what’s the hold up?

August 23, 2010 at 11:09 am 15 comments

justice mariano del castillo being sworn in by president gloria arroyo
philippine information agency photo

the ethics committee of the supreme court had asked two lawyers representing filipino comfort women during world war ii to respond to justice mariano del castillo’s denial that parts of his ruling on their case were plagiarized. they were given no more than five days to respond. that was three weeks ago. i’m almost certain the lawyers had complied in a timely manner. what’s the hold up? to date, the supreme court has yet to issue a resolution on this controversy, which has reached international status.

it doesn’t take rocket science to prove justice del castillo’s undoing. the evidence is in black and white. anybody who is literate can see that he freely copied materials from other people’s works. he made them appear as his own because they had been incorporated in his ponencia without quotes or proper attribution. unless this is a widely-accepted practice in the judiciary, del castillo is guilty as charged.

as a collegial body, however, the justices of the supreme court will protect their own. it’s expected that they will not force del castillo to resign out of courtesy to a fellow magistrate, although they must be hoping in their minds that he’ll do it on his own volition.

aries c. rufo and purple s. romero provided examples of the copied parts in their article (sc justice plagiarized parts of ruling on comfort women, newsbreak, july 10), one of which is quoted below:

Ellis’s article, on page 227 of Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, stated that, “The concept of rape as an international crime is relatively new. This is not to say that rape has never been historically prohibited, particularly in war.”

Footnote 65 of Del Castillo’s ruling states, without attribution, “The concept of rape as an international crime is relatively new. This is not to say that rape has never been historically prohibited, particularly in war.”

in his defense, justice del castillo said in a letter to his fellow magistrates that “there was every intention to attribute all sources, whenever due. At no point was there ever any malicious intent to appropriate another’s work as our own.”

this argument can hold water if it happened only once or twice, but it ain’t so. the same newsbreak article uncovered 58 additional instances in his ponencia. this could well be a record for a supreme court judge worthy of the guinness world of records.

if justice del castillo doesn’t budge and voluntarily resign, the ethics committee can borrow the tactics used by the former administration in the nbn-zte scandal, i.e., eliminate the source of the contention by canceling the contract. in his case, the members of the committee can decide that the ponencia be rewritten with the plagiarized sections removed. this should not be a problem. as the embattled magistrate said, they are “only appendages, or at the very least, provide small contribution to the resolution of the issues presented.” once they are taken out, everything becomes moot and academic.

or perhaps they can rule that the alleged plagiarism is groundless and dismiss it outright. however, i’d hesitate to follow dean poncevic m. ceballos’s take on the subject, which i find ludicrous. in his letter to the editor (no plagiarism in del castillo ruling, inquirer, august 10), he wrote:

Undoubtedly, the best evidence that there was no plagiarism is the fact that the decision reached a different conclusion from what the authors of the allegedly plagiarized articles espoused. Clearly, there was no intention to use their ideas and pass them off as the ponente’s own because if there was, the decision could have easily gone along with the ideas being pushed by the other authors. Given this scenario, how can one say that there was plagiarism?

i don’t know about you, but i wonder what the good dean was thinking. it’s a kind of reasoning devoid of sense coming from a man of his stature. if copied materials aren’t given proper attribution, it’s plagiarism. it doesn’t matter how they are used and if there’s any intent to credit the source. as atty. marichu lambino wrote in her blog (justice del castillo’s defenses in the plagiarism complaint, marichulambino.wordpress.com, august 10):

As everyone knows, lack of intent is not a defense in plagiarism. Furthermore, it is also basic that intent is determined from one’s acts, not from one’s avowals or disavowal. Unless a person is sleepwalking or acting under hypnosis, when a respondent typed up or wrote or copied another person’s work and put it under his/ her name, that act is made with knowledge of what one was doing; there is no such thing as plagiarism by accident or plagiarism by negligence, or plagiarism by failure-to-review-my-assistant’s-work. Alas, those are not defenses. The mere act of putting another person’s work under or in your name is a misrepresentation that that work is yours.

as the court of last resort, the members of the supreme court should be composed of men and women whose integrity is beyond reproach. anything less than that is totally unacceptable. it’s especially true in a country like the philippines where the general perception is that justice is blind not because it favors no one but because it favors only the rich and the privileged few. it’s for this reason that justice mariano del castillo should quit his post immediately. his continued presence hangs over like a dark cloud in a supreme court trying to maintain its credibility. he must be man enough to admit his mistakes and save his colleagues the embarrassment of forcibly relieving him.


interested in reading my latest thoughts on this subject? you’ll find it here.

Entry filed under: Blogroll, commentary, filipino, philippines. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

High School Memories On the Road to Vegan Living

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anon  |  August 23, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    ito namang namang judge na ito. huling huli na, ayaw pang mag-resign. kapal muks talaga.

    • 2. plaridel  |  August 24, 2010 at 6:06 pm


      sa palagay ko, history na si justice castillo. graceful exit na lang ang hinihintay. he deserves that with his long service in the government. baka early retirement ang mangyayari.

  • 3. david michel  |  August 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    people are stupid

  • 4. mode20100  |  August 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    A+ would read again

  • 5. Nathan  |  August 26, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Ms. Lambino’s article must be read in its entirety to fully appreciate the soundness of her arguments. Thank you for directing me to her site.

    • 6. plaridel  |  August 26, 2010 at 10:56 am


      isn’t she wonderful? i’d love to sit in her classes. but alas it’s too late! 😦

  • 7. Anonymous  |  October 15, 2010 at 1:54 am

    1. Good post.

    2. With all the cases being elevated to the Supreme Court, Del Castillo is the least of their priorities. In due time, however, they will find a way to absolve him.

    3. Mr. Ceballos should reconsider what he wrote in defense of Del Castillo because it was so stupid that his students might be laughing behind his back.

    4. Are you a practicing lawyer? If I were you I would be careful with what you say against the Supreme Court.

  • 8. plaridel  |  October 15, 2010 at 12:15 pm


    as expected. the supreme court ethics committee has cleared del castillo of any wrongdoing as reported by philippine star.


    part of the article says:

    The SC committee on ethics and ethical standards found that the lack of attribution in the ponencia was a result of “accidental removal of proper attributions to the three authors” by the legal researcher.

    The SC also accepted the explanation of Del Castillo that there was “no malicious intent to appropriate another’s work as our own.”

    “The mistake of Justice Del Castillo’s researcher is that, after the Justice had decided what texts, passages and citations were to be retained, including those from (authors), and when she was already cleaning up her work and deleting all subject tags, she unintentionally deleted the footnotes that went with such tags – with disastrous effect,” read the SC decision.

    what a lame excuse. we have to abide by it, though. the supreme court is the law.

    by the way, i’m not a lawyer.

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