The Philippine National Police (PNP) have arrested up to 32 people involved in spreading fake news or misinformation on social media in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, PNP Spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac again warned the netizens to avoid spreading fake news because it has an equivalent punishment under the law.
Banac said that in a report by the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, 24 suspects were arrested for spreading fake news on social media platforms about COVID-19 that further created fear among the public.
Meanwhile, the PNP Regional Offices and PNP Criminal Investigation Group caught eight people of spreading false information on COVID 19.
According to Banac, the accused 32 fake news proliferators will face charges in violating unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances under the Article 154 of Revised Penal Code, amended as Sec 4c4 (Online Libel) and Section 6 of Republic Act No. 10175, or the Anti-Cybercrime Law.
The penalties of “arresto mayor” or imprisonment of one month and a day to six months, and a fine ranging from ₱40,000 to ₱200,000, shall be imposed upon “any person who by means of printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State,” according to Article 154.
The cybercops said the suspects are from Quezon City, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, Western Visayas. Zamboanga Peninsula, and CARAGA Region.
“The PNP-ACG under P/Brig. Gen Dennis Agustin will be relentless in taking countermeasures on misinformation and spread of fake reports by conducting cyber patrol operations on social media and other online platforms”, said Banac.
“The public is urged to cooperate in taking greater steps to topple the COVID-19 pandemic, including to refrain from sharing and posting false reports that may cause panic and confusion”, the PNP Spokesman added.
Aside from the pandemic COVID-19, infodemic also rapidly spreads in the online world.
World Health Organization officials have addressed the problem many times since the outbreak kicked off in China at the start of 2020.