Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III remains as Senate President.
On the first day of session of the 18th Congress, 22 senators were present since Senator Leila de Lima is still detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center while Senator Manny Pacquiao is still in Las Vegas after his boxing victory over Keith Thurman.
The voting was done through viva voce with those in favor of electing Sotto shouting “aye.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan abstained from voting.
In his nomination speech, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Sotto has a long and accomplished legislative career that has been marked by elections as both minority and majority leader.
“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.
“It has been an astounding 27 years since the Filipino people first entrusted Sen. Sotto to be their champion in the Senate, and since then he has shown his unfaltering commitment to return that trust in the form of solid legislative moves to uplift the lives of the people,” he added.
Zubiri said whatever challenges the Senate faced as a body, Sotto always showed them 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,” he said.
“His hard work and discipline as our steadfast leader has set a standard for the rest of us to live up to. His astute judgment has steered plenary sessions in the right direction, while still allowing for—and indeed encouraging!—healthy democratic debate among interpellators and sponsors.”
Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto seconded the nomination.
Recto, who temporarily presided over the session and had his speech read by Senator Pia Cayetano, 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,” he said.
He also said Sotto is also an expert in retail politics.
“Tito has kept his ears constantly pressed to the ground. When you have Tito, you do not need a political weathervane to gauge the public sentiment. And he has always been prescient in his prediction, but it does not mean he will always go where the wind blows, or rush where the applause is waiting, because in many fights he had waged, he would rather be right than popular,” Recto said.
Meanwhile, Recto was reelected as President Pro-Tempore, and Zubiri as Majority Leader and Rules committee chairman.
The senators also reelected Senate Secretary Myra Villarica while retired Major General Edgardo Rene Samonte was named Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, replacing Jose Balajadia who resigned from his post before passing away recently.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon will continue leading the opposition bloc.