Police files charges against lawyer, Cebu City councilor for posting unverified COVID-19 info
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The police has filed the charges against Lawyer Rommel Rosito and Cebu City Councilor Niña Mabatid for posting separate unverified information about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.
Rosito is facing charges for violating Republic Act (RA) 11332, or an act on mandatory reporting of notifiable diseases and health events of public health concern; RA 10173, or an act known as Data Privacy Act; and RA 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act. He was charged on Monday, March 30, 2020.
Police Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), told reporters that they are not tolerating individuals who continue to post information about COVID-19 which are not verified by the Department of Health (DOH).
In previous reports it was mentioned that Rosito was arrested in his home in Barangay Basak Pardo, here, last Saturday, March 28, after he posted names and addresses of alleged COVID-19 patients.
Rosito expressed later that he did not regret his actions since, according to him, he only wanted to help by letting the public know who to avoid in order not to get infected.
However, Ferro said that it doesn’t matter if the names released were indeed COVID-19 patients as Rosito was not in the right position to disclose such information.
“We have to follow the proper chain of the channel that will give the information. We should not disseminate information if you are not the proper authority,” said Ferro.
Meanwhile, Police Colonel Hector Grijaldo, chief of Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said they, too, have filed the charges against Mabatid, who also posted on her Facebook account information about patients who allegedly died due to Covid-19 which was still not verified by the DOH.
Grijaldo said they filed the charges last Friday, March 27, and was already received by the prosecutor’s office.
Mabatid already aired her side about the issue and said she did not mean to cause panic to the people upon posting the information she has received that three deaths have been recorded of suspected Covid-19 cases. She also said she is ready to face the charges.
“My Facebook is an avenue of my freedom of expression. I am a public official and vice chairwoman on the committee on health and I cannot help but react to the first-hand information I have received of the 3 deaths. But take note it’s suspected because they were not tested. Why? Because our testing kits just arrived and they are not enough to test the PUIS and PUMS here in Cebu City,” said Mabatid. /bmjo
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