Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo has been most recently one of the most controversial Supreme Court justice due accusations of plagiarism on the majority decision he penned on the Vinuya et al vs. Executive Secretary for which a purported 22 parts of the decision were directly lifted from foreign sources without attribution.

The issue spurred academic and legal discussions with the UP College of Law standing tall and asked for the resignation of the Associate Justice.  With such a valiant move for truth, justice and decency, the least thing actually that the educators from the state university could ask for as an easy way out for the unforgivable act of del Castillo, the Supreme Court of the Philippines chastised these lawyers but had absolved their colleague for any wrong doing saying del Castillo is as meek as a lamb.

Check out full article here of the plagiarism issue on Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo entitled: “Legalizing Plagiarism and Judicial Vengeance.”

Now, with del Castillo’s name instantly so famous (an appointee of GMA,) he easily could rival that Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton; prodding eyes are digging up everything that he has penned as an Associate Justice.

Just today, browsing over Facebook, Rodel Rodis posted a note with what is purportedly another act of plagiarism.

The case is that of the controversial Ang Ladlad vs Comelec, with which the Ang Ladlad group led by Danton Remoto rallied to the Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the Commission on Elections disqualifying their group as a legitimate partylist entity.

Ang Ladlad eventually received a favorable result from the Supreme Court and had been given the chance to run during the May 2010 national elections.

Rodel Rodis shared an excerpt from the decision penned (or was just signed by Associate del Castillo as he blamed his legal researcher for failing to put the necessary footnotes on the Vinuya case) by the controversial associate justice and be the judge.  Here is the full text I actually lifted from the article Mr. Rodis wrote which is also published on PinoyMoneyTalk.com (sorry for copying the whole part of purported plagiarized texts as you have explained everything the best way anyone could have done).

Plagiarism Case #1?

“Under the section “Freedom of Expression and Association” in the Ang Ladlad decision, the ponente wrote:

Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, and this freedom applies not only to those that are favorably received but also to those that offend, shock, or disturb. Any restriction imposed in this sphere must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.

The sentence was a mix-and-match of direct and paraphrased quotes lifted from Section 49 of the Handyside vs. United Kingdom (1979) decision by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR):

“The Court’ supervisory functions oblige it to pay the utmost attention to the principles characterizing a ”democratic society“. Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of such a society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man. Subject to paragraph 2 of Article 10 (art. 10-2), it is applicable not only to “information” or “ideas” that are favorably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of that pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no “democratic society”. This means among other things that every “formality”, condition”, “restriction” or “penalty” imposed in this sphere must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued.”

It can be claimed that the SC decision merely rephrased parts of the ECHR decision. This style, however, still reeks of Patchwork Plagiarism, wherein various “sources are combined to create a new passage.” If sources are to be properly credited, the original source must be mentioned in the text or credited as a footnote — basic attribution rules that were omitted in the SC decision.

Plagiarism Case #2?

In the same paragraph, the Ang Ladlad decision continued:

Otherwise stated, the COMELEC is certainly not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one. (Emphasis supplied)

Reading it would lead one to believe that this was an original quote from the SC. However, this line was lifted from the United States Supreme Court decision on Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale, 530

U.S. 640 (2000), which in turn borrowed it (but properly credited it) from Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston Inc., 515 U.S., at 579 (1995):

While the law is free to promote all sorts of conduct in place of harmful behavior, it is not free to interfere with speech for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavored one, however enlightened either purpose may strike the government. (Emphasis supplied)

In fairness, the two sources were mentioned in the Ang Ladlad decision. The problem, though, is that they were credited only for another borrowed thought in Footnote 46 and not for the phrase directly copied above. Crediting the original source of that phrase is in order.

Plagiarism Case #3?

It can’t be denied that the SC’s Ang Ladlad decision was peppered with useful nuggets of wisdom, especially in the area of gender discrimination and freedom of expression. Unfortunately, some of these words of wisdom were not the own words of the ponente but rather, quotes lifted from sources not properly attributed to.

In the latter part of the decision, for instance, it was written:

However, as far as this Court is concerned, our democracy precludes using the religious or moral views of one part of the community to exclude from consideration the values of other members of the community. (Emphasis supplied)

Again, this phrase was originally written somewhere else — in Section 19 of the Supreme Court of

Canada decision on the case Chamberlain v. Surrey School District No. 36, [2002] 4 S.C.R. 710, 2002 SCC 86:

Religion is an integral aspect of people’s lives, and cannot be left at the boardroom door. What secularism does rule out, however, is any attempt to use the religious views of one part of the community to exclude from consideration the values of other members of the community. (Emphasis supplied)

Simply adding “or moral views” does not give the ponente right to own the phrase. The source of the line should have been credited.

I don’t know if the good Associate Justice will once again blame his legal researcher (which reveals that he does not write his own decisions!…or review whatever his legal researched writes for him!?) on this particular SC decision he had written or at least signed; or once again blame Microsoft Word: or simply hide under the lame excuse of “no malice”.

The SC is now slowly transforming itself into a laughing stock not only among legal circles but also among students who are chastised by their teachers everytime they commit the blunder of not giving proper credit to sources.

By now, Mr. Go, who revealed so many erroneous entries on Philippine textbooks may have more headache of not only erroneous entries on textbooks for elementary and high schools students but this time on purported plagiarized SC decisions that will be studied by law students.

By now, Bill Gates should be very disappointed too with his Microsoft Word being blamed by a Filipino Associate Justice on an issue of plagiarism.

And by now, Gloria Arroyo must be very damned proud of her appointee following her footsteps for_________  (you can supply any lines you want on this one).

Are these lines plagiarized or simply overlooked by the Associate Justice?

Image from Plaridel.wordpress

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