Comelec to file cases vs 5 individuals allegedly spreading ‘fake news’ after May 9

After the May 2022 elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it will file cases against five individuals allegedly spreading “fake news” that undermines the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.

Comelec Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia (Photo courtesy of the Office of Commissioner Garcia)

During a virtual forum on Wednesday, May 4, poll Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia said they have already referred five cases of “fake news” to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) last week, adding that the poll body will file complaints against the five individuals right after the polls.

“After the elections we will be filing cases against these individuals simply because mali po ‘yung ginawa nila (what they did was wrong). Sinasabi po nila may results na, ‘yung iba naman may mga balota na shinashade nila yung original na balota (Some of them said there’s already results, others claimed that they’ve shaded original ballots),” he said.

Such “fake news”, he said, may make Filipinos believe that the conduct of polls on May 9 is useless as the elections appeared to be rigged due to the disinformation being spread on social media.

According to the poll commissioner, some of the alleged “fake news” peddlers they have identified are spreading fake news outside of the country.

“Kapag na-file naman kami ng kaso, anytime na bumalik sila dito sa Pilipinas, pupuwede naman namin ma-serve kung may warrant of arrest sa i-issue ‘yung ating mga korte (Once we have already filed cases against them, once they return to the country, arrest warrants will be served against them once our courts issue such),” Garcia said when asked how to hold accountable individuals spreading fake news overseas.

Meanwhile, he clarified that Comelec is open to the public’s criticisms and commentaries, saying the poll body will not file a lawsuit as such is part of the freedom of expression.

“Huwag po kayong matatakot (Do not be scared)... Free po kayo (You are free). It is part of the freedom of expression. Libre po kayo mag-express ng sentiment laban sa Commission, ‘yung kapalpakan namin free po kayo diyan (You are free to express your sentiments against the Comelec, even our shortcomings you are at liberty to do so), he said.

“We will not even file cases against you. That is part of the guarantee of our democracy,” he stressed.

Garcia said the poll body will continue to be watchful of individuals spreading “fake news” about the elections.

“Comelec will watch everything as far as those untruthful information are concerned. Fake news, pakiiwasan po natin iyan (let’s not spread such),” he said.