Business Mirror : NBI ready to assist hunt for peddlers of ‘fake news’

5 April 2022

By JOEL R. SAN JUAN | Business Mirror

THE Department of Justice (DOJ) has expressed its readiness to help the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in going after peddlers of “fake news” relating to the incoming national and local elections.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra made the assurance after Comelec Commissioner George Garcia on Monday said the poll body would seek the assistance of law enforcement agencies such as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an attached agency of the DOJ, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in holding purveyors of fake news criminally liable.

The Comelec has expressed its intention to include the said agencies as part of its Task Force Against Fake News.

“But as in the case of the Comelec’s campaign against vote-buying, the DOJ is ready to extend help to the Comelec,” Guevarra said.

“After all, purveying false news that affect public interest or public order is a criminal offense that falls squarely within the mandate of the DOJ/NBI to investigate and prosecute,” he added.

Garcia said that the creation of such a task force would enable them to better investigate and file appropriate charges against those who spread rumors that may raise questions on the integrity of the election process. Aside from the Task Force Against Fake News, the DOJ and the NBI would also be part of the Comelec-formed Inter-Agency Task Force Kontra Bigay that would focus on vote buying.

The Task Force Kontra Bigay would be headed by Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino.

Its members would also include representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

Threatening BBM

IN a related development, the DOJ’s Office of Prosecutor General (OPG) announced that it has approved the filing of criminal charges against a delivery rider who allegedly posted in his Twitter account a threat to kill presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Charges of grave threats under Article 282 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Republic Act 10175 (Cybercrime Law) is set to be filed against Michael Go before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.

The case stemmed from the complaint of a certain Ken Romualdez and the Quezon City Police District Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit.

Go was accused of posting on his Twitter: “I was block by Marcos Jr. in 2016. Paki sabi mag ingat siya sa Tandang Sora QC. Pag dumaan siya dun babarilin ko siya. Di ako takot makulong. Hindi rin ako takot mamatay. Isang malaking karangalan ipaghiganti mga kasama ko aktibista biktima ng karahasan panahon ng martial law [Tell Marcos to be careful when he is in Tandang Sora, Quezon City. When he passes by there, I will shoot him. I am not afraid to go to jail. I am not afraid to die. It will be an honor to avenge my activist companions who were victims of violence during martial law].”

“Grave threat is a crime against security. Article 282 penalizes any person who shall threaten another with the infliction upon the person, honor, or property of the latter or of his family of any wrongdoing amounting to a crime,” the DOJ-OPG said.

Go, who turned himself over to the police, had denied the allegation, claiming that the said Twitter account does not belong to him.