Under Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), the following is considered as a criminal offense: “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.”
The penalty is arresto menor (1 to 30 days) and a fine ranging from Php200 to Php1,000.00.
For sure, the penalty needs an upgrade considering it was set in the 1930s when the RPC was approved. During that time, the imprisonment may have been commensurate to the offense given that publication was hard to come by – you practically needed access to some printers which was not available to everyone unlike the Internet nowadays. As for the fine, that would have been a small fortune enough to deter potential violators.
Fast forward to 2021, the proliferation of “fake news” have evidently endangered the public order. With false news being peddled as news, many have fallen victim to these misleading information – at times at the cost of lives.
If there would be any Fake News Law to be passed in the Congress, they may want to revisit and update this provision to be attuned to the times in which we live in. While Technology has empowered everyone to voice their out their opinion to the Net, it should nonetheless carry with it some form of responsibility and accountability.