BBC footage in Quiboloy’s SMNI debate trailer used without permission

February 16, 2022 - 4:23 PM
SMNI presidential debate
Presidential candidates Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Leody de Guzman, Norberto Gonzales and Ernesto Abella during the SMNI Presidential Debates at Okada Manila on Feb. 15, 2022. (Screengrab from SMNI News Facebook page)

A correspondent from BBC News claimed that their footage from Scarborough Shoal appeared in a trailer played by SMNI, a network owned by church founder Apollo Quiboloy, during the presidential debate break on Tuesday.

Howard Johnson, a Philippine correspondent for the international media outlet, shared a video and translated the trailer’s text, which reads:

“[SMNI] has a strong stand on what’s right. We will not betray the People. And we will not be exchanged for anything. Honest and not a thief.” 

Its original broadcast text is in Filipino, which reads:

“May malakas na paninindigan sa tama. Hindi magtataksil sa bayan at hindi tayo ipagpapalit sa kahit na ano man. Hindi magnanakaw.” 

When shots featuring the Scarborough Shoal (also locally known as Panatag Shoal) appeared in the trailer, there were no credits given to BBC News.

This caught the attention of some local journalists such as Nestor Corrales of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, who sought a statement from Johnson.

“Neither the BBC News team in Manila nor London were approached for permission to use the footage,” Johnson said.

“As far as I can see, the footage of Scarborough Shoal, aired in July 2021 on BBC News World, is not available on Getty website, a third party site where news organizations can purchase BBC footage,” he added.

Scarborough Shoal is a traditional fishing ground off the coast of Zambales, specifically located 220 kilometers west of the province.

It is part of the Philippines’ territory as it is within the country’s 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

Johnson’s tweet was noticed by some Filipinos who claimed that SMNI’s trailer was “ironic” in light of the situation.

“‘…not a THIEF’ as the caption in the SMNI trailer where they used the footage of BBC News… isn’t it ironic. Don’t you think..?” a Twitter user commented.

“Wanted na… !!! Magnanakaw pa ng footage… !! Nakakahiya kayo SM/NI,” another online user exclaimed.

“Expect the expected. Magnanakaw supporter eh di magnanakaw din,” a different Filipino commented, referencing Quiboloy and a presidential aspirant whom he endorsed, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Quiboloy is currently among those on its “most wanted list” in the United States for his alleged role in a labor and sex trafficking scheme.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said that Quiboloy also forced victims to “solicit donations for a bogus charity and enter into sham marriages.”

The agency added that he was indicted by a federal grand jury for “conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion and sex trafficking of children; sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; conspiracy; and bulk cash smuggling.”

Meanwhile, according to the Journalist’s Code of Ethics released by the Philippine Press Institute, a journalist “shall not commit any act of plagiarism.”

Plagiarism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person.”

The ethics code also says that a journalist must also “resort only to fair and honest methods in my effort to obtain news, photographs and/or documents.”