Vicente Sotto III
To read this article in Filipino, please see this link.
Vicente "Tito" Castelo Sotto III (born 24 August 1948) is a Filipino politician and TV presenter. He is the current Senate President of the Philippines. He is on his fourth term in the Senate, with two consecutive terms from 1992 to 2004 and a reelection in 2010. Prior to serving in the Senate, he served as the Vice Mayor of Quezon City from 1988 to 1992. Sotto is a grandson and grandnephew of former Senators Vicente Y. Sotto and Filemon Sotto respectively.
As a former actor, comedian, music producer, songwriter, and bowler, Sotto founded and produced the musical group VST & Co., one of the pioneers of the Manila Sound. Sotto is also a co-host of Eat Bulaga!, the longest-running variety show in Philippine history.
Sotto is married to beauty titlist and multi-awarded actress and singer Helen Gamboa. They have four children: Romina Frances, Diorella Maria, Gian Carlo, and Ciara Anna.
Senate President Sotto and Senator Panfilo Lacson are the first tandem to formally announce their presidential and vice presidential bids for the 2022 Philippine elections. They announced their candidacy on 8 September 2021. Sotto is the chairman of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
Early Life and Education
Sotto was born on 24 August 1948 to Marcelino Antonio Ojeda Sotto and Dr. Herminia Castelo Sotto. His mother 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.
His siblings are Valmar, Marvic Valentin, and Marcelino Antonio Jr. His parternal grandfather and namesake was former Senator Vicente Sotto, who served from 1877 to 1950. His paternal granduncle, Filemon, also served as a Senator and one of the people who drafted the 1935 Constitution.
Sotto studied at Colegio de San Juan de Letran from elementary to college. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. He also completed an Executive Program for Leaders in Development at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government in June 2000.
Prior to his entry into public service, Sotto was a composer, actor, and musical artist. In the 1960s, he joined Tilt Down Men, where his brother Val was also a member. The band play covers of the Dave Clark Five. He later became the vice president of Vicor Music Corporation. In 1977, he was the vocalist of the group Bluejeans.
Sotto wrote the music for “Balatkayo” by Anthony Castelo which was the latter’s hit. Sotto also formed the Manila sound group VST & Company, where VST stand for his initials. Among his notable compositions is “Magkaisa”, which is recognized as one of the anthems in the 1986 People Power Revolution. Aside from co-hosting Eat Bulaga!, he also hosted Brigada Siete, a public affairs program.
Sotto is also an accomplished sportsman and a member of the Philippine Bowling Team. He has brought home gold medals and honors to the country. He won the National Finals and represented the country at the Bowling World Cup in Bogota, Colombia, and in Sydney, Australia. He is also an avid golfer and a consistent Class A player.
Sotto served as Vice Mayor of Quezon City from 1988 to 1992. As such, he was the presiding officer of the Quezon City Council. He founded the Vice Mayors League of the Philippines and served as its first President. He was eventually elected as President Emeritus of the League. He wanted the Philippines to be drug-free as he wanted to protect the youth against illegal drugs and its pernicious effects. Sotto was named National Vice Chairman of the Citizen’s Drugwatch. He was awarded twice the International Award of Honor by the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association in Florida and California, USA.
In 1992, Sotto won a total of 11,792,121 votes in the Senatorial Elections. He is the third Sotto in the family to be part of the Philippine Senate. His granduncle Filemon was acknowledged as one of the Seven Wise Men of the Philippine Assembly. His grandfather Vicente Yap Sotto, was a maverick Senator and author of the Press Freedom Law.
During his first term, Senator Sotto served as Assistant Majority Floor Leader and Chairman of the Senate Committees on Local Government and Tourism. He was also Chairman of the Senate Committees on Youth and Development, Illegal Drugs, and Rural Development. He was also a member of the Commission on Appointments.
He sponsored and steered the passage of 61 Senate bills during the 9th and 10th Congress. These measures include the following:
- Conversion of 25 municipalities into cities such as the cities of Makati, Marikina, Pasig, Parañaque, Muntinlupa and others located in various parts of our country also known as the Local Government Code of 1991
- Establishment of tourist zones in the country
- Bill on absentee voting
Sotto was one of the only five Senators who voted against the ratification of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) amidst pressure from various sectors.
Sotto authored two books, Vision for a Drug-Free Philippines and The Filipino: Values and Vision, which reflected his dream and aspiration of building a better society for the future generation.
His legislative records show his commitment to the youth and the underprivileged and to the upliftment of the basic public services and the progress and development of the country.
Sotto was reelected to be part of the 11th Congress where he served as Chairman of the Senate Committees on Public Services and Science and Technology. He filed a total of 190 legislative bills. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, he enacted into law the Republic Act No. 8750 also known as the Seat Belts Use Act of 1999. Aside from conducting a total of 36 public hearings, the committee also approved 39 legislative franchises.
