In the United States, citizens expect the right to proper family healthcare services, and for the most part we get it.

We expect our elected public servants not to plagiarize their statements, and for the most part we get it.

We expect the ability to criticize our government on the Internet, and for the most part we get it.

This is why some of us living in the United States find it quite embarrassing, backwards and disheartening that Sen. Vicente Sotto or “Tito Sotto” has made an overwhelming mockery of the democratic process back home in the Philippines.

Over the last few weeks, Sen. Sotto has become one of the more controversial individuals in the Philippines, a feat usually reserved for dynastic politicians, wealthy businessman and Manny Pacquiao.

Arguments surrounding the former actor include his strong stance against the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, accusations of plagiarism and now his role in the Cybercrime Prevention Act (R.A. 10175), a law that now gives authorities the ability to suppress a Filipino citizen’s freedom of speech.

In his latest book The Price of Inequality, Columbia Professor Joseph Stiglitz posits that those in positions of power have corrupted the basic but fundamental principle of “one person, one vote.”

He explains further that even within democracy’s everyday course, the “rules of the game have not only directly benefited those at the top, ensuring that they have a disproportionate voice, but have also created a political process that indirectly gives them more power.”

Sen. Sotto’s actions are the unfortunate embodiment of Stiglitz’s concept, making his theory on paper seem like law in practice.

Against the RH bill?

Use your position of authority to speak out against it.

Plagiarized a speech from Robert F. Kennedy?

Deny it.

Are citizens using the Internet as a medium for exposing your actions?

Insert provisions in a bill to strip your citizenry of their basic right of free speech, effectively losing it when sitting in front of a computer screen or using their phone.

Some Fil-Ams can recall similar draconian legislation proposed within the U.S. Congress just earlier this year.

Amidst an endless parade of online and offline protests, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) had been postponed in both the House and Senate.

Even with the strong public outcry against these two bills, Paul Tassi, a contributing writer for Forbes, suggests that when examined next to the Cybercrime Prevention Act, “SOPA’s proposed censorship sounds downright lax by comparison,” having us question how President Aquino even agreed to sign off on the document.

On top of remittances, which help keep the Philippine economy afloat, Fil-Ams are known for their resilient involvement with a wide array of funding initiatives and charity programming in the Philippines, which tend to heighten during times of natural disaster.

With the increased need for funding to feed those with no food and to shelter those who have lost their homes, the allocation of 50 million pesos comes as a sobering fresh slap in the face to anyone who has ever donated through Paypal, wrote out a check or donated dollars straight from their wallet.

This also raises appropriate questions on the administration’s basic priorities as some of these catastrophes, like flash flooding and landslides, can be directly attributed to a lack of government enforced regulations and/or oversight.

So with the Cybercrime Prevention Act, or what some groups have been touting as “E-Martial Law,” poignantly instituted merely weeks after the 40th anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos’ own declaration, would Fil-Ams, especially the young adults and youth, come out to express solidarity alongside those with all black Facebook/Twitter profile photos, those signing online petitions, and even those who have taken their justified frustration to the streets?

Hopefully so, because it can only be more fun in the Philippines if their citizens are free to say otherwise.

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