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Senator channels Robert F. Kennedy in Filipino

Philippine Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III

Publication Date : 06-09-2012

 

Did Robert F. Kennedy know how to speak Filipino?

This appears to be the gist of Philippine Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III’s defence amid new allegations of plagiarism after he delivered the fourth and last part of his “turno en contra” speech against the reproductive health (RH) bill.

It took bloggers less than two hours to find out that Sotto did it again.

A tweet from a certain Michel Eldiy at 5:30pm, more than an hour after the Sotto speech, triggered online discussions on the supposed intellectual dishonesty of the senator.

“Not true that last part of Sotto’s speech is original. See 'Day of Affirmation' speech of Robert Kennedy in 1966 in South Africa,” said Eldiy, who goes by the Twitter handle, “ChiliMedley”.

She then tweeted a link to the Kennedy speech and later compared it with the speech of Sotto.

Sought for comment, the senator said: “It was texted to me by a friend.

“I found the idea good. I translated it into Tagalog [Filipino]. So what’s the problem?” Sotto told the Philippine Daily Inquirer when asked about his reaction to the fresh accusations.

Ano? Marunong nang mag-Tagalogue si Kennedy? (What now? Does Kennedy now know how to speak in Tagalog)?” he added.

In a separate text message, the senator lamented that proponents of the RH bill were nitpicking.

Answer the issues

“They should just answer (the issues about) funding, population control and abortion,” said Sotto.

The following was Sotto’s conclusion to his lengthy privilege speech against the RH bill:

Iilan ang magiging dakila sa pagbali ng kasaysayan, subalit bawat isa sa atin ay maaaring kumilos, gaano man kaliit, para ibahin ang takbo ng mga pangyayari. Kapag pinagsama-sama ang ating munting pagkilos, makalilikha tayo ng totalidad na magmamarka sa kabuuan ng kasaysayan ng henerasyong ito. Ang mga hindi-mabilang na iba’t ibang galaw ng katapangan at paninindigan ang humuhubog sa kasaysayan ng sangkatauhan. Tuwing naninindigan tayo para sa isang paniniwala, tuwing kumikilos tayo para mapabuti ang buhay ng iba, tuwing nilalabanan natin ang kawalan ng katarungan, nakalilikha tayo ng maliliit na galaw. Kapag nagkasama-sama ang mumunting galaw na mga ito, bubuo ito ng isang malakas na puwersang kayang magpabagsak maging ng pinakamatatag na dingding ng opresyon.”

According to a post on Twitter, it was an alleged direct translation from a speech of the late US Senator Kennedy in 1966:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and the total—all these acts—will be written in the history of this generation.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage such as these that the belief that human history is thus shaped.

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Sotto said his detractors should answer the issues he raised in his speech against the RH measure.

“Let them answer the 8 billion pesos (US$190 million) now being used [for reproductive health and related concerns].

“Let them answer the laws [already existing on maternal health]. Let them answer the deception about reproductive health when it’s a population control bill,” Sotto said.

He said his critics had gone so low because they could not answer his arguments against the bill.

Does he consider his conclusion a product of plagiarism?

“Impossible. It’s a good thought and better in Tagalog,” Sotto said.

The Philippine senator has been under fire for plagiarising a US blogger for his August speech on opposing public funding for contraception.

 

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