When Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III (fondly called Tito Sen) cried during his first privilege speech opposing the Reproductive Health bill about two weeks ago, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile commiserated with him.
I guess you all now know how Sotto was criticized and pilloried from all over–first for plagiarizing parts of his speech; second, for insulting bloggers (why will I quote a blogger; she’s just a blogger); and third, for insisting that he did not do anything wrong.
In a second privilege speech yesterday, he courted further criticism. He moved that the plagiarized parts of his speech be stricken off the Senate official records. He asserted that plagiarism is not a crime.
The icing on top of the cake is a complaint. The Inquirer quotes him: “Perhaps I’ve been the first senator in the Philippines to fall victim to cyber-bullying.”
My answer to the honorable senator: Perhaps, the Filipinos are the first people to fall victim to plagiarism by an officer of the Senate and a Supreme Court associate justice.
Sotto also got back at his critics who mostly used social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and the response platforms of news outlets like ABS-CBN News, GMA TV News, ABC 5, Rappler, PCIJ and the like. He recognized that most of these critics may be more educated than he is. However, he asked rhetorically if they helped anyone at all. Furthermore, he claimed that the plagiarizing charges were a demolition job against him for opposing the RH bill.
It could be at this point that the idea of regulating blogs came up. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is now requiring bloggers and online writers to disclose any payments or gifts for promoting products or services. So if a blogger reviews and promotes mobile phones and receives free phones, he will be fined if he does not make a disclosure.
How about political blogs? How do you regulate them? Should they be regulated in the first place? Blogs are covered by the constitutional provision on free speech. Aren’t there enough laws that can regulate blogs like libel? If a blogger advocates the overthrow of government, he could be charged with sedition or rebellion? Of course, the blogger enjoys the anonymity of cyberspace. Investigators, however, can trace his IP address(es).
Do you think the supply of horror stories got exhausted at this point? How wrong can you be!
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile wades in and confesses he is Internet-illiterate. He does not know what blogs are. He thought they were slogans. He does not have a blog of his own. Yet he readily sees the need to pass a law that will regulate blogs.
Mr. Senate President, Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III was not only criticized through blogs. He was also criticized through all other online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Will you also propose to regulate the use of these platforms?
If such a law will be passed, we will be victimized anew. We will probably be the first country that will have a blog regulation law initiated by senatorial pique (sa ating wika, pikon)!