Noveleta mayor charged for spreading fake news

Bernard M. Banac

THE Philippine National Police (PNP)Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit (RACU)in Region IV-A filed criminal charges against Noveleta, Cavite Mayor Dino Reyes, Chua and company for allegedly spreading fake reports and social media posts of a purported COVID-19 case in Cavite City.

This was confirmed by PNP spokesperson Brig.Gen. Bernard Banac.

Banac said aside from Chua, the PNP also filed charges against Mario Batuigas, owner of Latigo News TV and Amor Virata, a Vlogger and online reporter.

Charges filed against them before the Cavite Prosecutors Office were violations of Section 6f of RA 11469/ Bayanihan to Heal As One Act considering the continuing activity of the social media account used by Mayor Chua's alleged troll, Magie Bernal to spread False Info on COVID-19 in Cavite City.

The creator & former administrator of the said account has executed an affidavit as witness and Art 154/Unlawful Use of Means of Publication & Unlawful Utterances; Sec 4c4, RA 1075/Online Libel; Sec 9b, RA. 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health

Events of Public Health Concern Act”; Art 14 (7) (Crime committed on the occasion of a conflagration, shipwreck, earthquake, epidemic or other calamity or misfortune) in relation to PRRD PP Nr 922 and 929; and Sec 25b, RA 10173 (Data Privacy Act).

Banac said the filing of criminal charges against Mayor Chua, Batuigas and Virata stemmed from the spread of fake information on the alleged first COVID-19 case of the said city.

Record showed that earlier this month a certain Maggie Bernal posted on her Facebook account 10 pictures of suspected persons under investigation of Cavite City and apparently shared an unverified information that a COVID-19-stricken patient died at the Cavite Medical Center.

The account also accused the local government of Cavite City is not transparent to the public in sharing the information.

But the local government debunked the claims of the account and proved that the information is false based on the fact-checking of the Rural Health Unit of Cavite City.

The said photo of an alleged COVID-19 patient was posted in a news website but the RHU clarified the patient is from Makati City.

Banac said the unverified post has caused panic among citizens of the city.

Cybercops found out that a troll account named as Maggie Bernal, originally named as Angela Mae de Guzman was created by Chua in 2010 and was used to attack their political opponents and create intrigues based on the affidavit of a witness who was the creator and former administrator of the troll account.

Also an online news portal, Latigo News TV posted the same information although it did not name the patient.