Another plagiarism case? SC Justice Mariano del Castillo and 'Ang Ladlad' decision

Is this another case of “accidental deletion of sources” or a new instance of plagiarism in the Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines?
No, we’re not talking about the Vinuya vs. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 162230 (28 April 2010) decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano C. del Castillo but another decision penned by the same Justice which seemingly contains parts copied from various sources without proper attribution.
Original Plagiarism Charge
First, a backgrounder on the original plagiarism charge. Thirty-seven members of the UP College of Law accused del Castillo, ponente (writer) of the Vinuya decision, of plagiarizing parts of the said decision. In their published statement, the UP Law faculty claim that “a comparison of the Vinuya decision and the original source material shows that the ponente merely copied select portions of other legal writers’ works and interspersed them into the decision as if they were his own, original work.”
Last week, ten (10) justices of the Supreme Court voted to clear del Castillo of the plagiarism charge, citing that a researcher “accidentally deleted” the attributions. Associate Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno wrote a detailed dissenting opinion, explaining her disagreement with the majority decision and insisting that plagiarism did occur.
However, this is not the subject of this article.
Plagiarism in the Ang Ladlad vs. Comelec decision?
We reviewed one decision also written by Associate Justice del Castillo and discovered that a few parts of that decision apparently came from sources that were not properly credited.
In the landmark case Ang Ladlad LGBT Party vs. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 190582 (8 April 2010), the Supreme Court reversed two Comelec resolutions denying accreditation to gay and lesbian group Ang Ladlad. The SC ruling ultimately paved the way for Ang Ladlad to run as a party-list group during the May 2010 national elections. Historic as the SC decision might seem, a chilling observation remains that some parts appear to have been lifted from other sources without proper attribution.
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.

This seems to be a mix-and-match of direct and paraphrased quotes from Section 49 of the Handyside vs. United Kingdom (1979) decision by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR):

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 favourably 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, amongst other things, that every “formality”, “condition”, “restriction” or “penalty” imposed in this sphere must be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. (Emphasis supplied)

Yes, the SC ruling 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, it must be mentioned in the text or in the 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)

This highlighted phrase was originally from a 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, these 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.
Plagiarism Case #3?
It can’t be denied that the Ang Ladlad decision was peppered with useful words of wisdom, especially in the areas of gender discrimination and freedom of expression. Unfortunately, some of these words 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, 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.
Accidental deletion or plagiarism?
Based on the cases above, was plagiarism committed in the Ang Ladlad vs. Comelec decision by the Supreme Court? Were the similarities in quotes mere “human errors” that resulted to “accidental deletion of sources” or were they deliberate attempts to pass off those lines as one’s own?
You be the judge.

About the Author

PSEi support seen at 6,200 and 6,000 amid weaker Peso

In a not-so-surprising move, the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) yesterday raised interest rates by 75 basis points (bps) or 0.75% in a bid to tame rising inflation in the United States. This was the third consecutive 0.75% rate hike by the Fed, which brings the federal funds rate, the central bank’s benchmark interest rate, to ... Read more

Official SWIFT Code of BDO, BPI, Metrobank, Philippine banks

When sending cash remittances or wire transfer to a bank account in the Philippines (such as BDO, BPI, Metrobank, Landbank, DBP, etc.), you’ll surely need the SWIFT Code of the bank. Look no further because you can find all the SWIFT Codes you need in this list! Make sure you’re using the right bank code ... Read more

How to Waive your Credit Card Annual Fee (BDO, BPI, Metrobank, RCBC, Citibank, UnionBank)

Without a doubt, one of the most annoying fees that credit cardholders have to pay is the annual fee. Majority of cardholders are familiar with this fee and majority of us likely pay this grudgingly year after year after year. In the case of my credit card with BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands), I’m ... Read more

Why Filipinos do not become business owners or entrepreneurs

For a majority of Filipinos, entrepreneurship does not seem to be a typical, expected path. This is not surprising, considering that in school, students are primarily taught to become employees after graduation. Students train for years to become staff workers, reporting to a supervisor, and just waiting to receive their wages or salaries every month. ... Read more

My experience investing in Mutual Funds in the Philippines

I started investing in mutual funds when I was 22 years old. As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) then, I was fortunate to be able to save some money at that young age because of my work abroad. One time while I was on vacation in the Philippines, I saw a large billboard in EDSA ... Read more

