SENATE President Vicente Sotto III has perorated on the importance and relevance of international law to the community of nations and to humanity in general.
In a speech delivered at the 141st International Parliamentarians’ Union (IPU) Assembly in Belgrade this week, Sotto urged lawmakers all over the world to translate international laws into “beneficial domestic laws” to help “those who are vulnerable to abuse and violence.”
The Senate president had good and nice-to-hear words for global parliamentarians, assuring them that the Philippines “remains a steadfast believer in the equalizing power of international law.”
Sotto stressed that he will “continue to support the IPU and the United Nations’ efforts to encourage governments to place their trust in international law and promote the primacy of the rule of law.”
While heaping praises for the role of international law in governance is just right, those in Europe and elsewhere who would care to listen and remember what Sotto had said before on the subject are in for a big surprise.
In October 2018, Sotto was reported to have chastised the IPU human rights committee, reminding the body that the Philippines is a sovereign state with a working judicial process.
This was at the time the IPU committee announced its plan to look into the possible human rights violations against Sen. Leila de Lima and then Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV who are staunch critics of President Duterte. No matter if De Lima and Trillanes are his colleagues in the Senate, Senator Sotto even supported the proposal of then House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to withdraw from the IPU. It was clear then that Sotto and Mrs. Arroyo were religiously toeing the line of President Duterte in vilifying European leaders for their scathing criticisms against his war on drugs.
In another display of unpredictability, Sotto suggested last July that the Philippines leave the UN after the Human Rights Council approved an Iceland-sponsored resolution seeking to probe the human rights situation in the Philippines. He even pointed out that the country spends $8.2 million mandatory contribution to the United Nations every year.
As one of the top leaders of the nation, the public expects Sotto to be consistent with his statements and positions. If President Duterte is skittish and unsure and prone to change his mind when the wind changes its course, the Senate president need not — and should not — ape him.
Speaking to an international audience is very much different from talking with Filipinos, especially those who grew up following silly shows like Eat Bulaga.