TWENTY YEARS ago, I wrote in this space under the title “Unfit for the Senate” that senatorial candidates Ramon Revilla and Tito Sotto were not qualified for the Upper Chamber of Congress. Revilla had run for the Senate in 1987 and lost ignominiously, as he should have since he did not have the credentials to be a senator. But among the senatorial candidates in 1992 he ranked No. 3 in the surveys. His resume had not changed significantly from 1987, when he was rejected resoundingly by the electorate, to 1992, when he was regarded more highly by the same electorate. That was because he ran as Jose Bautista, his real name, in 1987 and as Ramon Revilla in 1992.
I ventured the opinion in the same article that if Sotto were to run as Vicente Sotto he would meet the same fate that Jose Bautista met in 1987. I wrote then that the Harvard-trained and veteran legislator has said he was not seeking reelection to the Senate because he did not relish the thought of debating with the likes of Tito Sotto, the master of toilet humor and sick jokes, host of the asinine TV show Eat Bulaga.
I wrote further that Senator Enrile should have perished the thought of debating with him as Sotto was not capable of engaging in such cerebral activity, as gauged by his participation in the Great Debate on the RP-US Treaty. His best effort in that discourse consisted of getting Eat Bulaga child star Aiza Seguerra, then too young to understand the issue, and the sex star Nanette Medved, a foreign citizen, to join the pro-base rally at the Luneta and leading the chant “Yes to the bases.” Such was Sotto’s grasp of the burning issue of the time.
Both Sotto and Revilla were elected to the Senate that year, Sotto placing first among the winners, no doubt by virtue of his popularity among what columnist Tony Abaya referred to as the “squealing masa,” the shrieking audience of the inane Eat Bulaga. As Sotto continued to appear in Eat Bulaga during his first term, he was elected in 1998 to another term. In all those years he was hardly heard in the Upper Chamber of Congress.
Then came the historic impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada. When the former Securities and Exchange Commission chair Perfecto Yasay testified, Sotto stood up and addressed Yasay. This is how the dialogue went:
Sotto: Can you tell this court the telephone service provider that you use for your cellphone?
Yasay: “I used at that time Piltel.”
Sotto: “Digital, analog, GSM?”
Yasay: “I was using an old Motorola set.”
Sotto: “Okay, thank you.”
That was the extent of Sotto’s participation in that significant chapter of the country’s history.
After the trial had been aborted, Sotto tried to justify his “no” vote on the opening of the Jose Velarde envelope by saying that he had consulted legal eagles including former justices of the Supreme Court, and all of them advised him to oppose the opening of the envelope. To have to consult legal luminaries on whether to open an envelope thought to contain incriminating evidence against Erap meant he was incapable of making even such a simple decision.
Having served two consecutive terms in the Senate he was ineligible to run for re-election in 2004. He ran again in 2007 under the banner of TEAM Unity, the coalition backed by then President Arroyo. It will be recalled that Gloria ran for the Senate in 1995 and for vice-president in 1998 as a look-alike of Nora Aunor — obviously to win the votes of the “squealing masa.” Had she found a party to sponsor her candidacy for president in 1998, which she had originally wanted to do, Sotto would have been her running mate. Anyway, demonized because of his “no” vote on the opening of the Jose Velarde envelope, as Senator Miriam Santiago put it, Sotto ended up in 19th place in that year’s senatorial race.
To keep his name in the consciousness of the voters, he was appointed in 2008 as chairman of the Dangerous Drug Board by his patron Gloria. During the Lower House’s inquiry in 2009 into the alleged bribery attempt to release the Alabang Boys arrested in a buy-bust operation, Sotto somehow was able to insert himself into the inquiry. He tried mightily to participate in the deliberations but since he was only peripherally connected to the issue at hand, he did not get any chance to voice his thoughts. But at one point, Quezon Congressman Danilo Suarez, another Gloria loyalist, asked Sotto, “Why are there Caucasians in PDEA operations?”
It seemed from the irrelevance of the question that Suarez was merely giving fellow Gloria ally the chance to get some exposure as the inquiry was being televised live. Sotto answered: “The PDEA is structurally different from the US DEA.” The answer equally irrelevant to the issue being resolved and Sotto having gotten his exposure, though fleeting it was, Suarez dismissed the matter. Sotto remained a mere onlooker/listener for the rest of the session.
In 2010 Sotto ran again for the Senate. To distance himself from the discredited Arroyo, he ran under the banner of the National People’s Coalition, the party of Boss Danding Cojuangco, who quietly supported the candidacy of Noynoy. Sotto got elected this time.
