Would bloggers be happy if lawmakers passed a law on plagiarism?
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile thinks so, and has proposed that the Senate to study the possibility of crafting an anti-plagiarism law or one that would regulate blogging activities to curb the practice of plagiarism in the country.
Enrile made the suggestion after Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III stood up during plenary to defend himself from critics and netizens who lambasted him for his opposition to the Reproductive Health bill when he delivered his turno en contra speech.
Enrile said that since there is no law on plagiarism, it is high time senators study the feasibility of crafting a law that would make plagiarism a crime since it is not covered under the Revised Penal Code or other special laws in the country.
"I think it's best (to craft a law) so we would be enlightened. Let's craft a law and let's include what should be covered, and what are the rights of the bloggers and blogs, so we would understand," Enrile said.
Sotto, who drew flak from social media networking sites after he was found quoting a research work from a American blogger without proper attribution, agreed to the proposal.
"I agree, I concur, Mr. President," Sotto said in response to Enrile's suggestion.
In his privilege speech, Sotto reiterated he did not commit plagiarism because his speech was a product of research.
"Wala po akong inangkin sapagka't ako po ay di doktor. Ang blanket disclaimer ay pag-amin na ang research materials na nilalaman ng aking talumpati ay batay sa mga pag-aaral ng mga iginagalang na eksperto," Sotto said.
He said he is the first senator to be the victim of cyber bullying in blogs, Facebook, and Twitter.
He suspected the attacks were instigated and financed by the supporters of the Reproductive Health Bill. "If you can't kill the message, kill the messenger. That seems to be my detractors' plan," he said.
Sotto asked the chamber to remove the paragraph containing reference to the study of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, which he included in his speech, and found in Journal No. 8 page 162 dated August 13, 2012.
Enrile said any work that is not copyrighted in the country can become "something you can quote...within reasonable bounds."
But the Senate chief clarified he is not tolerating the practice of plagiarism.
"There is no law that prohibits you which restricts the person from using it provided it is not in derogation of a position or reputation or of the original writer that wrote it. That is more appropriate especially if you are a trained journalist or writer," he said.
"I do not consider myself a writer, but I know you have to make a proper attribution. But if your failure to attribute is done in good faith, you respect the opinion you borrow, you believe in the material that you borrowed, to support your position on a given issue I think should be in assumption of good faith," Enrile said.