CYBERCRIME. An infographic of the Philippine National Police (PNP) giving pointers on sharing information about the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). The PNP on Friday (March 13, 2020) said they are looking into the identities of two social media users in Eastern Visayas for spreading false information or fake news on the Covid-19 outbreak. (Photo courtesy of PNP)

PALO, Leyte – The Philippine National Police (PNP) is looking into the identities of two social media users in Eastern Visayas for spreading false information or fake news on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.

In a press briefing Friday, Maj. Romenito Mondoñedo, deputy chief of the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit here, said these are from Catbalogan City in Samar and Tanauan town in Leyte.

“The fake news has been removed in social media. Right now, we are investigating the cases and collecting evidence with the help of the Department of Health (DOH),” Mondoñedo said.

The two may face imprisonment for six months to six years or a fine of PHP40,000 to PHP200,000 for violation of the Republic Act 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, PNP said.

Meanwhile, the DOH urged the public to counter fake news by sharing the right information from reliable sources.

“Sometimes, the wrong information gets more shares in social media than the official advisories and updates,” said John Paul Roca, DOH Eastern Visayas information officer.

“We are reminding the public to get information about the Covid-19 only from the DOH official press release, website, social media accounts, and other reliable sources, to avoid misinformation that causes panic and fear,” he added.

As of Friday afternoon, the region is still free of the virus despite reports of local transmissions in other parts of the country.

“There is a high possibility that the local transmission will happen in the region since we are the gateway from Luzon and Mindanao,” DOH Eastern Visayas director Minerva Molon said.

The region has seven new patients under investigation, six have travel history in countries with confirmed cases while one had close contact with a patient who worked abroad. They are from the provinces of Leyte, Samar, and Northern Samar.

There are also 23 persons under monitoring currently on home quarantine.

Nine of them are in Leyte, five in Tacloban City, two each in Biliran, Southern Leyte, and Northern Samar, and one each in Ormoc City, Samar, and Eastern Samar.

“We reiterate that the best way to protect yourself from the virus is keeping yourself healthy and practice of general preventive measures such as regular handwashing, proper cough etiquette, and social distancing,” Molon said. (PNA)