Plagiarism: An act of laziness and dishonesty

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By Alexander Villafania

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA  –  Up to now the Internet is abuzz with the  controversial Ateneo De Manila University commencement speech of PLDT Chair Manuel Pangilinan (a video clip of the speech is on Youtube) delivered last March 27.

Pangilinan himself has admitted to his mistake and sent an apology to ADMU President Father Bienvenido Nebres, who said he cannot accept Pangilinan’s resignation as the school’s board of trustees chair. The email exchanges between Pangilinan and Nebres can be found in their the ADMU website.

The issue has already reached fever pitch in the local blogosphere, social networking sites and forums, with majority of them criticizing the beleaguered telecommunications tycoon. News organizations abroad, such as BBC and Huffington Post, also picked up the story.

Schools in the Philippines are no stranger to plagiarism as it is one of the highest forms of intellectual and academic dishonesty. In fact, most universities and colleges forbid plagiarism and have penalties that range from suspension to outright expulsion. There were also discussions on how school administrations dealt with plagiarist, such as this story by Rod Fajardo III about a University of the Philippines professor accused of plagiarism.

As a fellow of ADMU’s Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, we also warned of intellectual dishonesty.
With the advent of the Internet, plagiarism became an easy activity with students directly copying and pasting passages from various sources, placing them in their research material, and passing them off as their own. Still, some schools have institutionalized anti-plagiarism software that aimed at weeding out plagiarist.

The De la Salle University was reported to have installed and tested an anti-plagiarism software called Turnitin sometime last year. Still, the problem persists and schools continue to fight it. More information about plagiarism, its causes and how to combat it can be found in

Pangilinan’s mea culpa couldn’t be subjected to academic reviews or any anti-plagiarism software since it was a speech delivered to students. The fact remains that the plagiarism was done by a distinguished alumnus of ADMU, one who has admitted to his mistake for being unable to practice his alma mater’s established values of academic integrity.

This issue will eventually subside (perhaps faster than the hit-and-run incident that caused the death of a pupil inside the campus) but it will definitely have long-term effects on how academic institutions deal with intellectual dishonesty.

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