Senator Vicente Sotto III became the 29th Senate President on Monday, May 21, after Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III stepped down.
Sotto serves as the second Senate president of the 17th Congress, after 15 majority bloc senators last week agreed to move for the change of Senate leadership.
Pimentel, who resigned on early Monday morning, May 21, said the “peaceful and willing transfer of power in the Senate” had long been planned.
He formally nominated Sotto as his successor during the Senate plenary session later in the afternoon, saying his nominee is “an institution in the Senate. He has been there and done that in his long career in the Senate.”
He recognized Sotto’s performance as Senate majority leader, saying Sotto solved deadlocks on the floor and clarified difficult procedural issues.
Sotto, of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, said he is “deeply humbled and sincerely grateful” for the opportunity to lead the Senate “at this critical and challenging time.”
“To my colleagues and to the Filipino people, I am committed to do my very best and, with your help, I am confident that I have in my background the template of 9 other Senate presidents that I have served,” he said.
In his speech, Sotto vowed to be more “vocal” in defending the Senate and asserting its independent voice amid criticism that there were better options to lead the chamber. He also vowed to pass more laws for the benefit of Filipinos.
“I hereby pledge to continue in helping in the passage of laws that will be beneficial to the country and to every Filipino and to continue as well the diligence and dedication of Sen. Koko Pimentel who has been the principal author and sponsor of many landmark laws,” he said.
He also defended the Senate against criticisms saying it has been slow in processing measures passed by the House of Representatives — a “slow chamber” as House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez put it.
“Slow but sure. We are curing a lot,” he said, adding that the chamber had only 22 senators who should be judicious enough to scrutinize every bill passing through the Senate.
First elected to the Senate in 1992, Sotto is the most senior member of the Senate.
Sotto has led several committees, among them public services, science and technology, local governments and tourism. He has also sponsored and authored more than 100 laws, making him one of the most prolific senators.
Senator Miguel Zubiri will replace Sotto as majority leader.