Sen. Pia Cayetano: Another Plagiarist in the PH Senate? How About Miriam Santiago?
As former campus editor of the most widely circulated student paper in the Philippines, I was aware that in the writing business, plagiarism is a cardinal sin. In college campuses, any student found guilty of copy-pasting
other people’s works could face serious penalties, such as failing grade, suspension, or even expulsion. For intellectuals and public servants, a possible case of plagiarism could mean loss of credibility, reputation, integrity, and employment.
In the Philippines, a number of public figures recently faced accusations of plagiarism. For instance, Sen. Tito Sotto’s purportedly plagiarized speech became more controversial than the socially divisive RH bill itself. For some people, Sotto’s case is just a tempest in a teapot, but for those who strongly support the bill, the Senator’s ‘act of dishonesty’ was more than enough justification to pass the population control measure.
However, it appears that the anti-RH bill solon is not the only plagiarist in the upper house, which recently ousted an Arroyo appointee chief justice for misdeclaring his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth.
Now there’s this persistent rumor about a very high possibility that another senator- this time a lady solon- could also be guilty of stealing other people’s ideas. Yes, I’m talking about pro-RH bill Senator Pia Cayetano.
How about her colleague Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago?
But first, I believe it is important to know the concept of plagiarism and what constitutes plagiarism. I personally believe that a lot of people don’t know how this act of stealing or dishonesty is committed. To these people, the mere mention of sources in an article or literary work is enough to avoid plagiarism. They’re wrong. Poor, careless paraphrasing of borrowed words and phrases may constitute plagiarism. This is why it’s very important for people, particularly students, journalists, professional writers and bloggers, to know the concept and types of plagiarism, and how it is committed.
There are several types of plagiarism, which include word-for-word plagiarism, word switch plagiarism, sentence rearrangement plagiarism, metaphor plagiarism, organizational plagiarism, organizational plagiarism, and idea plagiarism.
Intellectually lazy writers or politicians are prone to committing ‘sentence rearrangement plagiarism’, which is done by simply rearranging key words of their borrowed phrases and ideas. So even if the writer provided information of his/her literary sources at the end of his/her paper, that writer may still be liable for plagiarism charges if he/she committed any of the aforementioned types of dishonesty.
According to this online source, intentional plagiarism is committed if the writer or author:
- Asked someone to write a research or writing work for him;
- Stole another person’s writing work;
- Purchased someone else’s research;
- Intentionally lifted portions of another person’s work without attribution;
- Intentionally paraphrased another person’s work without acknowledging the source.
However, accidental or unintentional plagiarism is committed if the author:
- Forgot to put quotation marks around an exact quote from another person’s work;
- Failed to paraphrase correctly another person’s work;
- Forgot to cite the source;
- Incorrectly referenced the main source of information.
The source explains that anyone can use or borrow other people’s works or ideas so long as the sources are properly acknowledged or cited. Thus, proper citation or documentation of sources is necessary to avoid plagiarism.
Also from this source, the following are considered plagiarism:
- turning in someone else’s work as your own
- copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
- failing to enclose borrowed words in quotation marks
- giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
- changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
- copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)
A mere mention of a source, say, “Social Watch” or United Nations, is NOT enough to avoid plagiarism. Thus, even if the writer mentioned his/her source but copied ideas or words from that source without enclosing the borrowed words in quotation marks, that is still considered plagiarism. Also, poor paraphrasing of borrowed words without giving due credit to the source is considered plagiarism. Again, just the mere mention of a source in the writer’s article cannot exculpate him/her from plagiarism charges. So, it’s very important to know how the definition of this act of stealing or dishonesty or what constitutes plagiarism before accusing anyone of not knowing how it is committed.
In February 2011, Cayetano delivered a privilege speech on “The Status of the Philippines Achieving the Millennium Development Goals”. The lady senator is now facing allegations that she simply used borrowed passages from online or written sources without proper attribution. She then turned to Twitter to defend herself.
“Citing authors and sources is part of the writing process. I am happy to do (this) because it shows the depth of research done,” Cayetano tweeted.
She added: “I tweeted before, our Intellectual Property Code states that [one’s] literary work is protected [from] the time of creation.”
But did she really cite her sources? Let’s find out.
