In a statement today, Action for Economic Reforms (AER) urged Filipinos to work together in fighting the spread of fake news amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We urge our fellow Filipinos to be responsible and vigilant when sharing information, whether through social media or other channels. During a time of severe crisis, it is essential that we do our part in preventing the spread of disinformation. Fake news not only causes panic and distress; worse, fake or manipulated information also destroys the collective action that is necessary to fight COVID-19 and save lives,” AER coordinator Filomeno Sta. Ana III said in a statement.

Sta. Ana also called on authorities to crack down on peddlers of fake news, and impose stiff sanctions on violators.

“Government, the media. civil society, and the private sector should take initiatives to expose and combat misinformation.  We must track down those who are irresponsibly spreading these fake stories, and discipline them,” added Sta. Ana.

Over the course of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of misinformation has been rampant. Even those who died from COVID-19 and their families have not been spared from fake news.  Some reports have even encouraged the use of medicines that regulators and health experts have not approved for mass use.  For example, multiple reports claim that a cure has already been found for the COVID-19, in the form of hydroxycloroquin tablets. However, evidence is still lacking with regard to the effectiveness of this treatment.

Another false report is about the relief of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) Director Dr. Celia Carlos from her duties.  Some netizens have given a political spin to this fake incident.

“We are in the middle of a public health emergency. It is equivalent to fighting a war. By fighting fake news and information, we are contributing to the all-out effort to win the war against COVID-19,”  Sta. Ana said. (END)