MANILA - The Philippine National Police on Friday warned purveyors of “fake news” of possible charges after false reports of massive looting in Manila went viral as the government imposed a month-long lockdown in Luzon.
PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said he tasked the police force’s anti-cybercrime group to trace those spreading false information online.
“This is a warning to everybody because based on the Revised Penal Code, as amended on stiffer penalties under Republic Act No. 10951, you can be punished by disseminating, posting fake news so again we discourage people to do this,” Gamboa said during a televised press briefing.
“Hindi kayo nakakatulong, but the Philippine National Police will go after you, so huwag niyo kaming subukan at hahabulin namin kayo,” he said.
(You are not helping but the PNP will go after you so don’t try us because we will go after you.)
The police chief said the PNP would soon show an “example” on how purveyors of false information can face charges.
A text message that recently made rounds claimed that the Philippines was vulnerable to looting because the average Filipino family only had a week’s worth of savings. The message cited a supposed study by the US State Department.
Officers were also dispatched to areas where social media users claimed there were incidents of looting and found no such crimes there, said PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac.
The entire Luzon is currently under enhanced community quarantine to control the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Under the policy, all forms of travel to and from Luzon were restricted except for those with official business, including those transporting basic goods and necessities, patrol of military and police personnel, commuting medical staff, and delivery of public health and humanitarian services.
Private companies were urged to adopt work from home”arrangements in the meantime as people were asked to stay in their homes until April 12.
The Philippines, as of Thursday, had 217 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 17 fatalities, while 8 patients have recovered.