Battle of the Lawyers: epic fail of the 'So What?' test

It is not surprising that even in a battle amongst professionals who built their trade upon deep-thought fields such as philosophy, the tools of choice remain primitive — intimidation, pulling of rank and seniority, and use of mass media. All of these resonate far more loudly in a backward society than does a duel of wits at an intellectual level. It’s not too different from elections — appeals to emotion trump appeals to the soundness of ideas. It is why debates are more exceptions than rules in our elections.

Connie Veneracion expresses her outrage at an attempt on the part of the Philippine Supreme Court to censure the faculty of the University of the Philippines Law School for publishing a statement calling for the resignation of Justice Del Castillo who is accused of plagiarism but is seemingly being coddled by his collagues in the high court.

It’s jaw-dropping. It’s mind-blowing. First, a colleague is exculpated for an obvious culpability. Then, those who dared to criticize the wrongdoing for what it is — a clear wrongdoing — are going to be sanctioned?

Well, if you ask me, I don’t really give a shit. How many battles of this type routinely rage among the dime-a-dozen lawyers who infest Philippine society anyway? Some are won by the good guys among them and some are lost. But at the end of the day, who cares? If it were, say, a debate that may result in legislation that would impact the long-term viability of our presence as a species on this planet (e.g. population growth, waste management, and energy consumption, to mention a few), I’d perk my ears up. This battle among lawyers simply fails to pass the So What? test. The only good thing that can come out of a battle among lawyers is if they succeed at killing off one another and ridding our society of their ambient bullshit.

Pinoy society is not a thinking society. Therefore power-plays based on ideas simply do not resonate.

Despite brilliant schooling in the finer points of discourse, Filipino lawyers are not above reverting to more effective strategies for gaining the higher ground. Indeed, why argue on the basis of ideas when plain old talking louder and carrying a bigger stick does the job? It’s why Filipinos get treated the way they are by their elite and it is why insulting of the Filipino’s (albeit meager) intelligence is so utterly institutionalised in our society. It’s because Filipinos respond to tried-and-tested forms of persuasion (vacuous appeals to reptilian sentiment) than to more modern (read: intellectually-appealing) stimuli. In an environment as intellectually-bankrupt as ours, lawyers are not exempt from an inclination to simply go with the flow of the lowest denominator.

In Japan there are very few lawyers and the codes are mostly unwritten, but they are binding, nonetheless.
– Greg Sheridan, Asian Values Western Dreams


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22 Responses to Battle of the Lawyers: epic fail of the 'So What?' test

  1. Homer says:

    If these are the kind of lawyers who make up the institution which upholds the law of the land, the joke’s on us. It’s a good reason to declare April 1 as our Independence Day.

  2. Andrew Tuazon says:

    Its the supreme court saying “we’re allowed to plagiarize, and anyone who points that out will be held in contempt”

    Its ok when its a lawyer VS lawyer thing, but this is a Judge VS Lawyer

  3. kusinero says:

    I do believe becoming a lawyer is the only profession which provides an incentive to stay in pinas. We don’t export them since we obviously do not have a market for them abroad, and we have too may loopholes in the legal system that any lawyer can “flourish”. And besides, if you’re too lousy to succeed in the courtroom, there’s always the option to run for politics. Look at the likes of Escudero, maangas lang senador na kaagad.

    “The only good thing that can come out of a battle among lawyers is if they succeed at killing off one another and ridding our society of their ambient bullshit.”

    Bull’s eye.

    • Aegis-Judex says:

      Considering that I have a decent number of lawyers in my mom’s side, you can say that again. In fact, her cousin spent 3 terms in Congress and is in his first term as Guv of Bohol. 😆

      Aren’t laws to be applied by reasonable men? 💡

  4. peste says:

    Before anyone forgets, including me, the last instance of high-profile plagiarism is Manny Pangilinan’s speech in the ADMU Graduation Rites last March. What has happened to that one anyway? Is Manny really out of the Board of Trustees? Did the honorary doctorate get taken away? Manny himself offered his resignation from the BOT, I’m not sure about the doctorate. What was really disappointing was how certain Ateneo heads give the impression that they don’t want to let go of a big benefactor.

