Inquirer’s photo of Demetrio Vicente – tasteless and unethical

Have you seen the photo of Mr. Demertio Vicente in the front page of Philippine Daily Inquirer today? Here’s the soft copy of their page one. Mr. Vicente, 70, was the third witness presented by the defense panel in the ongoing impeachment trial against Chief Justice Renato Corona before the Senate. Vicente claimed paying the taxes for the Marikina properties he purchased from the Corona family in 1990, reports.

Philippine Daily Inquirer's highly insensitive and tasteless photo of defense witness Demetrio Vicente

The inquirer photo of Mr. Vicente carries this caption: “CHARACTER WITNESS: The many faces of Demetrio Vicente on the witness stand.” Upon cursory view however, one would notice that the images on the right side are just enlarged versions of those of the left. In journalism school, we were taught that we should only use photos that convey emotion. The photo merely shows a man having difficulty articulating himself because he had suffered a stroke twice.

The webmaster of Get Real Philippines pointed out that Inquirer is (wittingly or not, I wish to add) making fun of Mr. Vicente’s appearance. This message was posted meanwhile in the PDI’s Twitter page (and retweeted by the Professional Heckler): “Spoke with editors. They said intention wasn’t to make fun. Those were only photos available.” That reasoning flies in the face of common sense.

It is safe to assume that PDI reporters and cameramen stayed in the Senate throughout the impeachment proceedings. In a major news event like that, media people are expected to take as many photos as he/she can (selection would follow, of course). Is Inquirer telling us that they only took two photos of Mr. Vicente? Totally unbelievable.

Under the “Minimize Harm” portion of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, media persons should “treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.” It also reiterated that journalists should:

— Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.

— Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.

Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. (emphasis supplied)

PDI failed miserably in all these guidelines. For the sake of comparison, The Philippine Star has this picture of Mr. Vicente in today’s issue. Enough said.

Compare Mr. Vicente's photo in PDI with this photo from The Star.

PDI is a member of the Philippine Press Institute. Complains can be forwarded through these contact details:


Room 206, B.F. Condominium Building

A. Soriano Ave., Intramuros, Manila

Tels. 5279632, 5274478 Fax 5273390

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About Author



Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here:

30 thoughts on “Inquirer’s photo of Demetrio Vicente – tasteless and unethical

  1. Can somebody make an official complain against PDI? I was very sympathetic wd Mr. Vicente bcoz he obviously looks ill, or atleast has been through medication or something, when he stood on the witness stand and was awed wd his spontainety in answering questions whic only proves hes not lying. Then again, u hv this crap broadsheet who spread evil. Dafuq wd PDI

    1. PDI is a member of the Philippine Press Institute. Complaints can be forwarded through these contact details:

      Room 206, B.F. Condominium Building
      A. Soriano Ave., Intramuros, Manila
      Tels. 5279632, 5274478 Fax 5273390

  2. It’s very unethical for PDI to post such photo as if they are making fun of the person’s appearance. it is not a work of a professional, considering that they’ve been into news business for a long time. Don’t they say that this is the only photo that they have (pls. don’t make us stupid) as what Sen. Satiago said “give us the presumption of literacy”.

    The way I see it PDI did this intentionally to depict that the man in the photo is not fit to be a witness because of his appearance. I wonder who pays PDI for this? I hope none…

    Oh my God what is happening in our country?

  3. In the news today . . Cristina Corona . . . Said she sold her property thru a broker and even paid brokers fee . . . Only to realize that it was the cousin of her husband who was the buyer . . Hmmmmmmmm . . . . ( dagdag witness kuno) . . . . . And added further that the pastime she saw him was in 1990 ( to justify?non transfer) and only saw him AGAIN only in 2012 . . . . Pero sa tv interview. . . . The relatives said they were just all together last January . . . May nagsisinungaling dito . . . Sino kaya . . . . Hmmm mm

    1. You didn’t watch the news intently. According to the Vicentes, their meeting with the Coronas last January was the first time they saw each other since the sale was made in 1990.

    1. if inquirer had only those photos of mr. vicente, then it’s worse than the tabloids. that’s a lot of BS! babad na babad ang reporters nila sa trial only to produce two miserable shots? kawawa ang Pilipino kung ganyang uri ng journalism ang nananaig sa bansa! salamat na lang at may mga bloggers and netizens na ginagamit ang kanilang utak.

  4. ^ Mary it happens.. spelling or grammatical errors are cmmittted jsut like mine.

    Magkatunog kasi ang thought and taught.. and I will admit na baka maging error ko rin yan na magamit ang maling word in haste of composing a work/works, kasi kasing tunog ng tamang word. The blogger/writer should have proofread before publishing the article, but hey tao lang kasi… minsan nagkakamali.

    PDI really suck it this time.

  5. I sincerely hope that the chain-smoking movers, shakers, and supporters (from its editor to abnoy) of this tabloid-masquarading-as-broadsheet will one day experience what it is like to live the life of Mr. Vicente.

    And I am not referring to growing bonsai.

  6. I think it’s sad that the excuse of PDI was that was the only photos they had of Mr. Vicente. I DO NOT believe that PDI is an amateur newspaper to have only 4-5 pictures of a man that was on the stand for awhile. Seeing the pictures, it looked like it was totally poking fun of him. SO SAD.

    And to think I saw on twitter someone posted that PDI also had a write up on the same man but put him in a better light since it had nothing to do with the CJ nor politics.

    1. Thanks for sharing this. Saw this link on Facebook a few hours ago. The article features Demetrio and his bonsai collection. What is really their purpose in doing this?

  7. May the editors responsible for this live long enough to realize–perhaps after a stroke, who knows?–what an inhuman thing they have done to Mr. Vicente. “Balanced News, Fearless Views”? wake up, Inquirer. you’re showing your true colors. this is pure yellow journalism–and it’s not just yellow as in yellow ribbon.

  8. whoever was the cameraman who took the photo; and, whoever posted it in national circulation; and, whoever authorized it thereby, should be accorded the same “shame and ridicule” when it somehow so happens to them. . .

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