MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Photographers complained on Saturday, March 4, that a website supporting President Rodrigo Duterte and attacking Vice President Leni Robredo stole and used their images without permission.
This website, named Collective, used photographer Francisco Guerrero's image as main photo for a March 3 article titled, "Deception: The Shocking Truth behind Leni and Jesse Robredo."
Guerrero's photo of Robredo had already been used as cover photo of Esquire magazine in its December 2016-January 2017 edition.
In a Facebook post, Guerrero said that the Collective is using his images, and those of his fellow photographers Edwin Tuyay and Jason Quibilan, "without permission."
"I have never been contacted (by) or associated with this group and would kindly request that the image be taken down," Guerrero said in a Facebook post that was also shared by Quibilan.
"Regardless of politics, this is simply theft, and bad writing," he added.
Tuyay also posted a message on his Facebook account about another photo used by Collective, this time of Duterte.
"To Pro and Anti Duterte groups, please stop using my pictures without my consent!" Tuyay said, with accompanying hashtags #PhotoTheft and #Kapal (the gall).
The Collective piece on the Robredos quoted anonymous sources, and was written by an anonymous author, to expose what they said is the Robredo couple's true identity.
In a separate Facebook post, Quibilan uploaded a screen shot of Duterte's photo on the Collective. The photographer said, "Hey 'COLLECTIVE,' stop using MY photographs, WITHOUT MY PERMISSION!!!" (emphasis his).
This comes as fake news sites abound online, using bits and pieces of journalists' work, including their photos, to create a sense of legitimacy and spread disinformation for the sake of politics. (READ: Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet)
On Saturday, detained Senator Leila de Lima also reacted to the article against the Robredo couple, telling its authors, "Enough of your lies! Enough of your evilness!"
While claiming that they "are unaffiliated" and that it is futile to identify them "with any political group or ideology," the Collective said on its "About Us" page: "Rodrigo Duterte may not be perfect but we know his heart is in the right place. That is why we support him. That is why we fight for him." – Rappler.com