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NBI summons Mocha Uson for 'fake news' probe

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has summoned Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson in connection with its investigation on misinformation, an official confirmed Thursday.

"Yes, [she is] being investigated by our CCD (cybercrime division) for fake news," NBI Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin said in a message to reporters.

He said the bureau has sent a subpoena to Uson as part of an investigation into "fake news" that was ordered by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra. There were complainants against the official, he said.

He said Uson was required to appear at the NBI on May 18 over a post about personal protective equipment (PPE).

In early April, Uson, who runs a widely followed Facebook page, published a post about the delivery of some 15,000 sets of PPEs purchased by the Department of Health. One of the photos she used in the post, however, turned out to be one from SM Foundation.

She apologized the following day for the "misleading content."

The NBI was tasked to look into coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related "fake news" either reported to them by the public or monitored by operatives.

NBI cybercrime division chief Victor Lorenzo earlier said they are going after people who have made online posts that have "the tendency to disrupt public order," in violation of Article 154 of the Revised Penal Code in relation to Republic Act No. 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.

The NBI earlier summoned a social media user who allegedly claimed in a Facebook post that the government purchased a P2-billion private jet instead of providing health care for Filipinos.

Past complaints

Since joining the government, Uson had been slapped with a string of complaints. In fact, this was not the first time that a complaint had been lodged against her for spreading fake news.

In April 2018, Uson, while still with the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), was sued for allegedly spreading misinformation through a blogpost in November 2016 that says students from St. Scholastica's College were required to attend a protest rally.

Then in September of the same year, another fake news-related complaint came her way when Senator Antonio Trillanes IV slapped her with multiple criminal complaints for allegedly spearheading the spread of fake news over his supposed offshore bank accounts.

The same month, Uson also faced a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman for supposedly mocking the sign language widely used by the deaf community. She later apologized.

The following month, Uson resigned from her post but later secured a post at OWWA.

Uson has also been recently criticized for speaking in front of more than 300 overseas Filipino workers who were under quarantine in Batangas despite a prohibition on mass gatherings during the COVID-19 crisis.

She said physical distancing was observed at the event. OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac defended his deputy, saying he sent her to Batangas to remind the quarantined OFWs to follow guidelines amid reports that some of them were going to the beach. -



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