Manila: About 37 members of the academia and certified bloggers filed a plagiarism complaint against Senator Vicente Sotto at the Senate committee on ethics and privileges. However Sotto has refused to acknowledge his mistake, adding he would not apologise to writers he had wronged, a TV report said.

Sotto should be cited guilty of improper conduct and be given disciplinary action for allegedly plagiarising the works of a late American senator and three other bloggers when he made speeches at the Senate to criticise the proposed passage of a controversial health bill that would allow government’s subsidy for the family planning programme for the poor, the group, composed of scholars, bloggers and members of Filipino Freethinkers Inc, said.

“We trust our senators to know plagiarism when they see plagiarism,” Lisandro Claudio, assistant professor of political science at suburban Quezon City’s Ateneo de Manila University, also told ABS CBN.

“Respondent Sotto’s continued failure to give proper attribution to the authors of the original works from whom portions of his speech were copied, despite having his attention called to it in numerous articles presented in media and posted on the internet, is a clear violation of these authors’ moral right,” said the complainant that took the side of the wronged writers.

The Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines and the Electronic Commerce Act protect the creators of written works, which mandate that their works should be attributed to them when used publicly by others, said the complainants who also included University of the Philippines’ Centre for Women’s Studies Director Dr Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, De La Salle Political Science Professor Dr Antonio Contreras, and Filipino Freethinkers President Red Tani.

Attached to their complaint was a letter of Kerry Kennedy of the United States-based Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights, which had cited Senator Sotto for not attributing US Senator Robert Kennedy as the author of part of his (Sotto’s) speech – a translation in Filipino of Kennedy’s Day of Affirmation Speech in 1966, at the Philippine Senate last September.

At the time, Sotto gave a dramatic speech to argue why he was against the passage of the controversial health bill that would allow government subsidy on the use of artificial contraceptive for poor people.

The complainants also included the statements of three bloggers, Sarah Pope, Janice Formichella, and Peter Engelman, who have also complained that their online statements were allegedly used by Sotto in his speech at the Senate.

Sotto said he would not apologise to the authors who were cited by the complainants, adding, as a senator, he has immunity (from being punished).

At the same time, the complainants must get majority support from the Senators to realise their wish that Sotto should be disciplined because of plagiarism, said Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

The Senate ethics committee is headed by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.