MANILA (UPDATE) — Senator Francis Pangilinan has taken steps to go after 2 YouTube channels spreading false information against him and his wife, actress Sharon Cuneta.
He filed on Friday 2 separate cyber libel complaints before the Department of Justice (DOJ) Cybercrime office against YouTube channels “Latest Chika” and “Starlet.”
On several occasions in May this year, both channels posted videos claiming domestic squabble between Pangilinan and Cuneta and a supposed third party in their marriage.
Pangilinan was also accused of physically hurting the singer-actress.
Cuneta has denied being abused by her husband and laughed off rumors that she had an affair with a younger man.
"Asawa ko po, ni minsan ang daliri niyan di dumapo sa akin," she said in an Instagram post.
"Limang taon na akong pinupuntirya ng fake news at tiniis natin lahat nang iyon. Pero ngayon, pamilya na natin ang inaatake. Kahit na sino, palagay ko, kahit kayo, pamilya niyo na, mga mahal niyo sa buhay ang hindi na binibigyan ng puwang, e lalabanan natin. Kaya tayo nandito,” Pangilinan told the media after the filing.
“This is too much,” he added.
Pangilinan accused the yet to be identified owners, authors or persons behind the 2 channels of violating section 4(c)(4) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 (RA 10175) on cyber libel in relation to Art. 355 of the Revised Penal Code on libel.
He said the videos “created in the minds of the viewers that [he] physically hurt or abused [his] wife and caused her physical injuries and that she has filed a criminal case against [him] for physical injuries.”
"The contents of the videos are all false, have no factual basis and are intended to destroy or damage my reputation as a Senator, public servant, and a husband to one of the most beloved celebrities in the Philippines, my wife Sharon. More importantly, the libelous videos are meant to destroy the family. The libelous videos are not only intended to damage my relationship with my wife but are also meant to destroy my relationship with our children,” the senator said in his complaints.
Pangilinan’s complaints noted the videos have garnered hundreds of thousands of views online.
Beyond the videos, the senator also took issue with the thumbnails or reduced-size versions of pictures of the videos which, he said, contained false statements to attract viewers to watch the videos.
In addition, the country manager of Google Philippines was also included in the complaints for violating 2 provisions of the implementing rules and regulations of the Cybercrime Prevention Act regarding the service provider’s obligations.
Google acquired YouTube in 2006.
Pangilinan said that out of the 82 videos he reported, Google found none of them to be defamatory. Of the number, 54 have yet to decided while 28 have been rejected.
"From the defamatory complaints submitted, Google, as a service provider, has knowledge of the existence of the defamatory videos, and it still refused to remove such videos despite being informed of its defamatory nature which is in violation of the Philippine laws and even YouTube’s own Community Guidelines and its Policy, Safety and Copyright Policies. Being informed that the posting of the video on YouTube’s platform is unlawful, Google, as the service provider, should have taken down the said videos,” he argued.
Pangilinan pleaded to social media users to stop spreading “fake news” and for social media platforms to do something about them.
"Wake up call para sa ating mga kababayan. Pakiusap natin, maging mapanuri. Huwag basta-basta maniniwala o magsi-share ng mga kasinungalingan dahil tao rin kami. Di ba, tao rin ang aking misis, ang aking mga anak. Sana maintindihan nila, huwag basta-basta magsi-share o maniniwala," he said.
"Pangalawa, sa mga social media platforms, gawan naman ninyo ng mas masusing kilos itong laganap na paninira at laganap na pagsisinungaling. I think they should do something. This is too much," he added.
Pangilinan said he is also doing this for all the victims of false information online.
This is not the first time the Pangilinan family has taken steps against online attacks.
In June last year, Cuneta sought the help of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to identify and locate the social media user who made online rape threats against their daughter Frankie.