TACLOBAN CITY – A teenager is facing possible one (1) to six (6) months of imprisonment and a fine of up to Php 200,000 after being charged by local police for allegedly spreading “fake news” or disinformation of an alleged attempted kidnapping by white van abductors in Naval, Biliran, which circulated on social media last August 20.

The 19-year-old girl is being charged under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) in relation to Section 6 of Republic Act (RA) 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The law states that any person who by means of printing, lithography, or any other means of publication shall publish or cause to be published as news any false news which may endanger the public order, or cause damage to the interest or credit of the State shall be imposed with the penalty of Arresto Mayor and a fine ranging from Php 200,000 to Php 400,000.

RA 10175, meanwhile, provides for penalties for the same crime if it is “committed by, through, and with the use of information and communications technologies”; and, accordingly, be one degree higher.

Biliran Police Provincial Office (BPPO) Director Col. Dionesio Apas Jr. earlier said there were a lot of inconsistencies in the girl’s statement, which she later admitted to being false.

During her interview with the police, the girl said she boarded a yellow tricycle from her boarding house to go to the office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to seek educational financial assistance.

However, she said, she was brought by the same trike to a different place and was threatened with a knife. She further claimed that she was tied and brought to a secluded place where a van with three bonnet-clad men waited and talked with the driver for about five minutes. The girl told that it allowed her to free herself and run for her safety.

On the other hand, aside from the inconsistencies in her story, the police said she did not indicate struggle and her appearance did not show exhaustion from running. No eyewitness and CCTV footage corroborated her story, as well.

The police said it was also impossible for the abductors to talk before she was transferred to the van. Nevertheless, the Naval Police still investigated the incident. The next day, through the local police’s coordination, the girl went to the mayor’s office to issue a public apology. By Marie Tonette Marticio (EV Mail September 12-18, 2022 issue)