plagiarism, manny pangilinan, karen davila

no wonder manny pangilinan a.k.a. MVP needs a ghostwriter for his speeches.  if his apology to fr. ben nebres is any indication — i’m supposing he wrote it himself — his english isn’t all that great pala:

I have been told last night that portions of my graduation remarks – in particular my address to the Schools of Humanities and Social Sciences – had been borrowed from certain other graduation speeches.

“i have been told last night”…??? eeeww.  this from an ateneo cum laude alumnus?

anyway, like i’ve said in twitter and facebook, at least pangilinan had the grace to be embarrassed and to apologize and take responsibility for the plagiarism instead of excusing himself and blaming only his writers a la ANC’s karen davila.  better yet he has the delicadeza (so rare!) to “wish to retire” from his official duties at the ateneo.

I am truly regretful for it. I already have too many battles to fight, and some of them I wish not to have to fight. In this instance, I do not want to, and would seek only the honourable and principled way out. The matter at hand may rest after this public apology, but it gives me a lot of personal discomfort to continue to be closely involved with Ateneo affairs after this incident. I am afraid the damage has been done – wala talaga akong mukhang ihaharap pagkatapos.

With much regret, Fr Ben, I would wish to retire from my official duties at the Ateneo.

in his place though i not only “would wish to retire,” i would simply resign and not give the ateneo any option but to accept it.  unless of course he is willing to be persuaded to stay, which would be not only masochistic of him, now that his rockstar status in campus has been degraded by a clear lack of “smarts” at least when it comes to PR ghostwriters, it would also send the message to / set the pattern for students and teachers alike that one only has to immediately apologize when found out, and ayos na ang buto-buto.

as for karen davila, she (along with maria ressa) must be thanking her lucky stars na hindi siya kasing bigtime ni manny pangilinan at hindi ako celebrity like oprah & jk rowling.  but if they think na nakalimutan na ang aking plagiarism charge re the laban ni cory tv docu that had davila mouthing spiels re EDSA that were clearly lifted from my book without attribution, they have another think coming.

even before MVP messed up, i would get intermittent queries from family and friends, online and off, asking kung ano nang nangyari, lalo na when davila was given her own show on ANC.   my answer always was, i’ll blog about it one of these days.   and mula nang pumutok itong kay MVP, ang daming nagtatanong uli kung kailan ba ako magkukuwento, what am i waiting for.  so, okay, now na.


august 2 laban ni cory started airing on ABS-CBN 2, replayed again and again over the next ten days or so.

august 8.  emailed butch h., executive director of the people power foundation that published my book, about the plagiarism, and that i intended to blog it.  he said, go ahead:  “you are the author, after all is said and done.”

august 11plagiarism and, uh, karen davila, is that you?

august 12.  heard davila on dzmm teleradyo say that she knew nothing about it, she didn’t write her spiels for that docu.

august 13.  received this email from maria ressa:

From: <>
Date: Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 10:51 AM
Subject: Plagiarism Charge

Dear Ms. Stuart-Santiago,

Common friends told me about your blog post. I read both your post and the spirited debate in the responses.

I want to assure you that, as head of ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs, I take your charges seriously.

We do not condone plagiarism in any way.

I’ve started an investigation and will personally let you know the results.



august 14.  sat down with a lawyer whom i’d consulted on a property matter some years ago, whoagreed that i had a case, even if the copyright belonged to the publisher that paid me a lump sum for that print edition.  but he advised that we give ressa time (a couple of weeks) to investigate and get back to me, hopefully with at least an apology.  (yes, a quick apology would have sufficed.)

august 25.  having received no more word from ressa, lawyer sent ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. a registered complaint and demand letter.  failure to comply would force us to bring the matter to court and take appropriate action, etc.  (received my copy in the mail august 28)

september 7.  katrina attended poet larry ypil’s book launch where she was informed by a high-profile writer that he and another high-profile writer had received calls from ABS-CBNpersonalities saying that davila was looking to hook up with me in private, but neither presumed to know me well enough to help out; however the high-profile writer’s advice via my daughter was, better to “negotiate” with davila directly rather than go the lawyer-complaint route, or something to that effect.  but i was not interested in under-the-table deals.  i was more interested in seeing where “due process” would take me (or not).  besides if davila really wanted to find me, she could have tried harder.

september 11.   got an email from butch h., informing me that maria ressa was asking for a copy of my book.

also around this time i heard from a familyfriend who knows people high up in ABS-CBN that a serious investigation was going on and that the writer who wrote davila’s spiels was going to get fired if s/he hadn’t been yet, or something to that effect.  texted all this hearsay info to lawyer.

october 7.  texted lawyer: “anong balita?”   he texted back: “no communic8n, feelers from abs cbn?”  i said no, not on my end.  he texted back: “ok, will draft complaint na.”  that was the last i heard from him.

