Bearer of fake news to face multiple raps

AN OPTOMETRIST will be charged for spreading fake news that a foreign national died in a private hospital in Mandaue City, Cebu due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The eye doctor will be facing a complaint for violating Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code, which prohibits anyone from “unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances.”

The medical professional will also be charged with Republic Act (RA) 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012,” which punishes a person who committed online libel, said Col. Marlo Castillo, chief of the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit (Racu) 7.

The optometrist will also be charged with violating a Cebu Provincial Ordinance passed on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, which prohibits the spreading of fake news and false information on social media, text messages and other forms of communication about Covid-19, the new name of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Castillo refused to divulge the name of the optometrist pending the filing of complaint before the prosecutor’s office.

The optometrist’s post on Facebook says a foreign national succumbed to Covid-19 while confined in the private hospital. However, Racu 7 investigators interviewed the hospital management, which denied any such fatality.

Investigators determined that the optometrist was the first person to post the fake news shared multiple times on social media. They traced the doctor as the origin of the post on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Castillo said they also interviewed the optometrist, who admitted to receiving the information about the supposed fatality but failed to ask the private hospital about it.

The unverified information was posted by the optometrist, who wanted to be first to inform the public. (AYB, KAL)


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