“FAKE news can destroy the community. the lives of the people in that community.”
This was stressed by Dagupan Councilor Jose Netu Tamayo during a public hearing on March 13 on his proposed ordinance No. 0-603 seeking to penalize the spreading, reporting and/or publishing of fake news and misinformation in the city of Dagupan”.
City Legal Officer Victoria Cabrera opined that the city council can legislate such measure to be made effective within the city of Dagupan.
Tamayo cited as an example the fake news posted by an unidentified person on Facebook in December that almost created panic, that a bomb exploded at the Paseo de Belen where seven persons were supposed to have died and many others were injured.
Tamayo said that particular fake news may have been intended to sabotage the city government’s peace and order and tourism initiatives.
“If somebody, for instance, posts that the Dagupan bangus is ingesting the lethal substance called mercury without any factual basis, it could ruin the entire bangus industry in Dagupan,” he intoned.
The proposed ordinance imposes a fine of P5,000 and an imprisonment of six months to violators.
He clarified that his proposed ordinance is different from the libel law and is not intended to harass legitimate journalists.
Tamayo, joined by Councilors Dennis Canto, Alvin Coquia and Lino Fernandez, said it is merely the intention of the proposed ordinance to deter unscrupulous persons from inflicting harm on the community through false and malicious reports and rumors.
Another hearing is set on March 20 to hear reactions and suggestions from communication experts, the city’s Information & Technology department, National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police.
The first public hearing was attended by some members of the print, broadcast and television media in Pangasinan. (Leonardo Micua)