The photographer who took the controversial Pieta-like photo finally breaks his silence on the comments of President Rodrigo Duterte during his first SONA ( State of the Nation Address) last Monday, July 25. Raffy Lerma, a photojournalist of Inquirer, admitted that he was disappointed when the president somehow have branded his photo as only a drama.
“E tapos nandiyan ka, nakabulagta, and you are portrayed in a broadsheet na parang Mother Mary cradling the dead cadaver of Jesus Christ. E ‘yan ‘yang mga ‘yan, magda-dramahan tayo dito.” President Duterte commented during his SONA speech, apparently referring to the photo by Raffy Lerma published at the front page of Inquirer last July 24.
(Then there you are, sprawled, and you are portrayed in a broadsheet like Mother Mary cradling the dead cadaver of Jesus Christ. These people, we’ll only be doing some drama here.)
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“He who is the cause of the cause is the cause of them all.” The president added, noting that if people don’t want to get hurt or killed, they should avoid drugs. He also stressed they should not also rely on Catholic priests and the human rights groups because they cannot save them. Nevertheless, he did mention Lerma’s photo nor the Inquirer’s post.
According to Inquirer, the photo shows Michael Siaron, a pedicab driver and alleged drug pusher who was shot and killed in Pasay City by a riding-in-tandem. His wife, Jennelyn Olaires is shown weeping and cuddling his dead body. The said photo is somehow similar to Pieta, a Michelangelo masterpiece depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus.
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In an article at Inquirer this Sunday, July 31, Raffy Lerma said he believes that his Pieta-like photo caught the attention of President Duterte, and that it was the one that the president has referred to. Nevertheless, he noted that he was overwhelmed by the number of alleged drug suspects being killed during the intensified operations against illegal drugs.
“Sorry, Mr. President,” Lerma said, “totoong tao sila. Sino ba tayo para batikusin sila? This is real life… they have every right to grieve for their loved ones… Ikaw rin iiyak kung mangyari sa pamilya mo yan. Ikaw nga, nung nanalo ka (as President), umiyak ka sa puntod ng parents mo. I mean, give these people some dignity.” Raffy Lerma said.
“May purpose ang ginagawa ko, to shed light on this issue. Grabe na talaga! If you will multiply these deaths by six years… Nakakabahala rin ang reaction ng public. We’re a Catholic country, tapos ganito tayo. Kung hindi tayo magre-react, in a way we’re part of it.” He added, noting that his photo has validated the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.