UP to investigate photo plagiarism case

(UPDATED) The UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) will investigate Mark Joseph Solis for violation of the student code

MORE EVIDENCE. Photos show that Mark Joseph Solis entered various competition with plagiarized photos. Graphic by Mara Mercado/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) created a fact-finding committee on Monday, September 23, to look into a plagiarism case involving one of its graduate students. 

NCPAG Dean Fe Mendoza released a memo on Monday creating the committee to investigate Mark Joseph Solis, who admitted on Sunday that he plagiarized a photo from a Brazilian photographer to join a photo contest. 

The photo of a boy with seaweed on his head won the first prize. Solis was awarded $1,000 and roundtrip tickets to Brazil and Chile. 

READUP student plagiarizes prize winning photo

But netizens who did some sleuthing discovered that Solis’ entry was a copy of a photo owned by Gregory John Smith, founder of the NGO Children at Risk. 

Solis issued a public apology to Smith on Sunday evening. 

READUP student apologizes for plagiarized photo

On Monday, the organizers of the “Smiles for the World” photo competition rescinded Solis’ award for failing to “live with integrity and uphold the values of the Filipino people.” 

Solis has met with the organizers of the contest but declined to comment.

READ: Chilean embassy revokes prize

Liable under student code

According to Mendoza, Solis’ plagiarism case is liable under the university’s student code, and therefore, warrants legal action on the part of the College. 

Mendoza cited the university’s Faculty Manual, under the section of student conduct and discipline, which states that “students shall at all times observe the laws of the land and the rules and regulations of the University.  No disciplinary proceedings shall be instituted except for conduct prohibited by law or by the rules and regulations promulgated by duly constituted authority of the university.”  

NCPAG memo on Solis case

The fact-finding committee created by Mendoza is composed of two professors, a graduate representative and the NCPAG student council.  They are equested to report their findings on October 4, 2013.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation and the recommendations of the said committee, the Dean said she might convene a college investigation committee (CIC).  

Once convened, an official complaint may be filed against Solis who will be provided legal counsel. 

Solis is currently in his first year of graduate studies in UP-NCPAG. He also graduated cum laude and finished his bachelor’s degree from the political science department of the state university.


Mendoza expressed her dismay over the plagiarism case. 

Nakakalungkot kasi parang promising `yong bata. Bakit pa kailangan gawin `yon?” Mendoza said. (It’s saddening because he is such a promising kid. Why did he have to do that?)

Mendoza said she first met Solis in Korea where he was an exchange student. 

A UP student organization called Initiative for Genuine Involvement, Transparency and Empowerment – NCPAG released a statement calling for “accountability from all the sectors of the society – even the student body.”

The organization hopes that due process will be followed and that the offender, if proven guilty, will be sanctioned by school authorities.

Other cases

The slideshow shows the photographs that Solis passed off as his own, side by side with their original versions. 

 with a report by Carol Ramoran/ Rappler.com