issues and is a member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
His balanced and all-sided approach in addressing the wide gamut of problems facing our country reflects the maturity Senator Sotto has reached in the realm of legislation and public service. Amidst the lure of self-importance and arrogance particular to the nature of Philippine politics, Senator Sotto has maintained his humble disposition and selfless dedication maintaining close contact with the Filipino masses he swore to serve.
Serving his last three years in the Philippine Senate, Vicente C. Sotto III has reached far in his endeavors, but the peak of higher mountains in the distance still awaits him.
Tito Sotto: Before Public Service Beckoned
Prior to his entry into public service, Senator Sotto was a well-known composer, actor and musical artist. He was a prime mover in the irreversible trend toward the popularity of the Filipino singers and local compositions during the 1970's and the 1980's when he was the Vice-President for production of the Vicor Group of Companies. Among his popular compositions is the song Magkaisa, considered the anthem of the 1986 People Power Revolution.
Senator Sotto's television and movie career spans three decades starting in the 1970's to the present. Among his many television programs, he co-hosted the longest running program in Philippine history Eat Bulaga. The Senator also hosted Brigada Siete, a public affairs program that has garnered citations and trophies from renowned award-giving bodies.
An accomplished sportsman and a member of the Philippine Bowling Team, Senator Sotto has brought home gold medals and honors to the country. He won the National Finals to represent the country at the Bowling World Cup held in Bogota, Colombia, and in Sydney, Australia. At present, as an avid golfer, he has won several tournaments and is a consistent Class A player.
Senator Vicente C. Sotto III, or “Tito” to many, was born on August 24, 1948, to Marcelino Ojeda Sotto and Dr. Herminia Castelo Sotto, who was a staunch women's rights activist and the first Medical Commissioner of Workmen's Compensation Commission and President Emeritus of the Kababaihang Rizalista ng Pilipinas. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in English at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He embarked in an Executive Program for Leaders in Development at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government that he completed in June 2000. He is married to Ms. Helen Gamboa of Pampanga, a beauty titlist and multi-awarded actress and singer. They have four children Romina, Diorella, Gian and Ciara and two grandsons Romino and Victorio.