(Editor: The scheduled blog "How Filipino Personal Independence Undermines Community" will be delayed one day so that this guest article can be run on a timely basis.)
I see that a lot of commentary has moved past Senator Sotto's transgressions to the willingness of our so-called esteemed Senators to turn their eyes, to duck their heads, to walk away from a blatant, arrogant insult to public honor and high values. Not to mention, Senate honor.
I like Senator Santiago. She is a bright woman and my role model. But today I have to disagree with her. Senator Santiago is correct in only one way. Copying a paragraph from a blog is not such a big deal.
But every which way after that, she is wrong. It is a big deal if an entire speech is crafted on the creative efforts and knowledge of others, with the words twisted to mean what the writers did not mean to say. It is a big deal to deny first the theft, then acknowledge it and dismiss it as innocent. It is a big deal to criticize the public for doing their duty to condemn bad behavior. It is a big deal to propose an act of vengeance against those who spoke out for higher values, a blogging bill to silence public expression.
No, no, Senator Santiago, that is a VERY BIG DEAL. Idol or not, you are wrong.
Blaming bloggers for the incident reflects a huge ignorance of what the public's role in a democratic nation is all about.
Condemning bloggers in this instance is very much like condemning a whistle-blower for having courage and high values.
Public expression is a vital check and balance in democracy.
To silence public expression would be like eliminating the courts. Just letting the police determine guilt or innocence. Who really needs that check and balance on justice? Cops have good values.
It would be akin to eliminating the legislature. Just letting the Executive Branch dictate laws. Who really needs a Legislature, especially if it is not interested in doing good acts?
To silence public expression would be to return the Philippines to the dark ages where leaders meet in secret smoky rooms and hatch dark schemes hidden from public eyes.
This is an attitude exactly the opposite of transparency and forthright governance.
It goes against the grain of stability and enlightenment brought to the Philippines by President Aquino's dedication to good governance.
The Senate is out of step. Out of step with the direction of the Philippines.
The Senate is not leading.
It is just sitting there. Or worse, hiding.
- Senator Sotto has spoken. He has held the floor for a long time.
- Four senators have mumbled a few words of support for the Sotto ideals.
- One senator has criticized plagiarism.
- Seventeen senators have remained silent.
Oh integrity, sweet integrity, I fear thy name is not Senator.