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Gatchalian: Arrest purveyors of fake news


By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday sought an intensified crackdown against purveyors of fake news during the public health emergency situation due to the coronavirus disease or COVID-19.

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian

Gatchalian said both the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) should expedite their investigation to track down, arrest and sue peddlers of fake news over the Internet who sow panic and confusion in the midst of the crisis.

The senator said arresting these violators would send a strong message that those who spread disinformation will not get away with it.

Those sowing wrong information could be charged for violating Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, and face a penalty of imprisonment from six to 12 years.

“Imbes na makatulong sa pagbabahagi ng sapat at tamang impormasyon ngayong nasa gitna tayo ng krisis, nagiging sanhi pa ng kalituhan at kaguluhan ang mga nagpapakalat ng maling balita (Instead of helping disseminate correct and truthful information now that we are in the middle of a crisis, they are instead adding to the confusion and chaos in spreading fake news),” Gatchalian said.

“Hangga’t wala tayong naipapakulong sa mga nagpapakalat ng mga kasinungalingang ito, patuloy ang mga taong ito sa kanilang paghahasik ng takot at kalituhan sa publiko (Until such time we are able to put to jail these people spreading lies, the people will just continue spreading fear and confusion among the public),” he said.

At the same time, Gatchalian also urged the public to beware of different scams, including bogus donation campaigns.

He said authorities should also launch a crackdown on individuals or groups behind these activities.

Likewise, the lawmaker cautioned the public to be vigilant about the information they receive and share through different communication platforms, and urged the public to source information only from official government channels, websites and social media pages of established media institutions and other legitimate organizations.

He said the public can do their part by proactively reporting dubious reports to authorities.

Earlier, a Cebu-based optometrist who allegedly spread a false report on COVID-19 was sued for violating Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 and Section 4 (c) 4 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

Another fake news story that recently went viral is an alleged statement from the United States (US) State Department, which warned of potential looting incidents in Luzon during the month-long lockdown period.

The US embassy has since refuted the information and said it is a hoax. The US embassy reminded the public that it only releases information through its official social media accounts, website, and distribution to local journalists.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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