DUBAI – A top official from the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Dubai and the Northern Emirates is warning the Filipino expatriates in the UAE against fake news online.
Kabayan Weekly received queries on its inbox about netizens sending screenshot of a site, which claims that “all illegal expats in UAE can exit to their home countries without paying any fine.”
The site, popular of posting job opportunities, wrote: Did you know that you can exit or return to your home countries without paying your overstay fines?
It claimed that illegal expats, such as Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos, Bangladeshis and Afghans just need to prepare certain documents to be directly sent back to their home countries.
With this suspicious claim, Kabayan Weekly spoke with the Consul General of PCG, Paul Raymond Cortes, who debunked the claim, saying, “It’s fake news, as always.”
As per the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA), there is still no amnesty for illegal immigrants in the country.
“I wish to remind my kababayans in Dubai and the Northern Emirates to be careful when spreading information that may prove to be untrue or unfounded,” Cortes said.
He also urged Filipinos to trust only official news agencies in the UAE and reputable media such as the UAE daily and weekly newspapers and their respective media sites.
“The PCG in Dubai also issues regular press releases especially to inform the Filipino community of new policies that affect and are interest of Filipinos in Dubai and the Northern Emirates,” he added.
As of this writing, the site, which uploaded the fake news, took down the post.
Speaking with Kabayan Weekly, Gulf Law Director Barney Almazar said that spreading false information or fake news regarding UAE laws using the social media or any other means is punishable by law.
Article 29 of the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 on fighting cybercrimes state that violators shall be punished by temporary imprisonment and a fine not in excess of one million dirhams.
Almazar, on the other hand, also stated that the Immigration rules penalize foreigners who are illegally staying in the UAE.
A person whose visa or residence permit expires will be fined AED 100 for each day.
“Failing to pay the defined fine, a violator shall be imprisoned for no more than three months or fined for more than AED 4,000 and the court may order the violators to be deported,” the Filipino lawyer added.
In a Kabayan Weekly report in June this year, Philippine Labor Attache Felicitas Bay also debunked rumors that Filipinos who have committed an illegal act can be pardoned and sent back to their home country.
“An amnesty is issued and granted by the host government. It is not at the initiative of a certain country. If the host government, like the UAE, will grant amnesty, it will apply to all those overstaying. It will not be limited to a certain group of nationals,” she said.
In 2012, UAE had waived the penalties for UAE illegal immigrants who had overstayed their visas or residency permits. They were given a two-month amnesty period to leave the country without being fined.
How to spot fake news?
Consider the source – Click away from the story to investigate the site, its mission and its contact info.
Read beyond – Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks.
Check the author – Do a quick search on the author. Are they credible? Are they real?
Supporting sources – Click on those links. Determine if the info given actually supports the story.
Check the date – Reposting old news stories doesn’t mean they’re relevant to current events.
Is it a joke? – If it is too outlandish, it might be satire. Research the site and author to be sure.
Check your biases – Consider if your own beliefs could affect your judgment.
Ask the experts – Ask a librarian, or consult a fact-checking site.