COMBATING FAKE NEWS. PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group spokesperson, Capt. Jeck Robbin Gammad, in a press briefing on Wednesday (Feb. 5, 2020) says they are tracing six social media posts that allegedly spread fake news about the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD). Gammad warned netizens to refrain from spreading false information or face charges. (PNA photo by Lloyd Caliwan)

MANILA -- The Philippine National Police-Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) on Wednesday said it is looking into six social media posts that allegedly spread fake news about the 2019 novel coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD).

In a press briefing, ACG spokesperson, Capt. Jeck Robin Gammad said they are continuously monitoring social media platforms, particularly Facebook, where these posts are prevalent.

Gammad said they are tracing the source accounts of the fake information and will report it to the social media platform administrator which has the capability to take down the accounts.

“As regards the fake news appearing on news feed, we conduct validation as to the authenticity of the information in these posts. For example, as for information on the alleged nCoV case in Alabang, we called the hospital to confirm if this is true. Once we verify that it is false, we immediately report it to Facebook Philippines, for that matter,” he said in Filipino.

He said an ACG team is dedicated to cyber patrolling to combat the spread of fake news which may cause panic.

Gammad said it is easy for the ACG to identify the legitimacy of the account as well as the posts containing false information but not taking down the posts so it will no longer be shared.

He also warned those responsible for spreading fake news of criminal charges.

“For those identified as purveyors of fake news, they can be charged with violation of PD (Presidential Decree) no. 90 which is declaring local rumor, mongering and spreading false information," Gammad said.

Meanwhile, those who are using information communication technology methods in spreading false information may be meted with up to 12 years imprisonment for violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

Gammad urged anew the public, particularly netizens, to be responsible to curb panic over the nCoV threat.

Meanwhile, PNP spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac urged the public to remain alert and vigilant, and report to authorities anyone spreading fake news.

“Please avoid spreading unofficial, unverified and unvalidated information on nCoV or face arrest. We will not hesitate to file charges against anyone found spreading false information,” Banac said in a statement.

Another possible case to be filed against spreading fake news is Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 of RA 10175, otherwise known as the Anti-Cybercrime Law. (PNA)