Plagiarism in the Philippine Legal and Judicial System
With all due respect to my colleagues, it is not for the Court to take revenge on those who, in their desire to reform the justice system, have the courage to say what is wrong. The Court`s legitimacy lies in demonstrating its morality on a case-by-case basis, not in displaying its legal courage. For the administration of justice, it is useless not to let one`s case pass simply because feelings have been hurt and the urge to fight back must be satisfied. However, the law may have had a somewhat unexpected side effect – criminalizing certain forms of plagiarism. “Plagiarism is a concept understood in academic circles rather as a violation of academic integrity, an anathema to the strict standards of originality of scientific articles signed by members of the academic community. However, recent events have shown the importance of knowing exactly what plagiarism is and dispelling the misconception that there is no crime of plagiarism under our laws,” said Justice Minister Leila M. de Lima. First of all, I would like to thank Professor Criddle for publishing a first confirmation of plagiarism by the Supreme Court of the Philippines in this case. I am co-advising Professor Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines School of Law for the applicants. Our application, in which we have carried out a complete and detailed analysis of the plagiarism commission, is available as a PDF file. I can email it to any reader who wants it.
The history of the Supreme Court shows that the moments when it emerged forcefully from storms of public criticism were the times when it valued constitutional democracy and its own institutional integrity. Indeed, the dangers of pressure and threats from what is normally considered freedom of expression can only arise if the Court allows itself to be threatened in this way. It is unfortunate for a court to admit that its core of independence can be shaken by a twelve-part, two-page academic commentary. With the issuance of the show cause order and its confirmation in the current decision, the court is in the precarious position of restricting freedom of expression. The Court, which has the greatest duty of restraint and sobriety, but which does not seem to have overcome its instinct of self-preservation towards the public and rises above its own pain, gains nothing by punishing those who, in its opinion, also lacked such restraint. I share the dissenting opinions of Judges Antonio T. Carpio, Conchita Carpio Morales and Martin S. Villarama. In this Opinion, I issued an earlier dissenting opinion of 19 October 2010. The effect and intent of the “restoring integrity” statement must be considered in the context of what this Court has done to contribute to the controversy, as well as the public receipt of this court`s statements on the plagiarism allegations related to the decision in G.R. No. 162230, Vinuya, et al v.
Executive Secretary, promulgated on 28 April 2010. A few days after the Malaya Lolas (applicants in the G.R. No. 162230) filed an additional motion to review the Vinuya decision, the acting head of the court`s public relations office told the media that the chief justice did not intend to investigate the plagiarism allegations against Judge Mariano C. del Castillo in that motion. He continued, “You can`t expect every Supreme Court justice to know all these newspaper articles.”  Judge del Castillo defended himself by presenting his official statement to the Philippine Star, which published it on July 30, 2010. Meanwhile, Dr.