The Commission on Election (Comelec) on Wednesday urged the public to refrain from peddling fake information online regarding the 2022 elections as it is punishable by the law.
In a press conference, Commissioner George Garcia said the Comelec is taking the spreading of false information “seriously”.
“We will have to go after these people and prove to them that we are so serious otherwise this will happen – and happen – and will happen again,” said Garcia, who also chairs the Comelec Task Force Kontra Fake News.
He was referring to the occasions wherein the credibility and integrity of the electoral process were “undermined” because of fake news.
Garcia cited Section 50 of the Omnibus election code stating that anybody who commits any act of misrepresentation or misleading the public is an election offense and punishable by up to six years of imprisonment.
He added it is also a violation of cyber libel under the Cybercrime law and falsification of documents.
Similar acts reported to the Comelec were earlier referred to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), he said.
Garcia said the NBI is just waiting for the formal complaints from the Comelec.
“In fact, they already prepared the investigation. Those involved individuals were already sent the subpoena,” he added.
Garcia said they just wanted to focus and finish the elections first, but definitely will make people behind peddling disinformation accountable.
“We already prepared the complaints and we will now secure the authority from the en banc who will be the signatory of our complaint—will it be the director of the law department, will it be me as the chairman of the task force Kontra fake news or will it be other persons. But we are now finished with the complaint. We will just attach the video, the responses, and other evidence — so more or less that’s our approach,” he said.
Garcia said the same approach will be used for future complaints.
He added that the poll body will work on the complaints even after the elections.
Garcia emphasized that the Comelec is not against free expression as it is part of the democracy.
He added there’s nothing wrong with voicing out sentiments and feelings about the election, but it is not right to peddle fake news to the general public.
Garcia urged the people to be responsible in sharing information or else they will have to face the consequences.
“Definitely, I guarantee to all of you we will go after these people,” he said.
Complaints on the previously reported spreaders of fake news will be filed before the Manila City Hall, he added.