Hontiveros: Cebu poet's arrest for allegedly spreading disinformation 'very disturbing' | Inquirer News

Hontiveros: Cebu poet’s arrest for allegedly spreading disinformation ‘very disturbing’

/ 02:02 PM April 22, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday denounced as “very disturbing” the arrest of artist Maria Victoria Beltran, who is being accused of spreading false information on the surge of COVID-19 cases in Cebu City.

In a teleconference with reporters, Hontiveros said the government should focus its attention on battling the pandemic and not on “restricting civil liberties.”

“Very, very disturbing po talaga ‘yung nangyari diyan sa isang kasapi ng Dakila Collective na naging partner din namin sa maraming women legislation. Ito nga ‘yung ikinababahala ko rin nung ini-interpellate namin ‘yung emergency powers bill noon,” she said, referring to the Bayanihan to Health as One Act, which granted President Rodrigo Duterte additional powers to deal with the viral outbreak.


(What happened to a member of the Dakila Collective, which we have previously partnered-up with for several women legislations, is very, very disturbing. This is what I was concerned about when we were interpellating the emergency powers bill before).

“May kasama siyang so-called ‘fake news’ provision na ngayon ay ginagamit hindi laban sa totoong kalaban natin na ang COVID-19 pero ginagamit pati sa mga citizen journalists and mga social media netizens na nagbibigay ng kanilang constructive criticism at mga suhestiyon kung papano natin tamang maiimplementa ang quarantine o ang mass testing,” she added.


(The law had a so-called ‘fake news’ provision, which is now being used not to fight our true enemy, COVID-19, but is being used against citizen journalists and social media netizens who are just giving constructive criticism and suggestions on how we can better implement the quarantine or mass testing).

Section 6(f) of the said law punishes “(i)ndividuals or groups creating, perpetuating, or spreading false information regarding the (COVID-19) crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population, and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion.

Individuals “participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on the public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails, or other similar acts” are also penalized under the said provision.

Beltran was arrested on April 19 and was able to post bail on April 21.

READ: Poet posts bail for COVID-19 ‘fake news’ case

“Dapat mag-concentrate ang gobyerno sa paglaban sa COVID-19 at hindi sa pagpigil sa mga civil liberties,” Hontiveros went on.

(The government should concentrate on fighting COVID-19 instead of restricting civil liberties).


To date, Philippine health officials have so far confirmed 6,599 COVID-19 cases in the country.

Of these cases, 437 have died while 654 patients have recovered.



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