21 Nov2011

My post last Friday received a comment from Atty Kaw from the DOT, please read it here, and I also received emails and texts from Atty Kaw regarding the matter raised in posts almost three weeks ago. Frankly, there are few answers to the questions I asked, so rather than building up a post to my conclusion, let me start with my conclusion and ask any of the stakeholders in this discussion to correct me if I am wrong:

MARKETMAN’S CONCLUSIONS:

1. WAS MY ARTICLE PLAGIARIZED BY “TRINADELRO”? ABSOLUTELY YES!

This article, that was apparently used as a “test page” while testing the new DOT website in 2008, was, in my opinion, CLEARLY PLAGIARIZED from an earlier Marketmanila.com post, first published on 20 June 2006. The article copies verbatim from my earlier article (rankings, words, phrases, sentences, punctuation, etc.), and it even mentions “Marketman” as it does in the original post! I did the background survey necessary, and my assistant tallied the thousands of reader votes to arrive at the top 10 dishes. “Trinadelro” DID NOT SEEK MY PERMISSION, DID NOT MENTION THE SOURCE OF THE ARTICLE, NOR DID SHE LINK BACK TO THE ORIGINAL SOURCE. So yes, it was, in my opinion CLEARLY AND SHAMELESSLY PLAGIARIZED. And I might add, “trinadelro” also used photos from other websites in her article, and it is not clear if she had permission or proper attribution for those, either. So she/he may have PLAGIARIZED from several sources. SHE IS A PLAGIARIST AND SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR HER ACTIONS.

Note that no one at the DOT, not Atty Kaw, not the Secretary, not the TECHNOLOGY department, not INDRA, nor anyone else has even attempted to dispute that the article in question was copied from Marketmanila.com.

2. WHO IS TRINADELRO? THE DOT AND THEIR CONSULTANTS OR OUTSIDE SUPPLIER, INDRA, ARE UNABLE TO IDENTIFY HER. BLOODY ABSURD. INCREDULOUS.

I completely believe Atty. Kaw’s assertions that “trinadelro” is not and never has been a DOT employee. Yes, I buy that explanation. It is probably more plausible that she was hired by Indra, or its former incarnation, while the DOT website was being developed. However, in Atty Kaw’s response, this was the partial explanation for “trinadelro” from a communication from INDRA (their outside tech supplier), and I quote:

“The article in question was used by our development team as part of format testing of the DOT website. It was picked up as a sample article from the internet. Assuming that the article was in order, our development team in fact followed proper attribution by recognizing the article’s purported author as “trinadelro.” The team was unaware that the article had apparently been plagiarized from Marketman’s article.”

If that isn’t the most ridiculous excuse of an excuse, I don’t know what is. First of all, if the developers were professional, why would they so blithely “pick up as a sample article” something already on the internet on another site? Haven’t they heard of lorem ipsum or some other latin jibberish rather than risking copying someone else’s work for their “format testing”? And even if they did just decide to pick up an article, then why didn’t they cite the source? What was the website or blog that it came from? Why didn’t they email the author for permission to use it? Why don’t they provide a copy of that email, if they kept proper documentation? And worse, the net is a pretty transparent place… for some reason, today and when I wrote my post two weeks ago, THERE WAS NO OTHER REFERENCE TO THE “trinadelro” article on GOOGLE or other top search engines, only on the DOT server. Somehow, it’s “original source” mysteriously vanished. ABSURD.

So Indra hopes to end the trail for the author right here. They claim they never employed a “trinadelro” thereby ADMITTING FULLY that they used someone else’s article. They claim they just “picked it up from the internet as a sample article” and yet have provided NO CREDIBLE EXPLANATION as to WHERE they picked it up from, nor from whom, nor provided a website address, or any other proof that they indeed found it on the net at another source other than marketmanila.com. Even if you bought this absurd explanation, then WHO WAS THE PERSON EMPLOYED BY INDRA or its predecessor who was responsible for “picking it up from the net?” Who was the person in charge of the DOT project, who were the people under his/her command? At or around the time the article was picked up? If they were serious about resolving these questions, I am sure it wouldn’t have been so difficult.

Frankly, this is a DISGRACE, and if I were a person checking credentials of INDRA as a service provider, I would wonder what kind of ethical standards they apply to their work if they can’t even identify a person or source whose work they so blithely copied for a paid government contract. Nor am I discounting the fact, that it is possible still that someone from the DOT or INDRA just hastily made up the page, cutting and pasting from the internet, and hastily making up the name “trinadelro”.

