AMID the new normal, the Philippine National Police has already filed a total of 121 criminal complaints against 80 persons in different courts nationwide for their involvement in various cybercrimes exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic, PNP chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said.
The top cop said that the cases involved spreading fake news on the internet, illegal online sale of medical supplies, and online scams.
Citing official data, the PNP chief said that from March 9, 2021 to last August 9, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group have filed 87 criminal complaints against 52 persons for spreading fake news; three online scam complaints against two persons; and 31 criminal complaints against 26 persons for online profiteering, overpricing, hoarding and unauthorized selling of medical supplies.
The criminal information were filed in different in different prosecutor’s offices nationwide.
“Bukod sa mahigpit na pagpapatupad ng minimum public health safety standards at quarantine protocols, patuloy ang pagtugis ng PNP sa mga walang kaluluwang pinagkakakitaan at nanamantala sa pangamba at takot ng ating mga kababayan sa COVID-19,” Gen. Eleazar assured.
The PNP chief added they have intensified their monitoring of cybercrimes with most people compelled to log on the internet for school, office work and business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He made the revelation as he led the house-to-house Barangayanihan or Bayanihan Sa Barangay) Help and Food Bank Distribution of food packs to poor residents of Baseco, Tondo.
Gen. Eleazar pointed out that, based on reports from the CIDG and the ACG, there has been an increase in incidents of persons spreading fake news and unverified information about the COVID-19 pandemic on social media.
“A total of 87 criminal complaints have been filed in court while 52 individuals were charged for purveying fake news and unverified information on social media amid the public health emergency,” he said.
The suspects were ere specifically charged with Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code as amended to include Online Libel; violation of Republic Act 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law; and violation of Presidential Decree No. 90, which makes rumor-mongering and spreading false information as unlawful.
“We are appealing to the public to be discerning and wary of fake news. This is also a stern warning to all individuals or groups spreading false information on various social media platforms. We will go after you and will not hesitate to put you behind bars,” Gen. Eleazar said.
Also the PNP-CIDG headed by Major Gen. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro and the PNP-ACG led by Brigadier Gen. Robert T. Rodriguez has also filed three criminal complaints against two suspected online scammers; and 31 criminal complaints against 26 alleged online profiteers, hoarders, and unauthorized sellers of medical supplies.
Seized from the unauthorized online sellers were gallons of disinfectants, vitamin C capsules, forehead thermometers, face masks and several liters of isopropyl alcohol.
“Binabalaan ko ang mga manloloko at mapagsamantala sa kapwa na tigil-tigilan na ang ganitong gawain. You will face the full force of the law for your criminal activities,” Gen. Eleazar said.