Cebu-based actress Bambi Beltran arrested for allegedly spreading fake news

by Arniel C. Serato
Apr 20, 2020
Friends and lawyers of Maria Victoria "Bambi" Beltran, an actress and entrepreneur in Cebu, cry foul over her "warantless arrest" for a "satirical" post about COVID-19 positive cases in Sitio Zapatera, Barangay Luz, Cebu City.
PHOTO/S: Courtesy: Maria Victoria Beltran on Facebook

Inaresto ng pulisya ang actress/film writer/businesswoman na si Maria Victoria "Bambi” Beltran sa Cebu City kahapon, April 19.

Hinuli si Beltran dahil sa pagpapalaganap diumano ng fake news.

Ito ay kaugnay ng Facebook post ni Beltran noong April 18, Sabado, kung saan nakasaad na 9,000 positive COVID-19 cases na diumano ang Sitio Zapatera, Barangay Luz, Cebu City.

Hindi hamak na mas mataas ang bilang na ito kumpara sa naitalang kaso sa buong bansa ng Department of Health (DOH).

Ayon sa ulat ng SunStar Cebu, inaresto si Beltran sa joint operation na isinagawa ng Regional Intelligence Division (RID) 7 at Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit (RACH) 7.

Nakalagay sa post ni Beltran, “9,000+ new cases (All from Zapatera) of Covid-19 in Cebu City in one day.

“We are now the epicenter in the whole Solar System.”

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CEBU CITY MAYOR WARNS BELTRAN

Nakarating naman kaagad kay Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella ang screenshot ng post ni Beltran.

Ibinahagi ito ng punung-lungsod sa kanyang Facebook account.

Sa kanyang caption, nagbabala ang alkalde na ipapaaresto niya ang aktres matapos mag-post sa social media ng aniya'y “fake news.”

Pahayag ni Labella: “FAKE NEWS ni and this is a criminal act. [FAKE NEWS ito and this is a criminal act.]

“Hulat lang Ms Beltran hapit na ka madapan sa PNP Cybercrime Unit. [Maghintay ka lang Ms Beltran malapit ka nang mahuli ng PNP Cybercrime Unit].

“Magtingkagol gyud ka sa prisohan. [Magdusa ka sa kulungan].”

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ANTI-CYBERCRIME LAW

Base naman sa Facebook post ng misis ni basketball legend Ramon Fernandez na si Karla Kintanar-Fernandez kahapon, April 19, nahuli na raw ng mga awtoridad si Beltran.

WARRANTLESS ARREST

Sa pamamagitan ng kanyang abugado na si Atty. Vincent Isles, naglabas ng official statement ang kampo ni Beltran.

Iginiit nilang walang intensiyong magpakalat ng kalituhan at takot ang post ng aktres.

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"Upon advice of counsel, Ms. Victoria Beltran had temporarily taken down the post characterized by the Hon. Mayor Edgar Labella as fake news and violative of our laws.

"There was no intent to spread confusion and fear by the posting of the said post.

"We hold that prosecution of any person under Sec. 6(f) of Republic Act No. 11469 can only occur when the post is 'clearly geared to promote chaos, anarchy, fear, or confusion'."

"Satirical" lamang daw ang post ni Beltran, at naiinitindihan ito ng mga makakabasa.

"Even an ordinary person without the benefit of being exposed to the finer qualities of literature would understand Ms. Beltran's post as satirical, designed to show wit instead of spreading chaos, anarchy, fear, or confusion."

Inalmahan din nila ang banta ni Mayor Labella na idawit ang PNP Cybercrime Unit, na hindi raw akma sa ganitong sitwasyon.

Tinawag din nilang "warrantless arrest" ang pag-aresto kay Beltran.

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Diin nila, "We decry Mr. Mayor's threat to involve the PNP Cybercrime Unit, and his reference to a warrantless arrest, which we believe is not proper under the circumstances.

"The characterization of the post as a criminal act does not make it a criminal act. There is no crime to speak of therefore.

"The rationale behind warrantless arrest is to maintain public order by allowing law enforcers to there and then place under the custody of the law the supposed malefactor.

"There is no loss to public order by a regular filing for preliminary investigation instead of a warrantless arrest."

Ayon pa sa kampo ni Beltran, ang pagbabanta ng alkalde ng Cebu City ng isang "warantless arrest" ay tila babala sa lahat ng mga nasa social media, kabilang na ang mga hindi masaya sa pag-handle niya sa krisis na ito.

Dagdag ng abugado ng aktres, "If he wants to truly maintain his logic, he should order the arrest of the former mayor who accused him of overpricing some items which is a truly libelous act if false and published without good motive, and not on Ms. Beltran, who is a simple citizen with lots of time on her hand due to the forced staying at home brought by this pandemic.

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"But seriously, there are a lot of more important things that the Honorable Mayor should focus on, instead of Ms. Beltran's posts."

Dapat din daw mag-focus si Mayor Labella kung paano masugpo ang virus, hindi sa maliit na bagay kaulad ng post ni Beltran.

Kung itutuloy raw ng alkalde na ipaaresto ang kanilang kliyente, mapipilitan silang maghain ng countercharges.

Hihilingin daw nila ang pagbibitiw sa puwesto ng mga awtoridad na magpapatupad ng "cearly invalid and illegal order."