Income Tax Tables in the Philippines (2022)

The Philippines’ new tax reform bill, known as TRAIN or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, was signed into law on December 19, 2017 and its implementation began on January 1, 2018. What are the new income tax rates under the TRAIN law? How will TRAIN affect income taxes of individuals and corporations? How is the ... Read more

PSE Stocks Performance under each Philippine President (1987-2021)

Did you know that Philippine stocks were able to achieve an astounding growth of 800% in a span of 30 years? From 1987 until 2018, the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) rose from 1,000 points to a peak of 9,000 points — generating a return of 800% over 30 years. (The PSEi is an index ... Read more

SSL 2022: Salary Increases for Teachers, Nurses, Gov’t Employees

Good news to all government employees! There’s a new round of salary increases beginning January 1, 2022! Millions of employees of the Philippine government — including public school teachers, nurses and staff of government hospitals, and workers in local and national government agencies, etc. — will be getting an automatic salary adjustment this 2022 under ... Read more

PSE Trading Hours in 2022: What time open, when closed?

Before you take the plunge into stock trading and investing, make sure you understand what stocks are and how the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) operates. Unlike other investments that are relatively safe, stock trading is risky and loss of money is a possibility. So before you deep dive into the exciting world of stock trading, ... Read more

Price Floor and Price Ceiling of PSE Stocks

Trading bands in the PSE come in two forms: Price Ceiling, or the upper price limit, and Price Floor, or the lower price limit.

43 thoughts on “Another plagiarism case? SC Justice Mariano del Castillo and 'Ang Ladlad' decision”

  1. Boom, may kumurap na Justice…wahaha tiyak may kinakabahan na ngayong mga justices, past and present! wag lang nilang alisin ang online decisions sa SC website tsk tsk bad cheetah!

  2. this only shows how philippine society and its institutions are rotten to the core..coming from the highest court of the land, it’s very disgusting..nakakasuka.

  3. Plagiarism is a symptom of insecurity. The person wants us to believe that he is wise and original. When it comes to legal decisions, one does not have to become original. He simply needs to be wise.

  4. Eh ano ang gusto mo mag-inbento ang korte ng orihinal na opinion, eh hindi ba dapat kung tama sa US tama din sa atin dahil doon tayo gumaya ng batas.
    Their mistake is, I suppose, an aesthetic one. They do not want their decision to be littered with footnotes or highlighted passages. Every good judge should follow the good works of preceding colleagues. It is far worse to actually re-write landmark passages word for word without attribution.
    No judge would want to pass off anything AS HIS OWN, simply because rulings should not be original thoughts by a judge but are built on other rulings. Ang judge INTERPRETER lang, hindi CREATOR.

  5. At mas importante sa mga rulings na accurate sya at precise ang pagkasulat. Imagine mo kung gaano kahirap yan sa mga judges natin. I’d rather they plagiarize than give an inaccurate, imprecise and incoherent ruling (I don’t think plagiarism of the above sort are a big deal in rulings. Maybe if the judge wrote a book, it’s a big deal, but not in rulings).
    How many Philippine lawyers out there could write about law in their own style and still preserve the original meaning? Siguro hindi madami.
    It’s a limitation in our culture that we need to address rationally.

  6. yikes. the resemblance of the passages are very striking. every academic knows how grave plagiarism is. tsk tsk.
    BryanB: limitation in our culture ka diyan. when one owns other people’s ideas, hindi culture ang dapat sisihin kundi ang sarili niya at ang kanyang moralidad.

  7. “I’d rather they plagiarize than give an inaccurate, imprecise and incoherent ruling”
    To BrianB: If the SC justices will resort to plagiarizing just so they would have an “accurate, precise and coherent ruling,” they don’t deserve to be in the Supreme Court in the first place!
    Plagiarism is stealing. Stealing is wrong, therefore, plagiarism — in whatever form — is wrong. Shame to those who steal!

  8. Take a cursory look at our list of artists and literary writers, puro pagaya-gaya ng ideas ang mga yan, karamihan derivative at faddish. Walang orihinal.
    Justice is based on interpreting existing laws and bolstering good interpretations of existing laws. Tell me if there is room for individual thinking here.

