Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra stresses a point during a Palace briefing. TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday it would direct the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to monitor false information on social media especially after Vice President Leni Robredo vowed to go after those who spread an online rumor that claimed that she gave Quezon City hospital workers spoiled food.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a statement that he is “asking the NBI to establish a system of monitoring the spread of false or malicious information in social media, establishing the source, determining if there’s a pattern, habit, or scheme, and taking the appropriate steps to preserve evidence of wrongful behavior for possible prosecution in the future.”

Robredo shared on her Facebook account several screenshots of the Facebook and Twitter posts saying that her office sent rotten food to the Diliman Doctors Hospital.

The posts alleged that, Atty. Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson “went to the hospital the next day to apologize and instructed hospital personnel to keep quiet” and supposedly “to give financial aid to frontliners who got food poisoned from the food sent by Leni Robredo.”  The hospital’s director allegedly “refused to meet” Robredo who allegedly went to the hospital to the next day.

“This has never happened. I never went to this hospital,” said Robredo. She said her spokesperson also “never visited any hospital” when the coronavirus lockdown started in March and did not call the Diliman Doctors Hospital.

Guevarra told reporters that the vice president has yet to request the help of the Justice Department, which will “be ready to help” if she pursues legal action.

The Diliman Doctors Hospital reacted to the post saying that they have received food donations from the Office of the Vice President on “three occasions” but “none of which have been found to be spoiled.  They also denied Atty. Gutierrez or any representative from Robredo’s office visiting the hospital and offering any monetary payoff in exchange of keeping silent about the incident.

Contrary to the post saying the hospital director refused to meet Robredo, the hospital said that if the Vice President did indeed visit them, they would consider it an “honor”.

“It could have been an honor to see the Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, Honorable Leni Robredo, visiting our hospital in this COVID pandemic,” the statement read.

Ace Encarnacion, a dietitian of the DDH, “assured” the readers of his tweet that the alleged spoiled food was nothing but “fake news” adding that all food donations to the hospital pass through his department before they are distributed to employees.

Robredo promised to go after those who spread false information against her adding she “will no longer tolerate any of these.”

The Office of the Vice President earlier they had raised almost P60 million for aid to those affected by the pandemic response, including dormitories, safety gear and free shuttle rides for health workers; food and personal care packs for frontliners; andextraction and test kits.  (Rommel F. Lopez)