But it gets better. In the same response letter from Atty. Kaw, earlier in the response he says the following, and I quote:

“Based on the report from our Information Technology Division (ITD), the said article, feature and webpage suggested and provided by Indra during the preparation and initial runs for the new design of the DOT’s website. Upon turnover of the website to DOT for its review, DOT deemed it necessary and prudent to delete the supposed article of “trinadelro,” along with other articles, precisely because some of the articles that were suggested or provided did not have proper or complete attribution or citation of sources.”

Hah! So on the one hand Atty. Kaw relays Indra’s explanation “that our development team in fact followed proper attribution by recognizing the article’s purported author as “trinadelro.” But earlier in his same letter, explains that the “DOT deemed it necessary and prudent to delete the supposed article by “tinadelro”…precisely because some of the articles…. did not have proper or complete attribution or citation of sources.” So, if the DOT already knew the articles were questionable three years ago, why didn’t they ask their supplier, Indra, to simply indicate the proper source of the articles??? And if the DOT team knew the articles were questionable, then why DIDN’T they completely EXPUNGE all traces of them from their own servers, leaving searchable copies up for more than two years?

In my opinion, INDRA (Soluziona previously) needs to explain things more clearly. Who did they copy their sample article from? And which employee of INDRA did the copying of the said article for the DOT test website. Otherwise, it would seem that INDRA is at FAULT as it is THEY who admittedly COPIED the article without sufficient attribution, and who CAUSED it to be published on the net for all the world to see.

Atty Kaw’s letter says “we shall continue our efforts on helping you find out the real identity of this “trinadelro” and/or locating him or her.” If that is a genuine statement, then Atty Kaw will revert to INDRA after this post to insist that they disclose where that article was copied from or “picked up” from the net.

3. WHY WAS THE PLAGIARIZED PIECE STILL AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC VIEW TWO WEEKS AGO? Because either INDRA or the DOT technology staff carelessly published “test pages” of dubious quality, then felt they were dubious, so they apparently “promptly deleted them” but didn’t know how to do that properly.

The first mistake was using test pages with real material on them. And “real material” of dubious provenance. It was unprofessional, risky, irresponsible, and basically, stupid. The second mistake was publishing test pages that were viewable by the public. I am not a techy, but even for my own site, I know that the test pages were NOT viewable by the public, and were deleted completely before I finally approved and commenced this blog. So the second error, techies correct me if I am wrong, was again unprofessional, risky, irresponsible, and a basically, stupid. When DOT folks realized the pages that were used and published were dubious, they claimed to have “promptly deleted” the pages. But actually, they did not FULLY DELETE the pages as they remained on the DOT server and were available through search engines such as GOOGLE for another two years. Was it impossible to completely expunge the test pages from the server? Absolutely not. Just 24 hours after I wrote my post on November 2 about the alleged plagiarism, the DOT technology department managed to completely remove the page from their server. So the answer is, it was a mistake to use test pages with real material of dubious quality, and when it was “promptly deleted” it was in fact NOT COMPLETELY DELETED and in my opinion, the DOT Technolody staff carelessly and negligently forgot to completely clear the pages from their server.

4. “HINDI KAMI NAGPE-PLAGIARIZE…” Umm, not so fast there, Mr. Garduque…

While I am prepared to agree that in this particular case of copying my post, the plaigarist may NOT have been an employee of the DOT (and I never said they were), and possibly not an employee or contractor of INDRA (or so they claim), I still assert that the DOT website did in fact publish for public view a by now clearly plagiarized article. They may claim no knowledge of the plagiarism at the time, but they certainly claim to have been concerned about the lack of attribution soon after the articles were published, but did nothing to correct the situation other than to partially delete the offending article(s).

However, a quick perusal of the DOT website brings up numerous questionable facts, figures and paragraphs that do not appear to be written internally nor sourced internally. I have raised this concern with Atty. Kaw in subsequent text communications and understand that there are plans afoot to upgrade the website, but I would go further and say if they wish to follow the lead and memo of their Secretary, they should immediately take down any parts of the website that may or may not be improperly attributed or written by other parties that are not given credit.

I get on a day-long flight as write this to a close, otherwise, I would show several examples of snippets from the DOT website that would be of concern to me if I were worried about plagiarism and categorically stating that they don’t do that sort of thing. But no need to drag this out further. I have answered my own questions since no one else wanted to do so clearly.

