Thin-skinned, plagiarizing Philippines Senator criminalizes "libel" with last minute stealth-attack on cybercrime bill

Philippines Senator Vicente Sotto III has been embroiled in a series of plagiarism scandals -- most recently, he gave a speech including phrases from a Robert Kennedy, Jr address, without credit or acknowledgment -- and has attracted a lot of vocal online criticisms. He was also instrumental in the passage of a broad, censorious "cybercrime" bill, and he warned his critics (whom he derides as "professional fault-finders") that "Once the cybercrime bill is enacted into law, they will be accountable for what they say or write."

Now it seems he has made good on this threat. The signed version of the Philippines Cybercrime Bill classes "libel" with spam, child pornography, and other crimes, thanks to an amendment he introduced -- though this amendment was never debated.

Who inserted that libel clause in the Cybercrime Law at the last minute?



  1. What a cowardly and harmful thing for him to do. Better not let him out in public, he might spontaneously combust if someone gives him a funny look

  2. Corruption in the Philippines is rampant, and this is very bad. The libel law seems to be a handy figleaf for all kinds of censorship. 

    However, I got a little stuck on the title. Filipino is spelled “Filipino”. If you want to be super PC, it’s “Pilipino”. I am of Filipina heritage myself. Cheers!

    1. The title says “Phillippines” because that’s where he’s a Senator. If it said “Filipino Senator”, it would sound like he was a US Senator and Cory was making an inexplicable reference to his ethnicity.

  3. 1. It’s “Filipino.”
    2. He’s done a lot more plagiarizing than that, stealing from an healthy lifestyles blog wholesale on his speech about the health dangers of birth control pills.
    3. He claimed the birth control pill “Diane” was responsible for the death of his son in 1975 despite the fact that Diane wasn’t put on the market until 1978 and wasn’t introduced to the Asian market until 1988.

  4. I am fascinated to discover that in the Philippines, you can apparently be guilty of libel even if what you are saying is factually true.

    1. The truth is an absolute defense to any claim of libel. This isn’t a real libel law. It’s simply an implementation of censorship and criminalized speech

      1. Did you read the legal definition of libel that the Philippine Senate had read out to them before the passage of the bill?  It’s in one of the linked articles.  It says real or imagined” accusations of crime, vices or defects are equally actionable, it just requires malice to be libel.

        I am used to your definition of libel, which requires knowingly misrepresenting the truth, but apparently that’s not the legal definition in the Philippine Islands.

  5. The context of Sotto’s plagiarisms is in the Reproductive Health bill debates here in the Philippines. He has been denying Filipinos accessible reproductive health care and information on the back of plagiarized words, and on research that he takes out of context. At least two of his foreign sources have come out and spoken against his misuse of their work. He also keeps railing on and on about how the reproductive health bill is a work of foreign influence while he cites foreign works to try to debunk the RH bill. Go figure.

  6. He’s a senator who hasn’t got over his roots as a comedian.. Still waiting for the punchline.. We now have a new word “sinotto” (loosely: did a sotto, i.e. copy and paste, plagiarize and justify with silly reasons.) thanks to him.. I’m tempted to call him an @@@@@@@ but he might make me a victim of his internet libel stup@@@@@..

  7. RH Bill – a decade and counting, and still under debate
    Cybercrime Law – approved in 8 freaking days.

    Please, tell me, what is wrong with this picture?

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