PNP files case against 4 persons for ‘fake news’ on Covid-19

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Friday, March 27, that it has filed criminal charges against four suspects for allegedly spreading false reports and information on Covid-19.

The PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group identified the first suspect as Maria Diane Serrano (Maddie Serrano), a resident of Brgy. Banaynay in Cabuyao City, Laguna after an investigation and verification of the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit 4A (CALABARZON).

The PNP-ACG said Serrano was responsible for causing panic in the area for spreading false information “a patient positive for Covid-19 was admitted and died at the Global Medical Center Inc of Cabuyao” last February 2020.

Acting on another incident, the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit 7 (Central Visayas) conducted fact-checking and validated information and found three residents of Lapu-Lapu City were responsible for spreading unverified and false information on Covid-19 outbreak.

Lapu-Lapu City’s PNP and its city government filed a case on Thursday, March 26, against the following respondents: Fritz John Menguito, Sherlyn Solis, Mae Ann Pino, at the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutors Office.

The suspects are facing charges for violating Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code as Amended in relation to Sec 4c4 (Online Libel) and Section 6 of Republic Act No. 10175, or the Anti-Cybercrime Law.

Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson Bernard Banac said the police will continue to take countermeasures against misinformation through cyber patrol operations and monitoring on all social media platforms.

“Time and again, we urge the public to refrain from posting and sharing unreliable and unverified reports and information on the pandemic that may cause panic and fear,” Banac said.

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