What is deplorable about this incident is the lack of command responsibility. It is the inability to recognize when something was indeed wrong, own up to it, and correct it quickly. I know Secretary Jimenez and Atty Kaw are new to the department, and this happened on their predecessors watch. But they lead the department now. And note how even Indra is unable to own up, to make a wrong right, and they perhaps simply hope this will go away, forgotten as another little inconsequential blip in cyberspace. There is such a SCREAMING LACK OF INTEGRITY in the manner in which people comport themselves. And pointing the finger at a distant indescribable and unnamable blur is par for the course. I appreciate the DOT’s efforts to respond to this issue, but I do not consider it adequately resolved, and I particularly view INDRA’S response to the issue to be lame and totally inadequate. I suspect many readers of this blog would agree.

I have invited Atty. Kaw and the Secretary of the DOT to dinner on the outdoor terrace to dine on Zubuchon al fresco the next time they find themselves in Cebu. Hopefully, by then I will have figured out who “trinadelro” is, unless she is just a figment of INDRA’s and the DOT’s imagination.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. cwid says:

    Somebody’s nose is growing longer…if DOT had just admitted their mistake and had apologized instead of covering up a lie with another lie, this fiasco would have been a closed book a long time ago.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 6:51 am

     
  2. Dragon (Melbourne) says:

    I had posted this on the previous thread but I figured sharing it on this particular edition wouldn’t hurt either…

    Hi MM – more than 15 years since my last ‘contact’ with Philippine government officials and I have to say, sadly, not a thing has changed.

    Nobody still takes responsibility/accountability. (Even if the job is outsourced, the one who researched and/or approved the subcontractor is accountable for the result and performance of the person/project.) No proper apologies.

    It is great that you are magnanimous in showcasing Zubuchon, which is reflective of Filipino hospitality and our culture but at the end of the day, business is business. Time equates to money and lost time equates to lost income (directly or indirectly).

    With initial exposure on AB’s NR, further publicity not just in the last months but in the forthcoming months, I suggest that a 2-3 hour window in the afternoon (1 or 2 days a week) be allocated for ‘tour/promotional’ visits (without meals).

    BTW, one of your Dragon traits is showing…relentless and will not give up until satisfied…;-)

    Nov 21, 2011 | 7:40 am

     
  3. kai says:

    MarketMan, can you be my lawyer? :)

    Nov 21, 2011 | 8:17 am

     
  4. pits, manila says:

    i don’t think TRINADELRO will ever come out in the open …
    it’s too embarrassing already. for her and DOT.
    if one chooses to use another’s work, it should be acknowledged. anything lifted from somebody else’s work should be recognized.
    PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 8:42 am

     
  5. ami says:

    I laughed out loud when the lawyer said “It was picked up as a sample article from the internet” in the other post. So wrong.
    I’m surprised that Indra was formerly Soluziona as I know some people who have worked there. Tsk tsk, if word gets out about their sloppy work then they will be the laughing stock of the IT industry.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 8:43 am

     
  6. hiddendragon says:

    We whine and complain about government incompetence yet when a battle rages such as this, we say ‘hayaan mo na.’ At least MM does the fighting for us, and the general public can only thank him for this.

    Enough of the high and mighty getting away with it. Moral and ethical considerations are unfortunately not enough for everyone to toe the line; the threat of shame, punishment and ridicule takes care of that. (pero parang ‘di na umuubra sa mga opisyal, unfortunately).

    Nov 21, 2011 | 8:53 am

     
  7. EKO says:

    This might be beside the point, but my gut feeling is this is the infamous trinadelro
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Found her FB page as well, but I couldn’t post it, as she used a child’s picture as profile pic.

    EKO-Sorry, I deleted the link as I do not want to implicate anyone if it isn’t the person involved… that wouldn’t be fair. But I have seen the sample pieces of that writer and well, folks need to read them for themselves if interested… :(

    Nov 21, 2011 | 9:05 am

     
  8. Zerho says:

    The reply from the DOT officials were a total letdown. It’s a blatant “hugas kamay” move on their part. In our company if something wrong happened due to our departments mistake, we give full disclosure and fix the mistake immedietly. Making elaborate cover-ups and pointing fingers just prolongs the problem and enlarges the issue.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 9:53 am

     
  9. millet says:

    i agree with all your points, MM! am tired of all the hand-washing and “palusot” in our society.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 10:16 am

     
  10. titabuds says:

    I couldn’t help it, MM, but I googled ‘trinadelro’, haha. There’s someone with that moniker who offers her writing and data entry services online at scriptlance. I wonder if she’s the one.

