Phivolcs to hoaxer: You can be jailed for spreading false quake info
MANILA, Philippines – Phivolcs strongly warned a Facebook user who is spreading "false or misleading information" about an imminent earthquake.
"This is to remind the owner of the Facebook account (Iahs Alcular) that you may be in violation of a law regarding the spread of false or misleading information, possibly Section 6(a) of Republic Act 10639 ('The Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act')," Phivolcs said in a Facebook post.
Section 6 of the law, which penalizes violators, follows:
"(a) Any person who gives false or misleading data or information or willfully or through gross negligence, conceals or falsifies a material fact, in any investigation, inquiry, study, or other proceeding held pursuant to this Act, shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than two (2) months but not more than six (6) months, and with a fine of not less than One thousand pesos (P1,000.00) but not more than ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00): Provided, however, that if the false or misleading data or information shall have been under oath, the maximum penalty for giving false testimony or perjury shall be imposed."
The post on social media caused some panic and had more than a few Filipinos fearing the worst. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)
According to Phivolcs, Iahs Alcular posted the wrong information on July 2 at 8 pm, generating at least 1,192 shares. There was also another version spread via text message.
Phivolcs informed the alleged hoaxer and those who shared the post that it is gathering information just in case the government decides to pursue legal action.
"We are collecting information about yourself, your 440 Facebook friends and posts related to your earthquake message, including the 1,192 Facebook accounts that willfully shared your post," Phivolcs said.
In a post on its official facebook page, Phivolcs also clarified that current technology cannot predict earthquakes:
"The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has no "land monitoring" division and does not issue official predictions of an impending earthquake. At present, the science of earthquake prediction has not yet matured to the point that imminent earthquakes can be predicted (time, location and size of earthquakes) using a rational model. There is no technology in the world that can reliably predict the occurrence of earthquakes."
Phivolcs cautioned netizens and the general public to be more discerning, urging them to exercise restraint: "This message has questionable sources and lacks scientific evidence to support its claims. It obviously seeks to deceive and create panic among the recipients of this hoax message so that it would be forwarded to relatives and friends." – Rappler.com