Senate Silence on Sotto

I wonder as to the great silence emerging from the Senate regarding the transgressions of Senator Sotto, to wit: (1) plagiarizing other people’s copyrighted material, (2) using outdated material in a misleading way and out of context, (3) denying there was anything seriously wrong with what occurred, and (4) expressing absolutely zero remorse for the transgressions.
The Senate appears willing to let Senator Soto get away with it.

What do the laws say with regard to what the Senate OUGHT to be doing?
The Constitution of the Philippines:

  • Rule X. The Committees.Sec. 13. (2) Committee on Ethics and Privileges. – Seven (7) members. All matters relating to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of the Senate and its Members.
It seems to me that the Senate is currently the laughing stock of the Philippines due to Senator Sotto’s abuses and refusal to accept responsibility for them. Perhaps the Senate believes its integrity is enhanced by being the butt of so many jokes. We are all just comedians around here, eh? Clowns abound.
In 1989, two years after adoption of the Constitution, the Legislature promulgated and approved Republic Act 6713 which is the basic code of conduct and ethical standards for public officials. Here are some pertinent excerpts:
  • SECTION 4. Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees. — (A) Every public official and employee shall observe the following as standards of personal conduct in the discharge and execution of official duties:
  • (b) Professionalism. — Public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill.. . .
  • (c) Justness and sincerity. — Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest. . . .
SECTION 11. Penalties. — (a) Any public official or employee, regardless of whether or not he holds office or employment in a casual, temporary, holdover, permanent or regular capacity, committing any violation of this Act shall be punished with a fine not exceeding the equivalent of six (6) months’ salary or suspension not exceeding one (1) year, or removal depending on the gravity of the offense after due notice and hearing by the appropriate body or agency. If the violation is punishable by a heavier penalty under another law, he shall be prosecuted under the latter statute. Violations of Sections 7, 8 or 9 of this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment not exceeding five (5) years, or a fine not exceeding five thousand pesos (P5,000), or both, and, in the discretion of the court of competent jurisdiction, disqualification to hold public office.
The mechanisms are in place to address Senator Sotto’s transgressions: (1) the Committee , which is both the investigative and judicial body, and (2) the Law. The Law is clear. Professionalism, good morals, good customs, public interest.
Senator Sotto does not define the law or his innocence based on what his representative counsel states. He is an interested party. The other interested party is the Public.
Who represents the Public on this matter?
Why is the Senate silent?
It is time to move this matter past Senator Sotto and his horrendous professional behavior and ask why the Institution that is responsible for writing laws is inclined not to enforce them? I’m not an attorney, but it seems to me that:
  • Senator Sotto broke the law by failing to refrain from doing acts contrary to good morals and good customs.
  • The Senate, by not fulfilling its obligations under the Constitution, is also breaking the law.
So here we have a fundamental reason as to why there is a wide scale collapse of respect for and obedience to laws across the beautiful Philippine landscape.
No discipline. No insistence on right over wrong . . . at the highest level . . . in one of the three co-equal branches of government.
But, hey, you don’t care, Senators, I don’t care!
Watching the clowns. It’s more fun in the Philippines!
40 Responses to “Senate Silence on Sotto”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Well, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Senator Sotto's apology, resigning as majority floor leader, submitting to an ethics complaint, shaving his mustache, firing his chief of staff, flicking his speech writer, and any number of options to show remorse in the face of relentless hammering and shellacking. Honor in these parts is twisted and macho shit: "Kahiyaan na 'to."DocB

  2. Yes, that is why the main point of my article is to go around the Senator, who is like a defendant on a case with no plaintiff. The plaintiff ought to be the Senate Ethics Committee. I'm done with Sotto. But I'm very interested in why the Legislature relentlessly fails the public.

  3. Edgar Lores says:

    If the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges summoned up the courage to hold Senator Sotto responsible for his misconduct, I predict it would absolve him in the same manner that the Supreme Court absolved Justice Mariano Del Castillo on a plagiarism complaint.The reason for this is that the senators are not without sin and therefore cannot cast the first stone. Lately, Senator Pia Cayetano was discovered to have plagiarized as well. So both pro- and anti- proponents of the RH Bill are guilty of the charge.For the committee to charge Senator Sotto, it would have to charge Senator Cayetano as well. And for the committee to find the senators guilty, the committee sessions would have to be televised and votes cast in the public eye.Senator Cayetano has given a reasonable explanation of her misdeed. On the other hand, Senator Sotto has not seen it fit to apologize and by his continued silence has increased the gravity of his offense. Therefore, the maximum penalties should apply.The Senate reminds one of the monkey cages in a zoo, where monkeys see and monkeys do. Although it must be admitted that some are deaf, dumb and blind.After the Senate used the broom to clean the Judiciary, it would be another milestone in Philippine politics were it able to apply the broom to itself.

