Senate Majority Floor Leader Tito Sotto had delivered a stirring speech during his turno en contra speech against the controversial Reproductive Health Bill, complete with a video, a long list of scientific facts, and a moving story about the death of one of his children, during which he even broke down in tears.
Unfortunately, it seems that parts of the esteemed senator's speech were taken from a United States-based blog, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com, which is run by a woman named Sarah Pope. A writer named Alfredo R. Melgar had spotted the uncanny similarities in the speech and the blog post and released his findings on the website FilipinoFreeThinkers.org.
However, on an interview on the ANC show Headstart, Sen. Sotto had denied that his speech was plagiarized. “Itong blogger na sinasabi nila, eh pareho kami ng pinagkunan eh,” he was quoted as saying in an article by Rappler.com. “Ang pinagkunan namin si Natasha Campbell-McBride. And in my speeches, even in my first speech and my second speech, I’ve always said, every now and then sinisingit ko, hindi po ako nagdudunong-dunungan ha. Hindi po galing sa akin ito (This blogger they’re mentioning, she and I both got it from the same source. Our source is Natasha Campbell-McBride. And in my speeches, even in my first speech and my second speech, I’ve always said, every now and then, that I’m not pretending to be wise. This did not come from me.).'"
“Bakit ko naman iko-quote ang blogger? Blogger lang iyon. Ang kino-quote ko si Natasha Campbell-McBride (Why should I quote a blogger? She’s just a blogger. I’m quoting Natasha Campbell-McBride)," he added.
Shortly afterward, news of the plagiarism involving her blog had already reached Pope, who then posted an entry about it. She confirmed that parts of Sotto’s speech were indeed lifted from her February 23, 2011 blog post entitled, "How The Pill Can Harm Your Future Child’s Health."
She also apologized to the Filipino women in behalf of Sotto’s misuse of her blog’s content. “Women of the Philippines: I am sorry my blog was used and twisted against you. You deserve the choice to use The Pill if you want or need to based on your particular circumstances. While I want you to know that this choice has health consequences as does the decision to use any pharmaceutical drug, I in no way would ever condone taking this choice away from you!”
The Senator’s Chief of Staff, Atty. Hector A. Villacorta, posted a comment on Sarah Pope's blog as a response to the issue. “I understand you felt slighted that your blog was not attributed to you which became part of the speech of the senator,” he wrote. “Let me say that after asking my staff, indeed, your blog was used but only in quoting also from the same book of Dr. Campbell-McBride. We are both indebted to the book’s author but if you wish that you also be credited with the contents of the book, let this be your affirmation.”
(Photo courtesy of PEP.ph)