  9. Please take a look at the dissenting opinion of Chief Justice Corona (back then he was still Associate Justice Corona) in Ang Ladlad.
    He copies from the book of Justice Isagani Cruz and Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Romer v. Evans!
    Chief Justice Corona’s dissent
    The party-list system is an innovation of the 1987 Constitution. It is essentially a tool for the advancement of social justice with the fundamental purpose of affording opportunity to marginalized and underrepresented sectors to participate in the shaping of public policy and the crafting of national laws.
    Original Source
    “The party-list system is an innovation of the 1987 Constitution and has yet to be tested for wisdom and efficacy,”
    Source: Isagani Cruz, Philippine Political Law (1989)
    Chief Justice Corona’s dissent
    If we effectively and unduly expand such congressional determination, we will be dabbling in policy-making, an act of political will and not of judicial judgment.
    Accordingly, I respectfully vote to dismiss the petition.
    Original Source
    Striking it down is an act, not of judicial judgment, but of political will. I dissent.
    Source: Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion in Romer v. Evans, 517 US 620 (1996)

  10. to BrianB: are you a lawyer, a law student, a judge, or a writer, or atleast a UP student/former/present? coz unless you are, then your justification of the plagiarism “culture” is just SHOCKING TO THE CONSCIENCE, and utterly unacceptable. a person with that kind of thinking is ignorant and quite frankly, invites very low respect. in UP, plagiarism is a MORTAL SIN, and if the UP Law faculty is up in arms against the SC for this blatant abuse of discretion by the latter, then i completely support them because that is their culture– fight plagiarism at all cost (in or out of the university). plagiarism was committed by an esteemed high court official, but instead of punishing the wrongdoers, they were spared with not even a slap on the wrist. and the law faculty members who are trying to save the face of the philippine legal system will now be the subject of disciplinary action by the SC? i have never seen a blatant disregard for justice and fairness as this one. do i wonder why we are in the top of the watchlist of countries with widespread piracy? i used to be patay-malisya about this, but foreigners might be giving us the benefit of the doubt, but not this time. coz this is they have the answer– the vinuya case, where it can be clearly gleaned that we not only tolerate piracy and copyright infringe it, our highest court CHAMPIONS IT, AND PUTS IT TO PRACITCE.
    if you simply want a justice/judge to interpret the law correctly, without need of having the mastery of literary skills, coz god knows how many pending cases they have in their dockets, then you knw what he/she should SIMPLY do. If you still dont, then here it is– USE OPEN AND QUOTE PARENTHESIS (“QUOTED TEXT HERE”), AND PRESS CNTRL-F-N (shortcut command for inserting a footnote in MS Word). that’s how shortcut as you would want it to be. who says students care whether half of text they are reading is replete with quotations, so long as, THE LAW IS INTERPRETED ACCURATELY AND CORRECTLY-as you would put it.
    sabi mo nga ang judge/justice interpreter lang. SO BAKIT HINDI SYA GUMAMIT NG QUOTATION MARKS AT FOOTNOTE SA MGA SALITANG HINDI SA KANYA ORIHINAL NA NANGGALING. by your own statement, the justice in question has indeed abused his power of interpreting the law.

  11. some corrections for my previous post:
    1st paragaraph, last sentence – copyright infringement NOT infringe it
    2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence – ALT-I-N (or ALT-I-N-N for word 2007), not CNTRL-F-N

  12. to brianb: originality isn’t required but giving credit whenever due is. if you don’t like your ruling to look like a christmas tree littered with quotes and footnotes, then you must come up with your own thoughts. to become an associate of the supreme court means belonging to the creme of the crop. unfortunately, the less worthy are elevated to the position due to political connections.

  13. Ano bang pinagpuputok ng mga butse niyo? Let’s say kinopya nga ni Castillo yung ruling. Maganda naman ang resulta di ba? Pro-Ladlad nga siya e kaya nga nakatakbo yang grupo na yan ng mga bakla sa party-list elections. In the end, the end justifies the means. Wala namang nasaktan o nangyaring masama dahil sa ruling so better just move on.

  14. no one is complaining about copying other people’s words/ideas. the other writers del castillo credited in the vinuya decision are not complaining.
    what is wrong is copying without crediting because in doing so you are making it appear you came up with the words/ideas you copied. in the case of the vinuya decision, del castillo looked like the originator of the words/ideas and even looked like an expert in the areas he wrote about when he failed to credit the writers who came up with the words/ideas to begin with.
    in the canons of judicial conduct, justices must be men of integrity. in the academe, aren’t students caught plagiarizing subject to expulsion? why then should a supreme court justice’s plagiarism be excused?

