Well, someone has stepped in to save the day.
A man by the name of Jeremy Salomon took photos of himself as he removed one of the controversial “WELCOME TO THE PHILIPPINES, PROVINCE OF CHINA” banners that went viral yesterday.
He shared the photos on a Facebook post yesterday, which has quickly gone viral, earning more than 29,000 shares as of this writing.
Several of these banners were seen all over Manila and earned the ire of a number of Filipinos but Salomon didn’t mention where this particular banner was located.
While he had no problem sharing this on social media, he appeared offended by a reporter who asked him why he took the banner down.
The Facebook post’s caption details what Salomon said was a conversation he had with a reporter from The Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Salomon was allegedly asked by the reporter: “It was dawn when someone installed this? Why did you choose to remove it?”
Describing himself as “an ordinary Filipino,” Salomon answered: “Whoever put this here should ask, ‘is this right?’ If someone put a poster with a ‘wrong’ information, I have the right to ‘correct’ what’s wrong. If you put ‘I love the Philippines,’ do you think I’ll remove it?”
As a natural follow up to his question, the reporter asked: “Who do you think put it there?”
This apparently peeved Salomon, who answered: “Who cares? If I know it’s wrong, I will do what is right. And I think this was done by fake media and activists.”
Referring to no one in particular, he said: “If you spent for this, look for me and I’ll pay you back.”
Salomon ended his caption with: “Stop this #bullshit #non-sense.” It’s unclear whether Salomon is referring to the banner or the reporter.
Upon closer inspection, it’s apparent in one of Salomon’s selfies that there was another person removing the banner, though he didn’t identify who the person was.
Comments were generally supportive of Salomon, many of which came from supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte who have often criticized “mainstream” media.
One Pauleng Mendoza wrote: “That’s fake news then they would make it appear that the administration of Duterte is wrong. Desperate move by the Liberal Party [the opposition] because they can’t fool anyone and the money they have stolen during Noynoy’s [Aquino] stupid [term] is already running out.”
Joseph Camacho accused the reporter of putting up the banner. “Looks like the Inquirer put it there, they were at the scene of the crime immediately [laughing emoji],” he wrote.
Wrote Estelle Olayta: “We should all do this. Let’s help each other do what is right for the country and our people. We shouldn’t ruin the country’s image. Let’s fight for what is right.”
Salomon also posted a solo photo of another man. Though it did not come with a caption, he’s probably the unidentified reporter whom he was miffed with.
Comments against the man in the photo were overwhelmingly negative. One called him a “paid reporter.” This was followed by five fist emoticons — the symbol used by Duterte and his followers — and oddly, a smiley with hearts for eyes (What does this even mean?).
Meanwhile, Camilo Andi Jr., theorized that the man was a member of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. He wrote: “By his hat, he looks like an NPA.”
Yes, he made that assumption based on a hat.
Another user by the name of Ella Yiangou even got violent. “Wrap him with the banner and throw him to Manila Bay,” she said.
The banners sparked outrage from both supporters and critics of the administration.
As seen in the comments above, Duterte’s supporters allege that the banners were made by critics as a way to put the president in a bad light. Calling the Philippines a province of China is a direct reference to a statement Duterte made in February where he joked about making the Philippines a province of China during an event with China’s ambassador to the Philippines.
The President’s critics, on the other hand, thought the banners were inappropriate especially because they were put up on the second year anniversary of the Philippines’ win in the arbitration case against China over the South China Sea.
However, some have also noted the banners were meant to provoke a reaction and should be taken as a sarcastic statement. Unfortunately, this went over a lot of people’s heads.
It remains unclear who was responsible for installing the banners, though Manila police are in the process of investigating it.
Coconuts Manila has gotten in touch with Salomon to ask him more details about what he did but he hasn’t responded as of this writing.