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MANILA, Philippines – Mark Joseph Solis, the University of the Philippines student who admitted to plagiarizing photos to win photo contests issued a letter of apology to Gregory John Smith on Sunday evening, September 22.
Smith is the owner of the photo “Neptune, King of the Sea” which Solis submitted to the Smiles for the World photo contest conceptualized by Chilean Ambassador to Manila Roberto Mayorga and his team.
Solis was awarded US$1,000 dollars and roundtrip tickets to Brazil and Chile as the top prize.
Mayorga earlier expressed his disappointment and said that Solis will be “eliminated” as the contest’s winner.
This is not the first time Solis attempted, and succeeded, to pass off photos he did not own.
In his apology letter shared exclusively with Rappler, Solis said he was driven by “youth, lack of experience, and the inability to see the repercussions of my actions.” He added that the prize money and the opportunity to travel abroad “blinded” him.
“It was a regrettable lapse on my judgment, and no words can express how sorry I am for taking your photo as mine.”
Solis also declared that he would surrender everything given to him from the competition and “take full responsibility for a disgraceful action and grave moral lapse.”
In an exclusive interview with Rappler, Solis said he wanted to take the “moral high ground by apologizing publicly.” He added that everything else he achieved in his life will go to waste because of the mistakes he made by entering the photo contests.
Solis is a political science alumnus of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. He is currently taking up his Masters in Public Administration at the National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG). He is a member of the UP Debate Society and has competed in debate competitions around Asia.
He was also a Japan Student Services Association exchange scholar at the Faculty of Law of the Kyushu University in Japan. He was also awarded by the International Debate Education Association a scholarship to Thailand and the Japan East Asia Network of Exchange for Youth Scholarship Student Ambassadorial grant to Japan in 2010.
EXCLUSIVE: Letter of Apology from Mark Solis
Solis is scheduled to meet with the contest’s organizers, including Ambassador Mayorga, on Monday. -Rappler.com
Photographer image via Shutterstock