Plagiarism a crime under Philippine law: De Lima

Posted on October 03, 2012

JUSTICE SECRETARY Leila M. de Lima has reminded the public that plagiarism is a criminal offense under Philippine law.

In Advisory Opinion No. 2, Ms. de Lima said: “Plagiarism is an actionable wrongdoing and can even, in some instances, amount to a crime punishable by imprisonment and fine.”

Citing a Supreme Court (SC) decision on charges of plagiarism against Associate Justice Mariano C. del Castillo, the opinion defined plagiarism as “the act of appropriating ideas of another and presenting them as one’s own.” It is considered a crime if done against provisions provided by the Intellectual Property Code, E-Commerce Act or the newly enacted Cybercrime Prevention Act, it added.

The plagiarism case against Mr. del Castillo involving a decision on Filipino comfort women who suffered from the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, has been tackled as an impeachment complaint at the House of Representatives. The chamber’s leadership, however, has decided to forego the case for lack of time.

The House last December impeached then chief justice Renato C. Corona, a case that ended in his ouster last May after a trial at the Senate. He was found guilty of betraying public trust by failing to disclose dollar accounts in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.

Ms. de Lima’s opinion, meanwhile, clarified that plagiarism requires “an element of deliberate intent.”

“If negligence, or good faith/ honest mistake can be established, there can be no finding of plagiarism,” it read.

Ms. de Lima, in a statement attached to the opinion, reminded the public to “cultivate the habit of attribution..”

“When in doubt, cite,” she noted.

The issuance of the advisory opinion came at the wake of plagiarism accusations thrown against Senator Vicente “Tito” C. Sotto III.

Mr. Sotto allegedly lifted portions of a blog and used these in his speech against the controversial Reproductive Health Bill. -- ASOA