Senator seeks stiffer penalties for govt officials spreading ‘fake news’

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GOVERNMENT officials involved in giving false information or spreading “fake news” should be meted out heavier penalties, a lawmaker said Sunday.

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Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th made the proposal several days after the Senate hearing on “fake news” where several senators grilled Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Margaux “Mocha” Uson over her previous posts on social media.

Aquino insisted government officials should be more responsible for statements they make in public, including posts on the internet.

“Freedoms have limits. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit mayroon tayong batas kontra libel at laban sa anumang pagbabanta ng ibang tao ( It is for this reason that we have laws against libel and from threats by other people,” Aquino said.

Aquino also said it was high-time that platforms and netizens behind the spread of fake news, misinformation and black propaganda online should be punished to protect people from abuse.

Sen. Joel Villanueva filed Senate Bill 1492 or the “Anti-fake news act of 2017” which seeks to penalize any person who maliciously offer, publish, distribute, circulate and spread false news or information or cause the publication, distribution, circulation or spreading of the same in print, broadcast or online media.

Covered in the proposal are false information that cause or tend to cause panic, division, chaos, violence, hate or exhibit a propaganda to blacken or discredit one’s reputation.

Any person who will be found guilty of committing the act will be punished by a fine ranging from P100,000 to P5 million and imprisonment of one to five (5) years.

The bill also seeks to penalize mass and social media sites that would fail or refuse to remove false information.

“Public servants should be held to a higher standard,” Aquino said, adding that both majority and minority senators agreed to fight fake news through legislation. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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