Sunday, June 2, 2013
During his first stint in the Philippine Senate, Senator Vicente C. Sotto III already served as the assistant majority leader of the 9th Congress. From then on, he continually served the Philippine Legislature until the 12th Congress that gave Sen. Sotto a vast experience in parliamentary rules and procedures.
As one of the veteran Senators that was given mandate by the people in the 15th Congress, Senator Sotto was entrusted to handle a very critical job after his colleagues overwhelmingly elected him as the Majority Leader. His election automatically earns him to be chair of the Senate Committee on Rules. The Committee handles all matters affecting the Rules of the Senate; the calendar as well as parliamentary rules and the order and manner of transacting business and the creation of committees.
As the Chairperson of the Rules Committee, Senator Sotto meticulously directed the smooth conduct of the daily plenary of the August chamber that resulted in the reporting out of 711 bills by the Senate.
Senator Sotto, displaying dedication to his sworn duties as Majority Leader, registered a perfect attendance in the daily plenary session of the 15th Congress. The dedication to his duties stemmed upon pledging full support for the passage of priority measures identified by the Executive Branch of the Government together with the leaderships of both chamber of Congress. He then became very active to work with and regularly attend LEDAC meetings, Legislative Summit and number of other informal meetings with his counterpart in the House of Representatives.
As a result, from the First to the end of the Third Regular Session of the 15th Congress, the able governance of Senator Sotto as Majority Leader, lead to the passage of forty two (42) nationally significant measures into laws and forty two (42) other measures awaiting to be signed into laws by the President.
Moreover, the Rules Committee was able to sponsor and adopt One Hundred Forty Five (145) equally significant Senate Resolutions filed in the chamber affecting the Senate as institution and the entire nation. This include among others, the passage of a Resolution Expressing the Senate’s collective sentiment for the President to grant Amnesty to the soldiers that staged an alleged mutiny against the government. Sen. Sotto, as majority leader, prioritized the said measure that paved the way for the grant of immediate liberty to the soldiers.
To further enhance the legislative process, Sen. Sotto during the early part of his term as majority leader, initiated moves to reform the Rules of the Senate. In his vision to revolutionize the legislative process to cope with the time of digital age, he conducted series of hearings and meetings on the proposed electronic filing of bills, live streaming of Senate sessions and the use of video-conference during sessions and committee hearings.
As a means to rectify other problem concerns in the legislative process, the Rules Committee chaired by Sen. Sotto likewise tackled in a series of committee hearings and Technical Working Group meetings issues affecting the Senate Rules like Bill Authorships, Leadership Vacuum in the Senate and matters involving contempt, issuance of sub-poena, and such other parliamentary inquiries and issues that have been raised by the members of the chamber from time to time.
Sen. Sotto’s determination to reform and improve the Senate’s legislative process thrives after his committee steered to adopt the creation and extension of regular and special committees in order to have a focus program on issues besetting the country. The Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, the Committee on Games & Amusements and the Committee on Amateur Sports Competitiveness; were created to specifically address the growing concerns in these sectors. Aside from these, the following special Committees were also created: Select Oversight Committee on Suffrage, Select Oversight Committee on Local Government Code, Select Oversight Committee on Government Procurement, Oversight Committee on Bases Conversion, Special Oversight Committee on Economic Affairs, Oversight Committee on Intelligence And Confidential Funds, and the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditure.
In the midst of controversies involving ranking government officials that headed to the filing of impeachment complaints in Congress, Sen. Sotto led in the crafting and the passage of the Rules of Procedures on Impeachment Trial. During the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona, the Senate sitting as an impeachment court again entrusted to Senator Sotto the pivotal role of a Floor Leader.
While performing one of his primal duties as majority leader to facilitate the passage of relevant measures reported out by 39 Regular standing committees, Sen. Sotto, at the same time, exerted time and effort to undertake his duty as a legislator by actively participating in the deliberation of very important landmark legislations.
Showing his concern to the millions of depositors catered by the Banking system, Sen. Sotto introduced amendments to the “Anti Money Laundering Act” that will protect the confidentiality of private deposits from scrutiny without court order.
Aware of the plight of thousands of citizens victimized by criminals using the technology of the Internet, Sen. Sotto successfully introduced provisions in the Cybercrime Act that will make libel over the Internet and cybersquatting as a criminal offense.
Making true to his words of being the “Senador ng Pamilyang Pilipino”, the campaign slogan he uses that helped him thrive in the Senate, he passionately debated and opposed the controversial Reproductive Health Bill in order to protect the life of the unborn.
Sen. Sotto likewise painstakingly gave his full attention on the proposed amendments to the Juvenile Justice Act. He made sure that children ages 12 to 15 years old who committed a serious crime or any offense for the second time or oftener shall be mandatorily committed to a special facility called Bahay-Pag-asa. These are just few of the countless other measures of national concerns that Sen. Sotto participated in.
His personal conviction to provide justice specially to the oppressed, Sen. Sotto in several occasions stood in the Senate Floor to deliver privilege speeches as well as during public hearings exposing controversial issues. In the expose he made in the case of a Filipina rape victim by a Panamanian diplomatic official, Sen. Sotto questioned and strongly protests on the action made by DFA officials that favors diplomatic immunity from suit of diplomats over our domestic criminal laws and more so to the sovereignty of our country. In another occasion, Sen. Sotto likewise raised the issue of allowing of alleged illegal drug offenders to be released from detention during the pendency of an investigation in an automatic review of a dismissed case.
In the 15th Congress, Sen. Sotto filed thirty (30) bills and seventy-four (74) resolutions as principal author and co-author, which were mostly geared to benefit and promote the welfare of the general public.
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