MANILA – A town mayor in Cavite and two others are facing charges for allegedly spreading false information about the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Saturday.
In a press statement, PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Banac said the PNP Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit (RACU) Region 4-A (Calabarzon) sued Noveleta Mayor Dino Reyes Chua for violation of Section 6f of Republic Act (RA) 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal As One Act), Article 154 of RA 10175 (Anti-Cybercrime Law), Section 9b of RA 11332 (Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act), Presidential Proclamations 922 and 929 and Section 25b of RA 10173 (Data Privacy Act).
Citing reports of the RACU-4A, the charges against Chua stemmed from a complaint of the city government of Cavite, accusing him of spreading fake information on the alleged first Covid-19 case in the city.
Using a Facebook account under the name Maggie Bernal, Chua allegedly shared false reports about a Covid-19-positive patient who died at the Cavite Medical Center early this month.
The same account also allegedly posted 10 photos of patients under investigation (PUIs) of Cavite City.
“The account also accused the local government of Cavite City of not being 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,” Banac said.
Upon verification, Banac said the Covid-19 patient turned out to be a patient from Makati City.
Further verification, Banac said, also disclosed that the “troll account” Maggie Bernal was originally named Angela Mae de Guzman and was created by Chua in 2010.
The photo posted on the alleged fake account was published on an online news website.
Aside from Chua, also charged were Mario Batuigas, owner of the Latigo News TV; and Amor Virata, a video blogger, and reporter.
Under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code, a person who causes the publication of any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the state may be punished.
Violators face imprisonment of one to six months and a fine ranging from PHP40,000 to PHP200,000. They could also be punished under the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
They can also be held liable for violating Presidential Decree No. 90, which declares Unlawful Rumor-Mongering and Spreading False Information, which may cause or tend to cause panic, divisive effects among the people, and undermine the stability of the government. (ia/PNA)