    • Homer says:

      yeah. it’s quite disappointing. i admit i almost forgot about the issue myself. it only goes to show that time is a major player in our culture of impunity. just let it pass, and people will forget… the case of media, it could be a matter of “selective amnesia”.

  5. mix says:

    Not to worry, it’s the word processors’ fault naman pala kasi.

    Note the comments from all over the world :)),news-8425.html

    Law Maker Plagiarizes, then Makes Law to Allow it
    7:40 PM – October 21, 2010 – By Rico Mossesgeld – Source : Tom’s Guide US

    It’s all your fault, Mr. Word Processor!

    What do you do when you’re a Justice and you’re caught plagiarizing? You create a law allowing it, then threaten your accuser with contempt. Then you blame your word processor for not having a feature to detect plagiarism.

    The Philippine Supreme Court recently junked a plagiarism complaint filed against one of its members, Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo. Despite Del Castillo quoting foreign sources without attribution, the charges filed against him were found lacking in merit. The court asserted that the justice did not exhibit “malicious intent” in the act, and accepted his argument that “his computer was not equipped with a software program that would warn him that he was plagiarizing.”

    • kristine0019 says:

      Ibang klase rin itong si Del Castillo…tsk, tsk, tsk. How the hell did that crook end up in the SC?

    • BenK says:

      That’s a b.s. excuse. Software programs do not detect plagiarism on the fly, but there are many that can quickly check a written work against Internet sources afterwards. I use one called DupeFree, for example. Obviously I know if my ideas are my own or not as I am writing something, but I like the reassurance that I’ve not inadvertently copied someone, which is why I use it.

      In a profession like law where written work is very heavily referenced as a matter of routine, I think it’s pretty irresponsible not to have some kind of plagiarism-checker. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a software program, I suppose, but that’s obviously the easiest. And of course, if it’s not something that’s online, the program won’t catch it — still, at worst it eliminates most of the potential problem. My initial impression when this story broke hasn’t changed: this is just sloppy, lazy work. Sloppy, lazy work that is now endorsed by law.

      Even so, the UP people are off-base. There is a legal remedy for an SC justice who brings discredit on his office, and that’s impeachment. I don’t blame Del Castillo and his colleagues for being annoyed by the attempt at mob rule, however shameful the whole plagiarism issue is.

  6. kristine0019 says:

    “Well, if you ask me, I don’t really give a shit. How many battles of this type routinely rage among the dime-a-dozen lawyers who infest Philippine society anyway? Some are won by the good guys among them and some are lost. But at the end of the day, who cares?”

    —> We do. If a person cannot be trusted over small things, chances are, they also cannot be trusted over big things. Plagiarism, especially when committed with impunity by a judge, will send the wrong message to students. Students will get the wrong message that it’s okay to cheat (plagiarism is a form of cheating) if you are in a position of power. That’s how corruption and warlordism starts.

    “Pinoy society is not a thinking society.”

    —> I disagree with this. What is stupid is to entrust the highest court of the land to people who cannot even exercise intellectual honesty and coddles wrongdoers.

    “Therefore power-plays based on ideas simply do not resonate.”

    —> Tell this to the SC. Their coddling of Del Castillo was based not on ideas but on a misplaced sense of power and loyalty.

    ““In Japan there are very few lawyers and the codes are mostly unwritten, but they are binding, nonetheless.”
    – Greg Sheridan, Asian Values Western Dreams

    —> In Japan, even the lowliest judge caught plagiarizing will not only voluntarily resign; chances are, he or she will likewise commit hara-kiri. Sa madaling sabi, may kusa at delikadeza sila. Kaya hindi na kailangan ng mga abogado at nakasulat na batas sa kanila.

    Bakit parang sinisisi mo pa ang UP College of Law? Kung ginagawa ba naman ng SC ang trabaho nito (read: pinaparusahan ang mga lumabag sa batas kahit sino pa ito) at kung may delikadeza yang si Del Castillo, eh di hindi na sana lumaki yung isyu na ito tungkol sa kanya.

