• Biden names Vico Sotto as one of 12 anti-corruption champions across the world
  • Sotto defeated longtime mayor Bobby Eusebio in 2019
  • Sotto's government focuses on transparency

President Joe Biden on Tuesday hailed a mayor in the Philippines as one of 12 anti-corruption champions across the world being recognized by the United States.

The U.S. Department of State named Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto as one of the recipients of its International Anticorruption Champions Award. Launched by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the award honors individuals who have made an impact in exposing and preventing corruption, and have demonstrated impressive leadership and courage. 

“The Biden administration recognizes that we will only be successful in combating these issues by working in concert with committed partners, including courageous individuals who champion anti-corruption efforts and countries working to fulfil their commitments to international anti-corruption standards,” Blinken said in a statement

“Vico Sotto is a standard-bearer for a new generation of Philippine politicians who prioritize anti-corruption and transparency initiatives in their election campaigns and in office,” the statement continued. 

The 31-year-old local chief executive began his career in public service as a city councilor in Pasig City in 2016. In that role, Sotto authored a city ordinance that allowed residents to request documents without the need to provide a justification. 

In Pasig City's 2019 mayoral race, Sotto defeated longtime mayor Bobby Eusebio. The Eusebio family had held the city's mayoralty for 30 years. 

Following his win in 2019, Sotto sought to make a more transparent government by establishing a 24/7 hotline where the public could seek information and report complaints; a measure that would prevent kickbacks in the awarding of city contracts; and legislation that aimed to reduce bribery in the awarding of contracts. 

Sotto also passed a measure that allowed civil society organizations to be more involved in Pasig's budgeting and policymaking. 

Sotto joins 11 other anti-corruption champions:

  • Albania’s judge Ardian Dvorani
  • Ecuador’s attorney general Diana Salazar
  • Micronesia’s investigative adviser Sophia Pretrick
  • Guatemala’s chief of the Special Prosecutors Office Against Corruption and Impunity Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro
  • Guinea’s chair of the Organization for Positive Change Brahima Kalil Gueye
  • India’s Right to Information Movement member Anjali Bhardwaj
  • Iraq’s Director General at the Central Bank Dhuha A. Mohammed
  • Kyrgyz investigative journalist Bolot Temirov
  • Libya’s National Oil Corporation chairman Mustafa Abdullah Sanalla
  • Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala
  • Ukraine’s former prosecutor general Ruslan Ruaboshapka

“The State Department continues to stand by citizens around the world calling for transparent, accountable governments. We proudly recognize these international champions of anticorruption and all those who have taken a stand against corruption,” the U.S. State Department said.  It remains to be seen how US President Joe Biden will respond to the new attacks It remains to be seen how US President Joe Biden will respond to the new attacks Photo: AFP / SAUL LOEB