Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto was hailed by the US State Department as one of its international anti-corruption champions, citing his prioritization of transparency and anti-corruption initiatives.

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto (Pasig PIO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto was hailed by the US State Department as one of its international anti-corruption champions, citing his prioritization of transparency and anti-corruption initiatives.

The International Anti-corruption Champions Award of the US State Department aims to recognize individuals who have demonstrated leadership, courage, and impact in preventing, exposing, and combating corruption.

He was described by the US State Department as a “standard-bearer for a new generation of Philippine politicians.”

Sotto was cited for ending the 27-year reign of a political family in Pasig City in 2019.

(Screenshot from US State Department’s website / MANILA BULLETIN)

His push for transparency while he was still a councillor was also recognized by the State Department as Sotto was the author of the first Freedom of Information (FOI) ordinance in Metro Manila.

Sotto, the youngest councillor then, told the Manila Bulletin about the passage of Pasig City Ordinance No. 37 or the first local transparency ordinance in Metro Manila in 2018 which allowed city residents to request documents without having to provide a justification.

Under the ordinance, if the information officer fails to provide the requested documents after the maximum period of 10 days, he/she will be sanctioned.

Moreover, it cited the efforts of the young mayor to fight corruption by establishing a transparent approach to governance in order to stop kickbacks in city projects and dealings.

“Sotto has sought to solidify his reputation as a fresh voice with a new, more transparent approach to governance. He pledged to avoid any kickbacks in the awarding of city contracts, established a 24/7 public information and complaints hotline, formally involved civil society organizations in the city’s budgeting and policy making, 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,” the US State Department said.

The US State Department recognized 11 other champions from around the globe, including a judge, an investigative journalist, and a founder of a non-government organization focusing on good governance, peace, and education. They are:

  • Ardian Dvorani – a judge and member of the Justice Appointments Council who is a key proponent of reforming Albania’s judicial system.
  • Diana Salazar – Ecuador’s Attorney General who prosecuted some of the Andean region’s highest-profile corruption cases, demonstrably improved the anticorruption atmosphere in Ecuador, and served as a hero to judges, lawyers, and prosecutors throughout South America. 
  • Sophia Pretrick – an investigative advisor for the Compliance Investigation Division of the Pohnpei State Auditor of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), almost single-handedly raised the profile of anticorruption activities in the FSM through her unique blend of government intervention and grassroots advocacy. 
  •  Juan Francisco Sandoval Alfaro – chief of the Special Prosecutors Office Against Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala, has succeeded in battling persistent and systemic corruption in Guatemala.
  • Ibrahima Kalil Gueye – Chair and cofounder of the Organization for Positive Change in Guinea, an NGO focusing on good governance, peace, and education.
  • Anjali Bhardwaj – served as an active member of the Right to Information Movement in India for over two decades.
  • Dhuha A. Mohammed – the director general for Electronic Payments at the Central Bank of Iraq, has prevented payroll fraud by working to make Iraq’s payroll system more transparent.
  • Bolot Temirov – an investigative journalist and editor-in-chief of and one of the most effective and influential anticorruption advocates in the Kyrgyz Republic.
  • Mustafa Abdullah Sanalla – the chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation who played an integral role in protecting Libya’s natural resources, the country’s economic lifeline, from predatory internal and external actors during waves of conflict.
  • Francis Ben Kaifala – demonstrated strong leadership as the Commissioner of Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) which has implemented a comprehensive anti-corruption strategy resulting in investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of public officials from both the current Sierra Leone People’s Party administration and the previous All People’s Congress-led government.
  • Ruslan Ryaboshapka – pioneered the restructuring of the prosecutorial service in Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office, embarking upon an innovative process to recertify Ukraine’s thousands of public prosecutors and dismiss those deemed corrupt or ineffectual. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (