City monitors pastor’s account for spreading false Covid-19 info

A DAVAO City councilor said the City Government is monitoring the social media account of a religious leader that is behind the viral video claiming that individuals jabbed with the Covid-19 vaccine might turn into zombies.

Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte said in a radio interview that she personally saw the video, which was presented during the recent Covid-19 Task Force meeting.

Information that people will turn into zombies after getting the Covid-19 vaccine and other false information about the vaccine have been circulating on social media.

Villafuerte said the person subject on the viral video is a religious leader based in Davao City. The councilor said she knows the identity of the pastor.

Aside from the “zombie” claim, the pastor also claimed that the vaccine has a microchip that will be implanted to the vaccinee, said the councilor.

She said Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio referred the video to the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Unit.

Duterte-Carpio, in her radio interview on Monday, July 5, dispelled claims that vaccines can produce zombing, calling the claim “absurd.”

Villafuerte said the church came out with an official statement saying that they will be seeking legal actions to the person who leaked the video, which was allegedly sent in a private chat group.

“Ilaha dawng demandahun [the video uploader] kay that is a private chat group daw (They are planning to file charges against the uploader since it was intended for a private chat group), but I think the reason na nag-leak ito (why it leaked) is because one of the person listening to him knew that he was committing something illegal,” she said.

She apologized if the private video leaked. But she said spreading false information through the internet is illegal.

“But still, even if it’s a leaked video, you are spreading misinformation. As a pastor, you know that you should only speak about things that are based on science — evidence-based,” the councilor said.

Villafuerte, in jest, said that it would be disadvantageous for those who will still refuse to be vaccinated.

“Ah! Mahimo ba ming zombie sa December unya kamo dili mo magpabakuna, kamo among kaunon. Naa nami kaunon (So if that is the case that we will turn into a zombie by December, and yet you will refuse to get vaccinated. It would be a pity because we might even eat you out),” she said.

The councilor, who is also a medical professional and the head of the committee on health, reiterated that the vaccines have been tested and proven to be safe and effective against the deadly virus.

She also called the false claims impossible, saying that other countries have already rolled out the vaccine way ahead of the Philippines, and that they have not reported anything unusual to the vaccines.

She urged the public to be wary of the information circulating online.

Villafuerte said the city will strictly monitor the account of this religious sect.

“We will make sure to monitor the account of this particular church — ang kanilang (their) social media accounts. We have submitted through the mayor sa atong (to our) Cybercrime Unit, and as we speak, I’m sure they are monitoring [them],” the councilor said.

Villafuerte said the city is focusing on those individuals campaigning against vaccination, especially those spreading false information.

“Vaccination for Covid[-19] is, of course, not mandatory. It is a voluntary action. But ang atong hangyo (All we are asking), let us be heroes for our children,” the councilor said, adding that it is the adult’s role to have themselves vaccinated.

Children below 18 are currently not the priority of the country’s vaccination program.

Villafuerte also appealed to the pastor to utilize his position in spreading accurate information on vaccines, and the government.

“Unta kung pastor ta, ang bibliya nalang or word of God na lang ang atong ipakatag. Dili manghilabot ang gobyerno (If you’re a pastor, better focus on spreading the word of God from the bible. Don’t meddle with the government),” adding that there is a separation of church and state,” she said.

“Dili man unta mi manghilabot (We will not be interfering with your activities). But once you cross[ed] over and you already tackle things pertaining to public health, which is anymore not your domain, then diha nami musulod (that is the time we will step in),” she added.

The councilor admitted that the government is still struggling to convince the public to have themselves vaccinated, despite not making it mandatory.

But based on the assessment of the city’s vaccination, there is a high reception on the city’s vaccination program based on the number of people lining up in the vaccination hubs.

SunStar Davao

SunStar Davao

SunStar Davao is Davao City's most sought after community content provider in both print and online. It is part of the SunStar news network in the Philippines. Sun.Star Davao started as a bi-weekly newspaper Peryodiko Dabaw in December 1985 by Elpidio G. Damaso as the so-called alternative press during the end days of the Marcos dictatorship. It started publishing five times a week the following year and was relaunched as Ang Peryodiko Dabaw on September 7, 1987, marking the entry of new investors and its use of desktop publishing, while its Davao City competitors were still using letterpress.

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