Sotto apologizes to Kennedys
But says copying is highest form of flattery
MANILA - Sen. Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday apologized to the Kennedy family for using and translating without attribution some parts of the late US Senator Robert F. Kennedy's famous 1966 Day of Affirmation Speech.
He insisted, however, that he did not commit plagiarism because he did not pass it off as his own.
The senator believes that Kerry Kennedy, who wrote a letter asking him to apologize, may have been misinformed by those who pushed her to write something against him.
Sotto recalled that he copied the quotes from a friend's text message, unaware that it was Kennedy's words. He said it found it fitting for the theme of his speech against the reproductive health (RH) bill delivered on September 5.
"Kung sa tingin nila ay kinopya at tingin ng Kennedy family kinopya ko, puwede, sapagkat kinopya ko sa text," he said in a privilege speech.
"But copying or imitation is the highest form of flattery. If it upsets the Kennedy family, I'm sorry. But that is not the intention that we have."
Sotto made the same argument in the case of three US-based bloggers whose works he also used in his speeches: Sarah Pope, Janice Formichella, and Peter Engelman.
He explained that in all his speeches, he made a blanket admission that many of the facts he would cite did not come from him. He said this belies claims that he used the parts of the blog entries without attribution.
"The journal will bear me out. Wala po akong sinabi doon na akin 'yon. Maliwanag na kontra pa nga ang sinabi ko. Sinabi ko na lahat ng sinabi ko tungkol sa medical at agham ay hindi galing sa akin," Sotto said.
Sotto faces a complaint in the Senate ethics and privileges committee for plagiarism. He said this is part of efforts to discredit him for his stand against the RH bill.
"You can call me names. You can mock me. You can accuse me of anything under the sun," he said. "But I will not change my position, and I will always be against the distribution of contraceptives, condoms, and IUDs promoting immorality to the young people. I will always be against abortion. I will remain steadfast and will stand firm in my position."