Senator Tito Sotto’s act of plagiarism merely reflects the character of the people who voted for him

So Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III allegedly committed plagiarism when he supposedly lifted some words from the work of several bloggers and used them in his anti-Reproductive Health (RH) Bill speech. Big deal. According to “investigative journalist” Raissa Robles, by doing so, Sotto had committed an affront to “intellectual honesty”. As we are to be led to believe by Robles and the rest of the mob that is the Philippines’ chattering classes, it is an absolute outrage: 345 words or “a mere 7% of [Sotto’s] 4,760-word speech”. Shocking!

Thing is, Filipinos did not elect Tito Sotto for his intellect. He was elected because he was a showbiz celebrity (of the 1970’s Tito Vic and Joey lowbrow comedy act fame). So I find it kinda funny that people are now hopping mad about this so-called outrage. Why now? Tito Sotto has been a member of the Philippine Senate for yonks. Surely it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that a guy not known for his intellect but nonetheless given a mandate by “the people” to take his place in a chamber where the application of one’s intellect is expected would sooner or later bomb.

Let us step back from this latest “outrage” and examine from a broader perspective what plagiarism really means to Filipinos. Recalling a few observations I made growing up in the 1970s, I’d say Filipinos are banal plagiarists. The theme songs of not a few of my favourite television shows were works of blatant plagiarism. The late Comedy King Dolphy’s John and Marsha used a Tagalog knock-off of Michael Jackson’s hit “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”. Sotto’s own Iskul Bukol ripped off the melody and beat of Elvis Presley’s “I’m All Shook Up”. I remember hearing an original recording of The Style Council’s “Mick’s Blessings” for the first time and exclaiming “Hey, that’s the theme from Goin’ Bananas!” I wonder if the show’s producers paid royalties for its use?

Then there was Jeanne Young’s game show Spin-a-Win. The mechanics of the game down to the actual wheel that was spun for the “win” were all copied from the American game show Wheel of Fortune. Unfortunately, as I recall, Miss Young was made more busy calling outcomes behind her spinning wheel instead of walking up and down the big letter board in a slinky dress the way they did it States-side.

Suffice to say, back then there was none of the “outrage” we see on display today. Everyone involved in that two-decade-long orgy of copyright infringement by now had laughed all the way to the bank and all but gotten away scot free.

I guess Senator Sotto is just a victim of bad timing.

If I were Sotto, I wouldn’t be worried. The majority of his base of voters probably have not even heard of the word “plagiarism”. Indeed the lost art of Pinoy-style plagiarism, it turns out, has not been lost. Back in 2010 no less than the prestigious Manila Film Festival showcased what was widely regarded as a good ol’ honest-to-goodness Filipino cinematic rip-off…

[…] the new ‘Panday’ movie is being criticized for being a blatant rip-off of the 2010 Hollywood blockbuster remake of ‘Clash of the Titans’. All the film needed was Medusa to complete the cast of Perseus’s nemesis. There was nothing special about the “special” effects either.

How do these filmmakers sleep at night knowing that they are not really creating a work of art but just copies of some other people’s work? They are not even making people think; they are not even stirring emotions or provoking people into doing something with their lives; they are not even inspiring young people to aspire for greatness. What they are producing is just stuff you can discard after one use. In short, most Philippine films are a total waste of the people’s time and money.

So folks, give Senator Tito Sotto a break. The Philippines, after all, is a democracy as we are inclined to once too often proudly point out. And in a democracy where popularity trumps everything else of consequence, the quality of its leaders quite closely reflect the character of the society they rule.

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50 Comments on “Senator Tito Sotto’s act of plagiarism merely reflects the character of the people who voted for him”

  1. If we wanted to be copycats in the first place, we should’ve taken it from the Japanese in which they initially copied American goods AND improved them in time. But yeah, we chose the more mediocre Pinoy-style of being copycats…

  2. (off topic) hey benigno what do you think of fareed zakaria admitting he committed plagiarism as well?

    sotto is an idiot but idiots get elected in other countries too

    1. Why would he be an insult to his grandfather’s name?

      He could be an an idiot as others perceived but is he corrupt?

      BTW,

      Kudos again benign0 for an insightful post.

  3. That’s why we have inferior leaders, -ineffective, inefficient leaders, because filipinos are easily influenced by what they always see especially on television making elections in the Philippines a certified popularity gambling like in the last. There ain’t any surprising about committing plagiarism in the Philippines like what Tito Sotto did, remember when Manny Pangilinan did the same? For me, it is still reasonable to show similar views in the same manner and words while leaving the criticism to others because eventually it will fade off.

    1. We have this copyright law in our country –

      According to Wiki:

      “Section 185 of the Intellectual Property Code provides for fair use of copyrighted material. The criteria for fair use is almost identical to the fair use doctrine in United States copyright law, with the exception that even unpublished works qualify as fair use under Philippine copyright law.”

