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Philippines: Senator Accused of Plagiarism

Philippine Senator Tito Sotto delivered a speech on August 14, 2012 about his opposition to the controversial Reproductive Health bill in general, and the dangers of artificial contraceptives in particular. The following day, Alfredo R. Melgar of Filipino Freethinkers wrote that several parts of the senator’s speech were plagiarized from the blog of Sarah Pope, a US-based writer.

This is from the senator’s speech:

According, to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, the use of the pill also causes severe gut dysbiosis. What is worse, drug induced gut imbalance is especially intractable and resistant to treatment either with probiotics or diet change.

Senator Sotto. Photo from Senate website

And from Sarah’s blog:

According, to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, use of other drugs such as the Pill also cause severe gut dybiosis. What’s worse, drug induced gut imbalance is especially intractable and resistant to treatment either with probiotics or diet change.

Again, from the senator’s speech:

Gut imbalance brought on through use of the pill negatively impacts the ability to digest food and absorb nutrients. As a result, even if a woman eats spectacularly well during pregnancy, if she has been taking oral contraceptives for a period of time beforehand, it is highly likely that she and her baby are not reaping the full benefits of all this healthy food as the lack of beneficial flora in her gut preclude this from occurring.

And again, from Sarah’s blog:

Gut imbalance brought on through use of The Pill negatively impacts the ability to digest food and absorb nutrients. As a result, even if a women eats spectacularly well during pregnancy, if she has been taking oral contraceptives for a period of time beforehand, it is highly likely that she and her baby are not reaping the full benefits of all this healthy food as the lack of beneficial flora in her gut preclude this from occurring.

There are other instances of plagiarism in the speech, according to a journalist who wrote that the senator may have copied from five bloggers.

The senator has vehemently denied that he committed plagiarism and he even added that his office doesn’t quote from blogs.

Sarah Pope has already confirmed that the senator has indeed plagiarized her blog post:

A Senator in the Philippines plagiarized one of my blog posts to use in a speech. Can't even believe this!!!

She also wrote her frustration that her article was used against women’s rights:

A thief is a thief, Mr. Senator. Denying it doesn't get you off the hook; it just makes you a lying thief.

Women of the Philippines: I am terribly sorry my blog was used and twisted against you. You deserve the choice to use The Pill if you want or need to based on your particular circumstances. While I want you to know that this choice has health consequences as does the decision to use any pharmaceutical drug, I in no way would ever condone taking this choice away from you!

The chief of staff of the senator has confirmed that their office copied from the blog but denied that it was plagiarism. He reportedly left this comment in the Facebook wall of Sarah Pope:

Let me say that after asking my staff, indeed your blog was used but only in quoting also from the same book of Dr. Campbell-McBride. We are both indebted to the book’s author but if you wish that you also be credited with the contents of the book, let this be your affirmation. I can do it and by this message, I am doing it.

What have we done to deserve your incriminating words? The Senator did not lift it himself, we did. Did you want us to tell him to admit what he did not do? Who would you like to crucify for this oversight?

He even said that ‘copying’ is normal in the senate. Based on news reports, he was quoted to have said the following:

…the Bible reached us today because the monks copied from the Greeks. Everything really started from a little copying.

Even our image was copied from God. We are all plagiarists

Choking on my Adobo writes that the issue is more than just about the integrity and credibility of the senator:

In the process, what will be placed in question is the credibility not only of his Chief of Staff … but the integrity of he who holds position in that elected office. Intellectual property and respect for the thoughts, ideas and writings of others is an indication not only of education …but basic decency in a civilized and literate society.

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