Police sue Cebu optometrist over Facebook post claiming patient died of coronavirus
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) filed charges against an optometrist here in Cebu for allegedly posting on Facebook unverified information related to the novel coronavirus.
According to a statement from the PNP, Josephil Brian Consuelo, an optometrist, erroneously posted on Facebook that a patient under observation had died at the University of Cebu Medical Center.
No patients under observation in Cebu have died, according to the latest update from the Department of Health. Based on latest figures from the DOH, there are a total of 55 patients under investigation for the virus in the Central Visayas.
According to the PNP, Consuelo was arrested last Thursday, February 13. The Central Visayas' anti-cybercrime unit checked the post and filed charges after finding out the information was false. Consuelo's post could not be found as of this posting.
Police Colonel Marlo Castillo, head of the Central Visayas' anti-cybercrime unit, said that the defendant would face the charges.
Castillo said they were in coordination with Cebu province to monitor any information about the virus that could cause unnecessary panic.
"We would like the public to know that spreading fake news and misinformation has equivalent legal consequences," Castillo said.
PNP chief General Archie Francisco Gamboa said the police would continue to act against the spread of misinformation amid the ongoing novel coronavirus crisis.
"Again, we urge the public to refrain posting unverified information that creates panic and confusion and we will file criminal charges to those proven spreading these false reports," Gamboa said.
Consuelo's arrest comes a week after the Cebu Provincial Board passed a resolution against spreading "fake news" related to the novel coronavirus.
The National Bureau of Investigation said they would also go after those who "peddle coronavirus fake news."
So far, the virus has killed more than 1,700 and infected over 70,000 people in China. – Rappler.com