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Malaya Lolas tell Supreme Court to adopt South Korean Court decision

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ImageThe Center for International Law (Centerlaw) asked the Supreme Court today to consider an August 30, 2011 decision by the Constitutional Court of Korea on the issue of Korean Comfort Women in resolving the controversial case of Filipino Comfort Women –otherwise known as the Malaya Lolas case – still pending before it.

The Korean case arose from a suit filed by Korean Comfort Women before the South Korean Constitutional Court against their own Minister of Foreign Affairs. In their suit, they questioned the refusal of the government to settle the issue of whether or not there is still liability on the part of the government of Japan for the atrocities committed by its soldiers during World War II against them. The Korean Court granted the Petition of the Comfort Women and ordered that its government settle the issue with the government of Japan.In its decision, the Korean Court stated that blocking the payment of claims is directly related to the “infringement of fundamental dignity and value of human beings”. It further found that possibility of strained relations and problems with diplomatic ties is no excuse as it will be more constructive for both Korea-Japan diplomatic ties and Korea’s national interest to call on the Japanese government to take on its legal responsibility toward the victims.

It would be remembered that on April 28, 2010, the Philippine Supreme Court rendered judgment on the petition before it asking the Court to compel the Philippine government to espouse the claim of Filipina Comfort Women against the government of Japan (Vinuya v. The Hon. Executive Secretary, G.R. No. 162230, April 28, 2010).

The suit stemmed from a petition filed in 2004 by 70 members of the Malaya Lolas Organization (Malaya Lolas), who survived the Mapanique, Tarlac siege by the Japanese Imperial Army. In their petition, they charged that were victims of systematic rape and sexual slavery committed by the Japanese, and asked the High Court to compel the government to espouse their claims against Japan.

The Philippine Supreme Court’s decision sparked a massive controversy when significant portions of it were discovered to have been lifted from various sources without proper attribution. In addition to the plagiarism – which is a word for word lifting of pages from the three articles without the proper attribution – it appears that these stolen passages were also twisted to support the court’s erroneous conclusion that the Filipina comfort women of World War Two have no further legal remedies.

All three plagiarized articles by foreign authors –an article published in 2009 in the Yale Law Journal of International Law, a book published by the Cambridge University Press in 2005, and, an article published in 2006 in the Western Reserve Journal of International Law – argue otherwise.

A Motion for Reconsideration and a Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration subsequently filed by the Center on behalf of the Malaya Lolas highlighting the alleged plagiarism and twisting of sources are pending with the Court. The Malaya Lolas, in their Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration said the High Court’s ruling, penned by Justice Mariano Del Castillo, “made it appear that these sources support the assailed judgment’s arguments for dismissing instant petition when, in truth, the plagiarized sources even make a strong case for the petition’s claims.”

Lawyer Romel Bagares, one of the petitioner’s counsels, explained why the Petitioners seek to have the Korean case admitted into the records of the Philippine case:

“Unlike our own Supreme Court, the Korean Court saw that its government’s refusal to settle the issue of liability with regard to the case of the Comfort Women was a violation of its Constitution and violated the Constitutional rights of its Comfort Women. Sadly, our own Supreme Court did not see it the same way in its 2010 decision. We are hoping that the Korean decision will provide necessary guidance to our own Supreme Court and they find wisdom in the reasoning of the Korean Court.”

An ethics investigation called by then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona cleared Justice Del Castillo of wrongdoing. The Committee’s exoneration of Del Castillo was later used as one of the grounds for a petition filed with Congress to impeach the Chief Justice, although the Senate eventually cut short the proceedings and zeroed in only on the question of the Chief Justice’s failure to properly account for his income as required by law. Corona is the first sitting Chief Justice of the High Court to be booted out of office in an impeachment proceeding.

Del Castillo himself was found liable for impeachment by the House Committee on Justice but for lack of time, the case against him could not proceed.

The Supreme Court also sanctioned 37 professors of the UP College of Law after the latter issued an open letter criticizing the High Court for the alleged plagiarism and twisting it committed in the Vinuya case.

It would later turn out that there were more instances of plagiarism in the Vinuya decision not discussed in the pleadings filed by the Malaya Lolas lawyers.Image
Here is the link to the English translation of the decision of the Constitutional Court of Korea

For more background to the plagiarism and twisting charges, click here, here and here.

Photo credits:
South Korean Comfort Women photo from vanessadfisher.com
Malaya Lolas photo from Vmeo
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Written by Romel

April 2, 2013 at 7:03 am

May it please the Court

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For nearly an hour,  I stood and made my case before the gods of Mt. Olympus, my heart in my mouth.  It was my very first time to actually argue before the Philippine Supreme Court — and I was  co-counsel to Prof. Harry Roque in a petition we filed on behalf of  residents of the Province of Palawan in their bid to get a rightful share in the proceeds of the Malampaya oil and gas wells.  Our case rested on the constitutionalization of the international legal regime of the Continental Shelf and the constitutional and statutory grant of fiscal autonomy for local governments.

I barely survived the intense  questioning — for the most part, by  Justices Antonio Carpio and Teresita De Castro. We were given 25 minutes to make our arguments. Prof. Roque, who was first to argue, took 17 minutes to discuss the first three points of our case. I  took care of the last two points in 8 minutes. But the interpellation took much longer. Prof. Roque was grilled for a little more than two hours, and I, for nearly an hour.

When it was all  over, I was simply thankful that I survived the ordeal without throwing up or fainting in shame and terror. It was an unforgettable day for another reason — the oral arguments were held a day after the Maguindanao Massacre.  The very next day, I took the earliest flight to Davao City  to head for Maguindanao  and see how the Center for International Law may assist authorities and families of the victims in the quest for justice.

The photo below was taken after the oral arguments. (From L-R: Me,  Prof.  Roque, Dr. Raul C. Pangalangan and the DFA’s Mr. Henry Bensurto, the latter two being amici curiae in the case).

The same photo introduces the sixth and last installment in the SIX BIG QUESTIONS project of Gideon Strauss, senior fellow of the US-based Center for Public Justice.   In this project,  I join several guest bloggers in his blog in answering, in 250 words or less, six questions that deal with faith, character, vision and personal context.  What contributions am I called to make? And my response is found here. For my fifth post, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Romel

November 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm

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