May 22, 2020 – A city in the capital region has passed ordinance imposing fines on anyone who makes a joke or spreads false news about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), stressing the pandemic is a serious business.
Valenzuela passed ordinance no 708, known as “Bawal Ang COVID-19 Jokes” on May 14, imposing a 5,000 pesos fines or punishing offenders with community service. The ordinance was released to the media on Friday.
The ordinance prohibited the dissemination of jokes or false information. It penalizes any information and even joke spread by word of mouth, through written, printed, or video materials, even those passed online.
Under the ordinance, anyone found in violation would be fined 5,000 pesos or be ordered to do community service, such as repacking and distributing relief goods.
Minors who are found in violation of the ordinance shall be placed under the custody of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO). The CSWDO would release a child that is 15 years old and below to his/her parents or guardian. Those above 15 years old and below 18 however, shall be placed under an intervention program.
If offenders fail to comply with their obligations, a case will be filed with a conviction corresponding to a penalty of not more than 5,000 pesos or imprisonment of not more than 30 days.
As of May 22, the city of Valenzuela has tallied 229 confirmed COVID-19 cases. 167 are considered active cases. 12 have died while 50 have recovered.
(Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)
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