Can social media ‘activism’ force Tito Sotto to apologise to Kerry Kennedy and Sarah Pope?

It seems to be becoming a showdown between the much-vaunted “power” of social media “activism” and the traditional institutional power of a Senator of the Republic. The most recent news report on the brouhaha over allegations of plagiarism being directed against Philippine Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III screamed “Netizens refuse to let Sotto off the hook.” As to how effective this digital pressure may prove in the presumed effort to unseat Sotto from his lucrative Senate seat, that remains to be seen.

Indeed, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile observed:

“We cannot be questioned anywhere for what we say inside this chamber. Not because we are a special breed but because that is the immunity given by the sovereign people so that we can speak on any subject under the sun,” Enrile told reporters.

“You cannot be questioned by anybody outside this chamber. How can you be questioned if you say anything here? That’s constitutional law. Not because of any arrogance of power [but] those people who do not understand it [are] ignorant of the very Constitution they are supposed to espouse,” he said.

“They can file a case … [but whether] they can get enough senators to vote in their favor, that’s the problem. As long as we have this system, it’s a question of numbers.”

This means that these outraged “netizens” will have to decide what happens when and if all the noise they are making gains some traction across the broader swath of the Philippine public.

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The reality of democratic politics, as Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III loves to point out is that voters are The Boss. The key question therefore that outraged netizens need to ask themselves is quite simple:

Does the Boss care?

After all, as most experienced professionals will tell you: If your boss does not care, why should you care?

It is this simple principle that will determine whether the majority of Philippine Senators required for punitive action to be effected versus Sotto will materialise. As Enrile points out, “a two-thirds vote is required before a senator facing an ethics complaint could be meted disciplinary action.”

Indeed, it is quite evident that Sotto’s real failure as a professional politician in a country whose leaders and legislators are elected by popular vote is in his own contribution to the noise stirred up by what he himself described as “only” a bunch of bloggers. Perhaps had he remained quiet and simply ignored the din of chatter in both new and old media, the issue will not likely have been inflammed.

Social media “activism” in the Philippines is notoriously fickle with most of its prominent content producers lacking strong philosophical underpinnings. As such, efforts to organise Filipino bloggers into some kind of “united voice” or bloc of influence have consistently fallen flat on their faces. Filipino bloggers also have a strong track record of falling into lockstep to the marching tune of Big Business as evident in their avid participation in the various “blog award” events organised by major corporations like Globe Telecommunications. And with traditional-media-site-disguised-as-social-media-phenomenon now seen by many to be Filipino social media coolness defined, it is unlikely that diversity of ideas in the Philippine social media “activism” scene will likely endure for long.

Consider too that with much of online Filipinos (who make up less than half of the population) engaged more in the pursuit of consumerist aspirations, entertainment, and personal gratification when logged onto social networking sites than in more meaningful endeavours, it is possible that the true overall influence of the noisiest clique of online “activists” had consistently been overestimated over the last several years.

Plagiarism, after all, is not exactly the sort of concept that resonates amongst ordinary Filipinos. Filipinos, have exhibited a long tradition of being the foremost copycats of the world. Originality is not one of the Filipino’s strongest points. More to the point, plagiarism is not the most heinous of crimes nor the most offensive of indiscretions either. When one considers how Filipino voters have long tolerated more serious inadequacies like incompetence, banal philandering, thievery, crassness, and impunity in their politicians you’d wonder: How all the more accomodating could Filipino voters be with politcians accused of mere plagiarism? Think Erap, Jalosjos, the Dutertes, President BS Aquino and his pet of the month Grace Padaca, and the whole bunch of other politicians who somehow get elected to office despite being walking antitheses of everything considered decent and sensible by most normal people.

For every idiotic politician removed from office by the stirrings of the Philippine intelligentsia, there will be a hundred others voted into office by virtue of the ballot of millions of Filipino voters. Seems like we are all barking up the wrong tree.

