Penalty for fake news, rumor-mongering sought

SPREADING, reporting and publishing of fake news about persons and events in Dagupan City in the social media, television, radio and print, will soon be penalized if the draft ordinance filed last week is passed.

Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo filed a draft ordinance in the city council seeking to impose penalty on anyone spreading, reporting, and or publishing fake news and misinformation in the city of Dagupan.

Tamayo, a lawyer, said he filed the measure because there are unscrupulous persons in Dagupan City in the habit of spreading lies in a bid to place somebody or officials in the bad light, cast aspersion on their reputation, cause undue alarm to them, their relatives and supporters and putting them in panic and hysteria.

Saying that the constitutional freedom of expression is not absolute, Tamayo maintained that the constitution does not allow the dangerous proliferation of falsities that can cause destruction of lives.

He cited a fake news posted in the social media that a city official has been suspended or will be suspended which was a complete fabrication and obviously politically motivated to embarrass the official.

The same source of fake news, he said, also tagged the official as a “killer” and involved in illegal drugs.

The obvious lies are also peddled by radio news anchors making these appear as legitimate news.

A few weeks ago, another post in social media told of a bomb threat in a mall in the city that sowed panic.

Tamayo believes that deliberate misinformation and rumor-mongering could lead not only to the breakdown of morals, law and order but to wrong responses by government the times of calamities and emergencies. (Leonardo Micua)