Pastor who posted fake COVID-19 info charged

Bandera - - NEWS -

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.”

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