fast forward to feb 15, 2010.  a group of u.p. journalism students requested an interview re my plagiarism charge for a paper they were writing for their journalism ethics class.  of course i said yes, sabay text and email sa lawyer hoping for an update.  no response.

i went ahead with the interview anyway, which forced me to deal with and make sense of the fact that my lawyer seems to have bailed out on me — i had / have seen him on ANC (or maybe it was on Channel 2, or both) being interviewed as a 2010 bet, which should tell me what, that maybe he didn’t go to court with my complaint, as he had promised?  or maybe he did but “due process” is just supersloww?  or maybe he has been prevailed upon to drop the case?  either or, maybe he’s just too busy campaigning to text or email, let me know what’s going on?  maybe he doesn’t need my vote, lol.

bottom line?

i hoped / continue to hope, of course, that my publishers would support my plagiarism charge but maybe they don’t care to pala, in aid perhaps of information dissemination?  in that event, would it mean that anyone can now lift passages from my work?  a pattern, a precedent, has been set?  (please tell me it isn’t so.)

for ABS-CBN the bottom line may be:  she doesn’t own the copyright, she has no case.  hmm.  what did ressa say again?  “We do not condone plagiarism in any way.”   yeah, right.  after all, it is as much a sacred rule of journalism as respecting the confidentiality of one’s sources.

katrina’s take:

This is my issue with the way there has just been silence about this plagiarism case (and now Davila has a new show pa on ANC, que horror!).  The manner in which Mama’s original words were used, while possibly for information dissemination, etc., BECAUSE it was done by ABS-CBN, was really also about PROFIT.  Linawin natin: in the academe, sige, a teacher might read 3 books and do a lecture for a class, even using the authors’ words without attribution, okay lang, walang kumita doon.   But on nationwide commercial and cable television?  Paulit-ulit pa nila ni-replay!  Where is the justice in not even mentioning the author?  Where is the justice in just meeting a plagiarism accusation with silence?

ABS-CBN should be ashamed and embarassed.  Nakakahiya sila.

sabi rin ni alex magno sa philippine star on MVP’s speech::

In the academe and among the literati, plagiarism is a cardinal offense. For professional writers, an instance of plagiarism is a career-ender.

Never mind libel cases. Among opinion writers, that is an occupational hazard — and sometimes a measure of valor. But plagiarism, that kills. It washes away the respect of peers and readers. One opinion writer, many years ago, drifted into purgatory after a hawk-eyed reader spotted plagiarized text in his column.

ah, but davila & ressa, ABS-CBN & ANC, are something else, playing by the rules only when it suits them, in effect lowering the bar for broadcast journalism hereabouts,  what a shame.

they should take the cue from MVP who cares about honor and principle, and doing the right thing, kahit gaano kasakit — mabuhay siya!  and good luck na rin sa kanyang ABC channel 5!


  1. who is your lawyer? adel tamano? i suggest that you open a twitter account and add maria ressa and karen davilla. i follow them and they both reply to questions, good or bad. you can message them the link to this article. good luck!

    p.s i know the writer who plagiarized you got fired. pero sana nga ina-update ka nga ni maria reysa.

  2. @ olive ;) no, not adel tamano. let him remain unnamed na lang. baka naman mayroong mitigating circumstances. have twitter acct but no interest in tweeting either davila or ressa. so the plagiarist was indeed fired? hmm.

  3. @olive: why would Angela add Karen and Ressa…to tweet them? HELLO! they should instead, at least tweet Angela and/or update her on the case.
    @angela: go girl! i am not a journalist but please continue upholding the sometimes forgotten and most of the time ignored standards of journalism.

  4. @blossom as i mentioned, the 2 replies to their followers. its already a given that maria and karen have no delicadeza. they don’t care about the plagiarism controversy anymore and has buried it along with their integrity. so, if angela is still interested in hearing from the 2, then she should be the one to initiate any form of contact. (ofcourse, in an ideal world, it should be the other way around) i honestly think they’re not giving this any thought anymore. (it has been 9 months) if you add them and send them this link, i’m sure they’ll respond.

    good luck, angela!

  5. UP n grad

    Maybe you can mention that the plagiarism will is roadblock to getting jobs overseas or with foreign media organizations; roadblock to getting accepted into overseas universities.

  6. I’ve reading bits of info about this on twitter. this is the first time I read the whole story. And I’m glad it’s first hand info.

    That’s sad, although I’m not surprised. If our local shows and movies copy from foreign movies, scripts and ideas, is it any wonder if they copy from books too?

    “playing by the rules only when it suits them” couldn’t have said it better.

    as for your lawyer, let’s see he comes back if ever he loses lol

  7. If MVP’s problem is grammar, he doesn’t need a ghost reader. A proofreader will suffice.

    As for Karen Davila. She’s a talking head, not a writer, and hardly a journalist. This accusation will not do much damage to her career.