From her 2011 speech:
On September 2000, the Philippines, together with member states of the United Nations, affirmed its commitments towards reducing poverty and the worst forms of human deprivation. The Member States adopted the Millennium Declaration which embodies specific targets and milestones in eliminating extreme poverty worldwide.
That statement was apparently lifted from this UNESCO site, which shows almost identical passages:
In September 2000, member states of the United Nations gathered at the Millennium Summit to affirm commitments towards reducing poverty and the worst forms of human deprivation. They adopted the Millennium Declaration which embodies specific targets and milestones in eliminating extreme poverty worldwide.
From Cayetano’s speech:
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world’s time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions -income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability.
That line was copied almost verbatim from this site:
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the world’s time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions: incomes, poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion, while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights: the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security.
In the past, there was a time when the Philippines used to be the top education performers in Asia, along with Sri Lanka, Thailand and South Korea. Sadly, we are now left far behind by are our Asian neighbors. The following numbers would show us why.
That statement looks almost identical to the following passage from this blog article that quotes the work of an author named Rene Raya:
There was a time when the Philippines, along with Sri Lanka, Thailand and South Korea, used to be the top education performers in Asia. Today , the country is among the lowest performers in Asia and the rest of the developing world.
From Cayetano’s speech:
In SY 2005-2006, participation rate in elementary education went down to 84.41% from 90.10% recorded in SY 2001-2002. Meanwhile, elementary cohort survival in SY 2005-2006 went down to 58.36% while the completion rate declined further to 56.76%.
That statement was undeniably borrowed from this site, although the act of dishonesty is in the form of patchwork copy-pasting:
In SY 2005-2006, participation rate in elementary education went down to 84.4 percent from 90.10 percent recorded in SY 2001-2002. Elementary cohort survival in SY 2005-2006 went down to 58.36 percent while completion rate declined further to 56.76 percent.
Several statements and passages from Cayetano’s speech were also lifted from this Social Watch article. Consider the following paragraphs from the senator’s speech:
The increases in test results only show marginal improvement while the scores fall far short of the desirable level.
The low quality of education delivered by the public school system can also be gleaned from the poor performance of teachers in assessment tests, with some of them scoring no better than the students they teach.
School enrolment and performance indicators tell only half of the story of the current state of basic education in the Philippines. The other half tells about the continuing problem of illiteracy and the increasing number of children missing education.
Those were copied verbatim from this Social Watch article titled “The Missed Education of the Filipino People” by Raya:
The increases in test results show only marginal improvement and the scores fell far short of the desirable level. The low quality of education delivered by the public school system can also be gleaned from the poor performance of teachers in assessment tests, with some of them scoring no better than the students they teach. School enrolment and performance indicators tell only half of the story of the current state of basic education in the Philippines. The other half tells about the continuing problem of illiteracy and the increasing number of children missing an education.
This paragraph was also copied from another source:
According to the Functional Literacy, Education and Mass Media Survey (FLEMMS) conducted in 2003, over half of Filipinos have had at most only elementary education while some 9% have not attended school at all. Only 34.7% of Filipinos had completed high school or had achieved higher education levels.
The source? This time a PCIJ article:
Over half (51%) of Filipinos have had at most only elementary education while some 9% have had no education at all. Only 34.7% of Filipinos had completed high school or had achieved higher educational levels.
This paragraph was also copied from the same PCIJ article:
A significant number of Filipino children are outside the school system. There are about 11.6 million children and youth aged 6 to 24 years old not attending school. About half of them or 5.6 million belong to the age group 15-21 years old. Poverty and related factors are the main reasons cited for not attending school. Some 30.5 % cited employment as the reason for not attending school and 20% cited the high cost of education as the reason for not attending school; while another 11.8% cited housekeeping work.
From the PCIJ:
A significant number of Filipino children are outside the school system. Based on the FLEMMS 2003, 11.6 million children and youth aged 6 to 24 years old were not attending school. About half of them or 5.6 million belong to the age group 15-21 years old. Poverty and related factors were the main reasons cited for not attending school. Some 30.5% cited employment as the reason for not attending school. One of every five (20%) cited the high cost of education as the reason for not attending school while another 11.8% cited housekeeping work.
And then Sen. Cayetano asked: “Mr. President, is this the kind of education we want for our future leaders and citizens of this country?”
No, that line was not plagiarized. With the senator’s good ‘research’ output, perhaps the most appropriate answer to her question is: YES.
