MANILA (UPDATE) - The Senate on Monday approved a resolution commending Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto after the United States named him as one of 12 "Anti-Corruption Champions" and "the standard bearer for the new breed of politicians."
Senate President Vicente Sotto III - the mayor's uncle - and Sen. Panfilo Lacson authored Senate Resolution No. 660 hailing the 31-year-old local chief executive for being the lone Filipino recipient of the US State Department's award recognizing "individuals who have demonstrated leadership, courage, and impact in preventing, exposing and combating corruption."
"This distinction by the US State Department bestowed upon Mayor Vico Sotto... meaningfully uplifts the morale and dignity of the Filipino people amid the challenging times of the global pandemic," the resolution read.
"Mayor Sotto's transformational brand of leadership exemplified by his various proactive and innovative measures amid the coronavorus pandemic has been making rounds in social media and gaining distinction not only from the residents of Pasig but also in other localities," it said.
The Senate noted that through Mayor Sotto's leadership, Pasig City "is among the cities being eyed for the pilot roll out of vaccines" as it is the first local government unit "to have an approved vaccination plan."
"We find hope in the likes of Mayor Vico Sotto that the younger generation is represented by a public servant who exemplifies good governance, accountability, and integrity in the conduct of his duties," said Lacson, noting that in his 16 years in the Senate, this was his "very first authorship and sponsorship of a resolution honoring either a public or private person."
"It goes without saying that he is not only a breath of fresh air in Philippine politics, but truly a bright beacon of our beloved Fatherland," the senator said.
'AGE IS NOT A HINDRANCE FOR CHANGE'
Other senators also lauded the Pasig City chief executive for proving his mettle despite being a millennial and a neophyte mayor.
"Mayor Vico proved that age is not a hindrance for change. Ang kailangan lang po ay taos pusong hangarin na mapabuti ang ating sambayanan," Sen. Joel Villanueva said.
(What is only needed is a genuine desire to improve our society.)
"I'd like to thank Mayor Vico for bringing us hope that there are people in government we can look up to no matter what age," Sen. Grace Poe said.
"He has stayed true to his promises to the people of Pasig... In the worst of times, commitment to good governance saves lives," Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a devout Christian, also lauded Mayor Sotto for his God-fearing attitude.
"Talagang maganda kasi may takot siya sa Panginoon. Yan ang kailangan natin: may takot sa Panginoon at iimplement kung ano ang tama," Pacquiao said.
(He is really good because he fears the Lord. That is what we need: someone who fears God and who will implement what is right.)
"I hope marami pang Vico Sotto na lulutang diyan at ipaglalaban ang kapakanan ng mga Pilipino," he said.
(I hope there will be more people like Vico Sotto who will rise and fight for the welfare of Filipinos.)
Senate President Sotto underscored that many Filipinos living outside of Pasig City have been hoping to experience the younger Sotto's brand of governance in their areas.
Sotto passed a Freedom of Information ordinance in Pasig during his tenure as city councilor in 2016, and enforced a more transparent bidding process when he won the mayoralty race in 2019.
The elimination of kickbacks from the public bidding system allowed Pasig City to at least P1.2 billion in about a year, Mayor Sotto said in a recent statement.
"His new and fresh perspectives have led to many positive changes in the local government of Pasig City... This has brought optimism in a government where corruption is the norm, and goodness and honesty are the exeptions," Sen. Sotto said in plenary.
"He is not marching in step with what is customary. He opted to zig while others zag," he said of his nephew.
The Senate President ended his co-sponsorship speech with a messsage for the younger Sotto: "My dear inaanak (godchild), I already knew from the start that you are destined for greater heights."
"Your journey is still long and your tasks are many, if not endless. But with your current unparalleled achievements, I'm certain that there is nothing you cannot accomplish."
"More than the recognition", Sotto said he hopes the honor he received from the US government "helps raise awareness."
"If we want better long-term governance, we need to fight corruption. We have to denormalize it, get it out of our culture," the local official had said.