Cops readying charges vs Mabatid
Iris Hazel M. Mascardo, Mary Ruth R. Malinao (The Freeman) - March 26, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Police are now collating evidence for the filing of charges against Cebu City Councilor Niña Mabatid who claimed on Facebook that three have died from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Cebu.

"This time, all of the other process that we are formulating, lahat ng kailangan natin na detalye and we are coordinating with the Anti-Cybercrime, today (Wednesday), hopefully we can settle the case to be filed," said Cebu City Police Director Hector Grijaldo.

It was last Tuesday that Police Regional Office-7 Director Albert Ignatius Ferro directed the city police to investigate Mabatid’s claim, which did not have confirmation from the Department of Health (DOH).

Ferro said earlier Mabatid’s posts can be considered fake information and even reportedly alarmed netizens who have read them.

“We are asking her to explain to us why she had posted that they were three who allegedly died who were suspected to be COVID patient… Being a public official, she should be responsible enough in giving accurate, transparent, and open information," Ferro said earlier.

Grijaldo said Mabatid has sent her lawyer to face the police and the lawyer said they will face the case in court.

"Accordingly, the anti-cybercrime unit has the reason now to file the formal charge kasi alam naman nila ang mga elements na nandon pag nag-post ka and it is malicious so all the elements have already been there so kinu-compose nalang to make it a perfect case," Grijaldo said.

Among the pieces of evidence the police will anchor the case on are screenshots of Mabatid’s Facebook posts.

Grijaldo assured the public of an impartial investigation.

Ferro said last Tuesday that Mabatid will face charges for violating Section 8, Article 154 of the unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterance, as well as for violating the cybercrime law.

Lesson Learned

For her part, Mabatid said what happened to her is a "lesson learned."

"Whatever I feel or unsa di nalang ko mostorya. I will leave it to the right agency nga maoy mopagawas og mga (information), especially related to COVID. I will leave it to the Department of Health (Whatever I feel, I will not announce it. I will leave it to the right agency to disclose the information, especially related to COVID. I will leave it to the Department of Health)," Mabatid said.

She said she welcomes the police investigation.

Mabatid said the main goal of her post was awareness because the city is not ready for COVID-19. She explained the city, having a big population, has very few hospitals.

"Kung mahitabo nga daghan kaayong masakit it's gonna be a big problem (It’s going to be a big problem if it will reach a point when many people will get sick)," she said.

“If it caused panic to the people, maypa wa nalang ko ni-post. I hope everyone will understand nga I did it to remind the Cebuanos to follow the executive orders of our mayor (I should not have posted it if it caused panic to the people. I hope everyone will understand that I did nit to remind the Cebuanos to follow the mayor’s executive orders)," Mabatid said.

In a separate statement last Tuesday, Mabatid said:

"My facebook is an avenue of my freedom of expression. I am a public official and Vice Chairwoman on the Committee on Health and I cannot help but react to the first hand information I have received of the 3 deaths. But take note it's suspected because they were not tested. Why? Because our testing kits just arrived and they are not enough to test the PUIs and PUMs here in Cebu City. I have no intention to hurt DOH because we are one in this fight for COVID-19." JMO (FREEMAN)

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with