INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday ordered the police to investigate and arrest purveyors of false information on the 2019 novel Coronavirus (nCoV) saying the nuisance activity must be stopped.
According to Año, the national police will not hesitate to put behind bars those responsible, whether an individual or groups, for spreading fake news about the deadly disease.
“Let’s not propagate erroneous information that is more viral than the virus itself. We already have enough on our plate. Hindi po sila nakakatulong sa paglutas ng ating problema, bagkus mas pinapalala pa nila ang problema,” the DILG chief added.
Freedom of expression, according to Año, has limitations, especially when its exercise threatens the welfare of the public.
DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said that the DILG itself was a victim of fake news when an infographic allegedly coming from the DILG was created and distributed last Friday alleging that the Department has decided to place on mandatory quarantine all travelers from 23 countries who have confirmed nCoV cases.
The unauthorized and patently illegal infographic went viral and caused panic among travelers who wanted to cancel their travel plans because of the bogus information.
“It has become absurd and worrisome,” he said.
The DILG official has urged the public to trust only official sources of information and to verify first before sharing.
He said that the PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG), which investigates crimes using Information and Communications Technology (ICT), is capable of tracing and tracking fake news perpetrators on the Internet. It is currently verifying six suspected fake news posts on the coronavirus on social media.
FAKE NEWS KILLS — DOCTOR
“Fake News” is more dangerous and killing people.
The warning was issued by Dr. Edsel Salvaña during the press conference of Philippine College of Physicians in Quezon City yesterday morning.
Salvana assured the public that the government is on top of the situation, especially the Department of Health (DOH) and its partners are doing everything to protect everybody against NCOV.
“Pakiusap po, ‘wag tayong mag-panic! Lalong-lalo na huwag maniwala, makinig at magkalat ng mga fake news tungkol dito dahil mas delikado po ang fake news,” said Salvana.
Salvana advised the public to listen only to the DOH and to its authorized or designated spokesperson regarding the NCOV.
“Kapag nagsama-sama po tayo, at sumunod sa tagubilin ng gobyerno kayang-kaya kahit anong problema, gaya ng NCOV,” said Salvana.
“The DOH has been in close coordination with all concerned including the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure we are updated on the NCOV crisis,” said Salvana.
With Jun I. Legaspi