    I blog, too. Nowhere near being in your league, of course, but when I write, I work at it, too. Last year, I published a post about an event here in Manila. Weeks later, an article on the same event written by a society columnist was published in a broadsheet. I don’t read society columns and it was a friend who reads my blog who called my attention to how weirdly similar it was to my post. It was not a word-for-word copy (more like paragraph by paragraph) but when I and our other friends read it, we KNEW the columnist had done his/her ‘research’ over the internet and his/her primary (probably only) source of info (and outline!) was my little-known post. My friends urged me to call him/her out to it, but I chickened out. (He/she is too sosyal and too connected they could have laughed at my face and said ‘who you?’) It made me cringe for weeks.

    To the one who said that this topic is getting old, wait until your writing or your photography or whatever is copied. THEN we can talk. Plagiarism goes way deeper than just the need to be credited for one’s work and you cannot wave it away by issuing a lame memo. So THANK YOU, MM. I am so glad someone of your caliber is doing this for the rest of us.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 11:36 am

     
  11. Jose says:

    “The first mistake was using test pages with real material on them. And “real material” of dubious provenance. It was unprofessional, risky, irresponsible, and basically, stupid.”

    I agree with you here. In my work as an IT solutions consultant, it is best practice to make sure not to leave any trace of your tests once you go live regardless of the implemetation methodology used.

    If they wanted their test page to be yummy, they should have used Bacon Ipsum (http://baconipsum.com) instead. :)

    Nov 21, 2011 | 12:24 pm

     
  12. bisdakRN says:

    Why can’t they just admit that they made a mistake? I guess they have too much pride to do that. PRIDE: one of the 7 deadly sins.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 1:38 pm

     
  13. Joey in Dubai says:

    I’m not sure why the DOT wants to trivialize the act of plagiarism by insisting that the article was just a “test” page and it was done by somebody not affiliated with DOT. Would that wash away the sin of plagiarism? Alas, Atty Kaw and that certain Mr. Garduque are no professional spinmeisters, but it could have done them well if they could have just issued an apology for the unfortunate transgression (test page or not).

    Nov 21, 2011 | 2:39 pm

     
  14. Papa Ethan says:

    Jose: your bacon ipsum got me giggling! Ang galing! In graphic design we use a standard block of false text that is meant to simulate the average distribution of words, characters, and spacing in English. Lorem ipsum is pure typesetting gibberish that doen’s contain any real
    word, but your bacon ipsum makes for fun reading. Thanks for the tip!

    Nov 21, 2011 | 3:27 pm

     
  15. elit says:

    i’m guessing “trinaldero” didn’t really exist. it was just used as an alias or something during the format testing. maybe he or she who did that testing and used that alias is still connected with the company.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 5:39 pm

     
  16. Vanessa says:

    ‘What is deplorable about this incident is the lack of command responsibility. It is the inability to recognize when something was indeed wrong, own up to it, and correct it quickly. I know Secretary Jimenez and Atty Kaw are new to the department, and this happened on their predecessors watch. But they lead the department now.’

    I could not agree with you more. Seriously, DOT officials, man up.

    Nov 21, 2011 | 10:44 pm

     
  17. mabuhay says:

    dear marketman,

    1) I am an avid reader of your blog.

    2) Plagiarism is wrong.

    3) Is an apology from the website administrator not enough? kelangan pa bang DOT secretary at attorney kumaasap sayo to please you?

    Nov 22, 2011 | 12:02 am

     
  18. Marketman says:

    mabuhay, I think the identification of trinadelro, or the identification of the source from which INDRA picked up the page is the most important issue right now. If trinadelro is a person, then her/his apology is necessary and appropriate. Besides, the apology proferred was most definitely NOT from the website administrator but from Atty Kaw. And notably, no one acknowledged that plagiarism actually occurred, which it most definitely did. Apologies are useful, but more important is that people understand what was wrong about the situation. If people don’t “own up” then all the apologies in the world ring hollow.

    Take a cue from the MVP case; his assistants plagiarized, MVP took the issue by the horns, apologized, took responsibility and resigned from Board of Ateneo. End of story. Does anyone believe MVP did the plagiarism himself? Of course not, but he acknowledged the error AND took full responsibility. It’s something that our private and public officials seem to avoid doing more and more.

    Nov 22, 2011 | 12:14 am

     
  19. rita says:

    OMG! did these people even go to school? at all? how uneducated and shameful of them to do such! could they go any lower than that?

    Nov 22, 2011 | 2:57 am

     
  20. sur says:

    [brushing up from my columbia law classes ;-) …+ suspecting that contracts works similarly as your common law] it’s irresponsible and a tenuous position for kaw to assert that trinaldero to have never been employed by anyone. responsibility can be readily gleaned and is clear as day; trinaldero is really an irrelevant/peripheral smokescreen. the contractual structure of the parties gives us DOT hiring Indra. consultant provide webpage development services in return. absent of a hacking [probable but this was never presented as an alibi], all deliverables [web pages published] are the responsibility of the consultant. [even if said consultant hired a sub, the prime contractor remains the party responsible]. simple.

    the resolution should be this: DOT demands an acknowledgement of responsibility from consultant and an apology to MM.

