FACT CHECK: No, this is not a photo of Paolo Duterte taking his shirt off

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Apr 16 2019 06:08 PM

A Facebook post shared hundreds of times claims that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s son bared his back to disprove allegations he has a tattoo that links him to a drug gang. 

The claim is false; the photo contained in the post shows an ex-adviser to the president, not his son.

The photo, which appears in this post published to Facebook on April 10, 2019, and shared more than 480 times since, shows a man lifting his shirt up and exposing his back to members of the press.

Translated to English, the post’s caption says: “Oh no Bikoooooyyyyy.... Pulong has shown his back. Their next theory will be that he has the tattoo removed that's why it took some time before it was shown”.

Pulong is the nickname of Paolo Duterte, a politician who is the eldest son of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Here is the Encyclopedia Britannica entry for Rodrigo Duterte, which mentions his son, and here is an AFP article about the pair.

Below is a screenshot of the post:


Paolo is the former vice-mayor of the southern city of Davao and a candidate for a seat in Congress in May 2019 midterm elections. Here is an article from the state-run Philippine News Agency about his election bid.

“Bikoy” is an alias given by a man who appeared in a recent series of viral videos, saying he is a former member of a drug syndicate. Here is the first video dated April 1, 2019, in which he accuses Paolo ‘Pulong’ Duterte of receiving money from a drug syndicate.

In that video, “Bikoy” says Paolo has a dragon tattoo on his back which shows his links to drug gangs.

Paolo has denied the allegation and said in this post on his official Facebook page that he would not show his back to disprove the claims. 

The photo does not show Paolo Duterte as claimed; a reverse image search on Google found that it appeared in this report from local news organization UNTV, dated April 10, 2019, and headlined: “Bong Go bares his back to deny alleged link to drug syndicate”. 

The image below compares screenshots of the misleading Facebook post (L) and the UNTV report (R), which is hosted by Yahoo Philippines:

“Bong Go” is a nickname for Christopher Go, a senatorial candidate who belongs to Duterte’s political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Here is a post featuring Go on the party’s official Facebook page.

Go showed his back to the press after “Bikoy” also accused him of having a back tattoo which supposedly shows his ties with drug syndicates in this video published to YouTube April 7, 2019.

Other local news organisations reported on Go removing his shirt on April 10, 2019, for example the ABS-CBN News Channel, or ANC, on their Facebook page here.

The ANC post, embedded below, contains a video of the incident which can be viewed from two seconds into the clip:


Embedded below is another video report on Go showing his back, published to YouTube by government channel People’s Television (PTV).

Go can be seen lifting his shirt at the 1 minute mark:

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