MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto III on Wednesday fired back at his "faceless" online critics, saying he has become a victim of cyberbullying because of his refusal to support the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
In a privilege speech at the Senate, Sotto said his turno en contra speeches questioning the RH bill havebeen sidetracked by allegations that he plagiarized 5 different sources. He criticized bloggers and other netizens for maligning him in social networking sites for the alleged plagiarism.
"Ako na po yata ang kauna-unahang opisyal na naging biktima ng cyberbullying. Buti na lang mayroon na tayong batas na tinatalakay diyan," he said.
The senator said he never claimed to own any of the research made in his speeches since he is not a medical doctor or scientist. He then moved to strike off the record any reference in his speech to the research done by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, which he is accused of plagiarizing.
He noted that none of his critics answered his allegations that contraceptives are harmful to women and unborn children, and that contraceptive use is anti-Filipino.
Sotto said his only defense against his online critics is that his only intention in opposing the RH Bill is to protect the sanctity of life.
The lawmaker also described himself as an "open book" because people know him as a comedian even before he entered politics.
"Yung mga naninira po sa akin, sa blog, sa Twitter, sa Facebook, sa dyaryo, kilala niyo ba sila? Sa katunayan, may mga account pang fake e. Pati po yung mga naninira sa dyaryo, ang papel e sobra pong dudunong. Alam ba natin kung sino sila? Matino ba sila? Mabait ba sila? Lasenggo ba sila? Nananakit ba sila ng asawa? Hindi natin alam pero ang gagaling nilang manira. Ang panlaban ko po dun, ang kababayan natin kilala ako e," he said.
He said some of his online critics have even ridiculed him for his continued participation in the hit noontime show Eat Bulaga! He said some of his critics have called him a payaso (clown).
"Pati yung partisipasyon ko dun pinipintasan nila. Tinatawag akong payaso, clown daw. Mr. President, mas gugustuhin ko yung nagpapatawa kesa pagnanakawan ako, hindi po ba? Mas gusto kong maging payaso at pasayahin ang mga tao kaysa sa kanila na nagsasabi ng masasama laban sa kapwa."
He added: "Sa programang Eat Bulaga, daan-daang tao ang tinutulungan araw-araw. Libo-libo, milyon-milyon ang tumatangkilik samantalang itong mga tumutuligsa at namimintas sa akin, ilan kaya ang natulungan nila kung meron man? Marami na silang nasiraan, sigurado ako...Ang nakakatakot ay yung mga nag-aakalang marunong sila at ang alam lang marunong manira sa kapwa."
"Ipagdadasal ko na lang sila. Ipagdadasal ko na kapag dumating ang panahon na kinuha na sila ni Lord, sana wag silang tanungin ni Lord - ilan bang tao ang siniraan mo? Ilan bang tao ang hinusgahan mo?"
Plagiarism not a crime
Sotto also ridiculed critics who said they will sue him for copying online material without attribution.
The senator said there is no crime of plagiarism in the Philippines.
"There is no crime of plagiarism in the Philippines. Kahit na hanapin niyo sa Revised Penal Code, Intellectual Property Code o sa Special Penal Laws, wala kayong makikitang krimen na plagiarism. Pinakamalapit na maaaring pag-isipan siguro ay copyright infringement na hindi naman tatayo, ayon sa mga abugado, dahil wala naman paglabag sa mga copyright o economic rights na nakasaad sa section 177 ng Intellectual Property Code," he said.
He said his opinion is backed up by Atty. Louie Andrew Calvario from the Intellectual Property Office director general's office.
"The crime of plagiarism is not defined in our laws particularly the Intellectual Property Code and Revised Penal Code. Neither can it be described as copryight infringment because it did not economically injure the author. Tsaka hindi naman siya yung author e," he said.
"The act was not copyright infringement because the statute of fair use of the Intellectual Property Code can be invoked," he added.