By Raïssa Robles
Senator Vicente Sotto III apologized – sort of – after Kerry Kennedy confirmed on Facebook that her letter urging him to apologize was genuine.
You can see Kennedy‘s post by clicking on this link: https://www.facebook.com/KerryKennedyRFK
Sen. Sotto said on the Senate floor:
If it upsets the Kennedy family, then I’m sorry.
Then he proceeded to insult Miguel Syjuco, who had initiated the move to solicit a comment from a Kennedy:
It appears that the Kennedy family has been misinformed to get them to say something about me.
In an attempt to exculpate himself, Sotto added that “copying is the highest form of flattery.”
Wala po akong inangkin so papaano po ako mag-a-apologize ng plagiarism eh wala po akong plinagiarize… sinabi ko ngang hindi akin… para hong pinagpiplead guilty ako sa murder eh ang dapat charge physical injuries. [I did not claim any authorship so how will I apologize for plagiarism when I did not plagiarize anything....I did say those (words) weren't mine....it's like I'm being made to plead guilty to murder when the charge should be physical injuries.]
Maliwanag po doon sa tatlong turno en contra speeches ko [na] ilang ulit ko pong sinabi and the journal will bear me out wala po ako sinabi dun na akin yun. [It is very clear in my three turno en contra speeches, I said it several times and the (Senate) journal will be me out, I did not say anything that those were mine.]
Sinabi ko na lahat ng sinabi ko sa mediko, agham at kung saan-saan ay hindi galing sa akin eh ang plagiarism to steal and pass off ideas or words of another as one’s own without crediting the source. [I said that everything I cited about medicine and science and all sorts of sources did not come from me, and plagiarism (means) to steal and pass off ideas or words of another as one's own without crediting the source.]
That’s right, sir. Without crediting the sources by name.
But let’s assume that Sen. Sotto was telling the truth. If all those ideas and words weren’t his, whose speech was that he had uttered on the Senate floor if he is now disowning authorship of most of what he had said?
What did Congressman Rudy Fariñas say during the Corona impeachment trial? PALUSOT.
Using Sen. Sotto’s argument that copying is the highest form of flattery, we should also simply junk the Optical Media Board because “copying is the highest form of flattery.”
A commenter on my site posted this video he had made from clips taken from an Optical Media Board advertisement against “piracy”. Remember that Sen. Sotto had made going after film pirates one of his senatorial crusades.
It took a Kennedy to make Sotto apologize
If the Honorable Senator is really sincere about his apology to Kennedy, he would also apologize to the three bloggers whom he had blatantly copied from without attribution. And on top of that insulted them as “just bloggers” whom he said he would not dream of copying from.
I was of course initially skeptical that a Kennedy would take the time to write a letter about Sotto’s “theft” from the late Robert Kennedy’s speech. And so I waited to see if Miguel Syjuco would really be able to get a Kennedy to react to something happening on the other side of the world.
When Syjuco did get a letter signed by Kerry Kennedy, I knew it was genuine.
Someone asked me to join in the filing of the ethics complaint against Sen. Sotto but after thinking about it, I realized that my work is to stay in the sidelines and watch all sides of the story.
I have been asked why I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time on Sen. Sotto’s plagiarism. I’m doing this for several reasons.
First, it strikes at the heart of my chosen profession. It’s a mortal sin in my line of work.
Second, a senator is accountable to the people. Senator Sotto’s attitude and manner of reasoning are strikingly reminiscent of the attitude of officials during the Marcos dictatorship. Officials can do no wrong.
Third, we should expect more from senators, given their stature, the number of staff members they employ and the amount of money for research at their disposal.
Fourth, they are role models in society. What they do is – well, COPIED.
If Sen. Sotto can get away with plagiarism, why, everybody else should be given a pass.
Soon after Sotto’s apology, an MA student sent this text message:
Can Senator Sotto be my thesis adviser?