MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED/CORRECTED) - Hundreds of law students from 3 universities joined a march on Thursday night to support 37 faculty members of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Law who are subject of a show-cause order of the Supreme Court (SC) for criticizing a magistrate for alleged plagiarism.
Students from 8 UP colleges were joined by De La Salle State University and Lyceum of the Philippines law students.
They carried torches and lighted candles as they made their way around the UP Diliman campus.
The students shouted “Iskolar ng Bayan! Katwiran Ipaglaban!” and held banners declaring, “Restore Integrity,” “Uphold Academic Freedom,” and “The Road to Excellence must be an Honest One.”
The UP students who took part came from the Colleges of Mass Communication, Human Kinetics, Tourism, Architecture, Engineering, Education, Public Administration and Governance, and the School of Library and Information Studies.
DLSU Law Student Government President Justin Sucgang said they joined the march because they view the show cause order of the Supreme Court as a “dangerous precedent” that could have serious effects beyond the legal community.
“This is not limited to a simple legal issue. It is also a question of what’s moral and ethical,” he said.
The DLSU delegation, all from Block 2, represented the school’s “pioneer batch” of law students.
Newly installed Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales also joined the protest march.
She urged the students to show to the world that “here in the Philippines, the Filipino people never sleep on their rights.”
The law professors who are subject of the show cause order said they will appear before the SC.
UP Law professor Harry Roque stressed that the real issue on hand is human rights, which is the subject of the Vinuya case dismissed by the SC in a ruling.
The ruling allegedly contained portions lifted from writings by other authors without attribution.
The Vinuya case was a petition by some 70 “comfort women” allegedly forced into prostitution by Japanese forces during World War II. The war victims are seeking compensation from the Japanese government.
“Ang lahat ng ito ay nagsimula sa pakikipaglaban naman para sa karapatang pantao – ang pagbabawal sa panggagahasa ng kababaihan kahit sa gitna ng isang digmaan,” Roque said.
He said that even the passage of more than 6 decades did not end the victims’ right to seek redress for the abuse and their entitlement to reparation.
Roque said he is saddened by the SC’s pronouncement that the “comfort women” no longer have any remedy in law available to them.
“If we accept this, ngayon pa lang isara na natin ang UP College of Law, tibagin na natin ang Korte Suprema. We have to stress again and again to the justices of our Supreme Court: Hindi namin kailangan ng awa. Ang kailangan namin ay gawin ninyo ang tungkulin ninyo,” he said. -- With a report from Jenny Reyes, ABS-CBN News