36 Replies to “Can social media ‘activism’ force Tito Sotto to apologise to Kerry Kennedy and Sarah Pope?”

  1. Sotto repeatedly makes a fool of himself, and reflects the dire state of politics and the incompetence/arrogance/self-interest prevalent amongst politicians.
    He and his colleagues also create/reinforce an image abroad of filipinos, which is often uncomplimentary, and detrimental to international relations/trade.

    Clearly when intellectual plankton act in such a moronic manner it explains why the country sits alongside bangladesh and laos in international league tables.

    Sotto seems more interested in playing games on childrens tv than anything else.

    Enrile underlines a martial law attitude of immunity and impunity, and aquino does nothing about anything of significance.

    The blind leading the blind – deaf to the needs of the country, impervious to criticism, incapable of change. Corruption, control, monopoly wealth and power is in their DNA – progress, equality, honesty and decency are not.

    Big fish in a little pond but unable and unwilling to compete in the real world, but simply act like feudal lords demanding allegiance and respect from the minions.

    Respect is the last thing they have earnt, or warrant.

  2. previously sotto hid behind women – a common ploy for the non-macho filipino politicians -, now he is hiding behind the constitution and immunity of the senate.
    no wonder crooks and criminals want to be in house/senate.
    not man enough to fight their own battles , not bright enough to even see what they do wrong, and not decent enough to apologise/accept blame.

    1. I seem to recall Sotto reversing his stance on a certain Cybercrime Act to appease another person who loves to behind women. Like his mom and sister.

  3. One day Enrile, Sotto and other Public Servants in this country might just take a more humble view of their positions as Public Servants elected to represent the people for and by the people and they are not gods!

    In my country you might just find yourself out of a job come re-election or if the public outcry becomes powerful enough you might indeed be sanctioned by your own peers. I caution any Public Servant to never underestimate the power of the people you were elected to serve!

  4. @amir
    Advice to obama’s staff – ‘don’t drop the ball, or you are washed up’

    Advice to p-noy’s staff – ‘Don’t drop the soap, or you will get ‘a wash and a brush up!’

  5. Sotto is not worthy of sniffing Bobby Kennedys’ underwear… Be advised Senator Sotto, the video on Facebook of you and Enrile just went to both of my US Senators Facebook page. Hahahahahahah Now you have made the whole Philippine Senate look like fools. I don’t know for sure which of you is worse. I am sure that my Senators will get a good laugh out of Enrile’s arrogant statements also. Obviously you don’t know history very well or you are just an ignorant hick, but Bobby Kennedy is highly revered in my country. As an American I take it personally that you would use any of his writings and then be an arrogant prick about it. The next time you go to the US keep your ugly head bowed. Trust me fuzz face someone will call you out on it.

    1. Just thinking out loud, Bill, with the group of robin hood activists that seems to have taken hold of the US government, maybe Obama will consider passing similar anti-libel legislation against his critics. We all know he HATES being contradicted…

    2. Bill,

      I’m curious with this one.

      Did Bobby K cited George Bernard Shaw when he quoted him on one of his great speeches –

      “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.”

      1. Geez, I don’t know man. You would have to be more specific. What speech, where and the year. I am open to looking that up.

        1. Bill,

          I performed some googling and found out that at one time he attributed that quotation to George Bernard Shaw –


          “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why’? I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not’?” Robert Kennedy made this quotation famous during his 1968 Presidential campaign. Although he apparently used it on several occasions as a kind of slogan, the only occasion for which we have been able to find documentation is his speech at the University of Kansas on March 18, 1968. In its original form, the quotation was said by the serpent in George Bernard Shaw’s play Back to Methuselah , and was used by President Kennedy in his Speech to the Irish Parliament on June 28, 1963: “Speaking as an Irishman [Shaw] summed up an approach to life: ‘Other people,’ he said, ‘see things and say: why – but I dream things that never were and say: why not.”

      2. Bobby did paraphrase a line from Shaws ” Back to Mathusalah” He is also quoted as giving credit to Shaw for it. Found that on Wikiquote under “misapplied quotes” That misapplied quote is also etched on his headstone

  6. Simple enough logic, but some people still fail to see it—If there weren’t any Senator Sotto elected into office, then there wouldn’t be a Senator Sotto committing any acts of plagiarism. Question is, who elected him into office in the first place?—Answer: The pinoy voting public—aka “the Boss”—bow (a la Aiza Siguerra)!

