CALOOCAN CITY, March 25 (PIA) -- A senior official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday urged netizens to report to Emergency Hotline "911"any encounter of fake news posted on social media sites and the internet.
At the same time, DILG Spokesperson Usec. Jonathan Malaya warned false information peddlers that charges will be filed against them if proven they violated the anti-cybercrime law.
"May kalalagyan ang mapapatunayang nagpapakalat ng fake news at nanloloko ng kapwa. It is unfortunate that some people take advantage of the people in this time of crisis to make money and create fear and panic," he said.
To recall, the Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested over the weekend, the alleged masterminds of fake news identified as Ismael Aviso who was arrested with his son Ismael Aviso, Jr. for reportedly peddling bogus products online the father-son duo allegedly claimed can cure COVID-19.
A report from the PNP Anti-Cyber Crime Group said the two were arrested by operatives of the PNP in an entrapment operation in their home in Navotas City where the suspects received the dusted buy-bust money amounting to PhP 7,500 from the police poseur-buyers.
Aviso reportedly gave false information using his Youtube account on what products to use to allegedly defeat the coronavirus. He later on highlighted the product that can be sprayed orally which allegedly can kill the virus.
The suspect also seemed to discuss other products that can help alleviate cold and cough, and boost the immune system.
"Hindi lang sila nagtitinda ng pekeng mga produkto, nagpapakalat din sila ng mali at walang basehang impormasyon na maaaring ikapahamak pa ng ating mga kababayan," Malaya said of the incident.
"There is currently still no cure for COVID-19 kaya huwag po kayong basta-basta naniniwala," he said.
Meanwhile, the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last night imposes stricter penalties on disinformation, which now specifically punishes the spreading of fake and alarming information regarding COVID-19 by up two months in prison and a fine of no less than 10 thousand pesos but not more than P1 million, or both at the discretion of the court.
Section 6(f) punishes "individuals or groups creating, perpetuating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion."
It also punishes "those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts." (PIA NCR)