International Law Plagiarism Charge Bedevils Philippines Supreme Court Justice

by Julian Ku

Is this for real? .  A Phillippines newspaper is accusing a sitting Philippines Supreme Court justice with plagiarizing articles published in law reviews on matters of international law when he authored a key opinion for the court on reparations for comfort women.  The articles supposedly plagiarized include this one by Evan Criddle and Evan Fox-Descent in the Yale Journal of International Law (and featured here at Opinio Juris).

In what could possibly a first in the Supreme Court, a magistrate appears to have committed plagiarism in a decision on a diplomatically and politically sensitive case.

Newsbreak’s review of the decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo on World War II comfort women showed that numerous parts were copied from three materials written by legal experts abroad without properly attributing these to the authors.

In April 28, the Supreme Court, through Del Castillo’s ponencia in the Vinuya v. Romulo case (G.R. No. 162230), junked the petition of 70 Filipino comfort women to compel the Philippine government to get a public apology from Tokyo and to provide reparation to victims of sexual abuse during World War II.

It sounds to me like some bad bluebooking, but perhaps it is more serious that that.

7 Responses

  1. The newspaper’s plagarism claims are based on a motion for reconsideration filed yesterday with the Philippine Supreme Court yesterday.   The motion is available here: 

    The motion suggests that the Court’s decision contains thirty-four sentences and citations that are identical to sentences and citations in my 2009 YJIL article (co-authored with Evan Fox-Decent).   Professor Fox-Decent and I were unaware of the petitioners’ plagarism allegations until after the motion was filed today. 
    Speaking for myself, the most troubling aspect of the court’s jus cogens discussion is that it implies that the prohibitions against crimes against humanity, sexual slavery, and torture are not jus cogens norms.  Our article emphatically asserts the opposite.  
    The Supreme Court’s decision is available here:  

  2. The Italian Courts are known for cutting and pasting academic writing without acknowledging their authors. Indeed, I seem to recall that they are actively discouraged, as a matter of style, to refer to academic writings in their decisions – so that it is apparently considered an honour to be ‘quoted’ in this secret way!

  3. Doesn’t everyone learn about proper citation of quotes in high school English classes?

  4. Response…
    This speaks so badly about our Supreme Court. I have heard not so good stories about how decisions in the highest court of the land are written. Why does this happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
    I am afraid about the whole country losing faith in the justice system. God bless the Philippines.

  5. First off, I’d like to thank Prof. Criddle for making public a first confirmation of the plagiarism committed by the Philippine  Supreme Court in this case. I’m co-counsel of Prof. Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines College of Law for the Petitioners. Our motion, where we made a comprehensive and detailed analysis of how the plagiarism was committed,  is available in PDF file. I can email it to any reader who wants it.

  6. A PDF file of the Motion is available here, towards the bottom of the article featured above:

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