  7. some buffoon who likes to play with young boys and girls is not taken seriously in the philippines, let alone by his betters.
    just put jungle boy down to sheer ignorance.
    sotto brings shame to the country

  8. Benign0

    Below is the link to the PRIVILEGE SPEECH OF SEN. VICENTE C. SOTTO III, Turno en Contra, SB 2865 against Reproductive Health Bill on August 13, 2012

    I have gone over his speech and, if I were to make a List of References Senator Sotto cited in his speech, it would include the following:

    01. “In the book entitled Deadly Deception by James Sedlak”

    02. “(Source: D.J. Moran, M.D.; J.D. Gorby, M.D.; T.W. Hilgers, M.D. Title: “Abortion in the Supreme Court: Death Becomes a Way of Life. “Abortion and Social Justice, Sheed and Ward, 1974.)”

    03. “(Source: Lesley Arey, Development Anatomy 7th Edition, 1974. Philadelphia W.B. Saunders Publishers.)”

    04. “(Source: E.L. Potter, M.D. and J.M. Craig, M.D. Title: Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, 3rd Edition. Chicago Year Book Medical Publishers, 1975.)”

    05. “even ex-President Bill Clinton in a book, His Life, on page 302 admits to that fact”

    06. “There are numerous studies showing its carcinogenic properties since the development of the synthetic estrogens in 1938 by Sir Edward Charles Dodds.”

    07. “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on the World Health Organization announced on July 29, 2005”

    08. “According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, M.D.”

    I think it is only in Item 8 above where Senator Sotto is accused of failing to properly attribute the source. But, in view of having properly acknowledged the other sources he quoted, I think Senator Sotto’s failure to properly attribute one source, Item (8), may fall under the category of UNINTENTIONAL PLAGIARISM, defined as:

    “plagiarism in which the author does not mean to deceive, cheat or plagiarise (Sutherland-Smith 2008). It commonly occurs due to ignorance or lack of understanding of acknowledgement conventions.”

    Examples of such plagiarism are:

    — Failure to cite a source that is not common knowledge.
    — Failure to “quote” or block quote author’s exact words, even if documented.
    — Failure to put a paraphrase in your own words, even if documented.
    — Failure to put a summary in your own words, even if documented.
    — Failure to be loyal to a source.

    So, in failing to attribute unintentionally, I think Senator Sotto did not mean to deceive or cheat, which to me is what matters.

  9. The only thing that am reminded of this episode was that vice presidential debate where Dan Quayle likened himself to JFK.

    And was rebutted by his opponent with: “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”

    Carry on. 🙂

  10. As such, efforts to organise Filipino bloggers into some kind of “united voice” or bloc of influence have consistently fallen flat on their faces.

    Then lets start it here. Everyone here has expressed concern over the statenof affairs in this country. Lets take it a step further. I’m looking to galvanize the thought pool around here. Lets see if we can’t find some reason for Enrile and Sotto to hunt us down 😉 benign0, you’ve gor my email address. Maybe we can do something here…

        1. Gogs,
          As an example, the Malacanang trolls don’t organize their thoughts very well. Notice how they make incoherent nonsense here.

  11. “When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence.When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.”
    -John F. Kennedy

  12. Enrile, the political opportunist , tried to rationalize: that wrongs can be done, because of the immunity of the Senators. This Stupid Dude, who claim to be wise. Tells people that Wrongs can be Right in the Senate. Plagiarism is wrong, especially done by serial plagiarist, like Sotto, who happens to be a Senator.
    Maybe, Enrile has Dementia already. He cannot distinguish between : Right or Wrong.

  13. well I guess the below famous quote didn’t work after all to Sotto… LOL

    The bigger/more blatant a lie, the more people will believe it. – Hitler

  14. Infinite monkey theorem states that an infinite number of monkeys typing would eventually produce a shakesperean play.

    Infinite sotto theorem states that an infinite number of sottos thinking would never produce an original thought.

    Monkeys – 1, sotto – a zero

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