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Meme falsely claims Duterte pro-HK independence

A Facebook user posted Oct. 16 a manipulated photo of President Rodrigo Duterte supporting Hong Kong independence.

The meme Kebong Samala shared shows Duterte carrying an umbrella and wearing a face mask with the text “Free Hong Kong” written on it, similar to Hong Kong citizens who wear masks to conceal their identity amid protests.

Duterte is also shown wearing a red long-sleeve button-down shirt printed with the white five-petal orchid tree flower found in the official Hong Kong flag.

Its caption read:

I found a meme please spread it as far and as wide as possible. edit: this thing is at a hundred shares. [eyes emoji] [sweat droplets emoji]

A Forensically image analysis reveals the image was altered, based on the high-contrast edges and uneven coloring of flat surfaces on the background of the photo.

Contrary to Samala’s claim that he found the photo from another user, a TinEye reverse image search reveals the meme is unique and was posted only once.

A Google reverse image search reveals the original photo was taken July 8 by Alfred Frias at Malacañang. The president was giving a speech at a mass oathtaking of newly appointed government officials.

Source of original photo: Presidential Communications Operations Office

Duterte’s white barong was overlaid with a red tint and edited with a five-petal orchid flower tree flower symbol. The Philippine flag in the background of the original photo was cropped out of the picture.

Additions to the manipulated image were a photo of an umbrella and an illustrated black facemask on Duterte’s face with a text that says “Free Hong Kong.”

The meme was released amid the political unrest which sparked March 31 between state forces and HK citizens after Hong Kong’s Security Bureau proposed amendments for the extradition laws.

Samala claims to be an Ateneo de Manila University alumnus in his Facebook profile. As of writing, his post has been shared about 1,100 times. (JRC, EEM)


GMA Public Affairs. (2019, Aug. 12). I-Witness: 'Balisang Hong Kong,' dokumentaryo ni Atom Araullo | Full Episode [YouTube Video]. Retrieved from

Frias, Alfred. (Photographer). (2019, July 8). President Rodrigo Roa Duterte gives the thumbs up while delivering his speech during the mass oath taking of newly appointed government officials at the Malacañan Palace on July 8, 2019. ALFRED FRIAS/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO [Image]. Presidential Communications Operations Office. Retrieved from

Timeline: Key dates in Hong Kong's protests. (2019, Oct. 2). Reuters. Retrieved from


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