“Sotto voce”, based on online sources, is an Italian term that literally means “under voice” and used as an adjective or adverb to mean, “in an undertone, or, in a low voice”.
This term is formally used in music, literature, drama, and the law.
Wikipedia has this interesting entry on the term’s usage, “sotto voce can also accompany the art of sarcasm, that is, ridicule or mockery is used harshly, often crudely, and contemptuously, for destructive purposes.”
I must emphasize that this last entry has no citation. In fact, the note “citation needed” is found on the page.
Perhaps in our country’s context, this use of “sotto voce” no longer needs referencing.
This has been the week of “Sotto’s voice”. Senator Tito Sotto delivered two of his hopefully, three speeches to demolish the reproductive health bill.
In so doing, the Senator’s speeches’ contents, as well as his manner of delivery perfectly fitted Wikipedia’s description of “sotto voce”. We can thus, say that Senator Sotto did a sotto voce on the RH bill.
However, in his desire to destroy the bill, he ended up badmouthing many others.
Sotto vilified international and local organizations that for many years have been significantly helping address our RH-related problems especially on safe motherhood and family planning.
Such international groups include the World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund, International Planned Parenthood Federation, and United States Agency for International Development.
Too bad for Sotto, these groups’ credibility is unassailable. Virtually all governments, ours included, respect and cooperate with them.
Local groups accused by Sotto as abortion conspirators include known RH advocates like Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, and my group, the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines.
The senator should know that no person and no bill can ever legalize abortion for as long as the Constitutional prohibition is there. He should also realize that we all work for the passage of a bill that will reduce abortions in the country. We want this because it is the women who die due to abortion complications.
Sotto should be informed that for decades, our groups have been working in various ways with the poorest of the poor. These are the people that he perhaps rarely meets.
The DSWP for instance, has helped in training and capacity building, livelihood development, and political participation of unschooled and poor women who have developed into leaders in their communities. We work beyond the RH advocacy.
I am quite sure that the other organizations are equally proud of their contributions to the communities they work in.
Sarah Pope, one of the four bloggers from whose works his staff were said to have lifted almost verbatim parts of his speeches has come out saying that she does not agree with Sotto’s position and that he twisted her words for his own purposes.
Sotto’s dismissive and condescending remark about bloggers when asked about the plagiarism controversy on nationwide television did not help him any. On the contrary, bloggers are now strongly uniting against him and his anti-RH stance.
In the same program, Sotto reiterated his being against sex education for young people (an important provision of the RH bill) because teachers might abuse students. This resulted in severe criticisms online because it revealed Sotto’s distrust of those with whom we entrust our young people’s education.
Sotto needs to remember that votes for him during elections were guarded by these teachers he maligned.
Perhaps it was a coincidence but on the day before Sotto delivered his first speech, 160 professors from the Ateneo University released a strong statement supporting the immediate passage of the RH bill.
Sotto also emotionally said that his wife got pregnant while on the pill “Diane”, that she gave birth to a baby boy with a weak heart who eventually passed on, and that their doctor could not find any other reason for the tragedy but the pill.
Medical practitioners like the known cardiologist and former Department of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral as well as RH bill champion and medical doctor Representative Janette Garin, as well as doctors online strongly reacted against Sotto’s allegations.
It will be interesting to know what Health Secretary Enrique Ona and the Philippine Obstetrics and Gynecological Society have to say on this.
Moreover, Sotto perhaps unknowingly put the popular pill “Diane”, on the spot. Netizens discovered that per Bayer’s (the maker) Website, Diane was manufactured in 1978 and released to Asia in 1985. Sotto said his son passed away in 1975.
If these are correct, something is very wrong with Sotto’s story.
I wonder if Bayer already knows that a Philippine senator has alleged that his doctor said that one of their products killed his son.
Just so it’s clear, I categorically state that I know no one in Bayer and that as far as I know, it has never been involved in the RH bill advocacy.
With all the inconsistencies, fallacies, outdated data, black propaganda, and even plagiarism associated with Sotto’s “sotto voce” against the RH bill, one cannot help but ask what its implications are on the Senate.
How will the august body react? Will such speeches be allowed to stay as official Senate records? Will Sotto’s unethical ways of fighting a bill be accepted by the Senate?
Some are asking, if the House of Representatives found the plagiarism-based impeachment complaint against Justice Del Castillo to be sufficient in form and substance, should not the Senate ethics committee also look into Sotto’s case?
Will Sotto’s voice end up to be a “sotto voce” against himself?
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