    Nov 22, 2011 | 3:50 am

     
  21. lynn says:

    The nom de plume sounds like a conjugation of a full name. So, the identity is right there in plain sight. ??? Perhaps. Plagiarism is one of the first real world lessons they teach in school.

    Nov 22, 2011 | 6:02 am

     
  22. marilen says:

    MM, they (DOT) would like to just sweep this under the rug – ‘they’ (goes likewise for all manner of blunder, fraud, mayhem caused by corporations, banks, airlines at iba iba pa) hope this will just blow over. A pox on plagiarists!!

    Nov 22, 2011 | 8:23 am

     
  23. MP says:

    Zerho, i echo your sentiments… letdown indeed. And to think I had high hopes for the DOT when Jimenez took the job…

    Nov 22, 2011 | 8:04 pm

     
  24. James says:

    MM, in his previous comments, is correct. The DOT needs to worry more about the Philippines not being the most wonderful of tourist donations.

    Taxis drivers operating around the airports used to nearly openly use two different sets of rate sheets. One official rate sheet in pesos, one un-official one in dollars. The dollar-based rate sheet is much, much more expensive.

    There are still places that charge one price for locals, one price for foreigners. Quite openly.

    Here is a typical conversation between me (a short, fat, white Americano living in Tacloban, Leyte) getting the fare to go from my Makati hotel to NAIA 2 (PAL airport terminal) to go home to Tacloban:

    ME: Mag-kano sa airpot?

    Driver: 500 pesos, sir. Special rate!

    ME: (thinking) yeah, special for you
    ME: Talaga?

    Driver: Yes, sir.

    ME: Grabe! Mahal! (expensive!)

    Driver: OK, sir, 400.

    ME: Sunud! (next, meaning, next taxi)

    Driver: Sir, sir, wait sir. How much?

    ME: Dos cientos (200)

    Driver: OK, sir.

    Only once have I had a taxi use the meter, as is required by law. The rest want to negotiate the rate.

    There are some gorgeous things to see here. The trouble is getting to them is nearly impossible. What is listed as a 5-star hotel here is usually, at best, a 3-star hotel elsewhere. Roads are atrocious. Cell coverage is spotty. And, if you’re white, everyone will be looking to get extra money from you … starting from the hordes of children begging at the provincial airports.

    Why do I stay? My wife’s family is here and I love it here. I have a lot of friends here (damo it akun pinoy nga barkada).

    But, as a tourist, be careful. Many of the vendors here seem to think that white skin means extra income. Here’s another sample conversation I had at the local market (mercado) last week.

    ME (holding a onion): Lola, tag-pera it kilo ini? (grandmother, how much per kilo of this?)

    Older Vendor: 100, sir

    ME: Talaga, lola? (Really, grandmother? It’s polite to refer to someone this way, as she was much older than me)

    Older Vendor: Yes, sir. 100 per kilo.

    ME: Sige, salamat po. (OK, (polite) thank you)

    I move to the next vendor … younger than I am

    ME: Dai, tag pera it kilo ini? (girl, how much is this per kilo?)

    Younger Vendor: Quarenta, sir. (40, sir)

    ME: Papalita ako ma-duha ka kilo. (I’ll buy two kilos)

    Younger Vendor: Sige, sir (OK, sir)

    Older Vendor: Sorry, sir. 40, sir. Sorry!

    ME (to the older vendor): Pasencia. Sunud nala, lola. (sorry, next time, grandmother)

    If you are a Philippine vendor, please pay attention to this: when a kano (white foreigner, short for Amerikano) comes to your stand, has a dark tan, and asks you questions entirely in your local dialect … they are local and know the right price already.

    Keep up the good fight, MM!

    Dec 24, 2011 | 11:09 am

     
  25. mayk says:

    DOT did it again when will they ever learn?
    Just saw it on Jessica Soho.
    Using George Tapan’s picture without his permission…
    It couldn’t get any more fun in the Philippines…

    How funny that these happens during the watch of current secretary
    As if Marketman’s issue never happen.
    To think that this issue of plagiarism happens during their brainstorming of ItsMoreFunInthePhilipines campaign…
    Tsk Tsk…

    Jan 16, 2012 | 1:28 pm

     
 

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