CHED head? Lapuz plagiarized parts of his UST book

COPIED WORKS? Parts of Jose David Lapuz's book are found to have similarities with other scholarly articles. All photos from Rappler

COPIED WORKS? Parts of Jose David Lapuz's book are found to have similarities with other scholarly articles.

All photos from Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Did Jose David Lapuz – the former professor of President Rodrigo Duterte who is reportedly in the running to head the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) – plagiarize?

It appears so, according to editors of an academic journal who showed Rappler a matrix that details plagiarized content of Lapuz's book, Perspectives in Politics: Public and Foreign; Rationalizing the Irrationalities of Politics.

The book is a compilation of Lapuz’s articles and speeches delivered or published in newspapers throughout the years. It was published in 2005 by the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Publishing House.

Text was lifted, without attribution or acknowledgment of the original source, from various books and articles, primarily authored by international academicians. 

Plagiarism, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is taking someone else’s work or idea and passing it off as your own. 

Several personalities had been placed under the spotlight in the past after reportedly committing plagiarism.

Among them was Senator Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, who went under fire for two acts: using a translated part of a speech by former United States Senator Robert Kennedy without attribution, and lifting parts of his speech that opposed the reproductive health (RH) bill from a health blogger. 

Former Supreme Court Justice Mariano del Castillo was also accused of plagiarizing parts of his decision, lifting text from a controversial case involving World War II comfort women in 2010. He, however, was cleared of any liability

Tainted articles

EXPERIENCED. Lapuz' book boasts of academic achievements spanning decades.

EXPERIENCED. Lapuz' book boasts of academic achievements spanning decades.

The academic journal's editors, who had been involved in checking for plagiarism for 3 to 5 years, pointed out that at least 20 articles out of the 61 compiled in Lapuz’s book “are tainted with plagiarism.”

The compiled articles touched on various subjects under politics and foreign affairs, Lapuz' field of expertise as stated in his curriculum vitae.  

According to the sources, who requested anonymity, Lapuz “hacks away chunks of texts, at times an entire page, from certain authors and stitches these to his supposed work.”

Since last week, Rappler has been trying to get the side of both Lapuz and the UST Publishing House. Messages were sent via Lapuz's Facebook Messenger, which he had seen, but which he ignored. Lapuz's Facebook page has been active based on his frequent posts during the period we were trying to reach him. Rappler also sent a letter via email on Monday, July 18, but got no reply.

On July 24, Lapuz sent a letter taking full responsibility. 

“Definitely and unquestionably, failure to identify the source of borrowed text is unallowable,” he added. “But still, human being (sic) commit slip errors; they carry out flubs and mistakes. Blundering fools we are.”

The UST Publishing House, meanwhile, acknowledged on July 12 the request to get their side and notified us the letter had been forwarded to the Office of the Director. On July 13, after a follow-up request, the publishing house said they are “taking this under advisement” or studying the issue and would contact Rappler “when they are ready.”

We repeatedly followed up on Friday, July 15, and Monday, July 17. No reply has been given to date.

We double checked the entirety of the book, and arrived at the same conclusion. Lapuz failed to include citations of original sources in parts of his book. 

For example, a paragraph in an article entitled “Foreign Policy Objectives: Towards a Framework of Dignity” was lifted and hardly altered, sans citation, from International Relations: The Global Condition in the Late Twentieth Century published in 1984.

Parts of a paragraph in Sovereignty as a Basis for Foreign Policy have similiar text from Frederick Hartmann's 1983 book, The Relations of Nations.

Upon checking, some words found in Lapuz's piece were identical to the original words in Hartmann's.

Failing to explicitly identify the source of borrowed text or idea already constitutes plagiarism.  

Outside the 20 articles initially identified by the editors of the academic journal, Rappler found two more instances where text bear strong resemblance to other works that were not by Lapuz.

At least 5 paragraphs in Lapuz's article, “Reflections, or Thoughts Coming in of the Tide” came from a 1990 article published in the Los Angeles Times and written by Barry Wood. 

Meanwhile, the first paragraph of Lapuz's Christmas-themed article, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace to the World of Nations,” came from the Saint Joseph Daily Missal in 1956. 

It is important to note too that Lapuz also republished the above-questioned article in December 2015 in the Manila Bulletin.

The title, however, was changed to “International peace, supra-national government, and the goal of hope, happiness, and well-being in the world of nations,” with no note mentioning it had been published beforehand. This can be considered self-plagiarism.

According to iThenticate's The Ethics of Self-Plagiarism, self-plagiarism is a “type of plagiarism in which the writer republishes a work in its entirety or reuses portions of a previously written text” presenting it as new work.

Requirement of integrity  

'BRILLIANT' BRAIN. Professor Jose David Lapuz addresses the crowd during the miting de avance of his former student Rodrigo Duterte. Screencap from Rappler

'BRILLIANT' BRAIN. Professor Jose David Lapuz addresses the crowd during the miting de avance of his former student Rodrigo Duterte.

Screencap from Rappler

This is not the first time that Lapuz has been called out for his blunders. 

After reports said he had been chosen to become the next CHED chairperson, his former students came out and said Filipino students “deserve better.” (READ: Lapuz as CHED chair riles former students)

His students in Rizal and political science courses said they did not learn anything during the entire the semester and “only wasted tuition.”

Although the criminal liability of plagiarism is highly contested, it is no doubt an unethical act.

The University of the Philippines, for instance, in its 2012 Student Code, says plagiarism is an act of academic dishonesty. A student found to have plagiarized may be suspended for one semester or expelled.

Although there is no direct liability, personalities who had been tagged in plagiarism cases usually took responsibility. 

For instance, businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, after committing plagiarism in a graduation speech in 2010, stepped down as chairman of the board of the Ateneo de Manila University. (READ: MVP, Sotto, and plagiarism)

Republic Act Number 7722 explicitly says that the CHED chairperson and commissioners should be “academicians known for their high degree of professionalism and integrity.”

Lapuz’s supposed designation as CHED chair was announced on June 13 by Ateneo de Davao University president Joel Tabora, SJ, in his blog. Lapuz eventually confirmed this in an open letter posted on his blog, saying that his CHED designation, which covers both public and private higher institutions in the Philippines, is a dream come true.

Duterte, who was Lapuz's political science student at the Lyceum of the Philippines University in the 1960s, has yet to confirm Lapuz’s appointment.  

In addition, the term of incumbent CHED Chair Patricia Licuanan will not expire until 2018. She was appointed in 2010 and again in 2014 by then President Benigno Aquino III. RA 7722 says the CHED chairperson shall hold office for 4 years per term.

Will Lapuz still get the CHED appointment?

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.