The Philippine National Police Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit (RACU) in Region IV-A (Calabarzon), acting on the complaint of the Local Government of Cavite City, filed criminal charges on Friday against a local executive in Cavite province and two others for spreading fake reports and social media posts of a purported COVID-19 case in Cavite City.
RACU-4A, according to a PNP report, said the charges against Mayor Dino Reyes Chua of Noveleta, Cavite, stemmed from a complaint of the City Government of Cavite accusing Chua of spreading fake information through a fake account.
Chua was one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines awardee in 2019, given to youthful leaders (under 40 years of age) who excel in their chosen fields.
Earlier this month, a certain Maggie Bernal posted on her Facebook account 10 pictures of suspected persons under investigation in Cavite City and apparently shared an unverified information that a COVID-19-stricken patient died at the Cavite Medical Center.
The account also accused the local government of Cavite City for not sharing pertinent public information. The local government debunked the claims of Bernal through data from the Rural Health Unit of Cavite City.
The said photo of an alleged COVID-19 patient was posted in a news website but the RHU clarified the patient is from Makati City. The unverified post caused panic among citizens of the city, the PNP-ACG said.
Investigators found out that it was a troll account created in 2010, based on the affidavit of the creator and former administrator.
An online news portal, Latigo News TV, posted the same information although it did not name the patient.
Aside from Chua, the PNP-ACG CALABARZON is suing Mario Batuigas, owner of Latigo News TV, and Amor Virata, a vlogger and online reporter.
In coordination with LGU of Cavite City, cases were filed against the suspects at the Cavite City Prosecutors Office for violating the following:
1. Section 6f of RA 11469/ Bayanihan to Heal As One Act considering the continuing activity of the social media account used by Mayor Chua’s alleged troll, Magie Bernal to spread False Info on Covid-19 in Cavite City. The creator and former administrator of the said account has executed an affidavit as witness;
2. Art 154/Unlawful Use of Means of Publication & Unlawful Utterances;
3. Sec 4c4, RA 1075/Online Libel;
4. Sec 9b, RA. 11332 or the “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act”;
5. Art 14 (7) (Crime committed on the occasion of a conflagration, shipwreck, earthquake, epidemic or other calamity or misfortune) in relation to PRRD PP Nr 922 and 929; and
6. Sec 25b, RA 10173 (Data Privacy Act).