Paula Defensor Knack on “vagueness” and the country’s image

There is a view by Paula Defensor Knack that Philippine law on plagiarism is “vague.”  This is from her comment on the remarks made by two foreign authors whose works were used without attribution in a Philippine Supreme Court decision.

I didn’t think the law was vague.  My understanding is that plagiarism is one form of copyright infringement because Philippine law defines infringement as violation of an author’s economic or moral rights.  One of the moral rights is that of credit for authorship, or the right to attribution.

It is also my understanding that Philippine law is silent on whether mens rea (or “criminal intent”) is something that a plaintiff has to prove in a civil action for damages arising from copyright infringement.

For now, the Supreme Court has pronounced that mens rea is an essential element of plagiarism.  My understanding is that this theory is founded on plagiarism being a form of intellectual dishonesty or theft, and it therefore follows naturally that mens rea must be “somewhere in there” before one can be pronounced guilty of plagiarism.  Such a view seems properly within the pro reo principle of giving the accused the benefit of doubt.

But what is interesting is the vehemence by which Knack pursues a kind of PR theme that it is somehow improper for Filipinos to speak their minds on the matter because it would disrespect the Supreme Court or damage the image of the Philippines.  Knack does this to the extent of extensive ad hominem attacks on others who disagree with her.  One example is the following (from many comments by Knack on the thread):

“… after the way you have behaved, hiding behind a pseduonym, you want US to argue with you ????????   You have forfeited so many chances, and all I was asking is that you reveal your identity so we can face each other  personally if you want to argue. But dont drag the image of the entire country into your mess.”

I believe the Supreme Court as an institution deserves respect and support, but it is fair comment to engage in public discussion of the propriety of the acts of individual Justices, or even the wisdom of Court decisions.  That is democracy at work.

After thinking about it long enough, I believe it is people like Knack who cheapen the image of the country not because she defends the indefensible (which may or may not be the case) but because she “cheapens” the discussion that she herself started.

The plagiarism case is only one of the many things we suffer in this benighted country, and of course it is not the most consequential. But do we have to suffer Knack as well?

The answer is Yes, because like the rest of us, Knack has the constitutional guarantee of free expression.


7 thoughts on “Paula Defensor Knack on “vagueness” and the country’s image

  1. Just for your readers…. I have accepted the apology of Mr. Roncesvalles on this matter in a separate post and the contempt order was actually issued by the Court against the respondents.


    1. I have no idea, Ms. Knack, what you are now talking about.. But let it be.. I simply don’t want you to go all over the place calling me a lap dog or saying I apologized to you (for what, exactly, I can’t remember).. But of course, these are not statements against interest, and therefore not usable as evidence. Again, let it be.. That’s a nice song by Paul (or John) – I can’t remember..


  2. Is Paula Knack the same as the Paula Defensor Knack who goes around town bragging about her qualifications that are actually not true? She claims to be an expert on human rights but she knows zilch about the subject matter. She claims to be a lecturer in various institutions but this misleading. Here are samples of statements she made on line (All grammatical errors are hers, by the way):
    (To male lawyer X): And I wonder if you both came from Michigan, how come she’s here with a doctorate and you dont ? And you only have 1 masters degree while those without doctorates here have at least 2. Speak for yourself and promote your finishing school somewhere. We are lawyers, we dont care about finishing schools. Its not a ticket to The Hague, where the world’s best are. Come to think of it, I haven ever heard of you around here at The Hague as an expert in anythiing. Have you lectured here ? Would you like to sit in one of mine ?HAVE A NICE DAY.

    (To male lawyer XX): I have never heard of you. Youre a waste of time. Goodbye.

    (To me): GEez, an employee of the notorious GEorge Soros who capitalizes on the miseries of poor economies. A graduate of Central European Univeristy (wheres that ?!) working for George Soros ! yuck ! Come to a lecture of Grotius Center on Intl. Legal Studies or The Hague Academy of Intl. Law or the Supranational Criminal Law SEries and YOU WILL KNOW WHERE I WORK…..I will call on you to recite on international law. Fix your hair !Lets see what CEU taught you. GEt ready with your international law. Am Fellow at the ICC about to be transferred to Chambers, isa lang masters degree mo ? CEU PA ? I lecture at The Hague Academy of Intl. Law, at the Grotius Intl. Center for Legal Studies and the Supranational Crimnal Law Lecture Series. I lecture on war and post-conflict issues. Ikaw, ano ka ? rank and file waah !

    She is totally nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

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