Then came the impeachment of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, Arroyo’s first line of defense against future criminal charges. There was nothing Sotto had done since the Erap impeachment trial in 2001 to qualify him to sit as judge in the impeachment of Gutierrez. In response to the wide speculation that he, being an ally of Gloria Arroyo, would vote to acquit Gutierrez, the Inquirer quoted him as saying: “People should not be judgmental and avoid speculating on the individual stand for each senator. They’re not helping the Senate any by doing that.” Bothered by the wide speculation that he would vote according to the bidding of his former patron, he declared that there are 23 republics in the Senate, implying that all senators are independent minded.
Yet, in the trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona he admitted that he went by the wishes of the people when as judge he should have decided on the basis of evidence presented for his evaluation. Said he when he cast his vote: “The real judge in this trial is the citizenry. They heard the two sides. In my conscience, I have heard their decision. And for them I vote guilty.”
In his speech against the RH Bill, he said his son died five months after he was born, attributing his death to complications arising from his wife taking the oral contraceptive pill Diane. However, information indicated that the product Diane became available in the market only after his son had died, destroying completely his sob story. He didn’t sound credible from the beginning. Here is a macho man (what with his mustache and beard) sobbing like a little boy whose large scoop of ice cream had just fallen on the floor. It was obviously plain acting, and it was bad acting, including on the part of his former detractor Enrile, who was not moved one bit by the “emotional breakdown” of Corona during the latter’s trial but who came to console the sobbing Sotto.
Tito Sotto should stop trying to sound and look like a senator in the mold of the senators of the 1950s. The more he tries, the more he reinforces his image as the intellectually challenged student of Wanbol University, the fictional school in the TV variety show Iskul Bukol.
In fact, the TV clip wherein he let out a guffaw after saying he could not have plagiarized Robert Kennedy because what he said was in Tagalog, a language Kennedy did not know, could pass for a scene in Iskul Bukol.
Tito S affects gravitas. He will simply not be goaded by riffraff. He will not be persuaded to engage mere pests. We are all beneath him. If we’re so smart we should have been voted into the Senate. But we’re not in the august halls because our smarts have been bought by drug lords.
His contempt is so extreme, we have to invent new words to detox. Such poison!
He thinks he will have the last laugh. I can just hear him think this in his complete silence as we enjoy ourselves.
Yep this is one helluva male chauvinist pig (pardon the period vocab).
So this ugly business can’t end here.
So I won’t let it rest—if only for one more day. Even if it costs. Time and poise. In fact, even if it costs me the patience of some of you out there.
Because we can’t yield to Tito S an inch of what we’ve earned in political maturity. Because we can’t cede to this cretin our common sense.
All of us who earn our keep by creating. Paragraphs, projects, objects, strawberry jam, alternatives, rice harvests, buildings, toys, blogs, systems, dikes, events, boats, policies. Satire. Cheating, we know, drains the product of sizzle. Makes our work like soda without the fizz. Di na lang bale outcomes.
Plagiarism, we know, is a particular kind of stealing. It is a crime that comes with a slap and a kick at our earnest effort.
Plagiarism is Robert Blair Carabuena slapping and cursing at Saturnino Fabros trying to do a job with dignity.
Copying without attribution invites the derision of innovators. And reduces makers into cheap labor—not a fate our leaders should wish upon us.
Copying, we know, is different from emulating, evoking, distilling, paraphrasing, mimickry. Different, in fact, from making facsimiles and repros, as lawmakers everywhere ought to know.
Copying, in fact, is kleptomania. Sotto helping himself to other people’s stuff when he thinks no one’s looking—a pathology.
And translating, we know, needs to name the original voice. Otherwise, its just impudence. But impudence, we know, is the capital Sotto used to gain notoriety.
We KNOW all these fine points.
Tito S knows all these fine points. Its not as though he was born in jail or something.
But the dif between him and us, is: we don’t imagine we’ll get away with this level of bad. With this assault on the concept of an honest day’s work.
Seriously, this is the same impunity Zaldy A thinks he’s entitled to. Seriously, this is not hyperbole.
And here we get to the reason for my rant.
Both Zaldy A and Tito S (and a lot of you politicians out there) imagine they have the masses in their corner. Think their enormous power derives from the approval or silence of unthinking multitudes.
Hell, no. Their enormous power comes from old-boy-old-girl cabals. Comes from huge, nearly unimaginable monies staving off any possibility of trapo meltdown.
And given the chance, WE KNOW, the poorest, the most prostituted, the most demoralized Filipinos, know what indignity is. Know what trapo arrogance is.
But know, too, that impunity is self-delusion.
