THE chief of the Central Visayas police has ordered an investigation on Cebu City Councilor Prisca Niña Mabatid who posted unverified reports on social media about three persons who died in a hospital due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Police Regional Office 7 Director P/Brig. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro ordered the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to conduct the inquiry.
Mabatid could be charged for unlawful publication and utterances, a violation of Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code, in relation to Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
Screenshots of Mabatid’s now-deleted Facebook post were circulated online.
A portion of the councilor’s post read: “Three died already with suspected COVID here in Cebu City. Namatay na lang wa pa gihapon na confirm (They already died, and still their status has not been confirmed). I can just imagine pila na kaha kabuok (how many people are) positive. I believe there are more than 10 (who are) already in the hospital now. So (please) stay (at) home everyone. This is the only way to slow down the spread of the virus.”
Mabatid defended her actions, saying Facebook was an avenue to express her freedom to give her opinion.
Radio dyRC’s screenshot of Mabatid’s Facebook post defending her action read: “I am a public official and vice chairwoman (in) the committee on health... I cannot help but react to the first-hand information I received about the three (persons who died). But take note it (was only) suspected (cases) because they were not tested. Why? Because our testing kits have just arrived and they are not enough to test the PUIs (patients under investigation) and PUMs (persons under monitoring) here in Cebu City.”
The newbie local lawmaker further said that Cebu City is not safe from the Covid-19 threat. She then urged the Department of Health to fast-track its testing on PUIs and PUMs.
“I submit myself to the investigation. My truthfulness may hurt my reputation, but I’m doing this for the Cebuanos. To the Cebuanos: Stay home!” Mabatid said.
The latest Facebook post of Mabatid was deleted after Ferro’s press conference on Tuesday, March 24.
Mabatid’s political ally Mayor Edgardo Labella said the news involving the councilor must not distract them from preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the city. He will just wait for the results of the CCPO’s investigation.
Ferro said the investigators will ask Mabatid where she got the information on the supposed three fatalities.
“We are appealing to the public that we should do away with these fake news because they are just creating panic and anxiety among our people,” Ferro said, adding that Mabatid should be responsible to give accurate information to the public.
CCPO Director Hector Grijaldo said he will dispatch a team of investigators to the house of Mabatid to start the investigation. (AYB & JCT / MMC)