MANILA (UPDATE) - Malacañang denied Thursday online reports that government forces confiscated private institutions' stash of safety gear for medical workers who treat patients with COVID-19.
Social media posts claimed that Office of Civil Defense (OCD) officers seized personal protective equipment of some private hospitals on Wednesday so these could be re-packaged and distributed to other medical centers.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo denied the circulating reports, saying such claims are meant to incite hate against the government.
"The spread of these fake information is malicious and obviously done by the negative forces and detractors of the Duterte Administration and its allies," Panelo said.
The Office of Civil Defense, and a private hospital also denied the rumor.
"Fake news po 'yan (That's fake news)," OCD Spokesperson Mark Timbal said in a statement.
"We deny this and encourage everyone to be careful in spreading unverified information," The Medical City in Pasig City said on Facebook.
The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines did not receive any reports of alleged hospital raids, said its president Rustico Jimenez.
Reports of the supposed raid circulated on April Fool's Day.
Panelo said the government is "not dissuading private organizations and individuals to receive or give donations to hospitals of their choice, as well as to their local government units."
"They are in fact encouraged as every help from all sectors are welcome," he said.
"The Palace asks netizens to be circumspect in reading text messages or posts they see in their social media feeds. Re-posting or spreading them by word of mouth make them similarly liable for transgression of the law," Panelo said.
The Philippines as of Wednesday confirmed 96 deaths out of its total 2,311 cases of the respiratory disease. The tally could climb following the recent delivery of test kits and the accreditation of additional screening laboratories, said the health department.
Metro Manila and the entire Luzon, home to about half of the country's 100 million people, is on lockdown until April 12 to contain the pandemic.