Those who indulge this delusion, think that fine lines— like the lines plagiarism draws between conceit and diligence —are merely middle class issues. That the poor don’t care.
This is my image: we are all Saturnino Fabros, traffic enforcer. We all have 6 children. We all know the 6 children can’t have 6 children too. Yes even the cyber bullies are Fabros.
70% of us are for the RH Bill.
We speak different languages but we are not as divided as Tito S and his ilk assume. For those on the net, the languages of satire and informed banter. For those like Fabros, the language of quiet dignity.
And this majority that can come together in a 70% consensus, we know, is not a delusion.
last wednesday, comedian senator tito sotto wrapped up his turno en contra with a sorry attempt at profundity, lifted, yet again, yes again, this time from a 1966 speech of bobby kennedy, and this time, translated into tagalog, presumably by his staff, and atrociously at that. when challenged, he reportedly said, marunong pala managalog si kennedy, ha. josko, parang sinapian ni iskalera of the infamous iskul bukol, lol. good job.
nakakadesespera, my mother would say, as in nakaka-despair, na kailangan pang ipaliwanag kay sotto na plagiarism din yon? kahit pa ipinasalin niya sa tagalog, hindi pa rin kanya ‘yon. what he did was to appropriate and claim as his not just the sentiments of kennedy re nation and small actions but also the way it was expressed. and he can’t claim fair use, excuse me, not in an official senate speech where he is on record as saying that everything in his speech was original.
The making of quotations from a published work if they are compatible with fair use and only to the extent justified for the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries: Provided, That the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work, are mentioned;
he says a friend texted him the material. without attribution to kennedy? friend ba ‘yon o foe? o me attribution but sotto thought, ah 1966, wala pang internet noon, wala ito sa google, mwahaha.
the worst of it is, walang sanctions on sotto, the arrogant recidivist. unfortunately, the senate president, the only one higher than sotto in the senate, who is in a position to reprimand the majority leader and his staff for intellectual dishonesty, is on the same anti-RH side as sotto, and, like sotto, all he does is insist that we answer sotto’s points rather than focus on the plagiarism. but, really, why should we even bother? sotto’s dishonest; he has lost all credibility.
Ryan Edward Chua @ryan_chua
Sen. Enrile says Senate should not concern itself with Sotto plagiarism issue: “Hindi ko na papatulan ‘yon.”
ganoon. eh nakakawala din ng credibility ‘yang pagkampi kay sotto at pag-condone ng dishonesty. where is the enrile of the corona impeachment trial, the one who was so strict about following the law and observing the rules of good manners and right conduct. ay, teka, he was strict nga lang pala with prosecutors and defense counsel, but allowed fellow senator-judge miriam her rants… so what happened to HER? i been waiting for a WHA??? why is she so quiet now, like all the rest? can it be, as some quarters suggest, that all of them are guilty of plagiarism in one form or another? so complicit silang lahat?
and then, again, there’s senator drilon, who was supposed to have tweeted this yesterday:
Frank Drilon @FranklinDrilon
Again, I am deeply saddened by the continuous lapse of judgment by the Senate Majority Leader. This House is not a place for mockery. 12:02 pm sept 6
apparently it’s been disowned by drilon, he has no twitter account, says his staff, and i can’t find it anymore. hmm. still, the question remains, why is he so quiet? isn’t this the perfect time to take to the senate floor and challenge enrile’s and sotto’s leadership? isn’t intellectual dishonesty, and condoning it, ethical grounds for a vote of no confidence? or can it be that drilon does not want to antagonize sotto et al because the LP will be needing their support for the president’s budget of php 2.0006 trillion, up 10.5 % from 2012’s (1.816T), up 21 % from 2011’s (1.563T), and which leonor briones alleges to be “understated,” that is, short by 449.34 billion in principal amortizations due in 2013, and rife with “hidden and vague” items to the tune of 282 billion, how dishonest, what a coincidence.
obviously there’s going to be a lot of wheeling and dealing between the executive and legislative departments, every one looking out for himself/herself or his/her vested interests before nation’s. but as in gloria arroyo’s time, kung di maipasa ng konggreso ang 2013 budget, this year’s budget can always be rolled over to next year. what makes this budget so urgent, given its alleged deficiencies? what makes it more important than the RH bill, e wala namang garantiya na ikauunlad ito ng bayan. di bale sana kung naipasa na ang RH bill, at may budget na for the RH law. instead, ang nasusunod ay ang wishes of 3 out of 10 filipinos and not the wishes of 7 out of 10. anong klaseng gobyerno at demokrasya ito?
as for sotto and how to make him pay for intellectual dishonesty, it looks like we’re on our own. like arbet bernardo’s fb status and thread say:
The Senate Ethics Committee will not act unless a complaint is filed. So if you want to censure Sottocopier, you know what to do.
