Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto has been named one of the U.S. State Department's 12 anti-corruption champions, showing how the international community is taking notice of his crusade against transactional politics that resonates with millennials and Gen Z.
Those living outside Pasig can only sigh with "sana all" whenever the 31-year-old goes viral for doing away with "trapo" or traditional politics.
It's no surprise that Sotto has earned the respect and admiration of many, said political analyst Ramon Casiple, citing the young mayor's 2019 election win as a "David and Goliath" tale.
"He broke down one of the pillars of what we know as the old politicians' network sa Pasig. I'm not surprised that he is noticed because he took up the anti-corruption challenge in Pasig City," Casiple told reportr.
"People clearly see what he stands for and that's exactly why he has support," said Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.
Sotto ended the nearly three-decade rule of the Eusebio family in Pasig City when he ran for mayor in 2019. He had the recall of a widely popular surname in both politics and entertainment, and at that time served only one term as councilor.
Since his victory, Sotto has made a conscious effort to reject traditional politics, surprising the public every now and then with his "anti-trapo" moves. Street signs, lamp posts and relief bags bear no trace of his image or initials. It's refreshing for all generations.
"He is definitely on the right track with his mayorship and I see that his future is bright if you're talking about possible national positions," Casiple said.
"He is one of the politicians you have to watch out for in the future not only because he comes from a political family or clan, but basically because he carved out his own path as seen in his mayorship," he added.
Here are some of Vico Sotto's most notable public service and anti-trapo moves that got social media buzzing this pandemic:
1. No 'trapo' labels
Even before the pandemic hit, Sotto has shunned putting his name or initials in any public project in Pasig--veering away from the old, conventional ways of other politicians.
He inaugurated school building without stamps of his or other politicians' names and even changed the logo of the city veterinary office to something "cuter" after mistakenly thinking that the original "v" logo was meant to represent "vico" when it was really used as a sign for vets.
2. 'Mobile palengke' during lockdowns
During the thick of lockdowns in 2020, Sotto introduced the 'mobile palengke' or a roving truck that sells produce in Pasig City to reduce the number of people going to the market, and to cater those who are afraid or unable to leave their homes.
3. Pepero in 'Ayuda' bags
Pasig City set the bar in terms of ayudas during lockdowns which included different items from hygiene products, food, and even Pepero--yup, those pretzel sticks.
4. Gadgets for distance learning
Under his leadership, Pasig City raised P1.2 billion for the purchase of tablets, laptops, and other learning devices for elementary up to senior high school students and teachers in public schools.
5. Cash aid, incentives for scholars
Despite the financial woes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pasig City provided cash aid to poor residents who were excluded from the national government's subsidy program.
The city, under Sotto's leadership, also managed to give incentives to its academic scholars who graduated with Latin honors even during the crisis.
6. Push for transparency
Pasig City became the first local government to partner with the Philippines' Freedom of Information body as Sotto carried on with his crusade for transparency in government that he started when he was councilor.
7. Digital contact tracing
In October last year, Pasig rolled out its own QR code-based contact tracing method called "Pasig Pass" as part of the city's new health monitoring system to minimize contact among residents and visitors of the city.
8. Doubling salaries of health workers
Sotto approved doubling the salaries of Pasig City's 314 barangay health workers in recognition of their work that has become more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pay of barangay health workers in Pasig City was adjusted to P12,000 from P5,000.
9. Rejecting 'utang na loob' to politicians
Late last year, Sotto became a trending topic on social media for telling Pasig City scholars that they don't owe anyone, especially politicians, for their free education since it comes from the people's money.
"Laging tandaan na wala kayong utang na loob kahit kanino (lalo na sa politiko) dahil pera ito ng taumbayan," said Sotto. "Na-a-appreciate ko naman kapag may nagpapasalamat sa kin pero naiilang ako dahil di ko pera to. Mag-aral lang kayo nang mabuti, sulit na ang investment ng Pasig sa inyo."
10. First LGU COVID-19 vaccination plan to be approved by DOH, WHO
Pasig City, under Sotto's leadership, was the first local government to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccination plan from the Department of Health and World Health Organization in the Philippines.