PNP, NBI target fake news peddlers
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday warned that the full force of the law would be meted on those found spreading the fake news reports.
STAR/ File

PNP, NBI target fake news peddlers

Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - March 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will trace the sources of fake news on alleged robberies and petty crimes that tend to cause social unrest and anarchy as the government continues to battle the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa yesterday warned that the full force of the law would be meted on those found spreading the fake news reports.

Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac, PNP spokesman, also cautioned the public against sharing on social media the unverified reports of public disorder as communities continue to be quarantined.

Stories of burglaries, robberies and unrest allegedly in Taguig and Manila cities, after being checked, turned out to be hoaxes.

NBI director Eric Distor ordered the Cyber Crime division, Digital Forensic division and the Regional Operations Service to trace the source of the fake news as the PNP vowed to file criminal charges against those who would be found to have made the posts.

“All these reports are baseless and totally untrue… These fake reports are intended to cast doubts on the efforts of the government to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Distor said.

Stop sharing fake news

Sen. Bong Go called on the public to stop sharing fake news as the country tries to contain the spread of the virus.

“In this time of crisis, if you cannot help, just quarantine your mouth!” Go said, explaining that the false information in these trying times only adds burden to affected Filipinos and government workers who are doing their best to address the health emergency.

The senator expressed disappointment in some individuals who resort to spreading lies just to make the government look bad and spark panic in communities.

“It’s not funny. It doesn’t help at all. Instead of government workers focusing on the needy, you created distraction just so you could push your self interest,” Go said in Filipino.

He encouraged Filipinos to verify the information they receive with official sources before circulating these.

“Think before you click. Verify before you cause panic,” he added.

Go urged the public to call on government hotlines to report emergencies or crimes instead of posting these on Facebook, in reference to a series of screenshots of messages circulated through various social media platforms and messaging apps that narrated incidents of violence, looting and other criminal activities that were all confirmed to be fake news.

He also encouraged people to report those who share and spread fake news so they can be penalized under Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which provides for an imprisonment of six to 12 years for those found guilty. – With Romina Cabrera, Rey Galupo

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