  4. Yes, it is the same problem with regard to SALN's. No one wants to release his because it is so hard to defend. So if you have a dirty Congress, how in the world do you ever get to clean? When the actions of a senator make a joke of the Senate, I would argue it is time to act. Cayetano did not make a joke of the Senate. Sotto did. The journey to righteousness starts with a single step. blah blah blah

  5. Jetlag807 says:

    This is going to "sting"… In my experiences and observations here, I have found that one of the hardest things for Filipinos to do is admit to a mistake or offer a sincere apology. Although this condition seems to effect politicians with far greater frequency, I see it as a cultural bi-product of the all to common Asian taboo of "losing face". People seem to think there is something wrong with self-admission of guilt or wrong doing like its some sort of disease. In the months following the "9/11 Attacks" in the US, a TOP Intelligence official, during a Senate hearing broadcast LIVE, admitted to and offered "NO EXCUSE" (an EXCUSE is not an explanation) for the mistakes made prior to the event which, in all likelihood, may have prevented the attacks. Here in the Philippines, the Student Government still REFUSES to offer an official apology to the people and Government of Hong Kong in connection with the Bus Hostage Fiasco. Jesus H. Christ! All they want is for somebody to say "I'm sorry"! Considering the deaths (and the events which led up to that point) were a direct result of the complete and utter failure of the government to deal with the situation properly, the request is should not be so hard to fulfill… But alas, this is the Philippines where credit is always taken but responsibility is always denied!

  6. Senator Sotto's behavior certainly confirms your conclusion, for the transgression was so blatantly wrong and responsibility so scurrilously denied. I'm guessing he wanted to make a strong argument against RH, so he asked his staff to collect the arguments and put them into a speech. He probably didn't say COPY arguments. Just get some strong support.They copied, and they copied bad arguments, and they copied copyrighted materials.Senator Sotto probably could have killed this dead by saying, "We got a little footloose and fancy with our gathering of information and failed to give proper credit. Our mistake. We'll not let that happen again." He did not need to apologize, just own up to the mistake.But he persists in his denial of responsibility . . .

  7. And so he allows the sore to fester as people who want accountability and good things for the Philippines refuse to go away.And the Senate acts as the great enabler of scurrilous behavior.

  8. Jetlag807 says:

    Stand by while I look up the word; "scurrilously "

  9. Jetlag807 says:

    All-Righty-Then… If the Senator had, from the onset of the situation, admitted the "footloose and fancy" explanation (different from excuse) then I would say "Yep. No need to apologize". However, when faced with the transgression, instead of choosing the honorable option, he choose to LIE and DENY. I, for one, hopes this does not go away. I don't foresee the Senate taking any action against Sotto and, if they did, it would only serve to divert attention to the issue which started it all, the RH Bill.I hope Sarah Pope continues to publicly attack Sotto. Its about time somebody stands up and says enough is enough!

  10. Scurrilous: caddish, underhanded, deceitful. It's a fine word when attached to Senator Sotto, for he fits the definition like a very neat glove. If he refuses to accept responsibility, then he will be needled by bloggers and social media people for a long, long time. I'll certainly take a swipe at him whenever the chance arises.He probably needs to learn the expression "cut your losses". It's political, so maybe he can grasp it.Nahhh, Probably not . . .

  11. Anonymous says:

    The lack of ethicism in the midst of the Philippine Senate is agaping hole that only the electorate can permanently plug. We must restore the integrity of the Senate by pulling the plug on the Senators that believe it is their birthright to continue to lead with impunity.I'm saddened to think that this is just wishful thinking on my part, because it seems that the old adage "matira ang matibay" is not only alive and screaming in Philippine politics but a norm romanticized by many of our people. amormina

  12. Hi, amormina, welcome to the blog. The elections in 2013 and 2016 will say a lot about how influential the social media and blogging have become in the Philippines. Maybe things are changing. I'd not be sad just yet. My wishful thinking is that there is about to be an awakening in the Legislature.

