PCP Statement on accusation against Photojournalist Raffy Lerma


The Photojournalists’ Center of the Philippines raises concern over the false accusation lobbed against photojournalist Raffy Lerma for his photo “Lamentation” published at the Philippine Daily Inquirer on July 24, 2017.

The photo, which shows a woman cradling a victim killed by unidentified gunmen in Pasay City, was recently labelled by journalist Bobby Tiglao as “fakest fake news” last October 23 in his column in Manila Times.

The article incited negative reactions and hatred against credible media practitioners like Lerma.

Mr. Lerma on his recent statement clarified that he never implicated the Philippine National Police in the killing of Michael Siaron, and simply pointed out the increase in number of deaths, which he called “vigilante killings” allegedly linked to the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

PCP denounces the repeated attacks on media practitioners who have been fearlessly doing their duty and urge the public to be discerning with false information designed to tarnish the reputation of journalists.

PCP stands by its member Mr. Lerma, who has been a practicing photojournalist for over a decade and is known for following strict ethical standards in truthful, accurate and comprehensive reporting. PCP espouses among its members the Photojournalists’ Code of Ethics, one of which is to respect the integrity of a photographic moment and resist participation in staging photo opportunities.

Gigie Cruz-Sy
Photojournalists' Center of the Philippine

Mr. Raffy Lerma’s Statement on Mr. Tiglao’s Opinion piece
I have been following the news and the reactions on social media on Bobby Tiglao's Manila Times column tackling the latest development on the case of Michael Siaron. I am in New York now for a series of speaking engagements, and have been hearing all sorts of comments.

I never said Siaron's killing was perpetrated by police. But I did say that it was a "vigilante killing," one of the thousands of unexplained killings in the war on drugs. But whether or not he was killed by police or vigilantes, one thing is clear in our country's current scenario: the number of deaths under the war on drugs is overwhelming. And it does not help that our president promotes and encourages these killings.

As someone who claims to be a "seasoned journalist," I find it disappointing that Tiglao did not read, or perhaps did not understand my photo's caption.

For reference, here is my caption:
"Jennilyn Olayres holds her partner Michael Siaron, 30, a pedicab driver who was shot and killed by unidentified riding in tandem suspects along Pasay Rotonda, EDSA on July 23, 2016. A placard was left beside the victim's body which says, "Drug pusher ako, wag tularan" (I'm a drug pusher, do not copy me)."

And details not part of the caption, but published with the photo:
"Siaron was the third victim of extra judicial killing that night and by sunrise a total of six victims were reported in Metro Manila."

Thank you for getting my response. More power.
Best,Raffy Lerma

READ: Press Statement: On the integrity of news photos of victims of summary executions