Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año said Monday formal complaints have been filed against “the perpetrator of fake news circulated on social media allegedly quoting him as advising couples to practice physical distancing after sex.’’
The charges were filed after the Philippine National Police (PNP) completed its investigation and identified the culprit as 26-year-old Cebu City resident Gabriel Marvin Cabier.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya noted the cases filed against Cabier were for violation of Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code (Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances) in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and Article 142 RPC as amended by Presidential Decree 1974 in relation to RA 10175.
He said that the criminal cases were filed with the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office last Aug. 20 “after Mr. Cabier caused the posting of a Facebook page ‘One Ride One Shot’ which contained the fake news and which had 11,000 shares, 3,600 reactions and 1,900 comments as of 1:20 p.m. of Aug. 11, 2020.’’
Malaya noted that the administrator of the page was confirmed by the PNP-CIDG to be Cabier.
He explained that the filing of the charges should serve as a public reminder to be responsible when making posts in social media.
“Gamitin po natin ito para sa kabutihan lalo na at tayo ay nahaharap sa isang matinding krisis (Let us use this for good purposes especially that we are facing a crisis right now),” Malaya said.
“Our freedom of expression is not absolute especially if it distorts facts. This freedom cannot be used to spread fake news or to dish out disinformation,” he added.
Malaya noted: “ We pushed through with the filing of criminal cases as a warning to all would-be perpetrators of fake news to think twice before they do something similar. We will prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.
The DILG is awaiting the subpoena to be released by the investigating prosecutor while the controversial post has been deleted by the administrator of the page.
The DILG said “Cabier’s malicious post circulated like wildfire to the dismay of many government officials, including DILG Secretary Año, who was maliciously attributed to be the source of the news.’’
The viral post used the picture of Año with the following text: “Yowooo na! Wala na jud ko kasabot aning kalakihan ani man jud ni padong ba…Feel nako ang neurons anis utok nagsocial distancing na pud ba hays. #photoolmine. #memes” (After mag-sex dapat may physical distancing na din sila. Para sure na walang COVID ang bawat isa).”
“In this time of public health emergency, it is unfortunate that some people stoop so low and waste their time and energy to spread fake news and sow disinformation to malign people such as Secretary Año, himself a COVID survivor, who has been tirelessly working to defeat COVID-19 in his capacity as vice chair of NTF COVID-19. We urge these people to use their creative minds instead on how they can complement the efforts of the government in spreading the right information and helping those in need,” Malaya said.