      There is this news in US just recently – “Righthaven Loss: Judge Rules Reposting Entire Article Is Fair Use”

      Snippet:

      “It’s not often that republishing an entire work without permission is deemed fair use. Fair use is an infringement defense when the defendant reproduced a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, commentary, teaching and research. The defense is analyzed on a case-by-case basis.”

      According to http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html re: Fair Use Doctrine :

      “Section 107 contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Section 107 also sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

      The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes:

      – The nature of the copyrighted work
      – The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
      – The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work”

      All the case of plagiarisms that I’ve read were actually violation of copyright infringement law.

      I would like to quote this one –

      “Schools enforce plagiarism.
      The courts enforce copyright infringement.”

  4. Oh well, can’t wait to see him return full time at noon performing the same old jokes and crappy taglines and skits.

  5. So with those people who voted for Gloria Arroyo? That’s a shallow assumption. If people knew that the person whom they are voting for will steal or become a plagiarist they will not vote for such person. Why implicate the innocents? Why resort to mob rule?

      1. Me paid heack of Aquino mafia? Where’s my pay? And is that the only thing you can say about me? How can you argue your point if you start it with lies?

        “Murdering” you again? Lol! You are giving too much importance on me domo. I say, do not be afraid. Just focus on the issue.

  6. That Pinoy Big Brother theme song of ABS CBN is another example of plagiarism. The music may be stolen from a song by a group somewhere across the British Isles. Curiously, however the local group’s name Orange and Lemons also appears in an electronic magazine published in the same area but this time as advertiser of quality british audio-video equipment named “Oranges & Lemons”. Pilit Corrales and the late Eddie Peregrina made a living by plagirizing Italian and Japanese songs respectively. Did we hear anybody complain?

    1. And so is Andrew E’s ever famous “Humanap Ka Ng Pangit” it is almost a direct translation from a 1988 song called “Find An Ugly Woman” by Cash Money.

  7. Don’t get me wrong, if true, Tito Sotto should really be damned. How dare he copied without authorization the works of others?

    Anyway, I don’t get it when Sotto’s sin is spread like wildfire to condemn others who clearly are not in Sotto’s level.

    Was there plagiarism cases filed against those who made copies or Tagalog versions of songs culled from foreign songs? Was there anyone who even hinted that such and such songs was plagiarized? Was there any local talents who misrepresented and claimed to authored any songs which in fact are not theirs but an original foreign songs?

    See the difference there? Allegations is easier said than done. Let us be careful in generalizing especially if it involved legal questions.

    1. Yes, you have a point. But don’t forget that internet came to pnas only in late 1990’s, meaning tracing and reporting to media is close to impossible.

      1. @Alcone, that just shows how dangerous our Online Mob is. They’re ignorant, hypocritical and will do anything to have their way.

  8. FAKE FAKE FAKE. A Celebrity persona masquerading as politician who has no clue to be in politics. Many qualified people spent years and not to mentioned even went to prestigious schools abroad and cannot even be elected to public office.
    I have been saying it all along, the Philippines need to add the academia requirements for those who wants to be politicians. Haven’t Filipinos ever learn? With ERAP —NO EDUCATION. NO INTELLIGENCE. NO COMMON SENSE. HE WASTED 2 PRECIOUS YEARS BEING THE PRESIDENT WHO HAS DONE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. IT’S PITIFUL, MANY ILLITERATE CELEBRITY PERSONA WILL SOON BECOME POLITICIANS LIKE AGA MUCHALACH, ALMA MORENO ETC……FORGET DEMOCRACY FOR NOW. FORGET EQUAL RIGHTS FOR NOW. LETS JUST HAVE SOMEBODY WHO IS QUALIFIED TO BE IN A POSITION TO RIGHTFULLY GOVERN THE PEOPLE. A REAL POLITICIAN WHO IS FULLY EDUCATED, INTELLIGENCE, HAS MORALS, INTEGRITY.

    1. But what about Marcos, Fidel Ramos, Gloria Arroyo and the other foreign educated people that we had in public office before? They are all well educated, but where are we now?

      You are insinuating that only intelligent people should be elected or run for public office. It is as if we are assured of good public service because our leaders are intelligent. And you know that is not true. First, that’s discrimination which goes against the tenets of democracy. Second, nowhere in the world that can support the idea of a guaranteed superb public service because of intelligent public servant. No such thing.

      Elections are popularity contest. You don’t believe it, you’re sleeping in the pansitan. I’m sorry but that’s reality. Why do you think politicians invite celebrities during the campaign? Why do you think politicians spend millions for those ads showing their faces and introducing themselves to the public?