This paragraph was also lifted from a Social Watch article written by Merci Fabros:
The Philippines is considered the country that has the worst health performance in Asia, with maternal mortality rate being among the highest in the region. It is said that the state of maternal health in the country is alarming with the MMR barely moving in the last five years and even worsening in many poor provinces.
From the Social Watch article:
The Philippines has the worst health performance in the Asia, with infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) being among the highest in the region. The state of maternal health is alarming,
with MMR barely moving in the last five years and worsening in many poor provinces.
For the following paragraph the Senator provided a source, however she copied the entire paragraph almost word for word:
Mothers do not routinely choose to deliver in health facilities and avail of professional services due to several barriers such as (1) hostile hospital system, (2) poor interpersonal skills of staff, and (3) financial, physical, social and cultural constraints.
From “Accelerating a Unified Strategy to Save Mothers, Newborns and Children” by Mario C. Villaverde:
¨Mothers do not routinely choose to deliver in health facilities and avail of professional services due to several barriers–hostile hospital system, poor interpersonal skills of staff, financial, physical, social and cultural constraints are deterrents to actual service utilization.
Is the good Senator guilty of plagiarism? You be the judge.
But how about the genius Miriam Defensor Santiago? Did she also steal passages from other sources without proper citation or attribution?
I strongly disagree with Sen. Santiago on a number of things and political issues. Well, disagreement is simply the essence of what they call ‘democracy’. For instance, I passionately reject the senator’s strong endorsement of the Reproductive Health bill, as well as her understanding of the concepts of rights and RH rights. I believe that rights, which should not impose any form of obligation on others, do not require government funding and state’s ‘positive’ intervention. I am a classical liberal so I honestly think Santiago’s interpretation of rights and of government function is strongly hinged on egalitarianism and neo-liberal (which can either be leftist or semi-leftist) perspective. But this is another story.
The lady solon once said that plagiarism, in politics, is not a mortal sin. In her statement in defense of Senator Sotto’s alleged plagiarism, Santiago said: “Speechwriter must have overlooked/forgot to include the word ‘allegedly’. But this is not the academe where plagiarism is a mortal sin. We should give leeway in politics, as long as later on the source is acknowledged,” she said.
Santiago’s September 15, 2011 speech on Reproductive Health Bill: Logic 101 is one of the most used, cited information in support of the population control measure. However, several passages from Santiago’s speech appear
to have been lifted or borrowed from online sources without proper acknowledgement.
Consider the following paragraph:
In the human rights movement, the mechanisms and processes for the delivery of health services are themselves morally compelling. Evaluation of health programs emphasizes distribution in outcomes, not only averages. We are concerned about the entire distribution, because reproductive rights theories take seriously the idea that every human being is worthy of respect.
That somehow bears a strong resemblance to the following passage from this World Bank article. The possibly copied passage is as follows:
[I}n the rights approach, evaluations of health and education programs emphasize distributions in outcomes, not only averages. The entire distribution is of concern because rights theories take seriously the idea that every human being is worthy of respect.
How about the following sentence from the anti-RH bill senator’s speech?
Advocates of human rights pay particular attention to disaggregated data among women and the poor, because they are particularly liable to practices and prejudices that weaken their agency and the social basis of their self-esteem.
Apparently, that was lifted from a book titled “International Human Rights in Context” by Philip Alston and Ryan Goodman. A particular passage from page 300 of their book states:
Rights advocates pay particular attention to disaggregated data among ethnic and religious minorities, women, and the poor because they are particularly liable to practices and prejudices that weaken their agency and the social basis of their self-esteem.
How about this one?
Finally, reproductive rights approaches accommodate adoptive preferences. Many poor women do not receive information on how to receive reproductive health care. In addition, our underprivileged women have to accept standards lower than what they need, want, or deserve.
The problem with that passage is that it was poorly paraphrased. It was poorly paraphrased or reworded that it still somehow looks the same as its main source. Again, that passage appears to have been copied from the book of Alston and Goodman:
[R]ights approaches accommodate adaptive preferences. Some constraints to the fulfillment of rights are external. For example, many cannot afford the direct or opportunity costs of schooling, do not receive information about how to receive medical care, or live in communities where collective action is costly or impossible.
Is Senator Santiago guilty of plagiarism, too? Again, you be the judge.