32 netizens charged for spreading fake COVID-19 news

THE Philippine National Police yesterday warned netizens anew from spreading false information, unverified reports and hoax messages that may affect the national government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it bared that so far, 32 have been charged for committing the offense which triggered public panic.

PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group director, Brigadier General Dennis P. Agustin said that since the Enhanced Community Quarantine was enforced in Luzon and other parts of the country, 24 suspects have been arrested by his men for spreading fake news on social media portals

Another eight suspects were apprehended by agents of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and other Police Regional Offices.

The PNP-ACG director said  the 32 ‘fake news proliferators’ are now facing charges for violating Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code as Amended in relation to Sec 4c4 (Online Libel) and Section 6 of Republic Act No. 10175, or the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

He said that from March 9 to last Sunday, they have recorded 32 complaints filed for inquest or preliminary investigation with 17 cases filed. One suspect from Zamboanga peninsula is still at-large.

The PNP-ACG director said that the arrested suspects were from Quezon City, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Western Mindanao and Caraga regions.

Agustin said that they have been ordered by PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa to be unrelenting in their effort to identify, arrest and prosecute people who are behind the spread of  fake COVID-19 reports by conducting cyber patrol operations on social media and other online platforms.

Gen. Gamboa has also urged the citizenry to refrain from sharing and posting false reports that may cause panic and confusion.