  13. Anonymous says:

    These people operates like gangland oligarchs and they have a code of evil conduct. Dont mess with me or I will get even.I have yet to see this committee do their jobs.However, I agree that perhaps public pressure will make them think and do the right thing.Its Jack

  14. I rather think the country is tipping from a nation of gangsters to a nation of earnest workers, for the nation, thanks largely to the lead being set by President Aquino. And the noise from the peanut gallery.Peanut Joe America

  15. Anonymous says:

    From: Island jim-e (aka: The Cricket)RE: SLAP-DOWN REQUESTED!1. Wonderful showcase profile of what seems to be a difficult subject/topic for every person of honor,especially in this culture of corruption, greed andego. "Who has honor?….he who died last thursday"-Fallstaff!2. Remember "It is more ouchie-wowweee in the Philippines! "All the worlds a stage"-Shakespear(the ages of man)…but why do we suffer soooo many"clowns", show-offs, demi-gods, dysfunctional peoplein our most important positions in government andbusiness? (fill in the blanks here:…..)!3. Question: What is the Sergeant At Arms do inthis congress? In the USA one of the major responsibilities is "As Chief Law Enforcer of theSenate…serves as the executive offical of the senatefor the ENFORCEMENT of ALL RULES OF the Committee OnRules…authorized to arrest and detain any personviolating senate rules! If the Philippine definitionis similar, and as the Committee On Rules has outlinedthe appropriate rules and punishment, WHY HAVE THEYNOT DONE THE RIGHT THING? 4. I hope that we see some immediate corrective actionfor the "clowns" in our government…if not a good hand-butt-or face slap..perhaps a good kick in the "CAN"….and a official repremand to stop "clowningaround" and stop the waste of time and the peoplestaxes-lives-comfort, safety and security!sidebar: I will be pleased to volunteer (I will provide my own whip, chains, rods)for any publicflogging which may be required–then the personsof island ancestory can "blame" someone else foradministration of justice and the law!Chirp!

  16. You must have forgotten your military training, rule 1.1.1, never volunteer for anything. Still, your willingness to wield the rod is admirable.You raise an interesting point about who polices the Legislature. Frankly, I wish someone in our crackerjack mass media would ask the chair of the Ethics Committee whether the Committee has considered doing anything. And if not, why.Did you get the proper inflection in put into "crackerjack"?

  17. Anonymous says:

    I am going to speculate 2013 and 2016 as much as I did with Petron and Digitel when it was two centavos per share. The outlook for 2013 and 2016 is slim using the social media and blogging as the catalyst for political change in the senators and congressmen line-up because it is not yet a widespread phenomenon. It is only limited to middle and upperclass which is about 30% of the entire population. Yes, I agree, it is powerful, but mostly of the voters are ill-equipped with Internet access. Fact is, less than 50% of the population in my community has access to cable TV much less with Internet. Its Jack

  18. I would not bet against you as it is too iffy. Two arguments suggesting social media might have an impact are: (1) mass media and opinion makers are tapped into internet expressions, so a force of common opinion gathers weight and spreads, and (2) this force had a real impact on several senators in the Corona impeachment trial. Even if most of the nation does not have computers, a force of unified opinion travels by text or word of moutn.The one thing I can't really tell is how money and "who you know" will limit public choices by limiting candidates to the moneyed and powerful set. That is what gives us the Arroyos, Marcos, Pacquiao . . . No choice means bad choice, most of the time.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Yeah Joe, no bet, after all I am still feeling lucky I predicted Sereno will be the next SC Chief. Let us leave it a big question mark for 2013 and 2016.Off topic idea. What is your view deploying the Army and Marines to guard ballot boxes and to offset the threat of private armies and comelec goons in stealing the election returns?I remember when I was a PMT cadet where we are deployed during election. Its Jack

  20. Anonymous says:

    I love your wit and witticism sir Joe. I am now an avid fan. I enjoy reading your Philippine Archipelago blog from my perch in the Pacific Northwest! -Boeing Engr

  21. Anonymous says:

    @Joe & JackMy frustrations stemmed from what Joe have succinctlystated…"No choice means bad choice, most of the time".Choosing from the lesser of two evils make me crave forpepto-bismol during elections. The proliferation of blogs in social media such as Joe's,Raissa and many others is definitely creating a rippleeffect in the consciousness of people like myself whoviewed the glass not as half empty but almost empty,toput on their reading glasses and take another look.If only President Aquinos matuwid na daan can be asinfectious as Leptospirosis, then half the battle couldbe won. At this point, Pnoy is the main catalyst I cansee who can inspire student activism which I believewould be the tipping point towards a reformed politicallandscape. We need to see a sustained and passionateinvolvement of the youth akin to what the Korean studentmovement of Kwangju in the 80's.amormina

  22. Jack, you know, that sounds like a good idea to me. They man a lot of highway checkpoints looking for guns. The ballots are precious, so protect them. I like the idea.amormina, Leptospirosis indeed. It surprises me how quite university students are hereabouts. A little blogging, a little loud student activism, could give that Lepto a good push.

