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SC RULING SETS BAD PRECEDENT-AJLPP

by Alliance-Philippines (AJLPP) Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2010 at 9:01 AM
ajlpp_us@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Bvld. Los Angeles, CA 90026

The Alliance Philippines (AJLPP) in a statement today, scored the Supreme Court for its bad decision for exonerating Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo from allegations that he plagiarized portions of a ruling on World War II comfort women. The Alliance also commends Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for his dissenting opinion on the matter. In a strongly-worded dissenting opinion made public on Monday, Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the court will be remembered for saying Del Castillo did not commit plagiarism because there was "no malicious intent" to pass off someone else's works as his own.

SC RULING SETS BAD P...
img_3417.jpg, image/jpeg, 3888x2592

Alliance News

October 19, 2010

SC RULING SETS BAD PRECEDENT-AJLPP

Los Angeles- The Alliance Philippines (AJLPP) in a statement today, scored the Supreme Court for its bad decision for exonerating Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo from allegations that he plagiarized portions of a ruling on World War II comfort women.

The Alliance also commends Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for his dissenting opinion on the matter. In a strongly-worded dissenting opinion made public on Monday, Supreme Court Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said the court will be remembered for saying Del Castillo did not commit plagiarism because there was "no malicious intent" to pass off someone else's works as his own.

Sereno added that the ruling of the court's majority has caused "unimaginable problems" for the Philippine academe. She explained decisions on future cases of plagiarism committed by students will be based on the court's ruling that malicious intent must be present to constitute plagiarism.

For the AJLPP it is the “Tayo-tayo system” in motion. When the President protects his classmates, the Congress its people and the Supreme Court its justices, it is the feudal patriarchal system at works. And it goes against the basic rules of justice and the true rule of law.”

Malicious Intent

The Alliance concurs with Sereno in saying: "Unless reconsidered, this Court would unfortunately be remembered as the Court that made 'malicious intent' an indispensable element of plagiarism and that made computer-keying errors an exculpatory fact in charges of plagiarism, without clarifying whether its ruling applies only to situations of judicial decision-making or to other written intellectual activity," said Sereno.

"It will also weaken this Court’s disciplinary authority ─ the essence of which proceeds from its moral authority ─ over the bench and bar. In a real sense, this Court has rendered tenuous its ability to positively educate and influence the future of intellectual and academic discourse," she added. Sereno is the youngest member of the high tribunal and is the first appointee of President Benigno Aquino III, who assumed office June 30 this year, to the high court.



Crooked Majority's ruling

The AJLPP said the people will remember the ten of the Supreme Court's 15-member bench voted to clear Del Castillo. Those who voted to absolve Del Castillo were Chief Justice Renato Corona, Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Eduardo Nachura, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Lucas Bersamin, Roberto Abad, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Perez, and Jose Mendoza.

Only Sereno and Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales dissented, with the latter joining in the former's dissenting opinion. Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Diosdado Peralta did not participate in the voting because they were on official leave.

" It's not Microsoft Word's fault"

The Alliance is aware that Del Castillo borrowed without proper attribution were “A Fiduciary of Theory of Jus Cogens" by Evan Criddle and Evan Fox-Descent, "Breaking the Silence on Rape as an International Crime" by Mark Ellis, and "Enforcing Erga Omnes Obligations in International Law" by Christian Tams.

The Alliance also is not surprised that in the decision, the majority also said Del Castillo cannot be faulted because the attributions for the allegedly plagiarized material were merely “accidentally deleted" by the magistrate's court researcher.

The court also said it was not Del Castillo's or his researcher's fault that Miscrosoft Word, the program used in writing the decision, cannot detect "copied" research material without the proper attributions.

"Microsoft Word program does not have a function that raises an alarm when original materials are cut up or pruned. The portions that remain simply blend in with the rest of the manuscript, adjusting the footnote number and removing any clue that what should stick together had just been severed," the Supreme Court said.

But the court's findings did not sit well with Sereno. In her dissenting opinion, Sereno said there is no software that will input the quotation marks at the beginning and end of passages lifted verbatim. "Neither is there a built-in software alarm that sounds every time attribution marks or citations are deleted," she said.

AJLPP Supports Sereno: Plagiarism was committed

Sereno likewise castigated her colleagues who said Del Castillo's critics were "hypocrites who believe that the courts should be as error-free as they themselves are." For her, it is not hypocrisy to point out plagiarism in promoting honesty, especially in the judiciary.

"To conclude [it as hypocrisy] is to condemn wholesale all the academic thesis committees, student disciplinary tribunals and editorial boards who have made it their business to ensure that no plagiarism is tolerated in their institutions and industry," said Sereno.

The magistrate then cited Section 184 of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines, which provides that there is no infringement of copyright in the use of another's work "provided that the source and the name of the author, if appearing on the work, are mentioned." Sereno said Del Castillo committed plagiarism because of the outright fact that the borrowed material were not properly attributed to their sources.

"Plagiarism thus does not consist solely of using the work of others in one's own work, but of the former in conjunction with the failure to attribute said work to its rightful owner and thereby, as in the case of written work, misrepresenting the work of another as one's own," she said. She also said any claim of a lack of malicious intent does not "change the characterization of the act as plagiarism.

Sereno then urged Del Castillo to admit he committed plagiarism and to apologize to the foreign authors whose words he borrowed in his ruling. She also said the court should issue a corrected ruling on comfort women in the form of a "corrigendum."

********

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