Fake COVID-19 news peddler held in Ecija

SAN ANTONIO, Nueva Ecija – A suspected fake news purveyor was arrested on Friday shortly after posting without any reasonable basis on social media some false information about the coronavirus pandemic in this town.

Police head Major Roderick Corpuz identified the arrested suspect as Oliver Palomia, 24, construction laborer, of Bgy. Julo, this town.

He was slapped with violations of Republic Act 11649 or the "Bayanihan To Heal As One Act" which was signed by President Duterte on March 25 to address the COVID-19 outbreak.

Corpuz said the suspect was nabbed shortly after spreading fake news about the COVID-19 crisis on his Facebook account, which caused panic and confusion among local residents in the area.

"Simula po sa Lunes ipapatupad na daw po ang 14-day lockdown sa San Antonio wala ng magbubukas sa palengke ng 14 days," the suspect posted on his FB account on Friday, prior to his arrest.

Mayor Arvin C. Salonga said he never issued such lock-down order. "Walang ganoon, fake news. Enhanced community quarantine tayo sa buong San Antonio, sinusunod natin ang guidelines ng inter-agency task force on COVID-19," he texted this reporter on his Messenger account yesterday.

“In fact, as chair of the town’s local task force on COVID-19, I ordered a one-week scheduled clustering of all the 16 barangays for their marketing at the public market effective March 25 with the market hours set at 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily," Salonga said.

Corpuz said his men who were providing police security and assistance at the public market in Bgy. Poblacion here were able to monitor the said FB post and they found out that the news was fake.

He said they were able to immediately trace the suspect's whereabouts through his social media account and have him arrested right away at his house at 3 p.m. Friday.

During questioning, Corpuz said the suspect failed to answer reasonably why he did it.