Senator Sotto and me

The lachrymose Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III turned bellicose after a week of relentless beatings by the plagiarism police. He had enough of it and he was not going to take it sitting down anymore. So he stood up and delivered a privilege speech.

He absolved himself of plagiarism and questioned his critics’ motives, defended Eat Bulaga and recited a poem by Joey de Leon the poet laureate of the Philippine Star and the Joey in the Tito, Vic, and Joey comedy team, and he moved that one out of several paragraphs that he mindlessly copied word for word from five blogs and one briefing paper be stricken off the Senate journal.

After his speech, Sen. Sotto joined Senate President Enrile in proposing a law that will target blogs and social media. Sotto felt he was a victim of cyber-bullying.

“Ako yata ang kauna-unahang senador ng Pilipinas na naging biktima ng cyber-bullying.” (I may be the very first Philippine senator who became a victim of cyber-bullying).

Well, Sotto is different. Or maybe I’m the one who’s different. He has a lot of fans, I don’t. He disappointed a lot of admirers when he ran on Gloria Arroyo’s senatorial slate in 2007 but they got over it and sent him back to the Senate in 2010. I don’t have any admirers to disappoint. People laugh at his jokes. I’m laughed at. He’s a multi-millionaire. I’m a thousandaire. He can grow facial hair, I can’t. He plagiarizes, I don’t. And if ever I inadvertently plagiarize, I will apologize and make amends. He won’t.

This is as far as he will go:

“Mr. President, with the permission of this body, I move that the paragraph containing reference with the study of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride which can be found in Journal No. 8 page 162 dated August 13, 2012 be stricken off the record in order to lay this matter to rest.”

An apology would have laid the matter to rest; striking it off the Journal of the Senate as if it never happened will not. Sotto could have explained that he could not access the book of Natasha Campbell-McBride so he looked for references to McBride’s work and found it in a blog called “Sarah the healthy economist.” Consequently, he copied and pasted the words of Sarah believing that they were direct quotes from McBride. Honest mistake. Sotto would have been forgiven for it. Hugs and kisses all around.

And Sotto would only have to make up excuses for the remaining four bloggers and one briefing paper that he also plagiarized. Hey, five counts of plagiarism are better than six, right?

But excuse me, Senator, I shouldn’t be calling them counts because counts refer to criminal offenses, as in six counts of theft. You did not commit any crime according to the law books you consulted . And Atty. Louie Andrew C. Calvario from the Office of the Director General of the Intellectual Property Office, also said you did not commit any crime.

So, okay, plagiarism is not a criminal offense in this country. That’s settled. Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III is not a criminal. That’s settled too. We can lay the legal issue to rest.

The only issue remaining, at least for those who have not liberated themselves from the tyranny of delicadeza, is the shamelessness in the commission of a shameful act, the sin vergüenza-ness of plagiarism and the brazen rationalization that followed. Sotto is obviously not bothered by that at all. Shamelessness liberates. Sotto is a free man. I’m still a slave. That’s the last difference I can think of. For now.

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • baycas ,

    1. Breakthrough ovulation may happen even after contraception, regardless if by natural or artificial means.

    2. This will mean there is still a chance of having fertilization in BOTH natural or artificial contraception.

    3. However, there is no inexpensive and readily available test to determine the presence of fertilization.

    4. Therefore, there is no easy way to determine the presence of abortion. (We will not be able to know if abortion took place before implantation of the fertilized egg. It is because the commonly used pregnancy test will only be positive after implantation.)

    5. The surest way to prevent fertilization (and, thus, abortion) is to abstain totally from having sexual intercourse even in “safe” days.

    6. Artificially, this can be achieved by proper and consistent use of hormonal contraceptives before intercourse (females) and condom during intercourse (males).

    7. It is of the nature of becoming either a celibate (No. 5) or sexually active (No. 6) in order to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

    8. I am pretty sure Sotto is a celibate if he intends to prevent unintended pregnancy in a reproductive age female (women capable of getting pregnant). TRUE or FALSE?

    • UPnnGrd ,

      Why again was Sotto’s spouse using birth control pills?

      Why can’t other Pinays of Pilipinas use birth control pills if Sotto and his spouse (and their doctor) felt that there was good reason for Mrs Sotto to use birth control pills?

    • baycas ,

      • UPnnGrd ,

        Aren’t you blaming the wrong dude? You should be blaming the lawyer chief of staff Villacorta, shouldn’t you? Villacorta is the puppet-master….. Villacorta is the one who told Sotto what words to use.

        • baycas ,

          • manuel buencamino ,

            From the link provided by Baycas:

            On groups behind criticisms against him (Sotto)

            “Unfortunately, hindi pa napipirmahan ng Presidente ‘yung Cybercrime Bill. Pwede na sana silang tanungin doon sa kanilang pagmumura at doon sa sinasabi nilang hindi maganda at imbento ng salita. Once the Cybercrime Bill will be enacted into law, they will be accountable for what they say or write.”

            On the Cybercrime Bill
            “First of all, penal laws are not retroactive. Pangalawa, wala naman akong intensyon na ganun. Mananagot naman sila. Sabi ko nga kahapon di ba, ‘Pag dumating ang takdang panahon na kinuha sila ni Lord, sila ang mananagot sa paninira nila doon hindi dito.’ Kaya wala silang maririnig na paninira sa akin.”

        • baycas ,

          mb, you’re clairvoyant. he is not.

          • manuel buencamino ,


            Not really. I made the call based on observation of standard Senate and House with regards to remarks entered in their respective journals.

          • Joe America ,

            The Court of Ethics is the Senate Ethics Committee. Senator Sotto is the uncharged defendant who is arguing his case without challenge. His attorney is not empowered to be the judge. Senator Sotto is not empowered to be the judge. The silence of the other senators is as despicable as Sotto’s unprincipled noise.

            • Manuel Buencamino ,

              True. Maybe the senate is following the SC’s example on the plagiarism if one of its member

              • Joe America ,

                Quite a sterling example for the young people of the Philippines, eh? THIS is how we do it, kids.

                • Manuel Buencamino ,


                  I read Sotto’s privilege speech again. I am now convinced that he honestly does not know what plagiarism is. Neither do any of his associates. He thought people who do song covers are plagiarists. Composers who earn money from royalties of their songs are going to strangle him for that ignorant remark. And then he recited a poem, written by his buddy, that says impressionists are also plagiarists. Rich Little would shoot Sotto’s poet friend for that equally ignorant idea. Finally his chief of staff said reintroduced pieces of legislation are plagiarized from earlier versions of bills, the bible is plagiarized from oral history, and we are all plagiarists because God made us in his image and likeness. Now I feel sorry for the man. And for a nation that elected an idiot to the senate.

                  • Joe America ,

                    Yes, and he certainly feels personally picked on, being the first “cyber bullied” senator. I think of the beating done on President Aquino by the anti-blogs, and the jabs at Senator Santiago when she acts up, and recognize that Senator Sotto is a bit of a child. The rub is that he is one with considerable power, able to defer good legislative work that would benefit a lot of women.