How Don Vi­cente Sotto was robbed of the May­or­ship of Cebu

The Freeman - - OPINION -

On Novem­ber 5, 1907 a gen­eral elec­tion in the coun­try was held. In the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Cebu the fol­low­ing were the can­di­dates for the po­si­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal Pres­i­dent and earned the fol­low­ing votes: Vi­cente Yap Sotto - 650 votes, Martin Llorente - 483 and Ti­mo­teo de Cas­tro - 9 votes.

On De­cem­ber 1906, Don Vi­cente Sotto was con­victed for the crime of ab­duc­tion by the Court of First In­stance sen­tenc­ing him to four years and two months of pri­sion cor­rec­cional. The judg­ment was af­firmed by the Supreme Court on Novem­ber 23, 1907.

De­spite the pub­lic knowl­edge of the con­vic­tion of DonVi­cente Sotto of the crime of ab­duc­tion, still the elec­tors of Cebu over­whelm­ingly voted for him and his en­tire slate. His con­vic­tion by the court was of com­mon knowl­edge in the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Cebu and was known not only by ed­u­cated peo­ple, but also by the gen­eral masses.

Don Vi­cente Sotto sensed that he could not get jus­tice as he be­lieved that the case against him was ini­ti­ated by his political neme­sis sup­ported by the Amer­i­cans. The los­ing can­di­date, Martin Llorente (brother of Gov­er­nor Julio Llorente, who was sup­ported by the Amer­i­cans who ap­pointed him as Gov­er­nor of Cebu; Julio how­ever lost to Juan Cli­maco in the first elec­tion held in Cebu in 1901) protested the elec­tion, and dur­ing the hear­ing the court that heard the elec­toral protest did not al­low Vi­cente Sotto to ap­pear at the trial through his at­tor­ney.

Don Vi­cente Sotto be­fore the elec­tion es­caped to Hongkong to avoid ar­rest as his ap­peal be­fore the Supreme Court would surely be dis­missed. That is the rea­son that his el­der brother, fel­low lawyer and con­gress­man, Don File­mon Sotto rep­re­sented him in the elec­toral protest.

The Amer­i­can Judge, Adolph Wis­lizenus of the Court of First In­stance of Cebu found the votes cast for Vi­cente Sotto to be il­le­gal, de­clared Martin Llorente as the Mu­nic­i­pal Pres­i­dent of Cebu. Ti­mo­teo Cas­tro one of the can­di­dates chal­lenged the de­ci­sion of Judge Wis­lizenus. Cas­tro was rep­re­sented by the fa­mous lawyer and leg­is­la­tor from As­turias, To­mas Alonso.

Aside from the case filed by Cas­tro, File­mon Sotto el­der brother of Vi­cente Sotto through Gre­go­rio Aben­dan filed a com­plaint di­rectly to the Supreme Court chal­leng­ing the rul­ing of the Judge Wis­lizenus declar­ing Llorente as the elected Mu­nic­i­pal Pres­i­dent of Cebu. The case filed by Aben­dan in­cluded as co-de­fen­dant was the ben­e­fi­ciary of the rul­ing of Judge Wis­lizenus, Martin Llorente who was rep­re­sented by Domingo Franco.

The case was how­ever dis­missed by the Supreme Court on Fe­bru­ary 25, 1908 declar­ing that Gre­go­rio Aben­dan was not only a party to the pro­ceed­ing in the Court of First In­stance, but he had no right un­der the law to be­come a party to main­tain a pro­ceed­ing be­fore the Supreme Court.

Judge Wis­lizenus on Jan­uary 4, 1908 en­tered its de­ci­sion and or­der for judg­ment. The Court aside from declar­ing the los­ing can­di­date, Martin Llorente as the elected Mu­nic­i­pal Pres­i­dent, or­dered Vi­cente Sotto to pay for the costs of the hear­ing.

When the case reached the Supreme Court (the case filed by Cas­tro) it de­clared that the rul­ing of Judge Wis­lizenus was be­yond its ju­ris­dic­tion and the dec­la­ra­tion of Llorente as Mu­nic­i­pal Pres­i­dent as null and void. The Supreme Court En Banc de­ci­sion was made on Jan­uary 12, 1909.

While the Sotto brothers had vic­tory be­fore the Supreme Court, the ad­ver­sary of Vi­cente was not able to as­sume the po­si­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal Pres­i­dent of Cebu was short lived. The Vice Pres­i­dent of Vi­cente, Fran­cisco Veloso Arias and their en­tire slate who won in the elec­tions as­sumed the Pres­i­dency and sat as mem­bers of the Mu­nic­i­pal Board.

How­ever Fran­cisco V. Arias, who was then the Mu­nic­i­pal Pres­i­dent of Cebu a year later and his en­tire mu­nic­i­pal board was sus­pended by Gov­er­nor Dion­i­sio Jakos­alem, the lat­ter was cho­sen by Don Ser­gio Os­meña Sr. to re­place him af­ter he won as Con­gress­man and be­came the First Speaker of the Na­tional As­sem­bly. Af­ter Arias and his coun­cilors were sus­pended they were even­tu­ally re­placed and dis­missed by the Gov­er­nor of Cebu by per­sons who were not elected by the Ce­buanos.

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