Enrile backpedals statement on Sotto

Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

The Senate does not condone plagiarism.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile made this assurance as he clarified an earlier statement wherein he called bloggers “ignorant” for trying to kick out one of his colleagues accused of plagiarism.
“As far as plagiarism is concerned, I don’t think there’s anyone who can say that we are going to condone or abet any act of plagiarism in this chamber,” Enrile said.
“Far from it, if there is anyone of us wittingly or unwittingly commit this act then I’m sure that that member would be man enough or honorable enough to stand and answer for it,” he added.
Related story: Sotto apologizes to Kennedy family

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, the Senate official clarified no one in the Senate is beyond investigation.
He explained senators are open to be exposed to an investigation by Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges if ever they commit any infraction of ethical standards or moral conduct.
“But as a matter of Constitutional law, we are invested with parliamentary speech, untrammeled speech to perform our duties as legislators of the people of this country,” Enrile clarified.
He pointed out parliamentary immunity allows senators and congressmen to speak up against whoever is involved – be it the mightiest ruler of the land or the most sacred tradition in modern society.
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Enrile insisted the privilege of speaking out their minds is needed toin exposing errors that may come by in Filipino society.
“That is the reason why I said the Constitution embedded the grant of legislative power to Congress for its members to be immune from what they say inside the halls of Congress,” he explained.
“So when I was asked yesterday whether it is proper for anybody to file an ethics case against a member of this chamber, I said by all means, let it be referred to the proper committee for investigation,” he said.
The senate president delivered the privilege speech a day after he was criticized for defending Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
On Monday, Enrile said senators cannot cited Constitutional provision under Article VI Section 11, which states no member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof.

Related Story: Kennedy daughter confirms plagiarism complaint vs Sotto

Earlier, more than 30 university professors filed an ethics complaint against Sotto after claiming he committed plagiarism when he translated foreign blogger’s post and a part of late US Senator Robert Kennedy’s speech.

Enrile commented filing an ethics complaint against Sotto may not go anywhere in the Senate, where an issue has to be decided based on number of votes.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, said they still need to establish the panel's rules before they can begin their hearings on Sotto’s case.
Sotto’s former election lawyer Romulo Macalintal and a group called Cyber RISE sent formal communication asking his panel to dismiss the ethics complaint against Sotto.