  23. Well thanks, Seattle. Or is it Tacoma? I spent time at the University of Washington, in banking school, a bunch of years ago. The Pacific Northwest is gorgeous. Have you driven up to Vancouver? Vancouver is tops on my list of great cities.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Yeah Joe, I am with you.When Dick Cheney was the SecDef he said: "I am running a big ship, it takes time to turn it around".How true and the philippines is an overloaded and battered ship it would take the skipper a very skillful maneuvering to turn it around. Meanwhile, let us keep that peanut gallery noisier.Its Jack

  25. Edgar Lores says:

    The current chair of the Senate Committee is Senator Alan Cayetano. The members are Senators Santiago, Honasan, Legarda, Marcos, Lapid and J. Arroyo. Ex-officio members include Estrada and – wait for it! – Sotto.Senator A Cayetano belongs to the Nacionalista Party (Villar). He used to be Lakas-CMD (G. Arroyo).Senator Sotto belongs to the National Peoples Coalition (NPC – Cojuangco), an offshoot of the Nacionalista Party. He used to be Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP – Angara).NPC has two sitting senators – Sotto and Legarda. Legarda used to be affiliated with Lakas-CMD.Three members of the Committee – Santiago, Marcos and J Arroyo – voted to acquit Corona. They were the only three senators to do so!In this tangled web of shifting alliances and lack of judgement, where can principle and honor be found?

  26. Anonymous says:

    It is Seattle sir Joe. And Tacoma is just next door. Glad to know you also attended UW (Go Huskies!) where I finished my BSEE. Yes I've been to Vancouver BC a hundred times which is a beautiful 141-mile cruise up north on Interstate 5 along clusters of magnificent evergreens. We also have our own Vancouver WA, a dandy port city 142 miles south of Seattle. If you enjoy the sight of evergreens I'd recommend you visit America's Vancouver next time you are in the State of Washington.Boeing Engr

  27. Ah, great idea. Vancouver WA, then tour north to the Big City, on north for a cruise to Victoria, end up on the ski mountains outside of Vancouver, Canada. Eating and viewing all the way.

  28. Well, that answers the question right there, as to why the silence. Good old boys and girls. Values other than the nation in mind, mainly self-promotion.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Will there come a day when the Masa stops voting for idiots and clowns into office?-patrioticflip

  30. We'll see hints in 2013 and 2016. It won't be a quick shift but maybe a slow progression to start to weed out the dinosaurs. A lot depends on how candidates get on the ballot, and I'm not too clear about that yet. Its a subject Joe Am needs to explore.Good to see you, PF.

  31. Edgar Lores says:

    Excuse my ignorance. Are ballot boxes still in use? I thought automation made those obsolete?

  32. Edgar, yes, maybe so. But I think gameplaying and intimidation is still possible. And the military presence in troubled areas suggests "we are serious about fair and safe elections".

  33. Anonymous says:

    Sotto is set to spew his venoms today. Lets hear what lies and copycats he is going to contradict. Watch his countenance! Johnny Lin

  34. Is this the senator that judged Corona for lying of his bank account. Is this the senator that will judge and impeach an Arroyo Supreme Court Justice for plagiarizing Wikipedia? Is this the senator that judged bloggers as "bloggers lang 'yun"?JESUS MARY MOTHER OF GOD HELP THE FILIPINOS.

  35. Senator Sotto. It's more fun in the Philippines.

  36. Hey Mariano. Where you been, bro? You helped launch JoeAm to fame a year or so ago, then split for the beach or mountains or somewhere. Since those days, I've ended up in two national newspaper columns and on President Aquino's dinner table. Good of you to visit again with your always subtle perspectives.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Enlighten me Sir Joe. How is it that one is called jesuitic when one openly supports both contradicting positions of the RH bill like Fr. Bernas and catholic when one supports a position against the bill like the plagiarist Sotto?DocB

  38. Because Jesuits are allowed to use their brains to clarify Doctrine for the good of mankind whilst Catholics must follow the rules and use their brains to rationalize the destructive impacts of their acts.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Joe, thought I was jesuitic…DocB

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