Senator called a 'thief' for copying blog

MANILA (Updated 12:42 p.m.) -- An American blogger criticized Senator Vicente Sotto III for allegedly copying her works for a speech the senator delivered early this week.

Sarah Pope, owner of the blog The Healthy Home Economist, said Sotto lifted entire sections of one of her blog entries “basically word for word” that were allegedly used in his speech on the Reproductive Health Bill early this week.

In a television interview, Sotto denied such accusations, saying he was quoting Natasha Campbell-McBride and not Pope.

Campbell-McBride is a medical doctor with two postgraduate degrees in neurology and human nutrition.

“Why would I quote the blogger?” Sotto said in a television interview.

Pope said Sotto’s denial is worse than the act of plagiarism itself.

“Nice touch Senator. You almost had me convinced you were a nice guy with the tears and all,” Pope said in her latest blog entry on Thursday evening.

“A thief is a thief, Mr. Senator. Denying it doesn’t get you off the hook; it just makes you a lying thief,” the blogger added.

Also on Thursday night, Sotto’s staff commented on Pope’s same blog entry that accuses the lawmaker of plagiarism.

Lawyer Hector Villacorta, Sotto's chief of staff, admitted that they used portions of Pope's blog but only in “quoting also from the same book of Dr. Campbell-Mcbride.”

“The Senator did not lift it himself, we did,” Villacorta said.

“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,” he assured.

Villacorta nonetheless apologized for their actions, claiming they were without malice.

“Forgive us our single trespass. We had no malice; we thought you would be happy about it. There was no injury. Hope this makes you feel better," he said.

Pope responded to Villacorta’s comment, saying she disapproves the use of her work without her permission “against the education of the women of the Philippines and their reproductive rights.”

“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,” she said.

The blogger also said she disagrees with Sotto’s position on the issue of contraceptives, saying he “twisted the message of my blog to suit his own purposes against the women of the Philippines.”

“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,” Pope said.

“A woman needs to know that the pill can indeed harm her but this is no reason to take away this choice from her in the first place,” she added.

Sotto, a staunch opponent of the highly controversial Reproductive Health bill, lamented on August 13 on how contraceptive pills affected his son's health.

He said his wife Helen still got pregnant while taking pills. A doctor later told them that their son had suffered complications because of the pills Helen had taken.

The senator's only son, born with a weak heart, died five months after he was born.

Pope though sympathized with Sotto for the loss of his son.

“As the mother of two sons myself, I can only imagine the pain and devastation you have felt from such an experience,” she said.

According to her blog, Pope has been a nutrition educator and chapter leader of Western A. Prince Foundation since 2002. The foundation is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to getting the truth about nutrition out to the masses.” (Emmanuel Louis Bacani/Sunnex)
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