Philippines creates Task Force to combat fake news on COVID-19, aiming to protect public from potentially hazardous information

In order to prevent fake news and misleading information that can become hazardous and dangerous to the general public, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in collaboration with the Philippine National Police (PNP) have created the “Task Force COVID Kontra Peke” group.

During the Laging Handa Public Briefing held last March 24, PNP Deputy Chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar addressed the rising problem and spread of misinformation as the country continues its fight to protect the Philippines from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eleazar called on the public to refrain from taking advantage of the confusing situation to create misinformation and fake news on social media and other online platforms. According to Eleazar, fake news aims to harm the social order and can potentially endanger a person’s health by generating panic.

The DICT’s Cybersecurity Bureau (CSB) through the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-PH) is charged with technical assistance on information sharing and analysis for law enforcement agencies, including the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

DICT Assistant Secretary for Digital Philippines, Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic, acknowledges the importance of the tasks given to the agency.

“The DICT is ready and willing to lend our expertise to our law enforcement agencies to help the in the fight against the spread of the virus, and the spread of disinformation. We cannot take fake news lightly, as it threatens peace and order as well as safety of our society, especially during this time of national emergency,” he said.

Also cautioning people to not fall for fake news—sending a stern warning to those behind the proliferation of such.

“We call on the public to be more vigilant in consuming information, especially those fronting as news. If you can, verify the source of an article and check for other related articles that would support what the first one is saying. Of course, for those who intentionally produce such materials, fake news, you will be liable to the full extent of the law,” he added.

Citizens caught peddling fake news could be charged for violating Republic Act 10175 (Anti-Cybercrime Law), or under Section 6 (f) of Republic Act 11469 (Bayanihan to Heal As One Act), whichever is applicable.

The Kontra Peke Task Force shall perform its commitments on top of the PNP’s ongoing campaign against other disorderly social conduct such as hoarding, overpricing and selling of fake quarantine passes.

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