The Intramuros Administration suggested that an incident allegedly captured in a viral photograph showing a foreigner relieving himself at a historical site did not actually happen.
The statement, however, still raised eyebrows as some Filipinos on social media pointed out some possible inconsistencies.
A man who was suspected to be a tourist was photographed committing open defecation into what appeared to be an old vase at the Baluarte de Dilao in Intramuros, Manila last Sunday.
The photo, taken by a certain Dos Alvarado, immediately made rounds on social media.
When it was picked up by local mainstream media, local authorities immediately ordered a hunt for the man who took a crap in a public space.
Radio station dzBB later reported that the container seen in the photo could no longer be found.
It was then that the Intramuros Administration, the agency tasked to manage the walled city, claimed that the photo was false given that its own personnel did not find any proof it happened.
“After sifting through the location, the personnel deployed reported that there is no waste in the area, contrary to what is thought to be insinuated in the photo,” the agency said.
“We ask that the public be vigilant in terms of our heritage sites and to call the attention of any law enforcement officer, or security officers who are posted in all areas, should there be any similar instances in the future,” the agency added.
— Intramuros PHL (@Intramuros) January 26, 2020
One of the security personnel also reportedly stated that the container is actually a trash can.
Several social media users got suspicious of the timing of the large pot’s disappearance with Intramuros’ denial of the incident.
One Twitter user, meanwhile, noted that it is still not normal to relieve in a trash can.
Others assumed that the tourist in question is a Chinese national even if the nationality of the perpetrator is not yet known.
“What’s funny here is before Intramuros admin release this statement there was a report a couple of hours ago na nawala yung paso or basurahan kung saan um-echas yung Chinese national,” one Reddit user said.
Such immediate notion stemmed from a growing public distrust of China as a state.
Similar incidents of Chinese tourists’ unruly behavior in the past from poor toilet manners to cutting in queues inside shopping malls also fuel such anti-Chinese sentiments.
In 2019, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno urged the Bureau of Immigration to deport a Chinese man who was caught peeing on a street in Binondo and hit a barangay chairman after a confrontation.
Manhunt for the suspect
Moreno ordered the Manila Police Department Special Mayor’s Reaction Team (SMaRT) chief Police Major Rosalino Ibay Jr. to look for the suspected foreign national who defecated at a historical landmark.
The San Francisco de Dilao or Baluarte de Dilao is a defensive bulwark built by the Spaniards in 1592. It was one of the many fortifications of the walled city of Intramuros back in the day.
Moreno also instructed the chief of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Arts of Manila (DTCAM) to coordinate with Intramuros Administration over the incident.
Manila City PIO chief Julius Leonen, meanwhile, perceived that the person who took the photo could harbor xenophobic feelings.
“We are concerned [that] the one who posted it is using this for anti-Chinese sentiment,” Leonen said.
The Manila Public Information Office later announced that it has obtained the original photo. The manhunt for the offender continues.