Sotto apologizes to Kennedy family but denies plagiarizing speeches

(Updated 3:45 p.m.) Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday apologized for upsetting the Kennedy family but maintained that he did not plagiarize parts of his speeches.

In a privilege speech on Tuesday, Sotto answered the allegations made against him by 37 individuals who filed an ethics complaint against him earlier in the day for alleged plagiarism.

He reiterated that he never claimed parts of his speech as his own and that he always said he got them from other sources. "Wala po akong inangkin so papaano po ako mag-a-apologize ng plagiarism eh wala po akong plinagiarize... sinabi ko ngang hindi akin... para hong pinagpiplead guilty ako sa murder eh ang dapat charge physical injuries," he said.

Sotto said his accusers are still basing their allegation on the draft copy of his speech where his blanket attribution was not yet included.

"Maliwanag po doon sa tatlong turno en contra speeches ko [na] ilang ulit ko pong sinabi and the journal will bear me out wala po ako sinabi dun na akin yun," he said.

"Maliwanag na kontra pa nga ang ginamit. Sinabi ko na lahat ng sinabi ko sa mediko, agham at kung saan-saan ay hindi galing sa akin eh ang plagiarism to steal and pass off ideas or words of another as one's own without crediting the source," he added.

As for the part of his speech which turned out to be lifted from the speech of the late US senator Robert F. Kennedy, he said it was shared with him by an American pastor for inspiration.

"It appears that the Kennedy family has been misinformed to get them to say something about me," he said.

During that time, he said he was not aware it was Kennedy's so he and his staff decided to translate it and use it to end his speech. "I did not steal it or claim that it was mine. The worst thing that you could probably say is that I copied it from the text of a friend. I didn't really know [where] it came from," he said.

"Kung sa tingin nila, ng Kennedy family, kinopya ko pwede sapagkat kinopya ko nga dun sa text ‘yun. But copying or imitation is the highest form of flattery. But if it upsets the Kennedy family, well then I'm sorry but that is not the intention we had when we used it," he added.

The office of Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the former senator, in a letter chastised Sotto for "his unethical, unsanctioned theft of Robert Kennedy's intellectual property and the intellectual property of all those whose work he has plagiarized." But Sotto maintained that people are just being manipulated into cornering him for his stand against the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

"When the right time comes and when I have enough evidence, I will expose the people behind this na nagmamanipula nito...pati mga kababayan natin sa academe namamanipula nila," he said.

He noted, however, that he will not change his objections against the measure.

"You can call me names, you can mock me, you can accuse me of anything under the sun but I will not change my position and I will always be against the distribution of contraceptives, condoms, IUDs...I will always be against abortion. I will remain steadfast and will stand firm in my position as long as I live," he said.

– KG/RSJ, GMA News

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