“In defense of common sense”

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“In defense of common sense”


We, in Young Public Servants, a group of young professionals, students and advocates, are deeply bothered by the assessment of the Supreme Court that malicious intent is necessary to prove plagiarism and make a plagiarist liable. This sets a bad precedent and cultivates a mindset contrary to good citizenship.

We believe that this issue is not only legal, but more importantly ethical. It is not only about whether we now have the license to plagiarize or if members of the high court should enjoy immunity from liability of intellectual theft, but that the Supreme Court decision has stretched the meaning of what is tolerable in a democratic society.

We believe that justice is synonymous with honesty. Even Microsoft Word, the software blamed for its inability to detect plagiarism, recognizes that. Similarly, we believe that dishonesty is synonymous with injustice and it is shameful not only to the institution which interprets the law but more so for a country and its people to recognize a dishonest act as just.

Forms of dishonesty always entail corrective consequences. Cheating is a ground for course failure or in some cases even suspension or expulsion from school. Stealing, for whatever cause, is punishable by law. Piracy or downloading copyrighted materials from the Internet, even without intent for distribution or monetary gain, is prosecutable as a criminal offense.

In all of these cases, absence of malicious intent does not make dishonesty honest. The law does not absolve the people who committed these deeds nor render the act innocent. Why then should plagiarism be different?

Plagiarism is neither a right nor a privilege and the Supreme Court telling us so in interpreting the law still does not make it a right or privilege. Whether one considers it a crime or a sin, truth remains that it is wrong, it is unjust. We support moves to mete corresponding sanctions and corrective consequences for plagiarism. We expect our courts to dispense justice, to display honesty, not to withhold it.

Let us be clear, we are not members of the Bar and this is not an opinion on the Vinuya case, its issues or legal technicalities or an affront on the Supreme Court. This is in defense of common sense.

We believe that good citizenship does not just happen and we cannot hope to promote it in an environment with arbitrary codes of ethics or a negotiated appreciation of right and wrong.



Young Public Servants

Unit 1110 Prestige Tower, F. Ortigas Jr. Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Philippines 1600

Telefax: 02.634.1334 Email: info.yps@gmail.com Website: www.yps.org.ph