MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III in a privilege speech Tuesday maintained that he will not apologize for his alleged plagiarism, stressing he never stole the ideas of others in his speeches on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.
“[Plagiarism is] to steal or pass off the ideas of another as one’s own without crediting the source,” Sotto said.
“I did not pass off anything as my own. How will I apologize for plagiarism when I never plagiarised? They want me to plead guilty for murder when the case is physical injury,” he said.
Sotto’s impromptu privilege speech came after a group composed of academicians filed early Tuesday a complaint against Sotto before the Senate Ethics Committee.
He had allegedly copied parts of a blog post by United States blogger Sarah Pope in his speech during plenary debates on the RH Bill.
Sotto was also accused of copying from a speech of the late US Senator Robert Kennedy which he translated into Tagalog. Senator Kennedy’s daughter had been demanding for a public apology from Sotto for the incident.
“The Senate journal will bear me out, I never said they are mine, I never said I own them,” Sotto said.
He said that the Kennedy has been misinformed to get them to say something against him. “What they were told was that I mangled the line of his speech,” Sotto said.
He obtained that quote from Senator Kennedy through a text message of a Christian leader. He said he did not even know it was from Kennedy at that time.
“I did not steal it or passed it off as mine. The worst that can be said is that I copied it from a text of a friend, if they think it was copied, that’s possible, because I did copy it,” Sotto said.
He also justified it saying that “copying or imitation is the highest form of flattery.”
“If it insulted the Kennedy family then I’m sorry, but that was not the intention,” he said.
Sotto said he believes RH bill advocates were behind the complaint and misinformation against him. He pointed out that the media advisory about the filing of the complaint before the Senate Ethics Committee Tuesday morning came from the office of Akbayan Partylist Representative Walden Bello.
He further warned that “when I have gathered enough evidence, I will expose those behind this manipulation.”
“You can call me names, but I will not change my position and I will always be against the distribution of contraceptives,” Sotto said.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile again defended Sotto and said “let them file the case and give them a chance to prove their case.”
Sotto added “it will also give me a chance to prove they are wrong.”