It would be best if you did not spread fake news or embark on mass disinformation in the Philippines, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, because the Government could slap you with a massive fine for violating a law. There was a bill President Duterte signed into law on August 29, 2017 – Republic Act (RA) 10951. It is a law increasing the penalty for imprisonment and fine under the existing Revised Penal Code.
Fines For Spreading Fake News
Spreading fake news or mass disinformation may fall under Article 154: Unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterance. The penalty fine ranges from PHP 40,000 to PHP 200,000. Previously, it was only from PHP 200 to PHP 1000. There is no penalty of imprisonment for violating Article 154 alone, though. However, depending on the purpose, reach, amount of damage of fake news, your violation may qualify for other articles that warrant the penalty of imprisonment and/or further fines. Remember, the law is very technical and not as simple as we think. We should always consult a lawyer.
Fake News And Disinformation During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Some Filipinos who spread fake news or embark on disinformation on social media may be violating Article 154 could pay a considerable fine, according to BATASNatin Atty. Libayan. Take, for instance, the case of Dr. Ron, who has embarked on mass disinformation regarding COVID-19. The doctor has many followers online. At one point, he had 700000 followers on his Facebook page. His fake news and profession as a Physical Therapy doctor may dissuade his followers from heeding the Philippine Government’s mandatory health protocols for COVID-19. In the same token, they may opt-out of any vaccination due to the wrong perception Dr. Ron has implanted in their minds. As a result, their actions may impede the Government’s overall vaccination effort for its people.
Article 154.1, among other things, emphasizes public order and/or damage to the interest or credit of the State.
Any person who is using printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger the public order or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State.
What about Free Speech?
But how about your freedom of speech? Well, according to Atty. Libayan, free speech ceases to exist when you violate the law by spreading fake news or mass disinformation. Therefore, be mindful of what you post online and keep an open mind.
Disclaimer: PinoyStack does not provide legal advice. Please consult a lawyer.