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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Clause-ible Denial

Some days, you have to wonder if fact has outstripped fiction in the incredulity department just a little bit too much, that J.K. Rowling may soon conceivably be working at your local burger joint for her next paycheck.

Today, a news item I caught online made me wonder if the crop of "reality shows" we've been exposed to for years was really just a worldwide, systematic attempt to prevent the expression of anything resembling surprise.

Senator Tito Sotto denies having anything to do with the insertion of the libel clause in the recently approved (signed into law by our President) Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. (See more here:

Is the senator happier these days?
(Courtesy of

I stop dead in my tracks as I am reading this particular news on a mobile device, and find myself having to sit it out for a moment, to ensure that my eyes weren't fooling me.

In his turno en contra speech assailing the Reproductive Health Bill - or should I say speeches, since it went on for days - he made a statement that suggested that critics, especially of the online variety, would soon need to be wary in expressing their sentiments in cyberspace.

As soon as Republic Act 10175 was signed into law, netizens were abuzz - rightfully - about a specific provision in the final version approved that would penalize libel with a number of years in prison, without the possibility of parole.

If this is not a baldfaced attempt to silence critics of any public figure, I don't know what is.

Some points that I feel shouldn't be glossed over:

(1) Free speech is guaranteed by our Constitution. This covers the speech you may not want to hear - for instance, bigoted assumptions like comparing homosexuality as being akin to bestiality would be hysterically laughed at by any credible medical organization, but you are free to proclaim that as your "belief".

(2) Sotto focused on this very issue when he/his office (at this point, I'm not sure who does what when it comes to his public pronouncements) were roundly criticized for the issues of "plagiarism" and "translations", with it going so far as having Sarah Pope, a US based blogger, calling the senator a plagiarist, point blank.

(3) Raissa Robles, a journalist/blogger who focuses on political issues, interviewed Sotto's (now famous or infamous, depending on your view) Chief of Staff, Atty. Villacorta, who essentially admitted that Sotto was responsible for the imsertion of the libel clause. (See for more.)

(4) The Senate record for this particular bill has a portion entitled "Sotto Amendment" which narrates how Sotto rationalized the insertion of this clause, citing Lacsa vs. Intermediate Appellate Court (161 SCRA 427) to bolster his case for it.

Given these facts, and the senator's claim that he is a victim of cyberbullying, I cannot fathom how he can distance himself from an issue that he is clearly and unequivocally passionate about. Unless his own chief of staff and the senate secretary are also part of some "conspiracy" to have the senator appear a certain way to the public?

But given the recent statements and actions of the senator the past few months, I don't think anyone is - anymore - surprised that he denies any involvement in the inclusion of libel in this recently approved law.

And that best sums it up as far as expectations for him is concerned.


  1. I am a citizen of this country... And it is MY right to express what I feel about certain people, issues or situations as I see them... This including any and all politicians and their works... Sotto being one of them... And if I do deem it fitting to call him a liar, a cheat (via plagiarisim) and a coward that is an opinion that is based on things he said and things he did... These are all factual and on record... If i decide to forward these things via any social network of my choice it is my right to do so... And nobody... Including that sniveling sorry excuse of a senator... That joke, that idiot Senator Vicente C. Sotto III cannot, and will not stop me... So I Dare you to start issuing me a warrant...

    1. Which is why we have to be vigilant. Little by little, our rights under a democracy may be taken away if we are not careful and watchful. If this threat of putting us all in jail is real, there will be a shortage in our penal system. Sobra sobra ang kakailanganin nilang kulungan to all those who criticize public officials. Ehem. :D

  2. stop calling tito sotto a senator. he is not worthy to be called one. his arrogance astounds me. as if being in office makes him a better person. in fact he is supposed to be a public servant, a servant of the people. and yet he shows that he thinks little of the masses.

    1. Unfortunately, he was vited into his position. And while he is a senator, how he is viewed is something he can never control. Threats of libel notwithstanding. Having a position does not guarantee respect - something that is always earned, not bestowed.