VIC SOTTO: WE ARE ALL BEHIND TITO / TITO IMMUNE FROM PLAGIARISM RAPS

[PHOTO -Vic Sotto shrugged off rumors that he will seek a political post in 2013, but said, in jest, that he might run for senator to support his brother Tito in his causes.]

MANILA, AUGUST 18, 2012 (ABS-CBN)  Tito takes responsibility for 'plagiarized' speech: A brother of Senate Majority Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III threw his full support for the lawmaker after the senator drew criticisms for allegedly plagiarizing parts of his speech against the reproductive health (RH) bill.

Comedian Vic Sotto on Thursday came to the defense of his brother, who is in hot water over allegations of having copied parts of his first and second speech from Internet blogs.

"Kung anuman ang nangyayari, I believe, kung anumang rason ni Tito, we're all behind him," Vic told ABS-CBN News.

"Mabuti naman 'yung kanyang mga hangarin eh, wala namang masama sa gusto niyang mangyari. So we're all behind him. We support him all the way," Vic said.

'Plagiarized' speech

On Thursday, the lawmaker's chief of staff, Atty. Hector Villa Corta, admitted that they copied the work of American blogger Sarah Pope in the senator's turno en contra speech on the RH Bill, which Tito delivered before the Senate last Monday.

Following the admission, the senator took responsibility for the issue.

"Whatever it is, the buck stops with me," Tito told newscast "24 Oras." "I'm the senator. Whatever I delivered in the Senate hall is what's important. Kahit anong paninira nila, kahit anong sabihin nila, we'll take it in stride."

Among the supposed "attacks" against the senator after delivering his speech, are accusations of having put up an act as he turned emotional over his first child's death, which he blamed on the use of contraceptives.

Vincent Paul

In an interview with ABS-CBN News, Tito's brother Vic also recounted the personal tragedy. Vincent Paul, the first child of Tito with actress Helen Gamboa, died five months after he was born in 1975.

"Magkasama kami ni pareng Joey (de Leon) doon," Vic recalled. "Kaming magkakapatid, araw-araw binibisita namin 'yun, 'yung baby niya noon, si Vincent Paul."

"Bago kami mag-uwian, daan muna kami sa hospital, sa Makati Med, tingin muna kami, kwentuhan, araw-araw 'yun. Hanggang sa nawala na nga," he added.

Gamboa and his daughter with Tito, actress-singer Ciara, earlier defended the senator for the use of his personal experience in his speech.

Appeal for respect

Ciara appealed for respect from his father's critics, and expressed dismay over "personal attacks" made against the lawmaker.

"'Yung mga nambabato, tiradang pikon nalang 'yun, hindi na dapat pinapansin," Vic also said.

"Pagka-rume-react nang matindi, ibig sabihin may tinatamaan. Kaya siguro napipikon 'yung ibang tao. Pati nga ako nadadamay, pero wala kay Tito 'yun," Vic added.

The veteran comedian also echoed Ciara's appeal: "'Yung isyung ito is very divisive, ika nga. You cannot please anybody. It''s either you're anti- or your pro-RH bill. You just have to respect each other's opinion on it. Mag-respetuhan nalang tayo."

Sotto immune from plagiarism raps, top aide says by RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News Posted at 08/17/2012 5:44 PM | Updated as of 08/17/2012 11:09

Sotto not covered by copyright rules, lawyer claims

MANILA, Philippines - The chief of staff of Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto (photo) on Friday said they committed no crime in lifting portions of his anti-reproductive health (RH) bill speech at the Senate from the web.

Atty. Hector Villacorta also feels that blogger Sarah Pope of thehealthyeconomist.com is just reacting after her sensitivities were offended.

Villacorta claimed that the Internet is public domain, that governments are exempted form copyright rules, while Sotto himself enjoys parliamentary immunity as a legislator.

Villacorta told ABS-CBN News Sotto used research for his speech since he is not a doctor.

"Nagtatampo pala sila pag naqu-quote sila. Blog site is public domain, you should be open to be quoted from all over the world. What law did we violate only her sensitivity was. Because there is no crime, we used information from public domain they're making issue of the way it was quoted."

"The rule of copyright gives government a chance to use some of materials. There's principle in law if there's a crime there should be a law punishing it. Was she commercially injured? Wala naman eh. No crime, no law violated."

Villacorta was also asked to comment on claims by journalist and blogger Raissa Robles that Sotto may have also copied from 5 bloggers and one United Nations briefer.

'Anyone can use blogs'

"Blogs are public domain. Anybody can use it [sic]. Government is exempted from the copyright rule. As a general principle, you cannot withhold information from government," he said.

Villacorta said Sotto's speech and Pope's work quoted a book by Dr. Natasha McBride on the side effects of birth control pills.

He said Pope can sue Sotto in the US if the Philippines has a treaty with the US on intellectual property.

Asked how Sotto is taking the controversy over the alleged plagiarism, Villacorta said, "he is smiling and napapailing because content of speech being sidetracked."

"Bloggers, beware what you put out on the web. You should not cry if used by the web," he claimed.

Caught via Google search

However, Alfredo Melgar, a blogger who pointed out the likeness of Pope's 2011 blog port to Sotto;s privilege speech, argued that it's how Pope's blog was used, and not the fact that it was used, that spells the diffrence.

“Totoong pwedeng gumamit ng impormasyon, pero yung paraan ng paggamit ng info katulad ng ginawa nila na pangungusap ni Sarah Pope ginamit, at 'di sinabi na kay Sarah Pope," he explained.

Melgar pointed out that Sotto's office still hasn't owned up to plagiarizing the piece, but merely stressed that they quoted from the same book Pope referred to in her blog.

Melgar said Pope herself said the lifted parts in Sotto's speech was hers and not from her reference book.

He said Google search was key to how he caught the copied content.

He said that after Sotto made his emotional speech against birth control, he was drawn to the technical terms Sotto used.

Those technical words are what he keyed in to Google search and which led to Pope’s blog.

Melgar said 8 sentences from Pope's blog were in Sotto's speech.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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