MANILA, Philippines—It’s a blog and has no copyright.
This was how Senator Vicente Sotto III tried to dismiss claims by US-based Sarah Pope that the lawmaker plagiarized her blog.
“Ang tanong doon may copyright ba iyong blog niya? Kung may copyright iyong blog niya, either dapat mag sorry ako or mag-apologize ako. Or idemanda niya ako (The question is, is her blog covered by a copyright? If the blog has copyright, either I say sorry or I apologize. Or she can sue me),” said Sotto.
In an interview over Radyo Inquirer 990AM, Sotto insisted that Pope simply copied her blog too from another source, Russian-born Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who claims that contraceptives cause an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in the intestines that breaks down defense against infection.
“The problem is she just copied it. Second, it’s a blog and has no copyright,” he said.
Sotto initially denied using part of Pope’s blog when he argued against the Reproductive Health Bill, which aims to distribute contraceptives in government-run health clinics. But the senator’s chief of staff, Hector Villacorta, later acknowledged that they had used her blog without attribution.
Soon after Sotto’s speech, Pope, who lives in Florida, started receiving messages from the Philippines about it and soon her blog was swamped with reactions and comments. She made a blog posting last Thursday criticizing the senator as “a lying thief.”
Sotto said Wednesday that the speech he delivered before the Senate was different from the written document or draft obtained by Pope.
“Because what she (Pope) received, fed to her by whoever, was the draft copy of the speech. But that is not my speech. My speech is what I delivered verbally,” he said.
“’In the speech I delivered there’s acknowledgement that that content is not mine,” he said.
Sotto, in a message addressed to Filipinos, said that unlike his detractors, Filipinos knew him well.
“Kilala ninyo kung saan ako nanggaling kung ano ang pinanggalingan ko, kung anong klaseng pagkatao ko. Itong mga naninira sa akin hindi ninyo kilala…eh bakit kayo maniniwala sa kanila,” Sotto said.
Pope, in a separate interview over Radyo Inquirer last Saturday, said Sotto “must be very spineless, to not be able to be man enough to just say ‘I’m sorry’.”
The contraceptives bill is still being debated in the Senate and facing amendments in the House of Representatives. It is unclear when a final version will be put to a vote.
Conservatives and the Catholic Church oppose the bill, saying contraception is the same as abortion, which is illegal in the Philippines. With Associated Press