Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sotto’s Chief Of Staff Owns Up To ‘Using’ Blogger’s Entry


MANILA, Philippines – After Sen. Tito Sotto had quashed accusations of plagiarism thrown at him, his chief of staff has admitted to using a part of an entry of US blogger Sarah Pope in writing the solon’s speech on the Reproductive Health Bill on Aug. 13.

Atty. Hector A. Villacorta posted a reply to Pope’s Aug. 16 blog entry titled, “On Plagiarism, The Pill, and Presumptuousness,” in which the latter vented out her sentiments on the whole ruckus.

Although Villacorta “understands” that Pope “felt slighted” with the non-attribution, he said that “after asking my staff, indeed, your blog was used but only in quoting also from the same book of dr. campbell- mcbride.”

He nevertheless apologized for “our single trespass,” and assured her that Sotto’s staff “had no malice.” Villacorta then pointed out that she and Sotto’s staff are “indebted” to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, who was cited both in Pope’s entry and the solon’s speech.

“but if you wish that you also be credited with the contents of the book, let this be your affirmation. i can do it and by this message, i am doing it. hope it satisfies you. but if it does not, what would you want us to do? what have we done to deserve your incriminating words,” said Villacorta.

He went on to exempt Sotto from the incident, saying that he “did not lift it himself, we did.”

In pleading with Pope to “be on [their] side,” Villacorta told her to not “deflect on this matter of plagiarism” as “it is out of sync in this great debate.”

“all the unborn wants very much the right to be born and they need everybody's help, including yours. join us in the side of life and truth…

“we thought you would be happy about it. there was no injury. hope this makes you feel better. warm regards,” Villacorta concluded.

The abovementioned comment was posted by a certain Lezel de Villa also on Pope’s Facebook fan page. Villacorta has confirmed to ABS-CBN News that the message was indeed his.

In a separate report on GMA News Online, Villacorta maintained that they did not commit plagiarism, saying, “You have a blog, it is meant to be shared, it’s in the public domain."

‘Plagiarism, indeed'

Pope, meanwhile, didn’t hide her dismay over Villacorta’s response.

“No, your lame comment does not make me ‘feel’ any better,” she said.

Pope, who maintains “The Healthy Home Economist” site, didn’t “like the fact that my blog was used without my permission against the education of the women of the Philippines and their reproductive rights.”

“It was indeed plagiarism,” Pope cried foul.

“If his staff did it, he condoned it. He is responsible for your actions. MY BLOG was quoted, not Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I put her work in my own words and you copied my words,” she added.

In her blog entry posted Thursday, Pope also expressed her apparent disappointment over Sotto’s denials, saying, “A thief is a thief, Mr. Senator. Denying it doesn't get you off the hook; it just makes you a lying thief.”

She added, “Nice touch Senator. You almost had me convinced you were a nice guy with the tears and all. Many of your citizenry have emailed me assuring me that was a put on, and I'm starting to think they are right.”

If anything good came off the incident, it’s the “much needed attention to the fact that the birth control pill can have devastating consequences to a woman's long term health and possibly those of her children and even grandchildren,” Pope said.

While Pope has laid out the disadvantages of using contraceptives, which she refers in her blog as “The Pill,” she apparently rallies behind freedom of choice.

“Women of the Philippines: I am terribly 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… I in no way would ever condone taking this choice away from you! Mabuhay!” she said.

Notwithstanding the persuasions of other netizens, as well as her lawyer, to seek legal action, “for now I’m moving on as I’ve got work to do,” Pope said, putting emphasis on “fighting the good fight by continuing to educate people about how their food and pharma choices affect not only themselves, but also those they dearly love.”

More Allegations

The alleged plagiarism doesn’t stop in Pope’s blog. Award-winning novelist Michael Syjuco, through his Facebook account on Aug. 16, claimed that three other sources from which parts of Sotto’s second speech, delivered on Aug. 15, were supposedly copied almost verbatim.

These sources are: “Breaking Up The Family,” from the post “Re-Imagining Life and Family” by Marlon C. Ramirez, published Sept. 2008 on his “Talking Sense” Multiply blog; “Gandhi’s Birth Control of Choice,” posted Feb. 5, 2010 on Feminists For Choice website; and “Case Study: The Use of Contraceptives Lowers the Number of Abortions” from the “Truth on Contraceptives” blog, uploaded Jan. 2010.

Sotto is yet to comment on this latest allegation.


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