Sensationalised photo of ‘extrajudicial killing’ victim splashed on Inquirer front page

The Inquirer is under fire from Netizens after their seemingly orchestrated sensationalisation of the alleged “extrajudicial killings” that have supposedly been sweeping the country. The Inquirer editors seem to be hinting at some kind of causal link between the month-old administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and the spate of “drug-related” homicides making headline news recently.

Get Real Post writer Hector Gamboa wrote earlier about the deceptive nature of the way photojournalism is used to influence public opinion by mass media. Referring to the now-famous photo of the body of suspected drug-pusher Michael Siaron being clutched by his grieving partner Jennelyn Olaires under what seems to be a spotlight, Gamboa writes…

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. The problem is, things are not always what they seem. While photojournalism is a useful tool to capture and record events, it can also be a powerful weapon to advance an agenda or an ideology. As people continue to get better access to information, I am hoping that more people will begin to exercise more critical thinking instead of easily succumbing to intellectual malleability from deceptive media and photojournalism.

The body of drive-by-shooting victim Michael Siaron being held by his partner Jennelyn Olaires.
The body of drive-by-shooting victim Michael Siaron being held by his partner Jennelyn Olaires.
This photo was splashed across the full width of the banner head of the Sunday edition of the Inquirer front page — the day before Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered Monday, the 25th of July.

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According to the headline report placed underneath the photo in big block letters, Church: Thou shall not kill, Siaron was “shot and killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen near Pasay Rotonda on Edsa.”

Since then, many have speculated on the questionable authenticity of the photo citing, among others, its exceptional quality and vividness and the spotlight that seemed to have conveniently bathed the subjects in a photogenic glow. But what is more interesting is how the timeframes don’t add up. If, indeed, Siaron was killed by motorcycle gunmen, why was his body seemingly allowed to remain sprawled on the pavement where he fell long enough for a police perimeter tape to be strung around him, for not a few photographers and what looks like a TV camera crew to show up, and for dozens of photos to be taken at the scene from various angles?

The fact that police had evidently already long been at the scene raises the question of why Siaron’s remains had lain there that long and why the cops seemingly stood back while “photojournalists” feasted on the scene. The composite image below summarises the many photos of the same scene taken from different angles with the cast of characters at different stages of coming to terms with Siaron’s untimely demise (photos courtesy The Daily Mail and ABS-CBN News).


There’s even one that seems to have been taken from a drone-mounted camera!


More to the point, what’s up with the Inquirer posting such a ghastly scene on its Sunday edition and going all biblical with its top headline? Was it to purposely cast a pall over the much-anticipated first SONA of the president? Perhaps. One can only speculate on the agenda of the Inquirer editor.