Creating and spreading “fake news” may soon become punishable under a new bill filed in the House of Representatives.

House Bill No. 2971 by Reps. Josephine Lacson-Noel (Malabon) and Florencio Gabriel Noel (An Waray party-list) sought amendments to the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 to add a definition for “fake news” as “misinformation and disinformation of stories, facts, and news which is presented as a fact, the veracity of which cannot be confirmed, with the purpose of distorting the truth and misleading its audience.”. 

Under the said bill, “the creation and dissemination of fake news […] committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future” constitutes as a cybercrime.

However, there’s no specification as to what the “truth” means. 

Those found guilty shall be punished with a prison term of six years and one day to twelve years or a fine of at least P200,000.

“People have been repeatedly misinformed about what they consider to be data and facts through the advent of ‘fake news’…both misinformation and disinformation must not go unpunished, especially since it poisons the minds of our citizens by distorting the truth,” Lacson-Noel wrote in her explanatory note. 

The Philippines has been tagged as “patient zero” in the global pandemic disinformation in social media, prompting newsrooms, the academe and civil society organizations to create fact-checking coalitions. 

PressOne.PH is a member of Philippine Fact Checking Incubator (PFCI) program of Internews. It is also a member of the fact-checking coalitions Tsek.PH and #FactsFirstPH.

Ronald Espartinez