Belmonte: False online posts on vaccine walk-ins may be tied to upcoming elections
MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is not ruling out a possible election-related motive behind false Facebook posts claiming that the city allows walk-ins in its vaccination sites, one of which faced an influx of people over the weekend.
“I’m not discounting that possibility because this is a really critical period,” Belmonte said in an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel Monday when asked if she sees the false posts as tied to the upcoming 2022 elections.
“Unlike previous ECQs (enhanced community quarantine), wherein there were not elections connected to them, now elections are just around the corner so it is not impossible that this could be the work as well of political enemies of either the national government or the local government,” she added.
Belmonte said the local government is still awaiting updates from the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the identity of those behind the said posts.
“We still have no idea who caused this. It could be anyone, a prankster, it could be related to politics, it could even be something related to a national issue,” the mayor said.
“But we’d like to stress that this is definitely the work of a malicious intent…This one was a deliberate Facebook post by two different troll accounts and these were spread throughout the online platform,” she added.
According to Belmonte, they already found out about the false posts and had asked Facebook to take them down but it took some time before the social media platform could do so.
“These are dangerous. As you know, social media is a double-edged sword. This could work for the good but this can also work to sow chaos in the community,” she said.
“I think it just took a while before Facebook to take these down and as a result of that, there was a crowd outside of Araneta Coliseum yesterday morning but because the PNP was quick to act, in less than about 2 hours, the crowd has dissipated,” she added.
Belmonte, in a statement, Sunday, clarified that vaccinees in the city should be pre-registered to get a vaccination schedule.
The mayor had also warned that those who spread fake news could face charges for violation of the cybercrime law, reckless endangerment and unjust vexation.
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