Monday, October 25, 2010

Who Owns The Alleged Plagiarism?

The Supreme Court Decision Vinuya v. Romulo is believed by many both here and abroad to be polluted with plagiarism, whether intentional or not.  Indeed the very authors involved have even communicated to the Supreme Court their criticism of the inappropriate utilization of their work -- both in FORM and in SUBSTANCE. Not only were requisite attributions and references to them missing, but the allegedly purloined ideas and formulations were also used to come to an entirely opposite conclusion about the matter at hand--war time rape whose victims have cried to the Court for help.  Just today, Yale University's constitutional authority, Prof. Bruce Ackerman has weighed in on the matter and warned the  Court that it could lose a lot of face with the international community over their recent actions.

Unfortunately the Mass Media and many commentators seem to have ignored the question asked in this post: Who owns the alleged plagiarism? Even the UP LAW faculty statement accuses the PONENTE or penman assigned by the Chief Justice to write up the Court's opinion: Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo.

Yet the simple and obvious fact is that under the Constitution there is nothing that empowers a single Justice to issue a Decision as his own work. The Supreme Court under  1987 Article VIII only ever issues Decisions and Resolutions as a collegial body, in Divisions with a minimum of three justices or sitting En Banc.

The assailed Decision, Vinuya v. Romulo, was an En Banc Decision. It is in form and substance  entirely an ACT of the Supreme Court of the Republic of the Philippines (SCoRP), and with all its flaws and pollutions, it is presumed to be part of the Law of the Land. The En Banc itself is responsible for this ACT, not Del Castillo, not his unnamed Court Researcher, and most certainly not the programmers of a well known word processing program.

Had the UP Law Faculty made this identification explicitly, instead of focusing only on Del Castillo, the present Show Cause Order why they ought not to be disciplined with disbarment, suspension or worse, would be more obviously a self-serving and unethical judging of their own cause by the Supreme Court Justices with concurred unqualifiedly with the ponencia.


rstydlcrz said...

Who owns it? Them, and they are without malice. :-)

Louie General said...

Dear Dean Bocobo,

This is from the fourth paragraph of the UP Law Faculty's statement:

". . .Under the circumstances, however, because the Decision has been promulgated by the Court, the Decision now becomes the Court’s and no longer just the ponente’s. Thus the Court also bears the responsibility for the Decision. . ."

In fact, the whole statement expounds on the untenable position of the whole Court, not just on the ponente's.

Given this, your last post sadly makes yourself appear as not having read the UP statement fully or carefully.

Luis M. General
"a non-lawyer"

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

Yes they did say that and I grant your impression as being reasonable. I am sure the Court read that part and it made them really mad. When I first read that (a long time ago) it made me glad! But what I am referring to in this post is the practical line that UPLaw is now taking of "respecting the Institution" by focusing on just Del Castillo. I believe they have publicly called only for his resignation despite the statements you rightly cite.
Dean, a Physicist and Non-Lawyer also.