NBI reiterates warning against purveyors of fake news

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2020   •   310

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Wednesday reiterated its warning to prosecute those found spreading false information online relating to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

NBI Cybercrime Division Chief, Atty. Victor Lorenzo repeated the warning during an interview at UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan program hosted by Daniel Razon, which tackles various concerns of the public amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

During the program, a complainant named Carissa Ann Rodriguez, a resident of Barangay 591 in Manila asked for help after her neighbors posted false information along with her photo on Facebook, alleging that she is infected with coronavirus.

“Kahihiyan po talaga, kasi kumalat po eh, may picture po at may mukha po talaga buong picture ko po tapos ang nakalagay po kasi “mag-ingat sa taong ‘to pagala-gala nanghahawa, positive COVID-19 victim siya tumakas siya sa ospital,” she recounted.

She said she no longer ventures outside of her home as she was deeply embarrassed by the incident even if it was not true.

Lorenzo said the NBI has been receiving and investigating similar complaints as part of the government’s campaign against the spread of fake news, especially amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The NBI is going after misinformation online pursuant to Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code or the Unlawful Use of Means of Publication in relation to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The recently-signed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act also provides a fine of P1 million and up to 12 years imprisonment for purveyors of false information.

“Yung sa article 154 kasi publication ng false news ‘yun na may tendency to endanger public order tulad nyan pag sinabi mo na sa isang barangay may infected na talagang medyo magpa-panic yung mga tao doon sa barangay,” he said.

“At the same time, sa Bayanihan Act naman ay pwedeng may violation kasi yung publication ng fake news nagkakaroon ng chaos at the same time disturbance sa public,” he added.

Through UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan program, Carissa was able to file a complaint against those who spread misinformation against her.

Lorenzo said other victims of false information on social media platforms may also lodge their complaint to the NBI via its online channels as they encourage social distancing amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Because of the incident now yung crisis natin ina-avoid natin yung contact, pinapayagan namin sila mag-file ng formal request for investigative assistance,” he said.

“Kung kailangan talaga makipag-coordinate sa amin ang Facebook o kami ang makipag-coordinate sa Facebook, at least official yung communication namin sa kanila,” he added.

Lorenzo also called on others who became a subject of fake news to come forward and file a complaint to help authorities stop the deliberate spread of misinformation amid the public health crisis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Grace Casin)

Bill extending Bayanihan law for 3 months filed at Senate

Robie de Guzman   •   May 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A bill seeking to extend for three months the validity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act amid the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been filed at the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri introduced Senate Bill No. 1546, proposing the extension of the Republic Act No. 1168 to allow the government to continue its response in addressing the threat and impact of COVID-19 in the country.

The law allows President Rodrigo Duterte to realign items in the national budget for the government’s COVID-19 response. It also grants him the authority to provide emergency support for vulnerable groups and individuals, expand medical resources to fight COVID-19, and finance emergency initiatives to keep the country afloat.

The Bayanihan law, which was signed last March 24, is only valid until June 24.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, assured that the bill will be approved before the Congress adjourns its session next week.

134 barangay execs facing criminal raps for alleged SAP anomalies – DILG

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday reported that there are now 134 barangay officials who are facing criminal raps over the alleged anomalies in the distribution of cash aid under government’s social amelioration program (SAP).

DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the development represents a 320% increase in the number of barangay executives who are facing complaints before the Prosecutor’s Office of the Department of Justice for their alleged offenses.

Last May 20, the DILG reported that 42 barangay officials were charged by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) in relation to the alleged SAP irregularities.

“Hindi ninyo matatakasan ang mga panlolokong ginawa ninyo sa pamimigay ng ayuda. Sinira ninyo ang tiwala ng gobyerno at ng inyong mga kabarangay kaya sa kalaunan, sa kulungan ang bagsak ninyo,” Año said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

Año revealed that a total of 318 complainants went to the PNP-CIDG to report the alleged wrongdoings of their barangay officials during the SAP distribution.

The PNP-CIDG will file nine more cases in the next few days as it fast tracks the case build-up on 86 other cases, he added.

The DILG earlier said that “splitting” is among the top complaints leveled against erring barangay officials, in which they allegedly divide the SAP cash aid of one family to benefit other families.

Collecting “processing fees” and getting a cut from the SAP financial aid of beneficiaries also emerged as among the top complaints against some barangay officials.

DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also said that politics was sometimes at play in the distribution of SAP in some areas where local executives allegedly deprived residents from receiving cash assistance because they are not among their political supporters.

“Ilang beses na naming inuulit. Hindi criteria ang pagiging kamag-anak o kakampi sa politika sa pamimigay ng SAP. Para ito sa mga kapus-palad ano man ang katayuan,” Malaya stressed.

Cases for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and RA 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act were filed by the PNP-CIDG against these barangay officials, the DILG said.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento earlier directed all prosecutors in the country to set the preliminary investigations, as soon as possible, to monitor the progress of such cases which have taken on “a sinister and disgraceful character, considering that money intended for poor hungry people is unlawfully taken away from them.”

“We are grateful to the DOJ and the Prosecutor General for prioritizing these cases. We need to send a strong message to corrupt barangay officials that their criminal activities will not be tolerated,” the DILG said.

Negosyante at internet personality Francis Leo Marcos, hinuli ng NBI

Robie de Guzman   •   May 19, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Inaresto ng National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ang negosyanteng si Francis Leo Marcos dahil sa umano’y paglabag sa optometry law.

Ayon sa NBI, hinuli si Marcos ngayong Martes kaugnay ng kinakaharap nitong kasong paglabag sa Republic Act 8050 o ang Revised Optometry Law sa Baguio City.

Dinakip ng NBI Cybercrime Division si Marcos sa bahay nito sa Quezon City sa bisa ng warrant of arrest na inilabas ng korte sa Baguio.

Taong 2010 pa umano naisampa ang reklamo at noong February 2018 lumabas ang warrant.

Wala pang inilalabas na detalye ang NBI ukol sa kaso ngunit ayon kay Marcos, nag-ugat umano ang reklamo sa pamamahagi niya ng libreng eyeglasses at pagsasagawa ng libreng checkup sa mata nang walang permiso mula sa Philippine Optometrist Association.

Bukod sa nasabing reklamo, sinabi ni NBI deputy director Atty. Ferdinand Lavin na nahaharap din si Marcos sa kasong paglabag sa Anti-Human Trafficking in Persons Act na isinampa noon pang 2006.

Nahaharap din ito sa kasong exploitation at paglabag sa Republic Act 9262 o ang Violation against Women and Children Law na isinampa naman sa Gapan, Nueva Ecija.

Dagdag pa ni Lavin na iniimbestigahan na rin nila ang totoong pangalan ni Marcos.

“Also we are in the process of investigating his true identity because we have been receiving reports that he had been named before as Norman Mangusin,” ani Lavin.

Pinabulaanan naman ni Marcos ang mga alegasyon laban sa kanya,.

“Talaga pong tayo’y napag-iinitan lang pero wala naman pong problema patutunayan natin sa korte yan lahat ng alegasyon na yan,” ani Marcos.

Bukod sa pagiging negosyante, isa ring internet personality si Marcos dahil sa kanyang videos sa YouTube channel na may mahigit isang milyong subscriber. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspendent Dante Amento)

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