Sotto warns critics: Beware of Cybercrime Law

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2012 01:55 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2012 04:08 AM

More revelations vs RH Bill next week, says majority leader

Critics probably funded by drug lords: Sotto

MANILA, Philippines - Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III warned his critics today that the looming Cybercrime law could be used to penalize them for defamatory statements made online.

Sotto said the Cybercrime Bill has been approved by both houses of Congress and is now awaiting the President's signature.

Once signed into law, it will penalize netizens for future instances of defamatory statements online.

"Walang ginawa yan [internet users] umaga, hapon, nakaharap sa computer, target nuon anything about the [Reproductive Health] RH Bill. Ganun ang strategy nun and unfortunately, di pa napipirmahan ang Cybercrime bill. Pwede na sana sila tanungin sa pagmumura at pagsasabi ng di maganda. Sa Cybercrime bill, magkakaroon ng accountability sa kanilang pinagsasabi: penalties na haharapin, same penalties as legitimate journalists, anything that involves the Internet," he said.

Sotto said he will not hold his online critics accountable. He said their accountability will be when "pag kinuha na sila ni Lord, mananagot sila doon hindi dito."

No proposal vs bloggers

Sotto also denied he is proposing a law against bloggers after he was subjected to online ridicule for plagiarizing portions of his speech from online sources.

"Kailan ko sinabi sa speech ko iyon? In my entire speech in my privilege speech yesterday. I didn't say anything. They're putting words into my mouth."

The senator noted there are netizens who mean to just find fault in connection with his critical stance on the RH bill.

Sotto also accused his critics of using the plagiarism issue as an excuse not to answer points he made against the measure.

This, after Sotto moved to strike out from the Senate journal the controversial parts of his speech.

"Hindi na-take-up [ang RH issues], mas gusto i-take-up plagiarism at kung ano-ano. Naging hatchet job, napag-usapan hatchet job imbes na sagutin punto at rebelasyon na mga binanggit ko tulad ng malalaking halaga ng pera na tinanggap ng mga grupo…para matigil na issue, pati pagbibintang nila ng pagkopya, maalis nila. Ang reading namin sa kanila, di nila masawata ang sinabi ko na they cannot answer points I raised against contraceptives."

Sotto also maintained that his critics are being funded by RH lobbyists and even possibly the drug lords he apprehended when he was campaigning against illegal drugs. "Kaya kailangan humanap nang panira sa akin. I will not be surprised if some of the attacks against me are funded by drug syndicates."

He also said he was misunderstood in his use of materials from blogs, noting he has a tougher stand on contraceptives than a blogger---an apparent reference to Sarah Pope who denounced Sotto for allegedly plagiarizing her work.

No attribution

Sotto stressed that what the media got was copies of his speech without the attribution, pointing out that when he delivered the speech, he began with a general disclaimer that the speech was not his original work.

Sotto noted that to constitute plagiarism, two elements must be satisfied: copying and making it appear as your own. "Narinig niyo na meron akong blanket disclaimer, na may general disclaimer na sinabi ko di sa akin galing laman nito kundi galing sa experts…I said that twice, sa dami ng materials na ni-research namin."

Sotto also moved to protect his staff from further criticism. “Sa dami niyan, di ma-pinpoint kanino galing…kaya wag nila sisihin staff ko. Tama maaari sila, pero sa akin buck stops with me. Ako ang nag-deliver kaya nga may general attribution, may disclaimer."

Soto also downplayed the apology issued by his chief of staff Hector Villacorta to Pope.

Claiming to have the backing of the "Jewish Carpenter," an apparent reference to Jesus Christ, Sotto doesn't show signs of slowing down as he is poised to deliver next week the conclusion of his speeches against the RH Bill.

Sotto said the concluding parts of his speech will focus on population control, statistics and the economic impact of the bill, as well as funding.

Sotto said he will also make more explosive revelations there.