    Sa isang bayan na kung saan mabagal ang hustisya at ang mga nasa posisyon pa mismo ang lumalabag sa batas, masisisi mo pa ba ang mga tao kung magreklamo sila? The UP College of Law cannot remain silent about wrongdoing just because doing otherwise will go against your biases of what is “rational” and “intelligent.”

    If you don’t want people complaining about wrongdoing, then you should not have created AP and GetRealPhilippines. These two websites also expose what is supposedly wrong in Philippine society.

    • benign0 says:

      You’re absolutely right on all counts, Ms kristine0019. And it highlights what I’ve been saying all along — these bozos merely reflect the society that looks to them for leadership.

      After all, ours is a society that happily consumes plagiarised material and other stolen intellectual goods — pirated DVDs, illegally download movies — you name it we copy it, illegally.

      Pinoys cannot be trusted to do the small things properly — keep to their lanes on the road, wait patiently in their place in queues, build things properly with the right materials cut to the right measurements, come to appointments on time, meet promised delivery dates, etcetera etcetera. Considering all of that — all consistent with our culture of impunity and the twin pillars of pwede-na-yan and bahala na mentalities that hold it up — I begin to wonder how we all can presume to raise even an eyebrow of indignation about politicians and judges who, themselves, act in a way consistent with the general ethical fibre of the ENTIRE society that they are a part of.

      That is why all this highlighting of indignation and expressions of “shock” at such behaviours such as what is being exhibited by the SC “Justices” and the UP Law “faculty” come across to me as such ho-hum phoniness.

      • kristine0019 says:

        So what is your stand, then? That the UP Law faculty should no longer call for Del Castillo’s resignation because they too are supposedly guilty of “phoniness”? That Del Castillo should no longer resign even if he committed plagiarism? That the SC should continue coddling him…because the parties criticizing them and Del Castillo are “phonies”?

        No offense, but that is what your reply appears to be implying. It seems to be operating on the premise that “those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”

      • benign0 says:

        Yup. I’m saying that the call to our leaders to clean up their act is rendered ineffective by the fact that those who call them out are themselves showcases of the very dysfunction they call out. Elections are a very straightforward example of this. How can we consider democracy to be a silver bullet that will kill our all-around poverty if this system of selecting leaders is used to channel the very dysfunction inherent to the masses upwards into the halls of power — thus the ascent to power of all these celebrity morons and spineless emos.

      • A Mabini III says:

        Benign0, you did not answer her question. What is your stand then? If you have a “damn everyone” position that’s fine. I was looking for an enlightened solution. Apparently there is none here–as always, just rants. I will have to look to Abe, who has the guts to take a position, for wisdom.

  7. Hyden Toro says:

    I simply don’t have respect of Filipino lawyers.

  8. Anti-pinoy Idiots says:

    All that ranting on Trillanes pardon and the almost passionate appeal to doing things right and upholding the principle blah blah fly in the face of your “I don’t give a shit” supreme irony.

    Benignoy : epic fail in consistency test.

  9. Hyden Toro says:

    I came from family of teachers and lawyers. The teachers in our family were dedicated in their jobs. The lawyers extorted as much money on their clients, as they can. I did’nt want both professions. So, I choose technical and scientific profession. It is better,

  10. WTF DUDE!!! says:

    well if u ask me , it isn’t against the law to leave this Country ASAP!

  11. mel says:

    Blame it all to the ghostwriters, overworked and inexperienced staff!

    I experienced working with a famous lawyer, professor and law books author when I was in my first year college. I have written a lot of speeches and summaries for him and I would be lying when I say I did not plagiarize. (Well, I was young then, lacking in experience and I needed the job!!!).

    Manny Pangilinan has probably fired his staff who wrote that plagiarized speech. Supreme Court Justices should hire another researcher who can double-check their decisions or perhaps, somebody can create a computer program with an Anti-plagiarism feature?

  12. Chorvaqueen says:

    Is he asking for a program? Here it is.

    just got this from our forum I don’t know who made this.

  13. ChinoF says:

    Either this issue just shows how bad the system is, or it’s just red herring that takes us away from the more important issues… like how the current admin is actually filled with the corruption that it claimed to fight against.

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