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Tito (Sotto) Escalera: he’s baaack!

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III (Voltaire Domingo, NPPA Images)

Is it 'Iskul Bukol' all over again?

After Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente "Tito" Sotto III's chief of staff Atty. Hector Villacorta publicly and openly admitted that his boss had committed plagiarism for using portions of posts made by Sarah Pope in her "Healthy Home Economist" blog, the senator quickly became the subject of criticism and ridicule for actions that recall his character Tito Escalera in the 80s sitcom.

In "Iskul Bukol," Tito Escalera and his "brother" Joey Escalera (portrayed by Joey de Leon) were bullies who needled class genius Vic Onassis (Vic Sotto) into doing class writing assignments for them.

It seems the esteemed senator hasn't shrugged off his Escalera past.

New plagiarism charges

Now, there are new charges of plagiarism from his second speech at the Senate floor, wherein bulk portions of that piece were copied as is from three other blogs.

In reports from Philippine Entertainment Portal and InterAksyon, novelist Miguel Syjuco said Sotto "lifted, verbatim, from three sources easily found online."

Syjuco said he proved Sotto plagiarized these blogs ("Talking Sense" by Marlon Ramirez, "Feminists For Choice" by Janice Formichella, and "The Truth About Contraceptives") by just simply entering chunks of his speech on Google Search.

The search returned results that showed the speech had text that were faithful reproductions from those blogs, word for word. Among those Syjuco cites:

Tito Sotto's speech, August 15:

"Sanger was so intent on reducing family size that she seemed to not stop even at abortion. Many believe that under the right circumstances, Sanger would have condoned infanticide. Indeed she wrote in her book Woman and the New Race: 'The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.'

"This comes from the woman who formed the philosophical base for IPPF.

From "Re-imaging Life and Family: The Global Scandal" by Marlon Ramirez on talkingsense.multiply.com, September 2008:

"…Sanger was so intent on reducing family size that she seemed to not stop even at abortion. Many believe that, under the right circumstances, Sanger would have condoned infanticide. Indeed, she wrote in her book Woman And the New Race: 'The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.' This comes from the woman who formed the philosophical base for Planned Parenthood.

Tito Sotto:

"The two activists met in December of 1936 when Sanger traveled to India to speak with Gandhi about birth control, population and the plight of women in India. At that time, Sanger staunchly advocated the global use of artificial contraceptives and, in order to make the acceptance of such contraceptives easier to the Indian populace, sought to make Gandhi an ally."

From "Gandhi's birth control of choice" by Janice Formichella on feministsforchoice.com, February 5, 2010:

"The two activists met in December of 1936 when Sanger traveled to India to speak with Gandhi about birth control, population and the plight of women in India. At that time, Sanger staunchly advocated the global use of artificial contraceptives and, in order to make the acceptance of such contraceptives easier to the Indian populace, sought to make Gandhi an ally."

Tito Sotto:

"In fact, in a study undertaken by Raymond Pearl, a John Hopkins professor and noted authority on this matter, wrote: 'Those who practice contraception as part of their sex life, by their own admission, resort to criminally induced abortions about three times as often proportionately as do their comparable non-contraceptor contemporaries.'

"Also in a report prepared for the Royal Commission on Population in Great Britain found that the incidence of induced abortion as a percentage of all pregnancies was nine times higher for women using contraceptives than for women not using birth control."

From "Case Study: The Use of Contraceptives Lowers the Number of Abortions" from 'The Truth of Contraceptives,' 2010

"In 1939, Raymond Pearl, a Johns Hopkins professor and noted authority, wrote: 'Those who practice contraception as part of their sex life, by their own admission, resort to criminally induced abortions about three times as often propotionately as do their comparable non-contraceptor contemporaries.'

"In Great Britain, in 1949, a report prepared for the Royal Commission on Population found that the incidence of induced abortion as a percentage of all pregnancies was nine times higher for women using contraceptives than for women not using birth control."

The brouhaha, which began with Sotto's "Turno en Contra" speech against the Reproductive Health Bill, had social media fired up.

Wanbol U

"Tito Sotto sanay na dahil gawain nilang Escalera brothers sa Wanbol University," said a  Facebook user, referring to the fictitious school in "Iskul Bukol."

Twitter user "noel," meanwhile, tweeted: "Plagiarism, yan ang sinabi karamihan sa speech ni Tito Sotto, pero may nagsabi, eh graduate ika ng Wanbol University yan, puros bulakbol."

Faced with the backlash, Sotto even arrogantly went on air on the ABS-CBN News Channel's "Headstart" also on Thursday to deny plagiarizing blogs, particularly Pope's.. "Natatawa ako nung marinig ko 'yan. Kasi 'yung blogger na sinasabi nila… eh, pareho kami ng pinagkunan… si [Dr.] Natasha Campbell-McBride. Ba't ko naman iko-quote 'yung blogger? Blogger lang 'yun," he said.

McBride wrote a book that said children born to mothers who had taken contraceptives in the past faced health risks.

Absent kasi

Pope, who got wind of the controversy, posted a link on her Facebook page and wrote an entry called "On Plagiarism, the Pill, and Presumptuousness" in her blog on Thursday, August 16.

Sotto's chief of staff replied publicly to the post and admitted using her blog without any attribution, but chided her: "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. Hope it satisfies you. But if it does not, what would you want us to do? What have we done to deserve your incriminating words?"

Pope replied, "That is the issue and it was indeed plagiarism. If his staff did it, he condoned it. He is responsible for your actions. My BLOG was quoted, not Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. I put her work in my own words and you copied my words."

It seems Sotto and his staff doesn't have a clear knowledge of what plagiarism is all about. Obviously, Tito Escalera was absent when it was taught.

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