Today, we filed a pleading called a “Compliance” for faculty members that were made respondents in the administrative matter entitled In re: Letter of the UP Law Faculty entitled “Restoring Integrity”. Accompanying this Compliance is a Manifestation on behalf of Dr. Owen Lynch, a research fellow and a visiting professor from the United States, and a separate supplemental submission from the Dean of the UP College of Law in response to his separate citations.
We are represented by a number of prominent law firms, lawyers and the Free Legal Assistance Group. They spent a considerable amount of time working with us to come out with a respectful yet principled defense that can be filed at the soonest possible time.
So as not be seen as waiving this possible defense, we have simply reserved the due process rights in our Compliance. These rights were also pointed out in the dissents to the Order requiring us to submit an explanation. What we were served was a full Resolution covered by a Notice of Judgment. The Resolution made findings of fact and law. We were not heard at first instance.
In our Compliance, we emphasized that our statement entitled Restoring Integrity was a fair comment on a published (and still uncorrected) decision of the Supreme Court in Vinuya versus Executive Secretary. The underlying intention in the expression of opinion of the faculty of the UP College of law is in the statement itself. It was and remains “to defend the integrity and credibility of the entire supreme court”, in the light of the perceived plagiarism and misrepresentation that was committed. It was issued in discharge of the solemn duties and trust reposed upon us as teachers in the profession of law and as members of the Bar to speak out on a matter of public concern and one that is of vital interest to us.
Our statement was issued so that the Court could urgently act to correct a wrong so as to inspire confidence in the legal system rather than to lessen it. Various individuals and academic institutions here and abroad had, by then, noticed the failures in attribution and misrepresentations. We still continue to call on the Court to institute ways and means to prevent similar occurrences. We are more than willing to sit down with the Court’s representatives and contribute our academic resources to find ways to lessen its docket as well as to continue to improve court staff’s ability to do research.
Public critique of a published decision is different from disrespect of the Court that makes such a decision. Law professors are the most likely experts within the legal profession to be able to assist the public understand these decisions. They should be expected to be independent and candid in their assessments. Critique will always come with some degree of irreverence. Otherwise those who wish to speak their truths may not be able to address those in power. We teach our students that injustice suffered by those who are powerless deserve their most effective voice. We teach them that that is what ennobles our calling as lawyers.
Timidity within the legal academia may result in a failure of democracy. From the point of view of the traditions of the University of the Philippines, it would have been a betrayal of our role as part of the national university if we failed to speak out on what we perceived as an injustice. We did not wish to betray our role as an academic institution especially on the eve of our centennial as an institution.
We thank all those who have publicly and privately expressed their support for what we stand for. Despite our circumstances, we ask that we all continue to be vigilant. We ask that, with all due respect, we continue to discharge our right to examine and comment on the decisions and procedures of our judiciary. This way we can constructively assist our Supreme Court find creative and lasting solutions to bring about the kind of justice that all our peoples deserve.The Supreme Court's Show Cause Order to which this reply applies is also here on Dean Leonen's website.
Marvic M.V.F. Leonen
Dean and Professor of Law
University of the Philippines
Tel and fax: 9270518