As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Sotto filed the Senate Resolution No. 86 which the directed aid and resolutions for the possible problems arising from the “millennium bug” or “Y2K bug” with the coming of the year 2000. He then co-authored and pushed for the encament of RA No. 8747 or “An Act requiring disclosure of Year 2000 statements and readiness of computer-based systems and products, providing funds therefore, for other purposes.” He also filed Senate Bill No. 1660 or “An Act mandating interconnection between and among public telecommunications entities” and Senate Bill No. 2084 or "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."
Sotto voted for the approval of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). He also delivered a privilege speech in defense of the use of the existing national anthem citing it as a fundamental symbol of the nation.
Sotto also served as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and handled deliberations of the annual budget of the Office of the President, Congress of the Philippines, and the Department of Health (DOH). He also served as the Assistant Majority Leader and guided and facilitated the deliberations and debates in the August Chamber.
In the 12th Congress, Sotto filed 126 Senate Bills and 2 Senate Resolutions. He was also the Assistant Minority Floor Leaders and a member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
Some of the laws he authored were the following:
- Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002
- RA 8369 or the Family Courts Act of 1997
- RA 10361 or the Kasambahay Law
- Co-author, RA 11053 or the Anti-Hazing Law of 2018
Statements and Actions on Key Issues
- Pandemic: Sotto said that he could not imagine any other president who would be able to handle the pandemic. He added that he does not think that the problem the country is in now is because of the President.
- West Philippine Sea: Sotto said that due to the absence of an international body to help enforce the ruling, the United Nations ruling cannot be put in force. He, however, said that the arbitral victory can be used to the country’s advantage.
- Social Inequality: Sotto said that an anti-discrimination bill on persons in general might be approved but if only focused on gays, which the SOGIE bill is about, there is no chance.
- Sotto was critized for his comment saying that single mothers are “na-ano lang” (just got knocked up) to Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.
- He was criticized for “victim-blaming” on Juan for All’s segment on Eat Bulaga where a winner shared how her male friend had taken advantage of her when she was drunk. Sotto said that the woman should not have been drinking in the first place. He added that a married man or woman should act like one.
- Sotto was accused in 2012 of plagiarizing part of a speech of the late US Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He used the text in his speech against the Reproductive Health Bill. He apologized for this in 2012 but defended his speech in 2018.
- In 1997, Sotto was accused of harboring links with drug lord Alfredo Tiongco, who allegedly financed his 1992 senatorial campaign. He denied any links but said that he sought police protection for Tiongco who asked help after the latter allegedly received death threats.
Special Training, Seminars, and Conferences Attended
- High Level Segment and 52nd Commission on Narcotics (CND), United Nations Office, Vienna, Austria, March 2009
- Executive Program for Leaders in Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A., June 2000
- Microsoft Government Leaders’ Conference 2000, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A., April 2000
- INEOA Conference, New York, USA, October 1994
- INEOA Conference, San Diego, California, November 1996
- Implementing Decentralization with the Aim of Strengthening, Local Self Administration, Berlin, Germany, June -July 1994
Awards and Recognition
- International Award of Honor
International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association
(Sept. 2, 1991 - Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U. S. A.)
- 2nd International Award of Honor (Hall of Fame)
International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association
(Nov. 18, 1996 - Bahia Hotel, San Diego, Calif., U. S. A.)
- Catholic Mass Media Radio Award
Archdiocese of Manila
For composing the song “Magkaisa”
- International Gold Medalist
Ten Pin Bowling
- 7 Time National Team Member
Philippine Bowling Congress
- 2 Time World Cupper
Ten Pin Bowling ( 1978 and 1984)
Membership in Civic/Professional Organizations
- President Emeritus Founder /1st Elected President, Vice-Mayors' League of the Philippines
- Member, International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association
- Member, International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Vice Chairman, Citizens' Drugwatch Foundation
- Vice President, Vicor Music Corporation
- Former Board Member, Araullo University, Nueva Ecija
- Former President, Ham Radio Philippines
- A Vision for A Drug-Free Philippines, April 1994
- Drug Free Philippines, A Film Documentary, February 1996
- The Filipino: Values and Visions, January 1997
- “Vicente C. Sotto III”. Senate of the Philippines. (Accessed on 6 October 2021).
- “Resume of Senator Vicente C. Sotto III”. Senate of the Philippines. (Accessed on 6 October 2021).
- “Biography of Senator Vicente C. Sotto III”. Senate of the Philippines. (Accessed on 6 October 2021).
- Tantuco, Vernise.“FAST FACTS: 2022 presidential nominee Ping Lacson, vice presidential nominee Tito Sotto”. Rappler. (Accessed on 6 October 2021).