“Pasensiya na po. Pasensiya na po. Pasensya na po. Ang hatol ko sa inyo, guilty.” SEN. LITO LAPID, in his speech during the Corona Impeachement Trial.
By Alex P. Vidal
LOS ANGELES, California — The more that he insists he did not plagiarize his speech, the more that Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III buries himself in the quicksand. Apparently waiting for the hoopla on the death and state burial of DILG chief Jesse Robredo to simmer down, Sotto tried to master the art of timing by lashing at his critics and portraying himself as “a victim of cyber bullying” in a press statement he issued two days after Robredo was laid to rest.
Instead of grabbing the bull by the horns and sincerely apologizing to American blogger Sarah Pope, Sotto further stirred the hornet’s nest and added insult to injury by claiming the avalanche of negative feedbacks in social media had been waged “to kill the messenger” because his criticis purportedly “could not kill the message.”
I blame Sotto’s advisers for the senator’s recalcitrance which has only further ripped his reputation to shreds. The least they could have done to camouflage their boss’ mea culpa was to persuade him against further adding fire to conflagration. Everyone commits a mistake and to admit a mistake is an honorable act, an effective damage control. So many great men and women of antiquity continued to live an honorable life even after a maelstrom of scandals and controversies because they knew how to admit their faults and to express willingness to amend for their lapses and trespasses.
But not Tito Sotto. His haughtiness and arrogance only further exacerbated his shenanigan and his insistence that he violated no law when his speechwriter lifted some important facts from the blog of Ms. Pope and used it to deordorize his speech underscored the general perception that the once magnificent August Hall that produced some of the country’s greatest minds and statesmen has lost its luster and is now a sanctuary of rinky-dinks and tawdries calling themselves “honorable” members of the upper chamber.
Sotto had lamented: “I am probably the first senator of the Philippines to become a victim of cyber bullying. Through the blogs, Facebook and Twitter, I became the center of a smear campaign and malicious attacks by various people” even as he reiterated that he did not commit plagiarism as alleged by Pope and the other bloggers who subsequently joined her in condemning the senator. Pope had disclosed that parts of her blog entry about the use of the pill were copied by Sotto in his turno en contra speech on the RH bill. The senator and his researcher justified later that they only lifted the blog sections that referred to the study of Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, regarding the negative effects of the pill.
Sotto added further: “For those who are attacking me and judging me on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even in the newspapers, I say this: even though I appear to be less educated compared to them and not as knowledgeable as they are, what is important is what I am fighting for. My intentions are clean and it is to fight for the sanctity of life.”
YOU TOO, PIA?
Interestingly, another blogger alleged that Sotto’s colleague, Sen. Pia Cayetano copied parts of her speech on “The Status of the Philippines in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals” and her privilege speech on the World Environment Day.
Cayetano had already denied the charges saying “I myself am a writer and a blogger. I believe that everyone is due the proper accreditation and the acknowledgment… nakalagay naman po yun sa ating Intellectual Property Code that from the moment of creation…your literary work is protected.”
What is happening to our senate? Two senators in a row accused of plagiarism is no longer a laughing matter. Something must be done to refurbish and rebuild its image. The senate is already becoming a laughing stock because of the way some of its members behave, not to mention their lackdaiscal performances and not-so-impressive achievements.
Senator Edgardo Angara was alarmed of the decline of quality of our diplomats arguing that Filipino diplomats who can’t be bothered to learn even a smidgen of the language of their host countries “have no place being in the foreign service.”
At the Senate hearing recently on the 2013 budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Angara proposed the creation of a Foreign Service Institute to train envoys in the intricacies of representing the country abroad. “We get dismayed that some people receive (foreign) postings not even knowing the language used in the post,” Angara said. “I think it’s really a shame like when I meet Thai diplomats and they speak the language of Madrid and elsewhere so fluently.”
I think the decline in quality of Filipino senators is more alarming than the decline of quality of our envoys. Our envoys can always be sanitized and recalled if proven to be unfit to represent our country. Our senators are tasked to create laws. And with our decrepit electoral system, even showbiz misfits, punks, troublemakers, homewreckers and human rights violators can be ushered into that prestigious public office and enjoy the pelfs and privileges that go with the position.