MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said it has lodged criminal complaints against 80 persons allegedly involved in cybercrimes exploiting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
PNP chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said the cases involved spreading false information on social media, illegal online sale of medical supplies, and online scams.
Citing PNP data from March 2020 to August 2021, Eleazar said that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) have filed 87 criminal complaints against 52 persons for proliferating fake news.
Eleazar said they were 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.
Based on the reports, Eleazar said there has been an increase in the number of incidents involving the spread of fake news and unverified information about the COVID-19 pandemic on social media.
“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,” the PNP chief said in a statement.
The CIDG and the ACG also filed three criminal complaints against two alleged 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 disinfectant; vitamin C capsules; forehead thermometers; facemasks; and several liters of isopropyl alcohol.
“Binabalaan ko ang mga manloloko at mapagsamantala sa kapwa na tigil-tigilan na ang ganitong gawain,” Eleazar said.
“You will face the full force of the law for your criminal activities,” he added.