MANILA – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday dismissed as fake news a voice clip claiming the declaration of a “total lockdown or martial law” that went viral on social media.
“We deemed it to be another fake news spreading through text messages and chat groups. We urge netizens and social media users to be alert and vigilant and avoid sharing or posting unverified information,” PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said in a message to reporters.
Banac warned anew that fake news peddlers will face the full force of the law.
“Again, our cybercops will be in full gear to address this continuing struggle against fake news proliferators and online scammers in the time of deadly contagion. We will arrest these cybercriminals to stop their illegal activities online that may cause harm, confusion, and panic among our people,” Banac said.
Based on the audio clip, a woman was quoted as saying, “Everybody, please listen. Just in case if you have time to go out, mag-stock kayo ng food (stock up on food) that will last for a week or until the 30th (April). Wala namang masama kung magi-stock kayo ng food (There is nothing wrong with stocking up on food). In case mag-announce si Duterte ng (President Rodrigo Duterte announces a) total lockdown or martial law, kung hindi (if not) Monday or Tuesday, pag nag-announce siya (if he announces), it will last hanggang a-trenta (until April 30). Meaning, as in totally, hindi na tayo pwedeng lumabas. Wala na talagang pwedeng lumabas (we cannot go out of our homes. Nobody will be allowed to go out.)”
Earlier, Banac said from March 9 to April 13, the ACG has recorded 24 cases filed against spreaders of fake news and unverified information on social media amid the public health emergency.
ACG said the suspects are now facing charges for violating Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code as amended, concerning Sec 4c4 (online libel) and Section 6 of Republic Act 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law.
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 could also be held liable for violating Presidential Decree No. 90, which makes rumor-mongering and spreading false information as unlawful, which may cause or tend to cause panic, divisive effects among the people, and undermine the stability of the government. (ia/SovereignPH.com/PNA)