PNP arrests masterminds of fake news spreading alleged cure for Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

The Philippine National Police (PNP) arrested over the weekend the alleged masterminds of fake news who peddle bogus products online that allegedly cure COVID-19.

Citing a report from the PNP Anti-Cyber Crime Group, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya identified the suspect as Ismael Aviso who was arrested with his son Ismael Aviso, Jr. by operatives of the PNP in an entrapment operation in their home in Navotas City where the suspects received the dusted buy-bust money amounting to PhP 7,500 from the police poseur-buyers.

According to Malaya, Aviso gave false information using his Youtube account on what products to use to allegedly defeat the coronavirus. He later on highlighted the product that can be sprayed orally which allegedly can kill the virus.

The suspect also discussed other products that can help alleviate cold and cough, and boost the immune system. "Hindi lang sila nagtitinda ng pekeng mga produkto, nagpapakalat din sila ng mali at walang basehang impormasyon na maaaring ikapahamak pa ng ating mga kababayan," said Malaya.

"There is currently still no cure for COVID-19 kaya huwag po kayong basta-basta naniniwala," he said.

Malaya said that Secretary Eduardo N. Año has repeatedly warned individuals spreading fake news to stop, otherwise they will face the long arm of the law. “The Secretary already made a public warning and you still did not stop. This is just the first arrest. More will follow,” he said.

"May kalalagyan ang mapapatunayang nagpapakalat ng fake news at nanloloko ng kapwa. It is unfortunate that some people take advantage of the people in this time of crisis to make money and create fear and panic,” he said.

Secretary Eduardo M. Año lauded the PNP for their prompt monitoring and action in arresting Aviso and putting a stop to his illegal activities.

“Bagamat lampas ulo ang trabaho ng PNP ngayong panahon ng krisis sa pagmamando sa mga checkpoints, natutuwa ako na hindi sila nagpabaya sa pagmamanman at paghuli sa mga manlolokong tulad bi Aviso. Salamat, PNP,” said Año.

The DILG Chief asks people to verify what they share on social media. “Think before you click dapat,” he said.

He said that there will be people who will take advantage of the coronavirus crisis and the implementation of the ECQ "which is why it is necessary that you only believe in information coming from government authorities and platforms."

He further urged people to report those who are responsible for fake news to the Emergency 911 hotline of the DILG.