A CEBU-based optometrist has been arrested and charged in court by the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group for allegedly spreading false report on Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that triggered panic among Cebu City residents.
Charged with violation of Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 and Section 4 (c) 4 (Online Libel) of the Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 was Josephil Brian G. Consuelo alias’ CJ Brian Consuelo,’ an optometrist from Mandaue City who was identified as the author of a Facebook post that an alleged COVID-2019-stricken patient had died while undergoing treatment at the University of Cebu Medical Center.
According to PNP-ACG director, Brigadier General Dennis P. Agustin, the offense carries the penalty of arresto mayor and a fine ranging from P40,000 to P200,000 or imprisonment for a minimum period of four years and one day to a maximum of eight years, per offense. The suspect was arrested on Thursday last week.
Agustin said that acting on the incident, his men from the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit 7 conducted a fact-checking and validated information which showed that the reports were all false as proven by an official statement from the UCMed’s Human Resource and Legal Officer
Following the incident, PNP Chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa said he has ordered the PNP-ACG to continue to take countermeasures against misinformation through cyber patrol operations and monitoring of all social media platforms.
“Again, we urge the public to refrain from posting unverified information that creates panic and confusion as we will file criminal charges to those proven spreading these false reports,” the PNP chief said.