Optometrist faces raps for spreading fake news on Covid-19

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

February 17, 2020, 9:08 pm

MANILA -- The Philippine National Police (PNP) lived up to its promise to double its efforts against misinformation as it filed criminal charges against an optometrist who has been allegedly spreading fake news about the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on social media.

PNP spokesman, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac on Monday said cases have been filed against Josephil Brian Consuelo, an optometrist in Mandaue City, for violating Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Section 6 and Section 4 (c) 4 (Online Libel) of the Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The law penalizes the violators with the penalty of arresto mayor and a fine ranging from PHP40,000 to PHP200, 000 or imprisonment for a minimum period of four years and one day to a maximum of eight years each offense.

Brig. Gen. Dennis Agustin, PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) director, said Consuelo was arrested on Feb. 13 after he was identified as the author of a Facebook post claiming that an alleged Covid-19 patient died at the University of Cebu Medical Center (UCMed).

Agustin said regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit of Central Visayas conducted fact-checking and validated information. The UCMed’s Human Resource and Legal Officer also denied Consuelo’s Facebook post.

PNP chief, Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said he ordered intensified cyber patrol operations and monitoring against fake news.

“With the help of the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group, we will double our efforts against misinformation and we urge the public to refrain posting unverified information that creates panic and confusion,” Gamboa said.

Gamboa also urged the public to refrain from posting unverified information that creates panic and confusion.

“We will file criminal charges to those proven spreading these false reports," he warned. (PNA)