Albay Rep. Joey Salceda and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy” Locsin Jr. over the weekend shared videos supposedly showing how crowded Divisoria is during the enhanced community quarantine.
Divisoria is a popular thrift center in Manila known for its shops that sell low-priced goods.
The two officials both purported that the videos were captured during the enhanced community quarantine that is implemented over Luzon until April 30.
The umbrella directive strictly banned onsite work and suspended all types of mass transportation in the region to help slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 in the country.
The travel restrictions affected thousands of Filipinos, particularly daily wage workers, health workers and other vulnerable sectors of the society.
Since the copies of the footage were shared by top government officials, several Filipinos thought they were real and initially expressed outrage against the Manila city government and its residents.
Among those who expressed disappointment over the video was actress Vivian Velez, also the director of the Film Academy of the Philippines. She likewise shared the same video and eventually deleted it after learning it was not recent.
In a Facebook post last April 18, Velez said that she got the video from Salceda.
“We shared a video from Joey Salceda’s post this morning, apparently it was an old video of Divisoria, na fake news si sir Joey,” she said.
We shared a video from Joey Salceda's post this morning, apparently it was an old video of Divisoria, na fake news si…
The Manila city government’s Public Information Office immediately clarified that the clips of a crowded Divisoria were old video footage. Its social accounts also posted photos that reflect the area’s present situation.
“The city government would like to stress that the old [footage] do not in any way reflect the current situation of the Divisoria night market area, as shown in the first photo attached to this post,” the Manila PIO stated.
NEWS ALERT: The Manila City government urges ALL NETIZENS to avoid sharing FALSE INFORMATION by using OLD FOOTAGE of the Divisoria Night Market. pic.twitter.com/LVefqQHOhV
— Manila Public Information Office (@ManilaPIO) April 18, 2020
Hold them accountable
Salceda and Locsin immediately took down their posts after learning that these were old video recordings.
“I took down the post immediately upon correction by Cesar Chavez. I am sorry it caused harm but not intended. I am actually very careful with my posts but I got it from a Viber group of reputable businessmen, so I gave it a presumption,” Salceda said.
“I just got a call from Mayor Isko. This is an old video. This is fake news. Ignore this sh**. I will ask my friend why he posted it. This is not true,” Loscin said.
Manila Chief of Staff Cesar Chavez later on thanked Salceda and Locsin for issuing clarification on their erroneous posts.
Salamat naman po at naliwanagan na. Ang ginamit na video sa “Divisoria April 18 at &am” post ni Cong Joey Salceda ay nauna nang ginamit ni Sec Teddyboy Locsin noong April 15. Lumang video po ito. Salamat po sa paglilinaw mga boss. Mabuhay po kayo. pic.twitter.com/lHGGJ6Bp4d
— Cesar Chavez (@sarchavez) April 18, 2020
Some Filipinos, however, decried that the two officials should be held accountable for spreading the video in the first place, citing the fake news provision under the new Bayanihan To Heal as One Act.
They are calling on the National Bureau of Investigation to probe Salceda and Locsin for their erroneous posts.
“Dear NBI di niyo ba man lang papatawag si Joey Salceda pagkatapos ng ipost ang old video ng Divisoria na shinare naman ni Teddy Locsin at ni Vivian Velez na nagresulta sa kaguluhan?” one Twitter user said.
A Facebook user also said: “Salceda and Locsin should be punished by spreading false news.”
The Section 6 of the Bayanihan Act states that “individuals 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” may be penalized.”
Salceda even filed a bill seeking to increase the penalty of fake news purveyors from two months stated in the provision to six years.
GMA news earlier reported that the NBI’s Cybercrime Division has an ongoing investigation of online misinformation related COVID-19. It has reportedly sent several subpoenas to some individuals since the Bayanihan Act was passed into law.
Manila PIO, meanwhile, advised the public to avoid sharing unverified information on social media.
“False information can seriously aggravate public anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.
Locsin also previously shared a misleading tweet, which he had also deleted, saying the Earth cannot exist without human beings.
This view irked some Twitter users and called him for his “sense of entitlement.”