By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
CALAMBA, Laguna — Senate President Vicente Sotto III formally endorsed Monday his senatorial candidates in the midterm elections.
Sotto took the opportunity to officially introduce his personal bets for the senatorial race during the launch of the Luntian Pilipinas partylist’s “10 Million Trees Challenge” here.
In Sotto’s senatorial line-up were reelectionist Senators Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, Nancy Binay, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Grace Poe, and Cynthia Villar.
He also endorsed the comeback bid of former senator Lito Lapid and Pia Cayetano, as well as the candidacy of former presidential special assistant Christopher “Bong” Go.
Sotto earlier dubbed his personal senatorial slate as his “Tough 10”.
The Senate leader has been campaigning for his colleagues who are seeking a second term in the Upper Chamber, citing his working experience with them.
“Ako po’y 27 taon nang senador, 1992 pa ako nahalal (I have been a senator for 27 years, I was elected in 1992). I have been with the best and the brightest. And one thing I can assure you, the line up of reelectionists in the Senate today is the reason why the Philippine Senate now has reached the highest-ever trust and approval ratings the country has ever had from 1987 to the present,” Sotto said in a press briefing here.
“It’s because of the diligence, the hardworking, the transparency of the work of the Senate, and the sincerity of the work of its members. That is precisely the reason that I am endorsing the seven reelectionists in the 2019 elections,” he explained.
In another statement, he said that while they may have different opinions on various issues , they respect each other’s perspectives all the time.
“That’s what makes this current batch of Senate members different from the previous ones. We’re all here to work for a great common cause – to be the voice of the people and ensure the independence of the institution,” he added.
The reelectionist senators thanked Sotto, saying his endorsement will be a “big” boost in their attempt to serve for another six years in the Senate.
Sotto defends Go
Sotto, meanwhile, vouched for Go despite allegations linking the latter to the illegal drug trade, especially after the man named “Bikoy” surfaced Monday.
The Senate chief said he has known and have been friends with Go since 1997. They play golf together, he said.
Sotto said he expressed willingness to support Go’s bid to be a senator as early as last year, even before the President’s trusted aide made up his mind to seek a Senate seat.
Asked on the drug claims hurled at Go, Sotto said he does not entertain allegations that come from social media. He said he did not personally watch the controversial, “Ang Totoong Narco List” video series.
“Bikoy”, the hooded man in the video, revealed himself on Monday as Peter Joemel Advincula and sought the help of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
He maintained his allegations against President Duterte and his close allies are true.
Go, during the Luntiang Pilipinas presser, bared his back anew to belie Advincula’s claims. He dismissed the videos as “black propaganda” against the administration and its senatorial candidates.
Sotto said he believes Go will complement the reelectionists and his two other bets when they win in midterm polls.
“Alam ko ‘yung hubog [niya]…It doesn’t matter if he’s associated with the present administration, we will always remain independent in the Senate,” he also assured.
Of the “Tough 10” slate, only Aquino, Angara, Binay and Go were present when Sotto endorsed his bets.
Pimentel was represented by his wife, Kathryna, while Villar was represented by her daughter, Camille.
Sotto also campaigned for Luntian Pilipinas whose second nominee is his daughter, former actress Ciara Gamboa Sotto.