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Azurin: PNP dead serious in crackdown vs fake news purveyors

September 29, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 566 views

AzurinAFTER filing criminal charges against one suspect last week, the Philippine National Police (PNP) headed by General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr. on Thursday underscored anew its commitment to go after fake news purveyors on social and mainstream media in the country which tend to sow panic and public confusion.

Gen. Azurin said his cybercops have also uncovered an attempt on social media to pass off a fake news item regarding a ‘chop-chop body’ said to be discovered in Quezon City last week.

Azurin said the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group headed by Brig. Gen. Joel B. Doria is already investigating the latest disinformation effort thru the social media which particularly involves a hoax news posted five years ago.

“The PNP, thru the Anti-Cybercrime Group is conducting its own investigation to gather more inputs to support its request for Facebook to permanently take-down the newsfeed that has been fact-checked as “fake news,” Gen. Azurin said.

The PNP chief again cautioned the public to be wary of fake news circulating on social media and be responsible in sharing and posting information.

“Please always be mindful of the authenticity of the information and the credibility of its source,” he said as the particular 2017 fake news was reposted and shared by some netizens.

“Unverified information or any information that cannot be independently validated as factual should always be dealt with caution and prudence, especially if the source is dubious or unknown,” Gen. Azurin explained.

According to National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director, Brig. Gen. Jonnel C. Estomo, the 2017 post in Facebook about the alleged discovery of a dismembered body in Q.C. has been proven to be a hoax by the Q.C. Police District headed by Brig. Gen. Nicolas D. Torre III.

Brig. Gen. Estomo said the QCPD exerted maximum efforts to validate the existence of the said incident five years ago but investigation showed that the viral post did not exist.

Then QCPD district director and later PNP chief, Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar ordered the investigation into the fake news.

Estomo said they are coordinating with the PNP-ACG their investigation into the persons behind the circulation of the fake news.

Brig. Gen. Doria said they have also filed criminal charges for violation of Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code or Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2013 against one one Cherry Ann Matias Pineda of San Fernando City in Pampanga for spreading an unverified news in social media.

Brig. Gen. Doria said that on her social media post on her Facebook Account “Pineda CherryAnn” on August 19, 2022, the suspect stated en toto: “TW / Kidnapping Hi po! For awareness lang din kaya sasabihin ko ito. May nakidnap daw po sa may Trancoville kaninang 6-7 PM. Extra careful po tayo habang nasa labas and as much as possible, may kasama pauwi, lalo na sa mga ginagabi.

Yun lang, stay safe! Paki kalat send nyo sa mga GC nyo: Paki kalat daw, plate # ng mga nangunguha ng bata pati mga dalaga. Van na green XMM-507, at white van VXM-351. FROM: SAN JOSE PULIS. PNP pls pass…

However, the PNP-ACG director said the chairman of Bgy. Trancoville in Baguio City, Engineer William Regacho and the Baguio City Police Office issued certifications that there were no recorded kidnapping incidents involving men in a white van in their area on that date.

The chief of the Cordillera Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit, Lieutenant Colonel Ma. Theresa Guinto-Pucay said that with the use of social media exploitation and cyber patrolling, they were able to identify the suspect by linking her 2nd Facebook Account “Pineda CherryAnn” to her original Facebook Account “Cherry Ann Matias Pineda.”

The charges were filed against Pineda before the Baguio City Prosecutor’s Office last Thursday.

The filing of the charges came as Brig. Gen. Doria ordered all his commanders to intensify their cyber-patrolling and social media exploitation to validate and monitor all fake videos and posts that are circulating in the social media.

“Information sabotage or unvalidated reports posted on social media should not be tolerated as it creates a feeling of panic in the community. Let this be a warning to all spreaders of fake news.

Remember this, we are watching you!,” the official said.

Brig. Gen. Doria said they have discovered that many of the videos which have been circulating online about attempted rape, attempted abduction, and alleged missing persons have in fact been solved by the police force.

“Most of it when validated reveal that the post happened years ago, were already solved by the PNP, and yet being recycled, others are edited pictures that are posted to probably gain followers or to depict a picture of an unstable government,” he said.

Gen. Azurin has already ordered all police units in the country to intensify their effort in monitoring widespread circulation of fake news especially those which pose threats and misinformation that may instigate and incite social conflict.

“I call the attention of our public to be more mindful of what we are posting in our social media sites and refrain from spreading unverified information from unknown source that may lead to public disturbance, panic and confusion,” the top cop said.

RA 10175 says that penalties for crimes committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be one degree higher. Guilty offenders face a 6-month jail term and a fine ranging from P40,000 to P200,000.

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