MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Senator Tito Sotto's chief of staff on Thursday night admitted that they copied the work of an American blogger in the lawmaker's turno en contra speech on the reproductive health (RH) bill.
Atty. Hector Villacorta, in a message posted on the Facebook page of Sarah Pope, said it was the senator's staff who lifted the content of the blogger's work without attributing it to her.
"I understand you felt slighted that your blog was not attributed to you which became part of the speech of the senator. Let me say that after asking my staff, indeed, your blog was used but only in quoting also from the same book of Dr. Campbell-Mcbride," he said.
Villacorta confirmed to ABS-CBN News and ANC that he indeed sent the message to Pope.
"We are both indebted to the book's author but if you wish that you also be credited with the contents of the book, let this be your affirmation. I can do it and by this message, I am doing it. Hope it satisfies you. But if it does not, what would you want us to do?" he said.
"What have we done to deserve your incriminating words. The senator did not lift it himself, we did. Did you want us to tell him to admit what he did not do? Who would you like to crucify for this oversight?" he asked after Pope lashed out at Sotto and directly accused him of plagiarizing her work.
"Forgive us our single trespass. We had no malice, we thought you would be happy about it. There was no injury. Hope this makes you feel better," Villacorta said.
Blogger: Sotto twisted message against women
Pope, in reply to Villacorta, said she does not approve of Sotto using her work without her permission "against the education of the women of the Philippines and their reproductive rights."
She also said Sotto is responsible for his staff's actions.
"That is the issue and it was indeed plagiarism. If his staff did it, he condoned it. He is responsible for your actions. My blog was quoted, not Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I put her work in my own words and you copied my words," she said.
"A woman needs to know that the Pill can indeed harm her but this is NO REASON to take away this choice from her in the first place," she added.
"I do not agree with Senator Sotto's position on this issue and he twisted the message of my blog to suit his own purposes against the women of the Philippines," Pope said.
"Your lame comment does not make me feel any better," she told Villacorta.
"A thief is a thief, Mr. Senator. Denying it won't get you off the hook.; it just makes you a lying thief," Pope said in a blog post after Sotto earlier denied plagiarizing her work.
"Women of the Philippines: I am terribly sorry my blog was used and twisted against you. You deserve the choice to use The Pill if you want or need to based on your particular circumstances. While I want you to know that this choice has health consequences, I in no way would ever condone taking this choice away from you! Mabuhay!" she added. - with reports from Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News; ANC