Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Poor Justice

by Jamil Matalam
Ateneo de Davao University

The Supreme Court of the land is accused of plagiarism by the UP Law professors. It is heartbreaking that a high court, reposed with great respect and fidelity is accused of no less than cheating its way out of a problem. The worst is that this problem is not merely academic but a problem of real justice. If it be true that there was plagiarism, then we may say that the High Court cheated its way out of a problem involving justice, justice demanded by Filipino comfort women.


Reading the Vinuya, et al, v. Executive Secretary GR 162230 (April 28, 2010) case would not give an impression of plagiarism for those who are not familiar with the works of the legal luminaries, Criddle and Fox-Decent. But a great work of plagiarism is just like that. It would pass by unnoticed to a non-expert reader. Hence, only expert professors know when a student’s work is plagiarized. But the worst accusation of the law professors is concerning the misappropriation. According to the UP law professors’ letter to the Supreme Court the said legal luminaries conclude that rape and sexual slavery as crimes against humanity attained the status of jus cogens, yet in the Vinuya case the High Court decided that the comfort women issue had not attain a jus cogens status. If this be also true, then not only do we have from the High Court poor scholarly writing but also reading.

A plagiarize work is a poor work. It is the lowest level of any writing works. It merely relies on the thoughts of someone else. At most, it is simply a repetition of what has already been said by another; what is presented is merely a COPY. Therefore, a plagiarize work lacks originality, originality in thinking. It tells us that a person who plagiarizes does not really think hard about the problem, there is merely poor thinking involved in their works. Hence, a plagiarize work should be given a grade of nothing more than POOR.

More odious is the misappropriation of written works by the experts. A case of misappropriation is an act of injustice. A misappropriated work is a distortion of the said work. As such, it tries to present to us something that is not what it really is. If misappropriation is deliberate, then it is deception. If it is not, then it is another poor work. It leaves us with an impression of a poor comprehension and reading. It also suggests that the person who misappropriates lacks originality and independence in thinking. Such person, for instance, may hide under the name of the authority to be persuasive because they could not attain a persuasive thought on their own; or that they could not repudiate or critique the thoughts of an authority on their own, and hence cannot drop them as authorities and have an opinion of their own about a matter. Moreover, misappropriation is nothing more than WRONG, incorrect.

The accusation that the Supreme Court has plagiarized work and misappropriated experts in its promulgated decisions tells us how poor our justice system is. It suggests that our Justices lack originality in thinking, and thus cannot provide an original justice. It gives us doubt as to how hard our Justices think about the prayers and demands of justice of the Filipinos who knocks at the doors of their great hall. Do they really think about the justice of the cases before them? Or do they just brush it aside with POOR JUSTICE.