Bzzzzz: The 'white-van kidnapping' hoax: penalty for petty crime one degree higher

PEOPLE talk about it...

[1] CAYETANO'S PROMISE, DUTERTE'S VOW ON ABS-CBN. President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Thursday, November 28, addressing the broadcast company: "I will see to it that you are out." House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano Wednesday (December 4) said there will be no hearing on the bill renewing ABS-CBN's franchise but "there will still be time to do it next year," repeating his promise to be fair. How the speaker's promised fairness will be done in the face of the president's rock-hard vow to shut down ABS-CBN eludes many watchers of the prolonged drama.

With the giant network's 25-year franchise expiring on March 30, 2020, the fight for ABS-CBN's life now looks like one of its telenovelas, which requires a last-minute reversal of circumstances.

Danao FB user owns up crime

The Cebu self-confessed fraudster was arrested by police in Taboc, Looc, Danao City, whom they identified as one Brigs Granada Alvaro.

Police said Alvaro admitted to posting the hoax on his Facebook account and asked for forgiveness. His name was initially withheld but there's no legal or ethical reason to hide his identity. He is a person of legal age, police filed or was to file charges against him, and he owned up the fakery. He said that contrary to his post, he was not kidnapped and there was no white van used by the non-existent kidnappers.

In Sta. Ana, Manila, where another bogus tale of kidnapping was foisted on the public, the deceivers used a video clip of the faked incident, also using a white van. The perpetrators who circulated the clip were still unidentified and to be charged. The fakery was posted under the account "Deepfreeze," which lured over 775,000 views.

Penalty one degree higher

The Danao City police was reported as saying they will file the charge of alarm and scandal under the Revised Penal Code in relation to the Anti-Cybercrime Act. Alarm and scandal? Apparently yes, the crimes called "crimes of disturbance."

But it is not one of the acts listed under Article 155 of the RPC, which range from firing a gun, rocket, firecracker or other explosive in a public place, to taking part in any disorderly meeting, disturbing the peace at night, or being drunk and disturbing people in public places. The similarity is only on the result, not the means.

And the penalty is only arresto menor or a fine of P200 (which, however, must have been upgraded already by the Drilon amendatory law). The fact is: it is a minor or petty crime.

By relating the crime though to the Anti-Cybercrime Law, when the crime penalized by the Revised Penal Code is committed "by, through, and with the use of information and communication technologies," the penalty is raised one degree higher than that imposed by RPC.

No charge vs passers-on

Anyone who liked or commented on, re-posted, re-tweeted or otherwise passed on the false report won't be charged, according to the Danao police.

They are in effect accomplices who were negligent or dumb in not suspending judgment and action on the claim until it is reported by a legitimate news media. And they get away for helping give the hoax some credibility because they are generally not covered by the law.

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