Krip Yuson: A portrait of the Filipino as a plagiarist
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Krip Yuson: A portrait of the Filipino as a plagiarist

Krip Yuson is one of the most talented writers in the Philippines. He is viewed by many as a literary giant. He is known, however, not just for his writing but also for this air that you detect often in writers who think they’ve done it all. I wouldn’t call it arrogance. Haughtiness perhaps?

So it was that I read the news recently (thanks to firequinito.com), with a tinge of delight, that Prik, err Krip, plagiarized the story of  Rey Joble over at GMA News Online, the news site of TV giant GMA where Yuson also works as editor-at-large. Delight because I know that smart-asses always have a weak spot and schadenfreude is one of my favorite sports.

Yuson has since admitted to committing the deed, issuing an apology that was designed more to control the damage to his reputation and career rather than a sincere act of contrition. As this post elegantly points out (so elegant that I thought Yuson himself wrote it):

…while it borrows the manners of an apology, it does not bear the marks of true contrition. It is, at absolute best, a specimen of offensive—and admittedly, eloquent—victimage. Not only does Yuson resort to flippant, melodramatic, and self-deprecating rhetoric that is calculated to minimize his personal accountability and preempt further criticism, but also he insults the intelligence of his readers by flinging a distinctly noxious red herring into their faces: the concept of editor as co-author, which, though not without merit in and of itself, completely and utterly fails in this situation to explain why Yuson did not credit Joble in the magazine article at all.

Radikal Chick, in this post, ponders on a repercussion of Yuson’s plagiarism and excuses for it:

I’m not saying I’ve never been pressured by a deadline; I’m saying that the pressure is part of this enterprise of writing, deadlines are necessary in this creative life (and I use creativity loosely here, or as broadly as possible).  it was most disheartening to read Yuson invoking deadlines as an excuse for plagiarism, for now any student can say: maam, ang dami kong ibang deadline eh, i was forced to copy and paste na lang from the internet. i agree naman with this site’s opinions eh.

imagine the repercussions for creative writing classes.

What I find offensive in this whole thing is the lack of sanction against Yuson by his employers or by whoever he gets his livelihood from, mainly GMA News Online, which is ran by Howie Severino, a respected journalist.

Plagiarism, to me at least, is the worst sin a writer or journalist can commit. It should be a firing offense. But we haven’t heard of any sanction against Yuson. Last I checked, he is still listed as editor-at-large at gmanews.tv.

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By not sanctioning him, is GMA News Online saying that plagiarism is okay as long as you “apologize” for it? If Yuson is not disciplined by Severino, I will never read a story by his website the same way again, mindful that the poor souls who run it might be overworked, on tight deadlines, old and jaded, and have a sense of entitlement to every word they put in a reporter’s story.

Then again, the Philippines is a nation of plagiarists who tend to get away with their crime. Every once in a while, we hear news about columnist or journalist who cribbed the words of others. One of the more recent accusations involves a lifestyle columnist of the Philippine Star, Mayenne Carmona, who was accused of “indicative plagiarism.”

I don’t think Carmona was sanctioned for this as her column still appears, most recently writing about summer exercises to show off those abs.

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If it’s any consolation, however, the first thing that pops on Google when you search “Mayenne Carmona” is this plagiarism issue against her.

Then there’s the case of Supreme Court justice Mariano del Castillo, who plagiarized whole sections of other individuals’ work for a ruling that he supposedly wrote. Instead of disciplining him, his peers at the High Court let the sin slide.

Again, without sanctions, a plagiarism offense will erode the credibility of the press. It would do well for GMA News Online to help ensure that its reputation remains intact and that it is serious about taking action against an egregious offense like intellectual theft.

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