Vico Sotto named anti-corruption champion by US state dep’t

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    PASIG City Mayor Vico Sotto has been named by the US Department of State as one of 12 “International Anti-corruption Champions.”

    In a statement posted on the department’s website, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sotto said the International Anti-corruption Champions Award recognizes individuals “who have worked tirelessly, often in the face of adversity, to defend transparency, combat corruption, and ensure accountability in their own countries.”

    He pledged that the Biden administration will work in concert with its partners, “including courageous individuals” who champion anti-corruption efforts in their respective countries.

    The State Department described Sotto as a “standard-bearer for a new generation of Philippine politicians” who prioritize anti-corruption and transparency initiatives in their election campaigns and in office.

    “In 2019, Sotto, then a 29-year-old city councilor, defeated an incumbent mayor whose family had ruled the city for 27 years. Sotto’s prior work on the city council resulted in freedom of information legislation that allowed city residents to request documents without having to provide a justification – the first such law in the Metro Manila area,” the statement said.

    “Sotto has sought to solidify his reputation as a fresh voice with a new, more transparent approach to governance,” it also said.

    It also said Sotto “pledged to avoid any kickbacks in awarding city contracts, established a 24/7 public information and complaints hotline and mandated that the value of all city government contracts be reduced by at least 10 percent-a measure intended to reduce bribery in the contract awarding process.”

    Sotto first entered politics in 2016 when he won a term as an independent city councilor.

    His 2019 victory against incumbent Mayor Bobby Eusebio ended the 27-year reign of the Eusebio clan in Pasig.

    The rest of the honorees are Diana Salazar of Ecuador, Ardian Dvorani of Albania, Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro of Guatemala, Sophia Pretrick of the Federated States of Micronesia, Anjali Bhardwaj of India, Ibrahima Kalil Gueye of Guinea, Mustafa Abdullah Sanalla of Libya, Dhuha Mohammed of Iraq, Bolot Temirov of the Kyrgyz Republic, Francis Ben Kaifala of Sierra Leone and Ruslan Ryaboshapka of Ukraine.

    Salazar is Ecuador’s attorney general who prosecuted some of the highest-profile corruption cases in the country.

    Dvorani is a key proponent of reforms in the Albanian judiciary as a judge and member of its Justice Appointments Council.

    Alfaro is the chief of the Special Prosecutors Office Against Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala.

    Pretrick raised the profile of anti-corruption drive in Micronesia through her work as investigative advisor for the Compliance Investigation Division of the State Auditor.

    Bhardwaj is a founder of citizen’s group Satark Nagrik Sangathan and of the Right to Information Movement in India working to promote transparency and governance as well as citizen’s participation.

    Gueye is honored for his work as chair of the Organization for Positive Change focusing on good governance, peace, education and anti-corruption efforts in the African country of Guinea.

    Sanalla is recognized for his work in protecting Libya’s natural resources as chair of his country’s National Oil Corporation.

    Mohammed is recognized for his work preventing payroll fraud for government employees in Iraq, as director general for electronic payments at the Central Bank of Iraq.

    Temirov is an investigative journalist and editor-in-chief of Factcheck.kg. That published a series of reports on individuals involved in large-scale money laundering and smuggling operation.

    Kaifala is the Commissioner of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission while Ryaboshapka has pioneered the restructuring of Ukraine’s prosecutorial service to better equip it to tackle corruption cases.