PHILIPPINE National Police spokesman Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac yesterday warned the public to avoid spreading fake news regarding the N-COV virus saying the offense is punishable by law.
“The PNP urges the public to remain alert and vigilant, and report to authorities anyone spreading fake news. Please avoid spreading unofficial, unverified and unvalidated information on nCoV or face arrest,” he said.
According to Banac, the PNP will not hesitate to file charges against anyone found spreading false information, either for violation of Presidential Decree 90 or ‘Unlawful Rumor-Mongering and Spreading False Information), or Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 10175, otherwise known as the Anti-Cybercrime Law.
“Know that penalties may be raised one-degree higher if the medium of publication/circulation/distribution is through online,” Banac said.
DOJ also warns
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra also warned anyone spreading fake news and misinformation in social media about the novel coronavirus will face the full force of the law.
Guevarra cited the pertinent provisions of the Revised Penal Code Cybercrime Prevention Law as possible bases filing charges against individuals caught spreading ‘fake news.’
“Appropriate charges under the Revised Penal Code in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Law may be filed against perpetrators. The nCoV threat is a very serious public concern and no distraction of govt efforts to overcome it will be tolerated,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.
Also, Guevarra divulged that authorities would try to establish if there is a” malicious scheme or pattern” in the dissemination of false information regarding the coronavirus.
“The DOJ (Department of Justice) and the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) have their own cybercrime experts. I suppose they’ll scope the field muna and see if there’s a malicious scheme or pattern somewhere,” he said.
The other day, Guevarra tasked the NBI to probe the proliferation of alleged fake news and information in social media regarding the coronavirus.
In Department Order No. 52, the NBI was specifically tasked to investigate, build a case, and file appropriate charges, if necessary, against those liable before local courts
Guevarra gave the NBI under Director Dante Gierran 30 days to submit a progress report to the Department of Justice.
In the same order, the NBI was also directed to coordinate with the Department of Health and assist in contact-tracing of affected individuals.
Earlier, Guevarra asked the NBI to locate those persons who mingled with the two Chinese tourists with novel coronavirus.