(Editor's note: the following is a joint statement issued today by Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo, Ph.D., Staff Regent Clodualdo "Buboy" Cabrera and Student Regent Cori Alessa Co in support of the Academic Freedom enjoyed by the 37 members of the U.P. College of Law Faculty who have uncompromisingly criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to exonerate Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo from charges of plagiarism based on the lack of malice or negligence on his part (in In Re: Del Castillo, A.M. No. 10-7-17-SC, 15 October 2010).
The UP Faculty, Student and Staff Regents condemn attack on academic freedom and express support for the UP College of Law Faculty
By exculpating Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo from the charge of plagiarism, the Supreme Court has shown just how far it is willing to throw all reason to the winds just to protect one of its most favored members. Not stopping at this jaw-dropping decision, it likewise issued a “show cause order” (Oct. 19), amazing in its vindictiveness, to the 37 UP Law faculty members (including the present dean and four former deans) who signed the “Statement of the Faculty of the UP College of Law” (August 9, 2010) accusing Justice Del Castillo of plagiarism. That “show cause order” states that there is “a general consensus that healthy criticism only goes so far” and that the UP Law faculty has apparently transgressed what it considers to be the limit. The Supreme Court is therefore not just reacting to any particular criticism but also claims, over and above this, that it is able to pass judgment on the “healthiness” of any kind of criticism against it. In other words, anything is “unhealthy” which shows it in a bad light.
Nothing reveals how embarrassed the Supreme Court is by its own farcical ruling than its attitude to brook no dissent on the matter. It is a fact that lawyers working in the academe would probably be the most competent and would be in the best position to testify on plagiarism amongst their colleagues in the profession. However, their honest opinion which was aired with the best of intentions, was not only disregarded, they are now being threatened with disbarment for speaking their minds.
It might be “healthy” at this point to remind the honourable justices about Section 5 in the UP Charter on “Academic Freedom” which states that, “the national university has the right and responsibility to exercise academic freedom." This guarantee applies to the UP Law Faculty just as much as any other vital part of the University.
We, the Faculty, Staff and Student Regents of the University of the Philippines therefore condemn this serious attack on academic freedom and express our steadfast support for the UP Law Faculty.
FACULTY REGENT PROF. JUDY M. TAGUIWALO, Ph.D.
STAFF REGENT CLODUALDO “Buboy” CABRERA
STUDENT REGENT CORI ALESSA CO