By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has apologized to the City Government of Manila for posting an old footage of a chaotic scene in Divisoria Market, which triggered outburst among netizens against the local government unit (LGU) in the nation’s capital.
Salceda, in his Facebook account on Saturday, posted a video of a supposed aerial shot of people swarming the Divisoria night market and supposedly ignoring social distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Salceda even placed a caption “Divisoria April 18 at 7am!” in his post.
Former Transportation Usec. Cesar Chavez, chief-of-staff of Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, immediately called out Salceda, saying the Albay congressman has committed a “mistake” for posting the unverified video.
“Fakenews ang ‘Divisoria April 18 at 7am’ post ni Cong. Joey Sarte Salceda!” Chavez stressed in his Facebook account.
The Albay solon immediately took down his post and issued an apology after being called out Chavez, acknowledging that his action has “caused harm but not intended.”
“I am sorry it caused harm but not intended,” said Salceda.
Salceda blamed a supposed Viber group of him with “reputable businessman” where the video was first disseminated.
“Lesson learned: if you can not verify, don’t post,” the lawmaker said.
Salceda already deleted his apology status as of press time.
Government officials and personnel spreading misinformation during the COVID-19 crisis may face perpetual disqualification from holding public office under the Bayanihan Act or the Heal As One Act of 2020 which was ironically co-authored by Salceda himself.
Section 6(h) of the said law states that if the offender is a public of official or employee, he or she “in addition to the penalties prescribed herein, suffer perpetual or temporary absolute disqualification from office.”
Under Section 6(f) of the same proposed legislation, purveyors of fake news as well as misinformation during the span of the COVID-19 crisis may face jail time and hefty fines under the Congress-approved bill that seeks to grant the President series of special authorities to augment government’s response over the deadly pandemic.
Authorities will be enabled to monitor and prevent the spread of misinformation which are “clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear, or confusion,” under the Bayanihan Act.