NO FAKES: There is no fake rice, just fake news, rice retailers said in a press briefing on Friday.
"There is no such thing as fake rice, only fake news. There is no actual fake rice discovered mula 2015 hanggang ngayon ," James Magbanua, national president of the Grains Retailers Confederation of the Philippines (GRECON), said in a press conference.
The National Food Authority backed the group's claim that no fake rice managed to enter the Philippine market.
"A total of 6 rice samples were subjected to analysis...the result of all samples are totoong rice, there is no fake rice," NFA administrator Jason Aquino said.
Magbanua said there is no incentive for rice producers and retailers to sell fake rice as "it is costlier to produce fake rice by putting plastic additives."
He said the hoax was made to take advantage of rice retailers.
"Merong bumibili ng isang kilo lang pero ibabalik dahil fake rice daw ito. Pinipilit na palitan ang fake rice ng isang kaban kung hindi irereport daw sa gobyerno. Kinikikilan lang kami," Magbanua said.
The group urged the public to be more discerning before believing articles they read online.
The group also called on lawmakers to pass measures that will penalize those who generate and share false and unverified information.
"It is time to consider a legislative measure against those who create fake news, especially news that affect our economy."
On Thursday, a bill that seeks to penalize any person or group who maliciously spreads false news or information in traditional and online media platforms was filed at the Senate.
Under Senate Bill 1492 any person proven guilty of creating or distributing fake news will face a fine ranging from P100,000 to P5 million and 1 to 5 years of imprisonment.
Violators who have aided and encouraged fake news meanwhile will be fined P50,000 to P3 million and imprisoned from 6 months to 3 years.
If the offender is a public official, he will be made to pay twice the amount of fine and serve twice the period of imprisonment. He will also be disqualified from holding any public office.