Sotto supporters: Plagiarism rap a waste of time

By Ryan Chua, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 14 2012 12:47 PM | Updated as of Nov 15 2012 01:24 AM

MANILA - A day after his critics filed a complaint against him for plagiarism, supporters of Sen. Vicente Sotto III asked the Senate to set the issue aside because it’s a waste of time and the country’s resources.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal sent a letter to the committee on ethics on privileges on Wednesday, pointing out that that lawmakers may not be questioned for whatever they say inside Congress, and that there are more pressing issues that the Senate needs to attend to.

“Sa aking palagay hindi nararapat na ito’y ipagpatuloy pa ng Senate committee,” Macalintal told reporters. “Ang bagay na ito ay mga bugso lamang ng damdamin ng mga nagco-complain.”

In his letter, Macalintal cited Article 6 Section 11 of the Constitution, which grants immunity to lawmakers for any speech or debate in Congress.

He also said Sotto is not guilty of plagiarism because he did not claim the works copied from certain US bloggers as his own, and that the senator has already apologized to the Kennedys for lifting a part of the late US Senator Robert Kennedy’s famous Day of Affirmation Speech.

Sotto used the copied parts of the blogs and Kennedy’s speech in his series of speeches against the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

Macalintal, who opposes the RH bill like Sotto, said Sen. Kennedy would even be happy with Sotto’s use of his speech if he were alive.

“He would be more than appreciative of the fact that his words are still very much relived and celebrated by lawmakers from other nations. Knowing the human rights advocate that he is, Senator Robert Kennedy would be very glad that his works are being used in fighting for the most important right—the right to life,” Macalintal wrote in his letter.

A group called Cyber RISE (Responsible Internet Users for Social Empowerment), meanwhile, filed a motion to intervene in Sotto’s plagiarism case in the ethics committee.

They also sent a letter to ethics committee chairman Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano to ask him not to hear Sotto’s ethics case.

“Malinaw na pag-aaksaya lang ito ng ating resources. Marami pang ibang mahalagang isyu: isyu ng kagutuman, isyu ng hanapbuhay, isyu ng kalikasan, at isyu ng kalusugan,” Cyber RISE’s spokesperson Alexandreau Deita said. “Dapat doon natin ibigay ang malaking pansin ng ating pamahalaan.”

Deita also defended Sotto against charges of plagiarism, saying he had good intentions when he copied the works of foreign authors in his speeches.