Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), dismissed Friday as “fake news” reports about the possible rise of mob rule even as fears of hunger start to worry local communities due to the strict implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon.
Gamboa said he already tasked the Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) to trace the persons behind the spread of fake information.
He earlier said they have monitored unverified reports in social media about the purported looting of a known grocery store in Las Pinas City; burglary and robbery incidents in McKinley Hill, Taguig City and Manila; and public unrest in San Andres, Manila.
“’Yung mga lumabas lahat na balita kahapon (The reports that surfaced yesterday [Thursday]) were all fake news. I have tasked the Anti-Cybercrime Group to trace them (those who originally posted),” Gamboa said during the virtual press conference of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) in Malacanang.
The top PNP official warned that those who will be caught posting and spreading false information related to the current 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic will face appropriate charges.
“Again we discourage people to do this, hindi kayo nakakatulong (you are not helping) but the PNP will go after you. Huwag niyo kaming subukan at hahabulin namin kayo (Don’t try us because we will really come after you),” he said.
Relatedly, concerns were relayed to Gamboa after cops reportedly stopped a feeding program at a Catholic shelter in Manila on Thursday supposedly because of violations of the principle of social distancing under the enhanced community quarantine.
The Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center in Barangay 344, Santa Cruz, Manila was said to be conducting a feeding program for about a hundred homeless individuals when authorities stopped them.
Gamboa admitted that the feeding program should not have been stopped by the authorities, and instead, reminded them to practice social distancing.
“Generally what we should observe, meron tayong (we have) prohibition on mass gathering. But if feeding program, especially if it’s addressed to the less fortunate, I think what should be observed is social distancing. This should not be prohibited especially kung ang pinapakain ay (if they are feeding the) less fortunate of our society,” he said.
Meanwhile, Police Major General Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), belied reports of looting in Metro Manila.
He said he ordered all the chiefs of police (COPs) in Metro Manila to assure round-the-clock security in grocery stores and supermarkets to prevent untoward incidents.
“COPs are also tasked to coordinate with the local government units for the distribution of goods to be given to families who are in need,” Sinas said. (Martin Sadongdong)