Leaders are supposed to set a good example for everybody to follow and emulate. Well, actually that’s a given. Every sane individual knows that they should, at all times, be good role models to the people. And that being said includes everything they do and say.
Recently though, I can’t help myself but be bothered that one of this country’s politicians doesn’t seem to take plagiarism seriously. If someone like Senator Tito Sotto can do it and walk away from it unscathed, then what does it say of the kind of leaders we have right now? Dishonest?Irresponsible? Arrogant? Well, I have my own biases so be the judge.
How about we look at this matter in a different light? What do you think would be the implication of this whole issue in the academe? That it is okay to copy? To plagiarize? If that’s the case then what a bad example would he be for students who’ve been working so hard to pass their research and writing subjects. For someone like me who once complained and also suffered of strict writing guidelines, I don’t think he is a very good role model.
Villacorta, Sen. Sotto’s chief of staff, said in defense of his colleagues, that it is out of “good faith” that such incident happened. Law students can, of course, understand what he meant by “good faith” as my sister said that it is a very good excuse. But SERIOUSLY? how can he defend him? Couldn’t just Sotto admit his fault or find a way to rectify the situation? Sotto stood before millions of Filipinos and he expected netizens to completely go easy on him. Be rational. I don’t think he knows how serious plagiarism is.
We all know that once upon a time these political leaders we have also burnt the midnight oil to complete their essays or research papers. If they’ve been good students with high morale and values, their principle in life would have been to always live an honest life.
In the academe, students were always graded based on their performance. We know that. Errors were never tolerated and facts were always verified. In the university I attended, we always get a memorandum on plagiarism every start of the semester in our research courses to give us a warning in case we attempt to commit such unspeakable deed.
When somebody’s found out to have plagiarized, either a 5 in the subject or an expulsion from the university awaits the offender. As unwilling and powerless the students are, culprits receive the punishment they deserve. I wonder how many students were given 3s and 5s by their instructors due to the failed attempt to properly cite their sources.Hmmm.
In retrospect, I realized my instructors never went easy on me. Comments were always generously written all over my paper and mostly in red ink. In fact, my mentors were never short of criticisms. But the good thing about that is that they point them out right away even if I feel wronged. Truth is, I have no right to complain because I was aware of the mistakes I’ve committed. Now, why am I saying this? It’s because Senator Sotto should also do the same. He should not expect the people to let the matter go easily as he very well knew of his shortcomings. He may not be aware that his speech has plagiarized contents but I think he ought to make sure that none of these ever happened.
Imagine if Sen. Sotto did this in our school and we both have the same course. My research instructor would never let him off the hook. He’d most likely get a 5 in the subject if she takes a pity on him, but if she doesn’t, she’d probably take him to the tribunal. Next thing he knows, he’d be used as an example to the next semester’s class as one of the students who got expelled for plagiarizing.
This whole issue of Sen. Sotto had been in the spotlight for how many weeks already. Though there were conflicting views on this issue, I still find it very unfair. This controversy has made the effort and hard work of students appear irrelevant and somehow wasted. Everything being taught at school seem surreal and useless– that all the rules and discipline we’ve learned and value at school amount to nothing when we finally step out of the academe. Is this the lesson we will all learn in this story? Just the thought of it makes me sad.
It’s utterly depressing that while most of us had to work hard to earn the grades we deserve including that of giving proper credits to people whose works we have used in papers and researches, there are still individuals in the real world who don’t seem to care or give value to small details like citing their sources properly.
Honestly, I refuse to believe that a politician such as Sen. Sotto who has a staff composed of lawyers, writers, and researchers couldn’t be original of their thoughts. And to think that there’s a researcher on his team who, for sure, knows how to restate the blogger’s statements is simply unbelievable! I don’t know what the senator thinks, but it seems like he’s become arrogant enough with the sprung of this controversy as he even referred to Pope as: “just a blogger.” He also thought that Filipinos would never know that his last speech is a tagalized version of Kennedy’s. He maybe right, Kennedy can’t speak Filipino. But the thing is, he can! It’s he or his staff who has translated it into our vernacular. He may be at his wit’s end already as he sounds too desperate to break free from all the plagiarism accusations thrown at him. Not only did he use his staff as his scapegoat but he also washed his hands ala Pontius Pilate off of this issue.
I just hope that political leaders like him display formidable values and attitude no matter how powerful they are. I fervently ask that they would also know how to observe intellectual honesty, admit their faults when they’ve done wrong or own up to their mistakes by apologizing, as well as show remorse by doing better at their work. As leaders of this nation, it is still their job to set the best example for the youth. Honesty is a quality that people look for in their leaders. If in their thoughts, they can’t be original and honest, what kind of leaders will they be? More importantly, what kind of leaders will we have? A cheating dishonest one?
Sen. Sotto may no longer be in school to get the grade he deserves in his speeches but that does not mean the people can no longer give him his rating. He is still a politician after all. He remains in his seat because he was voted by the people. The people still can give him the mark he ought to deserve.
For now, I think he needs to face the wrath of bloggers, of netizens whom he has belittled and somehow ridiculed. I guess it’s true that karma comes faster than ever in the digital age.
***Photos were all from the internet. Credits to those who own them. ***