The Philippine National Police (PNP) has stressed it is high time to criminalize the spread of fake news or false information.
PNP deputy director for administration Brig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor said fake news has a negative impact on politics, the economy, culture and public safety.
He pointed out that since fake news maligns the reputation of a person on entity, the violator can be held liable for libel, adding that intriguing against honor is punishable under the Revised Penal Code.
Villaflor also cited the importance of proving fake news.
The Senate Committees on Justice and Human Rights and Public Information and Mass Media on Tuesday conducted a hearing on Senate Bill 1296 which aims to criminalize fake news.
The PNP Anti-cybercrime Group said it is crucial to define what is fake news and what is included in this term.
The proposed measure also mentioned who should be held accountable to include social media and other online platforms.
For his part, Sen. Raffy Tulfo asked if there was a way to immediately take down fake news from the websites and social media platforms.
The senator said he has been victimized by a fake news, and it took one week before it was taken down from You Tube.
He noted the process is difficult since it needs hundreds and even thousands to report the content of a fake report before it can be deleted.
NBI Cybercrime Division chief Christopher Paz responded that there is no law on this matter.
“What we have is the Anti-OSAEC law for sexual and abuse of children.
He said if there will be a law on this, it is important to preserve digital evidence to investigate those who posted the fake news.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada who filed the proposed measure inquired if were arrested over fake news.
Responding to the query, the NBI said there were arrests on such matter made at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some media groups sounded alarm over the criminilization of fake news, saying this will amount to censorhip.
NUJP chairman Jonathan De Santos admitted there was somebody jailed during the pandemic due to a sarcastic Facebook post. He said this is threat to free speech and freedom of expression.
Ellen Tordecillas of Vera Files said this is oxymoron because when news means the truth, and if not true, its gossip.
Gemma Mendoza of Rappler noted that the term “fake news” is just being used to counter information which they do not want.
She said even criticisms are being called fake news.
“Others were also sharing fake news because they do not know its fake,” she added.