Pastor who posted fake COVID-19 info charged
BUTUAN CITY—The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Veruela, Agusan del Sur has filed charges against a pastor who posted false information in social media about two supposed coronavirus disease-infected (COVID-19) persons in the province.
Lieutenant Ronald Baiño, Veruela police chief, identified the suspect as Michael Perez Gumonit of Barangay Binucayan in Loreto town. Gumonit serves as a pastor of International One Way Outreach Foundation Inc. located in Barangay Binongan in Veruela town.
Gumonit previously claimed on his Facebook post that there were two positive COVID-19 cases in the villages of San Gabriel and Santa Emelia in Veruela, information that turned out to be false.
“The suspect eventually issued a public apology, accepting his mistake. But he will still be facing charges and the suspect will be arrested as soon as the warrant is issued,” said Baiño.
Brigadier General Joselito T. Esquivel, Jr. Caraga regional police director said Gumonit would be charged for violation of Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code or the “Unlawful Use of Means of Publication and Unlawful Utterances” concerning Section 6 of the Anti-Cybercrime Law.
On March 14, Agusan del Sur Governor Santiago Cane Jr. urged the provincial police authorities to act and file charges against Gumonit after he saw the pastor post a piece of false information regarding a positive case of COVID19 in Veruela dated March 13.
Despite Gumonit’s apology, Cane urged the police to pursue cybercrime charges.
“If all who spread fake news will be forgiven after saying sorry, this practice will never end. A case has to be filed,” Cane said then.
Cane had said that the false information spread by Gumonit “is more dangerous than the virus.”