TWO lawyers accused a Supreme Court (SC) justice for plagiarism in his decision, dismissing the petition of 70 Filipina "comfort women" compelling the Japanese government to issue reparations for World War II abuses.

Harry Roque and Romel Bagares, counsels for the group Malaya Lolas Organization, asked the high court to reverse its April 28, 2010 decision denying the bid of the petitioners.

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The counsels alleged that Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo used at least 30 items from three sources without giving due attribution.

It included a 2009 article in the Yale Law Journal of International Law, a book published by the Cambridge University Press in 2005, and an article published in 2006 in the case Western Reserve Journal of International Law.

“It is thus every lawyer’s serious and urgent concern that this Honorable Court address and disclose to the public the truth about the manifest intellectual theft and outright plagiarism discovered from the Court’s judgment,” the lawyers said.

They also pointed out that infringement of copyright is, at the very least, an issue of moral turpitude, and is a criminal offense under the applicable Philippine law on intellectual property.

Tribunal's side

But SC spokesman and court administrator Jose Midas Marquez defended Del Castillo, saying all the sources in the decision had been properly given attribution.

Marquez said del Castillo has already talked with Chief Justice Renato Corona and has volunteered to look into the allegations contained in the supplemental motion for reconsideration filed by Roque’s group before submitting a report.

“The decision has all the citations. He (Del Castillo) just wants to find out what the allegations are before he could answer," he said.

In fact, Justice del Castillo even went to the primary source. But then again, let’s wait for the submission of his report,” he said.

Marquez said Roque’s allegations of plagiarism is not a sufficient ground to merit a reversal of the Court’s April 28, 2010 decision, while issues of possible sanctions to be meted on Del Castillo are still speculative at this point.

“The decision has its own ratio, its own reasons. Again, accusations of plagiarism would be another point. In any given decision, you have your reason, ratio, basis, foundation. It should be different from whether or not there was plagiarism,” he said.

The court spokesman also said the allegations of plagiarism may just be a ploy to pressure the court into reversing its decision.

“Losing lawyers will always think of arguments to reverse the decision. Perhaps it’s his way of trying to move for a reconsideration of the case,” he noted.

The SC, in its assailed decision, said that while it sympathizes with petitioners’ cause, the issue of whether the Philippine government should espouse claims of its nationals against a foreign government is a foreign relations matter.

It is not within the ambit of the judiciary and should be addressed by the political branches of government, according to the high tribunal.

The Court further said that inasmuch as the Executive Department has already decided that it is to the best interest of the country to waive all claims of its nationals for reparations against Japan in the Treaty of Peace of 1951, the wisdom of such decision is not for the judiciary to question. (JCV/Sunnex)