A Provincial Board (PB) Member on Tuesday proposed a measure that would penalize and imprison those found guilty of spreading false information or the so-called fake news on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (nCoV ARD), which has hogged the global and local headlines for its fast-spreading nature while health authorities still continue to learn more about the new disease.
PB Member Jade Bautista, chair of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan’s tourism committee, suggested for a penalty of P5,000 and imprisonment of up to one year to be imposed against those found guilty of spreading false information on the nCoV ARD.
“Amidst the corona virus situation in Bohol, Fake news about it is prevelant in social media today. It causes panic and fear among Boholano residents,” she said in a privilege speech. “With this, I propose to enact an ordinance to penalize and arrest bearers of fake news on corona virus in Bohol.”
The proposed measure was referred to the PB’s committee on information and communication technology chaired by PB Member Aldner Damalerio.
If approved, the ordinance would rely on the assistance of the newly formed Bohol Cyber Response Team (BCRT) of the Bohol Provincial Police Office in going after sources of fake news.
For his part, Lieutenant German Soroño, chief of the BCRT which was formed last month, expressed support for the proposed measure.
“Nindot ni na plano kay ma prevent nato ang unnecessary panic unya we can also educate bahin anang mga unscrupulous behavior that they want to sow fear to the people,” said Soroño. “Of course I support this measure because it will be for the common good.”
He said that they are prepared to go after sources of erroneous information and libelous statements online as they are mandated to pursue cyber criminals through Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
The Bohol anti-cybercrime group is manned by a five-man team led by Soroño. Other members of the team are cyber patrollers Pat. Junaliza Circo, Pat. Alrdin Gabaisen, Cpl. Van Harem Lingues and Pat. Maria Nalla.(R. Tutas)