  15. Yabang… yan ang natutunan ko sa UP. Palaging ako na lang ang magaling at ang mga taong nanggaling o nag-aral sa ibang institusyon ay mga walang karapatang magbigay ng opinyon… Wika pa nga ng isa kong kasama nuon sa pamantasang aking minamahal, ang mga taong hindi natutong mag-evolve ay dapat i-“genocide”.
    Tama ba ‘to?
    Ang aking nakikita sa takbo ng diskusyon ng blog na ‘to ay ang mga hindi taga-UP ay dapat hindi maki-alam sa pagpapahayag ng damdamin laban o pabor sa pangongopya ng ideya ng iba (tingnan ang post no. 18 ni bajoyjoy na napakaganda). Marahil hindi nya ako maiintindihan kasi ang UP ngayon ay english-speaking na…
    Sa aking wari, ang pagpapalaki ng isyu sa “plagiarism” ay yabang na lang ng mga taga-UP. Kung ating bubusisiin ang ating mga batas, karamihan dito ay hango sa batas ng ibang bansa gaya ng Estados Unidos, Espana of Mehico. Ang ating saligang batas na nga lang, paunang bahagi pa lang, makakakuha ka na ng mga panipi na kinopya natin sa saligang batas ng Estados Unidos. Ang “Negotiable Instrument’s Law” ay kinopya natin ng diretsahan sa batas ng California. Ni hindi natin ito pinaltan o inayos man lang upang maging angkop sa sitwasyon ng Pilipinas. Marami pang ibang batas na hindi naman orihinal nating ideya. Ang aking punto, kung atin bang ginagamit sa paggawa ng “pleadings” ang mga batas na nabanggit ay dapat nating ilakip na ang siping kinopya ay galing sa orihinal na batas ng California, Espana, Argentina, etc…
    Isa pa, bajoyjoy, san mo natutunan ang paggamit ng “PRESS ALT-I-N-N (shortcut command for inserting a footnote in MS Word)”. Hindi ba nasa manual ito ng orihinal na Microsoft Word? Dapat nung sumulat ka ng blog, inilagay mo kung san nanggaling ang ideyang ito.
    Ang paggamit mo ng sipi na “PLAGIARISM IS A MORTAL SIN”, nabasa mo ba ito o kinopya mong ideya sa Westmont University website ( Kung magpakilala ka lang ng buong pangalan mo, kakasuhan rin kita ng plagiarism.
    Simpleng punto lang. Karamihan satin ay nakapag-aral. Sa dami ng ating mga nababasa, “unconsciously” nagagamit natin ang mga ideyang orihinal ng iba na akala natin ay satin. Wala naman talagang orihinal na ideya… lahat ito ay hango sa isang ideya na pinalawig ng ating iba o bagong kaalaman o karanasan.
    Sa larangan nga ng Agham at Teknolohiya (kung saan pinalawak ng Pamantasan ng Pilipinas ang aking kaalaman at binigyan ako ng kabuhayan) pag nagpapasa kami ng teknikal na papel, hindi naman namin iniisa isa ang bawat numero o salita na aming ginamit kung ito ay nabanggit na sa mga lumang pag-aaral. Ang mga “postulates” (baka hindi mo to alam bajoyjoy kasi a.s. kid ka lang, eh tingin namin mahina kayo sa agham at matematika…) ay hindi naman namin pinapangalanan tuwi-tuwina sapagkat ito ay mga naging pangkaraniwang katotohanan na sa mundo.
    Hinay hinay lang sa pagpapalabas ng yabang ang mga taga-UP, maging estudyante ka pa lang, dating Pangulo o kasalukuyang Mahistrado. Ako man ay hindi sang-ayon sa “plagiarism” ngunit, hindi naman bawat salita na ginagamit natin ay dapat bigyan linaw natin kung san nanggaling. Sa mga kapwa ko alumni, hindi lang tayong mga taga-UP ang bumubuo sa mundo. Marami pa dapat tayong pakisamahan at dapat makasalamuha. Hindi lahat ng labas sa Diliman, LB o Manila System ay mangmang.
    Maging mapanuri ngunit hindi kailangang mag-ingay. Walang masama sa pagiging mayabang kung ilalagay natin sa lugar. Kahinaan ng karakter ang pinapakita ngayon ng “UP community” kasi sa katatalak sa iba ibang forum at paggamit ng “character assassination” sa isang isyung dapat ay tinatalakay gamit ang utak at utak lamang. Nakakahiya mang aminin na ako ay naging bahagi ng isang pinagpipitaganang institusyon na tinitingala ng mundo dahil sa talas ng isip, na ngayon ay gumagamit na lang ng bibig. Ang latang walang laman, pag tinapunan ng bato, maingay…
    Ang sinisira lang ng lahat ng kaguluhang ito ay ang institusyon at hindi lang ang isa o lahat ng mahistrado. Ano ba ang mapupulot sa pagsira sa hudikatura? Pag nawalan na ng tiwala ang mga tao sa sistema ng hudikatura sa bansa, kayo ring mga abogado, law students etc. ang magsisisi… wala na lang maghahabla, wala na rin kayong silbi sa lipunan.
    -Isang mayabang na UP Alumnus-
    p.s. @bayoyjoy, sa Comm I, bawal gamitin ang “‘coz ha”… “because” dapat.
    @plaridel, CREAM, hindi creme… nag-quote na lang, mali pa.
    @edge, kahit hindi tanggalin ang mga decisions ng SC online, meron pa ring database ang ng arellano, merong Supreme Court Reports Annotated at Philippine Reports kung saan nakalagay ang lahat ng decisions ng court… sana basahin mo lahat.
    @I support UP!!!, Maraming naunang mag-quote ng tungkol sa party list, hindi lang si Isagani Cruz…
    @johng, academic??? ano to parang pandemic? baka every member of the academe
    @The Plagiarist, owsss, ndi ka pa nag-steal ng kahit ano?
    PARA sa LAHAT: ” Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”- The New Testament