Saad pa nila, "Nevertheless, we welcome any complaint filed through regular preliminary investigation."

MOVEMENT AGAINST TYRANNY CEBU STATEMENT

Kinondena naman ng Movement Against Tyranny Cebu ang pag-aresto kay Beltran.

Naka-detain daw si Beltran sa Police Regional Office (PRO) 7" for supposedly violating the provision of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act."

Pero wala pang reklamong isinasampa laban sa kanya.

Nakasaad sa pahayag nila: "The supposed violation was based on Ms. Beltran’s Facebook post about the situation of Sitio Zapatera in Brgy. Luz which was labelled by Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella as “Fake News”.

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"The Bayanihan act has a provision that prohibits the spread of false information pertaining to the CoVid-19 situation.

"The Movement Against Tyranny Cebu denounces the action of the Cebu City government and the Philippine National Police as misguided approach in addressing the problems posed by the pandemic."

Ayon sa kanila, ang post ni Beltran ay base sa hindi malinaw na deklarasyon ng health officials na “infected” na ang buong Sitio Zapatera dahil sa dami ng COVID-19 positive cases.

May halos 9,000 residente ang nasabing sitio.

"Beltran’s post was in response to the vague proclamations made by the Cebu City Government and the DOH stating that the entire sitio is considered to be contaminated and infected.

"Without any categorical explanation about what it meant and no further discussion on the implications and further plans, such proclamation is subject to various take by the public.

"The City Government and the DOH failed to provide the public with clear and reliable information. It only posed fear upon the Cebuano citizens most especially those who are in Brgy. Luz."

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Iginiit din nilang "satirical" ang post ni Beltran at hindi ibinahagi bilang isang lehitimong balita o impormasyon.

Sa halip daw na usigin si Beltran at iba pang mali ang pagkakaintindi sa pahayag ng DOH at ng city government, isa raw itong pagkakataon para sa mga opisyal na linawin ang isyu.

Saad pa nila, "While a lot of Cebuanos, Especially the residents of Sitio Zapatera, are in worsening socio-economic conditions and the constant threat of the pandemic, all efforts of the national and local government must be in improving its medical capacity and social amelioration."

Kinondena rin ng Movement Against Tyranny Cebu ang paggamit ng “Anti- Fake news” provision ng Bayanihan Act ng national at local government upang usigin ang mga orinardyong mamamayan at kritiko, "while they turn a blind eye on Government institutions and personalities peddling false information about the pandemic such as the PTV news and Teddy Boy Locsin."

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Sabi pa nila, "This brand of leadership is not what we need right now.

"What we need is an efficient government willing and able to address the medical and socio-economic needs of its constituents, not a leviathan very eager to maintain its posture to the extent of persecuting ordinary citizens.

"With this we reiterate the call for release of Ms. Beltran and call upon the Cebu City Government to be less reactive on the situation and redirect all its resources and energy to trace, contain, and treat the virus to end this Pandemic."

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BAYANIHAN TO HEAL AS ONE ACT

Sa bagong batas na pinirmahan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte, ang Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11468), may probisyon dito sa Section 6F ang mahigpit na parusa laban sa mga magpapakalat ng pekeng balita.

Nakalagay sa nasabing probisyon: “Individuals or groups creating, perpetrating, or spreading false information regarding the COVID-19 crisis on social media and other platforms, such information having no valid or beneficial effect on the population and are clearly geared to promote chaos, panic, anarchy, fear or confusion.

“Those participating in cyber incidents that make use or take advantage of the current crisis situation to prey on public through scams, phishing, fraudulent emails or other similar acts.”

Ang mga mapatutunayang nagpapakalat ng fake news ay maaaring makulong ng dalawang buwan, at magbabayad ng multang P10,000 hanggang P1 milyon.

WHO IS BAMBI BELTRAN?

Base sa profile niya sa IMDB, nakuha ni Maria Victoria “Bambi” Beltran ang kanyang biggest break nang maging bida siya sa short film na Pagbalik taong 2006.

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Nasundan ito ng full-length na Confessional (2007) kung saan bida siya at co-producer.

Ang direktor ng pelikula ay sina Jerrold Tarog at Ruel Dahis Antipuesto.

Nanalo ang Confessional bilang Best Film sa First Features Section ng 10th Osian Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema sa New Delhi, India noong 2008.

Sa sumunod na mga taon, naging artista, manunulat, direktor, at producer siya ng ilang pelikula.

Ilan sa mga ito ay ang Damgo ni Eleuteria (2010), Di Ingon Nato (2011), Cartas de la Soledad (2011), at Aberya (2012).

Ang pinaka-latest niyang nagawa ay ang pelikula ni Lav Diaz na Mula Sa Kung Ano ang Noon (2014).

Sa kanyang Facebook, nakalagay rito na pagmamay-ari niya ang Kukuk’s Nest restaurant sa Cebu City.

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Friends and lawyers of Maria Victoria "Bambi" Beltran, an actress and entrepreneur in Cebu, cry foul over her "warantless arrest" for a "satirical" post about COVID-19 positive cases in Sitio Zapatera, Barangay Luz, Cebu City.
PHOTO/S: Courtesy: Maria Victoria Beltran on Facebook
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