(UPDATED) Filipinos are no stranger to plagiarism scandals, with several well-known figures here being accused of using another person’s or group’s thoughts as their own.
Among them is Senator Tito Sotto, who became the talk of the town for his speeches on his stand on reproductive health, parts of which were allegedly copied from several blogs and websites.
Here are five of the country’s most talked-about plagiarism scandals over the last two years (arranged in reverse chronological order).
Sen. Tito Sotto’s RH speeches
The gist: Parts of Sotto’s two speeches on his stand on the controversial RH bill were lifted from different online sources, drawing an online firestorm.
What Sotto did: While Sotto initially denied plagiarizing parts of his first RH bill speech (saying “blogger lang iyon,” drawing even more flak), his then-chief of staff, Atty. Hector Villacorta, admitted that they copied the work of American blogger Sarah Pope. A day later, it was found that Sotto’s staff writers also copied from different websites for the senator’s second speech. But this time, Villacorta defended the senator and stressed that “blogs are public domain.”
What happened next: Like Sotto, Villacorta saw himself at the receiving end of criticism, with netizens calling him “stupid” and “arrogant.”
‘It’s more fun’ in PH and Switzerland
The gist: Just after its launch in January 2012, the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) “It’s more fun in the Philippines” slogan was criticized for allegedly being a copycat of a 1951 Swiss tourism slogan that read “It’s more fun in Switzerland.”
What DOT did: Tourism Secretary Mon Jimenez took to Twitter to react on the issue, saying that the similarity is just a coincidence.
What happened next: The plagiarism issue eventually died down, especially after Swiss Ambassador to Manila Ivo Sieber expressed his support for the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign.
SC Justice Mariano del Castillo’s ruling on comfort women
The gist: In what is dubbed as a first in the Supreme Court, a decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo on World War II comfort women showed that numerous parts were copied from materials written by legal experts abroad without proper attribution. An impeachment complaint was then filed against him over the incident.
What del Castillo did: Castillo’s lawyer, Atty. Louie Oximer, said early in 2012 that the SC justice’s alleged plagiarism is not a high crime and therefore cannot be considered an impeachable offense.
What happened next: Last May, then-Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile hinted that Del Castillo was safe from impeachment, saying that the case against him should be a “mere civil damage suit and not an impeachment case.”
MVP’s graduation speech
The gist: Prominent businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan was in hot water after it was found that parts of his speech during Ateneo’s commencement exercises in 2010 were lifted from passages of other graduation remarks. It was later discovered that MVP’s previous speeches had similarities with those made by other well-known figures such as then-United States President Barack Obama.
What Pangilinan did: The telco executive immediately issued an apology and offered to retire from his duties in Ateneo, but the university’s board of trustees rejected it. The businessman then tendered his “irrevocable” resignation and relinquished the honorary degree conferred on him.
What happened next: Pangilinan eventually regained the public’s trust for being “man enough” to take full responsibility for the actions of his speech writer, whose name was not disclosed. Last year, the businessman joked about not giving any graduation speeches in the future, calling it “toxic” to one’s health.
‘Pilipinas Kay Ganda’ logo
The gist: Tourism slogan “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” drew criticism a week after its launch in 2010 after its logo had a striking similarity to Poland’s “Polska,” from the font and the colors to the use of a tree. An application where users can make a personalized name logo with the tagline “Kay Ganda” then made the rounds on social media sites as Filipinos made fun of the alleged plagiarism committed by the advertising agency tapped by DOT.
What DOT did: Then-DOT Undersecretary Vicente “Enteng” Romano III, who was in charge of DOT’s planning and promotions section, took full responsibility for the campaign and left his post. He also apologized to then-President Benigno Aquino III, then-Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim and to the public over the controversy.
What happened next: The “Pilipinas Kay Ganda” campaign was scrapped and eventually replaced by the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” slogan, which became an Internet hit.