Should we weep for defending plagiarism, also?
(Courtesy of philippinenews.com)
While last week was largely about Sotto and his office's plagiarism (which some have already begun to call "Bloggergate"), I was struck by a sense of familiarity that can best be described as uneasy, and then it hit me: this seems like a replay of when former Chief Justice Renato Corona was on (impeachment) trial.
Tears have been making very public rounds lately.
(Courtesy of interaksyon.com)
I can hear defenders of both of them going ballistic, so let me explain why I drew the comparison.
Both of them would never be my choice for their government positions.
In the last senatorial elections, Sotto was on the top of my "I'm never voting for you" list. I have made my feelings about entertainers running for public office known in my past blogposts, and the way he is defending himself in "Bloggergate" just confirms I made a correct assessment.
Corona was forced on someone like me, because I didn't vote for GMA in 2004. Unfortunately, that is the way our democratic system works, and the sitting president gets to appoint the next Supreme Court Chief Justice. Had the post been up for a vote, I would never have voted for Corona, either.
Both of them were caught in "ambiguous" legal scenarios.
Sotto has maintained that there is no cut-and-dried law about lifting excerpts from a blog, and to warrant calling that as illegal, and his chief of staff has basically described the internet as an open source so that there would be (from the chief of staff's perspective) no need to credit anyone for anything as long as it is sourced online. (I wonder how Sotto would feel if somebody copies Eat Bulaga - the show largely instrumental for his fame as he co-hosted it for years - from any social media site that has their episodes.)
Corona has also maintained that there is no need to declare his dollar accounts because as far as he and his lawyers know, the law only requires him to state his peso accounts. Despite the differeing interpretations of various legal provisions, Corona chose to use the situation to claim that he is correct in his interpretation.
Both have little, if any, appreciation for ethical considerations, and consider these inferior to legal ones.
As far as Sotto and his staff were concerned, no "stealing" took place. Never mind that they already admitted to plagiarizing Sarah Pope's blog. Never mind that most social commentaries have focused on how the act of plagiarism is never an act of accident and how stealing a gold bracelet is no different from stealing a writer's words, even though the writer is "just a blogger". (The senator's wanton use of a blogger's words to advance his cause regarding the RH Bill betrays how he really views them.)
Corona also maintained that he has done everything "legally". Never mind if lawyers cannot agree on one interpretation. Never mind that his very appointment was shrouded in much controversy. Never mind that his stance on declaring dollar accounts as unnecessary would make us practically a safe haven for money laundering. Never mind that the spirit in which the law intended - to make public officials accountable - would be circumvented by a specific way of interpreting the written law.
Ethical considerations demand that they act according to the highest levels of propriety. And both of them have defenders decrying this "unfair" standard, saying that they should be measured "just like any other citizen". Last I checked, "any other citizen" cannot filibuster a bill that's been stalled for years or reverse a decision that's been ruled with finality. Three times.
And yet, "any other" public official like Delsa Flores could be sacked for not declaring her market stall. And "any other" student can be expelled for plagiarizing an academic paper.
Both of them threw their (positions') weight around.
Sotto: "Whatever it is, the buck stops with me. I'm the senator."
Corona: "And now, the Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines wishes to be excused."
Both of them are/were in positions that issue decisions I have no choice but to obey.
As Senate Majority floor leader, Sotto gets to determine to a large extent what bills to give attention to, and as is rather painfully obvious, he is doing everything in his power to prevent the RH Bill from seeing the light of day by giving speeches day in and day out. Yet again.
Even now that Corona has been booted out of office, his decisions when he was Supreme Court Chief Justice stays. How he interpreted the law when he was in power is how everyone is supposed to interpret it, until the decision is changed.
While glancing the news overseas, it struck me that both of them are actually being represented in the upcoming US elections, via the Republican Party.
Could they be the template?
(Courtesy of boston.com)
Mitt Romney refuses to show his tax returns, while Paul Ryan believes women should have few, if any, choices regarding their reproductive health, among other "odd" stances.
Anyone here who wants to field the Corona-Sotto tandem for the next elections?