MANILA, Philippines - The Senate does not condone plagiarism, and if any of its members is accused of it, then he or she must be investigated.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile made this point in a privilege speech on Wednesday, a day after a plagiarism complaint was filed against his ally, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.
Enrile clarified earlier statements about parliamentary immunity in connection with Sotto's plagiarism case.
He said that although lawmakers may not be held accountable outside Congress for their statements inside, they can be investigated by their peers for ethical misconduct.
"No one is beyond investigation here amongst us," he said. "If you commit any infraction of ethical standards, moral conduct, or ethical behavior that is expected of us, we are open to be exposed to any investigation by the proper committee of this house, and that is the ethics committee."
A group of academics and bloggers on Tuesday filed a complaint against Sotto for lifting and using without attribution parts of certain blogs and a speech of the late US Senator Robert Kennedy in his speeches against the reproductive health bill.
The committee on ethics and privileges, led by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is now preparing its rules to hear Sotto's case.
"We are not condoning the act of plagiarism in this Senate. Far from it," Enrile said. "If there is anyone of us wittingly or unwittingly who commits this act, then I'm sure that that member would be man enough or honorable enough to stand up and answer for it."
He added, however, that people should not prejudge Sotto because due process has to be followed.
"The law cannot condemn without any hearing. Otherwise, this will not be a government of laws, this will be a government of men. If there's any plagiarism committed by any member of this house, let the proper sanctions be imposed after the ethics committee shall have rendered a judgment," he said.