      Elections is not about intelligence, it’s about people who maybe intelligent enough to be appreciated by the public. First, you have to be somebody known by the voters. Known not intelligent. Second, you have to have something to present for the voters to win them over. You may present the fact that your intelligent but it does not automatically win them over. You have to have charisma too. You have to have ‘it’. The masa appeal. You have to have the work, so to speak.

      If the only thing you will present to the voters is intelligence, you will end up in a laboratory as a scientist with frustrated political ambition. That will not cut it.

      1. we have lots of people who are socially responsible, intelligent, upright and are fit for the job. what we have however are a bunch of idiotic voters. and they compose the majority. The middle class who is about 15% of the population and who are paying taxes thru tax witheld at source can’t get to have their choice elected. Instead only the majority of stupid masa who do not pay income taxes at all decides the fate of the nation by favoring and electing the same type of shameless and unqualified politicians into office.

        1. But the conflict in your theory is, the masa, the stupid voters as you like to call them, do not vote for their kind. They vote for people who are more socially responsible, the more intelligent, the more upright than them. Even Erap, the pride of masa is not really masa.

          In short, since the stupid masa do not vote for their kind, then, why still blame them for the sins of their betters?

        2. What kind of reasoning is that, Jonas? If the masa is irresponsible, how would they know who is a responsible person? If the masa is unintelligent, how would they know the intelligent person? The masa votes, but is not to blame for the consequences of that vote?

        3. I’m just following the twisted theory of alconce. I was not the one saying the masa is irresponsible. You and alconce did. You ask ‘how would they know who is responsible and intelligent?’ Why, is there a need for somebody to tell them that? And is being responsible and intelligent assures clean and honest public service?

          The mass should not be solely blamed for the consequences of their vote. They are not the one committing graft and corruption. The oligarch, not the masa, runs this country.

      2. @Jona-s— Did you see my blog “A REAL POLITICIAN WHO IS FULLY EDUCATED, INTELLIGENCE, HAS MORALS, INTEGRITY.”

        We have more qualified people who could be a real politicians.
        Lets look at the next Chief Justice selection. The qualification includes MUST be a Lawyer, Must in Law Practice a Judge for 15 years, Must not be involved in any kind of cases against them. If they did not have this clauses or requirements to pick the next Chief Justice, we could end up Manny Pacquaio or Lito lapid as the next CJ.
        This is precisely my point, anyone could be a politician because of equal right but you also have to be qualified. What do you have to offer on the table to be a politician if your background is only Showbiz.
        —-You would not want Juan de la Cruz to do heart surgery on you if you need one do you? you want the best Cardiologist or a Cardiothoracic Surgeon because he spent years of going to medical school and years in residency.
        —-You would not want Juan de la Cruz to do Brain Surgery on your love once. You want a qualified neuro surgeon to do it.

        The same thing in Philippine politics…the Philippines deserve better to be serve by a politician who has an impeccable resume that includes FULLY EDUCATED, INTELLIGENCE, HAS MORALS, INTEGRITY, DEDICATED, MOTIVATED TO HELP THE PEOPLE. Just like choosing the next Prime Minister and the next CEO of a company (the board chooses the most qualified who met their qualification).

    2. There is a guy posting here calls himself ‘doomed nation’,and he is correct.Nothing is going to change here,nice to think it can,But do not hold your breath.Imma gettin outta here.Beautiful country,but it is screwed.

  9. Sotto disgrace the country.
    FAKE FAKE FAKE. A Celebrity persona masquerading as politician who has no clue to be in politics. Many qualified people spent years and not to mentioned even went to prestigious schools abroad and cannot even be elected to public office.
    I have been saying it all along, the Philippines need to add the academia requirements for those who wants to be politicians. Haven’t Filipinos ever learn? With ERAP —NO EDUCATION. NO INTELLIGENCE. NO COMMON SENSE. HE WASTED 2 PRECIOUS YEARS BEING THE PRESIDENT WHO HAS DONE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. IT’S PITIFUL, MANY ILLITERATE CELEBRITY PERSONA WILL SOON BECOME POLITICIANS LIKE AGA MUCHALACH, ALMA MORENO ETC……FORGET DEMOCRACY FOR NOW. FORGET EQUAL RIGHTS FOR NOW. LETS JUST HAVE SOMEBODY WHO IS QUALIFIED TO BE IN A POSITION TO RIGHTFULLY GOVERN THE PEOPLE. A REAL POLITICIAN WHO IS FULLY EDUCATED, INTELLIGENCE, HAS MORALS, INTEGRITY.

