Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson went to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to explain that she made an "honest mistake" in a Facebook post which was tagged as "fake news."
Uson showed up at the NBI office wearing shades and a face mask.
Uson’s explanation was in compliance with a subpoena from the NBI’s Cybercrime Division, ordering her to explain her use of a photo from a private group to accompany a Facebook post about the government's purchase of personal protective equipment.
Uson posted on Facebook last month photos of safety gear that the government supposedly purchased.
She replaced the images within minutes after social media users pointed out that these included photos from a private foundation.
Those spreading false information about the pandemic could face a 2-month jail sentence or a â‚±10,000 to â‚±1-million fine under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act that grants President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to arrest the respiratory disease's spread.
Uson used a photo that turned out to be one from SM Foundation.
She said that her intention was to inform the public that the government is not neglecting frontliners.
"Kaya nga du'n sa post ko, nai-share ko 'yung good news na mayroong ginagawang aksiyon ang gobyerno na mag-provide ng PPEs sa ating mga frontliners," she said at the NBI.
"Eh nagamit ko 'yung photo na 'yun mula sa Philippine Star na respetadong mainstream media, broadsheet. 'Yun pala mali din sila ng nagamit na larawan. So 'yung impormasyon na gusto kong i-share sa publiko [ay] may ginagawa ang gobyerno para pangalagaan 'yung frontliners natin. Nagkamali lang, honest mistake 'yung sa photo," Uson said.
Uson said that she issued an erratum on her Facebook page following the error.
NBI cybercrime division chief Victor Lorenzo said Uson submitted photos on the sequence of events on the subject of the complaint.
To recall, the NBI summoned the administration official because there were complainants against her.
The NBI will wait for Uson's affidavit, will make a report, and have it evaluated.
In April 2018, Uson, while still with the Presidential Communications Operations Office, was sued for allegedly spreading misinformation through a November 2016 post that says students from St. Scholastica's College were required to attend a protest rally.
The NBI was ordered by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to investigate COVID-19-related "fake news."
Lorenzo said the cybercrime division is on the lookout for posts that tend to "disrupt public order."
The bureau also earlier summoned a private citizen who made a Facebook post purportedly about the government purchasing a P2-billion jet instead of providing healthcare for Filipinos.