  8. Suggest you get another lawyer. Better yet, report him to the IBP. There is something in the lawyer’s oath that requires due diligence in handling client cases. But perhaps it is that in this country, “shaming” doesn’t work; and if the one at fault does it to himself, it’s like an antidote. Still, my rudimentary Catechism has it that a priest cannot give himself absolution. But perhaps network executives are better than priests.

  9. buko nut & halo-halo

    I share your ill-feelings for being ignored as a legitimate victim of plagiarism by broadcast journalists and media practitioners whose career missions are to propagate truth with professional integrity. Thats why, I tip my hat to the heavy-weight MVP for his “manly” gesture of public apology to the Ateneo BOT. In this society where “delicadeza” has been erazed in the vocabulary of our political and elite leaders, MVP stands out a lost needle in the haystack of decency and moral integrity. Karen Davila and Maria Resa are respected names in the media industry and therefore, both should exhibit discernment to acknowledge redress of grievances on issues related to the ethics of journalism both areas in broadcast and print media. Perhaps, both Karen and Ms. Resa are buying time to keep the public forget their “lapses of judgement” thinking the passage of time will have less impact on their gross negligence to protect the image of ABS-CBN as a giant leader in the braodcast media.

  10. manuelbuencamino

    Huwag mong bitawan yan plagiarism case against Karen and Maria. Sloppy reporting and reporters have been given a free ride for too long.

    By the way Karen has no excuse for what she did. She presents herself to the public as a reporter and a journalist not a simple news reader so it is incumbent on her to check things out before mouthing them. And deadlines/I’m too busy is no excuse.

  11. What’s your exact complaint against Davila and ABS? How would your lawyer word it? Plagiarism? Is that purely a civil complaint? I’m curious. Does that include moral damages?

  12. Hi Angela. For what it’s worth, the Davila and Pangilinan events involve a distinction between ghostwriting and plagiarism. They have a defense called “innocent infringement,” if they were unaware that the plagiarism was committed by their hired hands (e.g., ghostwriters). But I believe the fact of publication is “out there,” and once they are made aware of the plagiarism by their servants, then the “innocence” defense disappears, and it becomes something that might be called “infringement by negligence,” which I believe can be covered by some kind of vicarious liability theory in torts.

    An apology would be good, but an infringement suit against the ghostwriters would be in order, and a tort suit for infringement by negligence may also work against the user of plagiarized but ghostwritten material. The correct behavior, on purely moral grounds, is to acknowledge the plagiarism of the hired hand, and to fire the hired hand. As one blog on a Harvard student case suggests, those who plagiarized should wear the label “T” for the rest of their lives. In short, they deserve to find another job, like stealing hubcaps, etc.

  13. […] Related weblogs Plagiarism, manny pangilinan, karen davila Karen davila investigates little congressmen : Karen davila investigates little […]

  14. plaigarizer

    Dear Angela,

    I never looked at Karen Davila the same way again after she plagiarized you. But it seems that the reason Karen Davila got away with it, because back then, Maria Ressa was her boss. Now I know why Maria Ressa condones plagiarism, she does it herself! Kaya naman pala malakas ang loob ni Davila mag plagiarize from you, because Maria Ressa also plagiarizes other people’s quotes and make it her own. Maria Ressa forgot MVP fiasco when he was found guilty of plagiarism when he didn’t attribute the authors. She’s doing the same with her latest commencement speech to FEU. Is this what CNN journalism taught her?

    Iniisip ba niya na walang nagbabasa sa Pilipinas and hindi siya mahuhuli? Sorry nalang siya, I’m in Human Resource, and I read Training books.

    Read on:

    7th Paragraph, Maria Ressa wrote:

    “Meaning is not something you stumble across nor what someone gives you. You build it through every choice you make, through the commitments you choose, the people you love, and the values you live by. “

    Plagiarized from (you choose, click on links) :

    The Training and Development Sourcebook (this is the book that I have, where I saw it from)
    edited by Craig Eric Schneier page 262.,+like+the+answer+to+a+riddle+or+the+prize+in+a+treasure+hunt.+Meaning+is+something+you+build+into+your+life.+You

    If you search the quote on Google, ang dami pala! Reading other examples, reminds you of the total gyst and message of her speech. Maria Ressa, what have you done?

    read the first comment, which quotes the book.

    “Meaning is not something you stumble across, like an answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of your experience of humankind as it is passed to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something.”

    “Meaning is not something you stumble across, like an answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of you affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can out them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure—as the world measures success or failure—is of less account.”
    —John W. Gardner, Living, Leading, and the American Dream

    I thought you should know of this. Kaya pala hindi ka na niya pinansin.