… at least pag may complaint na and they don’t act on it, para lang silang frat. Eh as of now may palusot pa sila, walang complaint, so they can’t act.
and to my question, where are the cause-oriented lawyers who are usually quick to file complaints? they won’t move on their own? maybe they plagiarize too… arbet’s response was: where is oliver lozano when you need him LOL.
seriously, what happened to civil society? puro ba na-co-opt na ng aquino admin? and what about mainstream media? fence-sitting as always, hanggang reportage lang, walang taking a stand against plagiarism and spreading the word, explaining the immorality of it, down to the masses? and what about the church, the guardian-kuno of our morals? okay lang sa kanila sotto’s kind of deceit and duplicity because it’s for the anti-RH cause? the ends justify the means? good job.
sotto deserves to be sanctioned, declared in contempt of the people, for intellectual dishonesty. it wouldn’t be the first time that a sotto is found guilty of contempt and “falsehoods,” by the way. tila it runs in the family.
other than senator miriam, who is rather forgiving of sotto…
…this is not the academe where plagiarism is a mortal sin. We should give leeway in politics, as long as later on the source is acknowledged.
and senate president enrile, who started out agreeing with sotto that a blog can be copied, and is now saying that he does not know anything about blogging, but who is of course still defending his majority leader…
Ang sinabi ko, hindi ko alam kung totoo iyung akusasyon sa kaniya tungkol sa plagiarism, pero kung totoo man, marahil ang dapat nating isipin, totoo ba, tama ba iyung kaniyang sinabi upang suportahan ang kaniyang paninindigan tungkol sa panukalang batas (RH bill) na nakasalang sa ating Senado…
and senators pimentel and arroyo, whom sotto cited in an adlib (august 29 speech) to be in agreement with him on some technicality or other vis a vis plagiarism allegations — that makes 5 senators including sotto — there are 18 others in that august chamber who have been silent as mice on the issue. hopefully it’s not because they’re as clueless about blogs and the internet and copyright as sotto and enrile, rather, that they know better and that the pro-RH among them, sponsors miriam and pia especially, are just biding their time, ready to pounce with a vengeance when it’s their turn to respond, before any talk of amendments.
i expect nothing less than the vigor and vitriol that miriam spewed out at the prosecutor-representatives in the impeachment trial of corona. anything less would tell us that indeed the senate these days is nothing but an old boys club, and that it’s okay lang with all of them that sotto has pulled down senate discourse to the level of eat bulaga. yuck. that would be really really low, lower even than the lower house.
as for sotto’s and enrile’s claim that
the we in blogosphere who have been attacking him for plagiarism have no answers to his assertions vs the RH bill, hmm. this blog, for one, has responded to some of those points, but i guess i’m under the radar, ‘no? maybe no one’s reading me, not even other bloggers or news websites, haha, how humbling (buti na lang i’m into weil’s gravity and grace, salamat kay jorge, and i’m happy to blog as much for readers as for the record). but there’s also dr. alberto “quasi” romualdez, former doh chief, who has been quick to respond to every argument against the RH bill via his malaya column. i suppose he’s under the radar, too?
anyway, lest sotto continue believing that his arguments are unassailable:
(1) says sotto, “the RH bill violates the constitution that protects the unborn child from the moment of conception.” this is all about the question of when life begins, or when “conception” happens. at the moment of fertilization ba or of implantation in the uterus? try googling it and you will find that there are as many arguments for fertilization, as there are for implantation, as the beginning of human life. quite weighty, to me, is the fact that only when the fertilized egg or zygote has implanted does a woman’s urine test positive for pregnancy.
so who is to settle the debate? sotto? eat bulaga? congress? the supreme court? the president? science? the church? answer: NONE OF THE ABOVE. i say, THE WOMAN DECIDES.
(2) says sotto, contraceptives are “harmful to the health of the pregnant mother and the unborn child.” sotto’s proof of the harm done to the mother is the gut dysbiosis theory of natasha campbell mcbride that he plagiarized from sarah pope’s blog. he has ordered it stricken from senate records to resolve the plagiarism issue, he hopes, but it was a lame argument to begin with. read sotto, guts, plagiarism #RH. according to a doctor, an internist, who does a lot of research via the internet:
Googling, found an incredible dearth of studies linking oral contraceptives to gut dysbiosis, how long it takes to develop, how long it takes to resolve on discontinuance of pills. No comparative studies. Even searching studies on gut dysbiosis in infants and neonates; there’s no mention or an “also” mention of contraceptives as cause.
sotto’s proof of harm done by contraceptives on the unborn child is a report prepared for the Royal Commission on Population in Great Britain which found that the incidence of induced abortion as a percentage of all pregnancies was nine times higher for women using contraceptives than for women not using birth control.
it was lifted from The Truth Of Contraceptives blog, which says:
In Great Britain, in 1949, a report prepared for the Royal Commission on Population found that the incidence of induced abortion as a percentage of all pregnancies was nine times higher for women using contraceptives than for women not using birth control. [emphasis mine]
wala pang pills noong 1949. read sotto self-destructs, and find out what kind of contraceptives women were using then that were inducing abortions.