    • True. But we’re not talking about practicality here. The point is, he violated the law.
      Tama nga naman, practicality–hindi naman natin sina-cite yung mga dapat i-cite sa mga simpleng bagay tulad ng pagkuha kunwari ng isang quote sa isang sikat na libro o yung mga sinabi na lamang kunwari ni Rizal para i-tweet or gawing status sa facebook hindi ba? Pero ikaw ba? kung kinopya ng klasmeyt mo ang thesis mo nung undergrad ka pa lang at inunahan ka na ring ipasa yun sa professor nyo matutuwa ka ba? Magpasalamat ka na lang at may Intellectual Property Law tayo..
      Kung practicality rin lang ang pinag-uusapan dto, edi pra saan pa yung mga sign na ‘no jaywalking’ ‘no blowing of horns’ ‘no over-taking’ at marami pang iba..
      uulitin ko, hindi PRACTICALITY ang pinag uusapan. BATAS.

  16. UP Alumni: PILOSOPO.wordy. =(
    -Is this a reasoning from a UP Alumni? = )
    Big deal ang plagiarism na ito kasi siya ay isang
    Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
    Kakabit nito ay malaking responsibilidad. Dapat naintindihan mo yun.
    Siya ay nag plagiarize.tapos.

  17. Hindi ako nahihiya kasi alam ko pinagsasasabi ko. Ipinagmamalaki ko ang aking pamamahagi ng kaisipan.. Wala ka lang ibang masabi…

  18. para sa akin, mali talaga si castillo! plagiarism is something very bad! isipin nyo na lang ng kung hahayaan lang nila ng ganito. Pwedeng gamiting excuse ng mga estudyante yan! Masisira ang educational system natin! Sabihin na natin walang nasaktan or anything pero hindi tama na hindi binibigyang credit ang ginawa ng iba. parang Halimbawa, gumawa kayo ng proyekto niyo. Ikaw ang gumawa ng proyekto ngunit hindi isinama ang pangalan mo kahit ikaw naman nag-isip at gumawa nito. Sa tingin mo ba tama yon? parang ka na ring magnanakaw nun d ba?

  19. Thanks so much for providing individuals with such a spectacular opportunity to read articles and blog posts from here. It’s always very brilliant and also packed with a lot of fun for me and my office colleagues to search your web site really three times in one week to see the new issues you will have. And indeed, I’m always astounded considering the amazing tactics you give. Certain 4 tips on this page are honestly the most effective we have had.

  20. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post. Also, I’ve shared your web site in my social networks!

  21. Excellent advice, Anne. I too have never been an elance fan, and Jennifer’s posts (as well as Kathy’s over at Irreverent Freelancer) have convinced me that paid sites in general are just a bad idea.


Leave a Comment