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Another US blogger accuses Sotto of plagiarism

Posted at | Updated as of 09/07/12 7:04 PM

American blogger Janice Formichella says Senator Tito Sotto lifted entire passages from a pro-choice post she wrote in 2010 and "twisted them into an anti-choice argument" against the reproductive health bill in the Philippines.

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) - When it rains, it pours -- at least for Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, who is accused yet again by another American blogger of plagiarizing her work in his campaign against the reproductive health (RH) bill in the Philippines.

Janice Formichella, who writes for the "Ms." magazine, said Sotto "lifted entire passages from a post I wrote for Feminists For Choice and twisted them into an anti-choice argument against an important reproductive rights bill in the country."

Formichella, who owns a small business in New York City, said she was surprised when her 2-year-old blog post was used without attribution by Sotto.

"The piece that Sotto plagiarizes discusses Indian nationalist leader Mohandas Gandhi’s little-known sexism, and though he misconstrues my argument it’s ironic that he chose this particular piece, as it aptly reflects his own hypocrisy as a political leader," she said.

According to award-winning Filipino novelist Miguel Syjuco, Sotto lifted verbatim and without attribution a part of Formichella's 2010 blog post.

Sotto's speech on August 15, 2012, as delivered:

Kasi po, the two activists met in December of 1936--iyan po ang litrato nila--when Sanger traveled to India to speak with Gandhi about birth control, population and the plight of women in India. Kinakabahan sila noon na palaki nang palaki at padami nang padami ang population ng India.
Despite the fact that the movement was gaining popularity in a society with a serious poverty crisis--ganoon noong araw sa India--Gandhi was an outspoken critic of artificial birth control. His general attitude was that:
"Persons who use contraceptives will never learn the value of self-restraint. They will not need it. Self-indulgence with contraceptives may prevent the coming of children but will sap the vitality of both men and women, perhaps more of men than of women. It is unmanly to refuse battle with the devil." 

Formichella's "Gandhi’s birth control of choice" on February 5, 2010: 

The two activists met in 1936 when Sanger traveled to India to speak with Gandhi about birth control. By that time Sanger was advocating internationally for artificial contraceptives and sought to make Gandhi an ally.

Despite the fact that the movement was gaining popularity in a society with a serious poverty crisis, Gandhi was an outspoken critic of artificial birth control. His general attitude was that

“Persons who use contraceptives will never learn the value of self-restraint. They will not need it. Self-indulgence with contraceptives may prevent the coming of children but will sap the vitality of both men and women, perhaps more of men than of women. It is unmanly to refuse battle with the devil.”

Formichella said to make matters worse, Sotto twisted her pro-choice stand to argue his claims against the RH bill.

"Given the content of my post and my very pro-contraception position, I could hardly understand how my words could be used to argue against reproductive rights. But lo and behold, it turns out that entire segments of my post were used by Sotto, albeit put into an anti-choice context. What’s more, he has oddly used the words of several other bloggers, writers and case studies in his speeches," she said, citing an ABS-CBNNews.com story.

"I would love nothing more than to see this bill passed, and am angry that my work would be used to stall its advancement. It is my hope that Sotto will apologize to each of the bloggers he has plagiarized, and that this story might actually serve to increase the exposure of the Reproductive Health Bill," she added.

Sotto was earlier accused by another US blogger, Sarah Pope, of plagiarizing her work.

The senator's chief of staff has admitted that Pope's work was copied, but Sotto later claimed that no crime has been committed.

"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.

On Wednesday, Sotto was again accused of copying and translating a speech made by former US Senator Robert Kennedy in the last part of his turno en contra speech against the RH bill.

Sotto only laughed off allegations he merely translated Kennedy's speech to Filipino without attribution. - with a report from Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News