(3) says sotto, “we don’t need it because the DOH is already doing what the RH bill wants to do.” really? where? when? how? there’s no info campaign going on, and there are no pills and condoms and i.u.d.s available, for poor couples who might want to practice family planning once they know what their options are.
(4) says sotto, “the RH bill will cost too much money that could be used for schools, hospitals, and medicines.” aha. read Mulat Pinoy, a population awareness initiative supported by the Probe Media Foundation, Inc. and the Philippine Center for Population and Development which i cited in fudging the facts: sotto’s anti-RH sob story
Investing in family planning services will save several billion pesos, which can be used for critical social services.
The latest US and Philippine research show that governments annually spend a minimum of Php 5.5 billion in healthcare costs to address unintended pregnancies and their complications.
By contrast, only Php 2.0-3.5 billion annually is needed to fund a comprehensive range of voluntary family planning services for the entire country, which also results in a more sustainable population to provide for.
(5) says sotto, “it is not in accord with Filipino culture.” LOL. as if filipino culture were a fixed, static, thing that doesn’t evolve. the … argument is a matter to be studied by sociologists and other experts in culture and social attitudes, says dr. romualdez. besides, the surveys are consistent: an overwhelming number of filipinos, 7 out of 10, want the RH bill passed into law.
over dzmm teleradyo, the same afternoon of his aug 29 rant claiming that he is a victim of cyberbullying, i heard sotto in a phone interview with karen davila and vic de leon lima insisting that when he cried over his dead baby son, the issue was not that his son had died, but that helen had gotten pregnant despite taking pills. my answer to that is here. he went on to say that this is precisely the reason why he thinks pill-popping will lead to abortion: because daw women who get pregnant even when they’re taking pills would be more likely to resort to abortion. teka, helen obviously did not. surely he’s not saying that helen’s different from, better than, the rest of us? obviously it’s just another fallacious eat-bulaga kind of argument.
as fallacious as calling us cyberbullies, we who blog and tweet and facebook and who have been calling him out on his plagiarizing and eat-bulaga ways.
Ako yata ang kauna-unahang senador ng Pilipinas na naging biktima ng cyber-bullying. Mula sa blogs, Facebook, at Twitter, ginawa akong sentro ng mga mapanira at malisyosong atake ng iba’t ibang tao, lalo pa ng mga sumusuporta sa RH Bill. Bahagi siguro ito ng kanilang istratehiya, lalo pa’t may milyun-milyon silang pondo. “If you can’t kill the message, kill the messenger”. Mukhang ganito ang ginagawa ng aking mga detractors.
as usual, sotto’s reasoning is twisted and self-serving.
Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power. It can include verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability.The “imbalance of power” may be social power and/or physical power.
sotto is the one who’s being aggressive, lashing out at us from the senate on high, from a position of power. sotto is the the one who is assaulting and harassing us verbally from that privileged podium, accusing us of malice and, even, of attacking him for the money, as in, may milyun-milyong pondo daw. ganoon? i certainly haven’t been offered any. and, really, for certain may milyun-milyong pondo rin ang anti-RH. can sotto be fighting the RH bill out of the goodness of his heart? once upon a time he was all for family planning, along with his eat-bulaga pals. was he doing it for the money then? and what, who, changed his mind kaya?
what sotto really wants is for all of us to shut up, stop ganging up on him. lol. if you can’t stand the heat, mr. sotto, get out of the kitchen. to think that you are a grandson, and namesake, of the original senator vicente sotto (1877-1950). your lolo was a revolutionary and a writer, and as senator he authored the Press Freedom Law aka Sotto Law, “aimed precisely to protect press freedom and keep irate politicians from intimidating journalists and their sources if they do not like what they read.” how ironic, and sad for nation, that you have turned out to be one of those “irate politicians” who can’t take criticism and who’s too macho to admit that you’ve made one big mistake after another, and who seeks instead to cow and intimidate us into silence. shame on you, mr. sotto.