PNP cites voided Marcos decree vs 'fake news' amid coronavirus scare
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) is citing a repealed Marcos-era decree in its fight against fake news peddlers in the wake of misinformation and panic amid the global outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).
In a statement on Wednesday, February 5, the PNP announced that they would join the lookout for sources of false information. They cited two laws as basis:
- Presidential Decree 90, which bans unlawful rumor-mongering and spreading false information;
- Unlawful means of publication and utterances under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Republic Act 10175 or the Anti-Cybercrime Law
Rappler has sought comment on the possible oversight, but the PNP's spokesman has yet to reply as of posting.
The first problem: Presidential Decree 90 has been voided 34 years ago by former president Corazon Aquino after the ouster of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. “[I]nstead of promoting the said objective, the aforesaid issuances in effect paved the way for violations of the freedom of expression of the people,” Aquino said in Executive Order No. 65, which repealed the Marcos decree.
The second problem: It is unclear whether those who share fake news will be punished too. The Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional the provision of the Cybercrime Law that punishes aiding and abetting crime, or in this context, sharing fake news.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra did not directlty address questions about this, saying that law enforcers would first need to scout for a “malicious scheme” or “pattern” of the act. – with a report from Lian Buan/Rappler.com