The Freeman

How Don Vicente Sotto was robbed of the Mayorship of Cebu


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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