  10. The guy is an actor.He was paid to be someone else,so what can anyone expect?Filipino’s are the biggest copycats in the world,not an ounce of originality in the whole country!!!!The second something is internationally famous it is copied by a Filipino.Need something copied,get a filipino to do it.The country even has people employed,wherever a copying machine is installed in a business,to operate copying machines(very annoying too,as they always read what they are copying as if it is their business!).Sotto is just a microcosm of yet another national tragedy in the Philippines.Hiring actors to get into government,trying to sound profound and intelligent while acting like they do not know what is going on, is about as smart as letting the fox guard the hen house.Sotto is just not a good actor,never was.Please get the man a tissue!

  11. Actors on the stage then “smuggled” into our congress with no public administrative, business education, and civic service/safety/protection background1

    If this is a example of what we deserve…
    then it is time we lazy “actors”..got on the stage…the first one out of town!
    Otherwise we need to vote this “fake” out and replace him with someone we can trust to represent the best interest of “we the people”! Shame on the peacocks….we need “PH-eagles” in our leadership positons–not MT-headed smiling faces!

  12. Let’s give the HONOURABLE Senator a break, and his staff. Apparently, they know enough to use the web but not to expect people to be critical about it. I would be more than pleased if he ever never returns to the Senate. The Senate losses respect as an institution because of things like these.

  13. What really enrages me about this whole plagiarism incident, is how Sotto’s camp simply said “Oh we didn’t know she wanted to be credited! Oh fine, if she wants credit then we’ll give her credit!” Or something to that effect. Makes me wanna BARF. Made me feel so sick, really! It’s sooooooooooooo ignorant a remark/response that I cannot begin to fathom the depth of the sinkhole of stupid that their minds have fallen into!

  14. Nililihis nila ang issue. Hindi naman ito talaga ang issue kundi ang RH Bill mismo at ano ang nakapaloob dito. Marami kasi sa atin ang hindi kayang tanggapin ang rason o pananaw ng iba kaya hinahanapan nila ng pagkakamali si Sen Sotto na may punto naman talaga.

  15. The lack of real argument is so evident by those who judge Senator Sotto irresponsibly. Why don’t we focus on the “REAL” issue here?? Stop judging Sotto for he was just presenting facts about this bill (RH BILL).

  16. Plagiarism is still plagiarism. Such a pity that such incident stirred a lot of reactions from bloggers, readers, and the like. Let’s focus on the issues that Sen Sotto is presenting. Then let’s be critical in understanding the Bill. Our Nation’s future is at stake here. Ms Pope is too sensitive- wanting for media mileage. who is she anyway? Isn’t an apology from the senator’s office enough? gusto pa kasi magpasuyo, hay! I pity ms.pope. tsk!tsk!

  17. Great job in highlighting, pointing out and researching on the lobbyist .It’s a very strong presentation of argument, which is really hurting.

    Kaya nga all they can say is the plagiarism issue. But the facts cannot be twisted at all. For education of all, please make a research on Rockefeller Group, American Cancer Foundation and Gates Foundation, The Pro-RH Group even boast the tweet of Ms Melinda Gates, little did they know that most women in Africa is disgusted by her, Let me also share Lifenews.com and Lifesitenews.com. I hope one of the staff of Senator Sotto is reading this post. We also know women with stories of failed contraception and the harm is cause with their life and family and yes it caused death. They are all willing to come forward and share their sad stories, this is not just for mothers but also with single women whose soul has been broken due to use of contraception.

  18. This is no longer just about plagiarism but, about the character of a person -his humility to acknowledge that he was at fault and his respect not just for the author, but also for the people who voted for him. It takes a lot of courage to admit mistakes, yet it is part of what defines the values of a person. In this case, the values of Tito Sotto, a “public servant”. His defense shows the lack of integrity and honesty, and unmasks the impression that he cares more about only wanting his position and getting ahead. It is never an excuse that people voted for him because of his celebrity status and not of his intellect. A man who is less educated is gifted with wisdom to know when he should wave the white flag and apologize.

  19. Nakiki ride naman ito si Ms Pope para sumikat siya. Naku naman! Kapag plagiarism wagas maka react ang mga tao. Focus naman tayo sa RH Bill na sinasalungat ni Tito Sen. Anong maidudulot na maganda nito sa atin eh, existing na batas na ang napaloob dito? Proper implementation lang ang kailangan sa mga batas tungkol sa RH. Junk RH BILL!

    1. So palalampasin na lang natin? Ganon? Panno kung Filipino blohgger yon? Okay lang ba nakawan ka ng idea at dahil senador siya, tama lahat ng ginagawa nya? Wala akong pake sa RH bIll, pake ko na kayang gawin ito ng isang senador at di man lang nahihiya sa sarili niya.

  20. Kung makapanghusga, wagas. Tigilan na ang uagaling yan. Gumising na! Hindi uunlad ang Pilipinas kung puro kamalian ng mga nanunungkulan ang titignan.

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