By Jeffrey Damicog
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been directed on Tuesday (Feb. 4), to investigate all fake news concerning the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and find who were behind the misinformation.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra gave this directive under Department Order (DO) No. 052 that he issued on Tuesday.
In the DO, Guevarra told the NBI “to conduct an investigation and case build-up on alleged deliberate spread of misinformation and fake news about the 2019-nCoV ARD (acute respiratory disease) and false reporting of 2019-nCoV ARD cases and, if evidence warrants, to file appropriate charges against persons responsible therefor.”
Guevarra also instructed the NBI “to coordinate with the Department of Health and provide such technical assistance as may be needed by the said agency in the contact tracing of individuals with the 2019-nCoV ARD, especially passengers who were on board the same flights as the Philippines’ two confirmed 2019-nCoV ARD cases.”
The justice secretary told NBI Director Dante Gierran to submit to him “reports on the progress of the subject investigation, case build-up, and assistance.”
Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete stressed the need to weed out fake news amid the 2019-nCoV scare.
“Laws exist to ensure, among others, public order and safety. Upholding such laws becomes even more important when circumstances that agitate the public emerge. Persons who unnecessarily aggravate such agitation through actions violative of our laws cannot be allowed to unjustly claim protection under the basic guarantees of our Constitution. To hold otherwise will invite chaos and disorder,” he said.