MANILA — A visibly irked Senator Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday said he would be filing a cyber libel case versus the writers of a blog which published an article that called him and six other senators as “Malacañang dogs.”
The blog “Silent No More PH” published an article titled “Malacanang Dogs in the Senate: Pimentel, Sotto, Gordon, Villar, Zubiri, Honasan, Pacquiao” which criticized the seven senators mentioned for not signing a resolution urging the government to end the killings of minors.
Sotto, who said the resolution never reached his office, described the blog post as “nothing but pure malice.”
“I have never seen the shadow of this resolution. Hindi dumaan sa opisina ko yan pagkatapos ‘I did not sign’? (It never passed through my office, then they say I did not sign?)” Sotto said in a privilege speech.
The same blog post also criticized each of the seven senators and resulted to name-calling.
Sotto said he was called a “rapist, plagiarist, and bigot who called all single mothers as good for nothing but accidental whores.”
“Grabe ‘to (This is too much),” Sotto said. “Ginagamit itong resolution para siraan kami (This resolution is being used to destroy us).”
“I will request to direct the Senate Secretariat to investigate who’s behind prostituting this resolution and use the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) Cybercrime Division because I will be very kind. I will just file a cyber libel case against these people,” he added.
Sotto also described the blog post as a “stupid, silly news item.”
Would have signed it
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senator Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Manny Pacquiao also made manifestations to explain that the same resolution never reached them.
Like Sotto, Pimentel said that he never saw the resolution himself and was against not just the killing of minors but of Filipinos as well as foreigners.
Pacquiao said that he also condemned the killings, especially of children, and would have signed the resolution if he had the opportunity to do so.
Gordon described the blog as “cowardly” and also said that he would have signed it.
Meanwhile, Zubiri said that having a resolution passed around without their knowledge felt like being “stabbed in the back.”
He said that he and the six other senators who did not sign the resolution have filed their own resolution condemning the killings.
Villar also explained that she and the other six senators “did not refuse to sign” but “were not asked to sign.”
“Somebody from media told me two senators are going to destroy us. It’s only when I saw that blog when I started thinking ‘maybe this is the beginning.’” Villar said.
She later revealed that the two senators she was referring to were Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Risa Hontiveros.
No bad intentions
Senator Francis Pangilinan, who drafted the resolution and passed it for 15 other senators to sign, took the stand to explain that he had no intention to place other senators in a bad light and only decided to file the resolution since it already had enough signatures.
“If other senators felt that there was an attempt not to include them that is not the case. We did not intentionally exclude anyone. It’s just that at that point, I had to leave early. Considering we had several session days to go, there are, we decided let’s go ahead and file it,” Pangilinan said.
Pangilinan also apologized if any of the seven senators felt “singled out.”
“I’d also like to apologize if some (of) our colleagues felt that I should have taken the extra mile and I failed to do so. I have no control over what social media will decide to upload. We have no role whatsoever in the uploading of unacceptable material,” he added.
Hontiveros, for her part, denied that she and Aquino are plotting against any of their colleagues.
“I categorically deny that and appreciate what Senator Cynthia said na hindi siya naniwala (that she didn’t believe it). It is totally untrue. It is not the start of anything at all,” Hontiveros said.
“Yung dami ng pirma (the number of signatures) indicates how many are supportive, but those who do not sign it doesn’t matter because you only need one person to file it,” Aquino said.
“It is not indicative of whether the senators who did not sign are supportive or not,” he added.
Aquino said that all senators have been victims of bashing and fake news and shared the outrage of senators who did not sign the resolution.
He expressed hope that all senators come together to support moves to investigate extrajudicial killings more thoroughly.
Sotto’s privilege speech was initially referred to the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs but after the motion of Senators Grace Poe and Antonio Trillanes, he rephrased his motion to refer it to the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media.
Senate Resolution 516 is a “resolution urging government to undertake the necessary steps to stop the spate of killings, especially our children and directing the appropriate Senate Committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, to determine the institutional reasons, if any that give to such killings.”
The 16 senators that signed the resolution were six minority Senators including Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
It was also signed by 10 majority senators: Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Juan Edgardo Angara, Nancy Binay, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Francis Escudero, Sherwin Gatchalian, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Grace Poe and Joel Villanueva.