RA 10951 Anti Fake News Law in the Philippines - Penalty up to ₱20 Million, 20 years imprisonment

Republic Act (RA) 10951 Anti Fake News Law in the Philippines - Penalty up to ₱20 Million, 20 years imprisonment
Republic Act (RA) 10951 Anti Fake News Law in the Philippines - Penalty up to ₱20 Million, 20 years imprisonment

2 Months Old Senate Bill

On 22nd June, 2017, Senator Joel Villanueva filed  for anti-fake news bill that gives stiffer penalties to erring public officials, After 2 months from the date of filing, the said bill was approved by President Duterte into Law of the Republic,amending amounts and fines imposed under the 87-year-old Revised Penal Code.

In filing Senate Bill No. 1492 or An Act Penalizing the Malicious Distribution of False News and Other Related Violations, Villanueva said false news or information are those which either intend to cause panic, division, chaos, violence, and hate, or those which exhibit a propaganda to blacken or discredit one’s reputation as reported by the Manila Bulletin on the 22nd June 2017 and published in the Senate Press released on the same date

Approved into law

As published in CNN Philippines, on 29th August 2017, the said bill was approved into law by President Duterte as Republic Act (RA) 10951, a law amending amounts and fines imposed under the 87-year-old Revised Penal Code.

Among the key amendments is a penalty of imprisonment for up to six months and a fine of up to ₱200,000 (US$3,910) for spreading false news.

Under Section 18, Article 154, titled "Unlawful use of means of publication and unlawful utterances" penalties will be imposed on a person who will publish false news by passing it off as legitimate news through print or other publication methods.

"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," it reads.

The penalties of "arresto mayor" or imprisonment of one month and a day to six months, and a fine ranging from ₱40,000 to ₱200,000 await those found guilty of publishing fake news.

Under the same article, the penalties will also apply to those who deliver speeches that encourage disobedience to the law, publish an official document without proper authority, and those who will publish pamphlets anonymously.

Sky-high fines for sedition

Under R.A. 10951, the leader of a sedition will now have to pay a  fine of up to ₱2 million, from the previous ₱10,000 under the Revised Penal Code. The leader will be imprisoned from six years and a day, to eight years under Section 7, Article 140.

Those who will conspire to commit the crime of sedition will be  punished by "prison correccional" or two years, four months and a day; to four years and two months; and fined not exceeding ₱1 million. The fine is up from ₱5,000.

Those who will incite others to sedition by means of speeches, proclamations, banners, and other representations will be fined up to ₱400,000 and imprisoned from four years and two months and a day to 12 years. The fine is raised from ₱2,000.

Any mass media enterprise or social media platform that fails, neglects, or refuses to remove false news would be penalized with a fine ranging from ₱10 million to ₱20 million and imprisonment ranging from 10 to 20 years.

It also penalizes any person who by means of printing, or by words, utterances or speeches shall encourage disobedience to the law or to the constituted authorities or praise, justify and extol any act punished by law.

Libel, slander

Libel by means of writings or similar means was amended under Section 91, Article 355.

It now imposes imprisonment or a fine ranging from ₱40,000 to ₱1.2 million, from the previous ₱200 to ₱6,000.

Slander or oral defamation will now be fined not exceeding ₱20,000 from ₱200.

In a news release, the Malacanang presidential palace said the 50-page law with 102 sections consists of provisions adjusting the amount of fines, as well as the amount or the value of property and damage on which a penalty is set.

The law adjusted the fines on certain crimes against national security, such as treason and crimes against public order, such as rebellion and sedition.

The Philippine military has been fighting pro-ISIS militants in Marawi City since May, 23 this year. There has been widely-spread false news and propaganda from rebel groups on social media. The Philippine government urged media and citizens to listen to authorities and stop spreading fake news on several occasions.

With sources from CNN Philippines, Manila Bulletin, Senate press release, Malacanang Palace News Release

Copy of the said law is still needs to be obtained and be published in this website to further validate the penalties mentioned above.

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