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Sotto on blogging bill: 'They're putting words in my mouth'
The online news portal of TV5

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Thursday once again decried attacks against him regarding a proposed blogging law, saying critics are merely "putting words in [his] mouth."

During a discussion at the Kapihan sa Senado on Thursday, Sotto clarified that he never proposed the creation of an anti-blogging bill, unlike what earlier reports have indicated.

"'Yun ang pinagtatakahan ko. Dito lalabas yung sinasabi ko na nagiimbento sila at wala silang ginawa kundi umatake lang," Sotto said. "Wala akong sinabing ganun sa speech ko. In my entire speech, I did not say anything about that."

Sotto drew the ire of many bloggers and Internet users on Wednesday as he continued to say that he did not plagiarize an earlier privilege speech from a foreign blogger, stressing that plagiarism is not a crime in the Philippines.

It was actually Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who raised the topic of a possible law about blogging, as a means to clearly define the rights of bloggers in light of the plagiarism allegations leveled against Sotto.

"Ngunit wala yatang batas sa ating bansa tungkol diyan (blogs)," Enrile said. "Marahil dahil dito sa ating naranasan … para maliwanagan na ito at magkaroon ng patakaran o reglamento o rules na susundin ng lahat, ay mag-panukala tayo ng batas."

No need for blogging law

Meanwhile, some experts and solons have come out defending free speech online, emphasizing that there is no need to create a law specifically regulating blogging.

"Blogs have been one of the freest avenues for opinions and discussions, and we fear that we might lose this freedom if a law is passed to regulate it," said Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino, also an active blogger.

Palatino went on to defended the anonymity afforded by blogs on the Internet, pointing out how it is "essential in some cases," especially when the message may endanger the lives of the author.

"Passing a blogging law may endanger this anonymity. We can even enter a scenario wherein authorities track down bloggers using their IP address just to enforce the law," he added.

Meanwhile, lawyer Romel Regalado-Bagares told that there is no more need to legislate rules regarding blogging, since it is "part and parcel of our democratic tradition of free expression."

"[There is also a] physical impossibility of monitoring each and every blog there is on the blogosphere from the Philippine side," Bagares pointed out, while stressing that it is senators who should be the ones doing some form of self-regulation.

"Senators occupy a privileged position with high public expectations. As legislators, they should be the first to follow the law, instead of being the first to encourage people to break it by saying that because they are senators, they are immune from its requirements," he added.