DOH looking into plagiarism allegations

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, December 11, said it is still waiting for its “partners” to respond to allegations that the music of their latest infomercial on teenage pregnancy was plagiarized from a Korean pop song.

"Hindi kasi kami yan e. Hinihintay namin, sinabihan namin sila to act on this. May mga partners kaming gumawa nito and they will be coming out with a statement; hintayin natin na sila lumabas,” Health Spokesperson Lyndon Lee Suy said after a press briefing Thursday.

(It's not us. We're still waiting, and we already told our partners to act on this. We have partners who made this and they will be coming out with a statement; let's wait for them to come out with one.)

Lee Suy did not name their “partners,” but referred to the group as professionals who provided assistance to DOH.

“We've been working with them closely noon pa, and they would know kung meron man silang nalalagpasan na boundaries or what,” he added. (READ: Beyond Gaga Girl: Government PSAs available on social media)

(We've been working with them closely even before, and they would know if they crossed some boundaries.)

The statement comes after Korean record label SM Entertainment on Monday, December 8 accused DOH of plagiarizing “Rum Pum Pum Pum,” one of the songs of popular Korean group f(x).

A representative from SM Entertainment – the same agency of K-Pop groups Super Junior and Girls’ Generation – said they already started taking action on the issue, but Lee Suy said they have yet to receive official word from the record label.

“We're already acting on things na wala namang official [correspondence]. Just the same, regardless whether official na or hindi, sinound-off na rin namin sa mga concerned groups to address this concern,” he explained.

(We're already acting on things even without official correspondence. Just the same, regardless whether official or not, we already sounded this off to concerned groups to address this concern.)

Netizens were the first to point out the similarities of the DOH infomercial to the f(x) song. It was also criticized for its negative take on teenage pregnancy. (READ: Netizens decry DOH anti-pregnancy video)

DOH 'sensitive' to negative reactions

Criticisms aside, Lee Suy said the campaign went through a process, including pre-testing and focus group discussions that examined reactions from the target population.

On the song’s use of the words “gaga” and “bobo” (stupid) to refer to teenagers who engage in premarital sex, he said a certain age group does use these words in their everyday conversations.

Alam naman natin diba a certain age group, ang tawagan naman talaga nila, although it may sound offensive pero ganun tawagan nila,” he explained. 

(We know for a fact that within a certain age group, they really address each other with these words, although it may sound offensive.)

"But just the same, we were able to get quite a number of reactions na mukhang 'di naman pumasa sa panlasa ng nakararami, lalo sa ating elderlies, sa mga parents, [so] we decided to pull it out – meaning, sensitive din naman kami sa mga reaksyon,” Lee Suy added.

(But just the same, we were able to get quite a number of reactions that the majority did not like the song, especially among elderlies and parents, so we decided to pull it out – meaning, we're also sensitive to reactions.)

The 3-minute infomercial was first posted on the department’s Facebook page on November 30 and was taken down in less than 24 hours. Copies of it, however, are still circulating online.

The National Youth Commission earlier asked the DOH to permanently remove the video from official platforms as its core messages "reinforce stigma, discrimination and sex negative attitudes among the youth and society in general." – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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