By Martin Sadongdong
Spreading messages on security threats through social media and chain messages only helps lawless elements and terrorists in spreading their propaganda and sowing fear among the public.
This was stressed by ranking military and police officials Saturday as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) called for calm and sobriety amid the recent bomb attacks in Mindanao.
Major General Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Philippine Army’s 6th Infantry Division (6ID) and Joint Task Force (JTF) Central, called on the public to refrain from sharing hoax messages about supposed bomb attacks in malls, religious places, and other places of convergence.
“With the very volatile situation, there are some individuals who are circulating messages in the social media threatening the public of more bombings [which have] triggered fear among the populace,” Sobejana said in a statement.
Sobejana, which has military jurisdiction over the neighboring provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat, said he already alerted all of his units to “strictly heighten the alert level and secure all places of worships and areas of convergence” in their areas of operation.
“We will also further intensify our intelligence efforts and initiate pro-active security measures to thwart possible hostile plans,” he noted.
The military official also called the fake security threats “annoying” and urged the public to report to authorities the individuals who try to sow fear by spreading false and malicious information.
“Peace and security is everybody’s responsibility. Hence, report to authorities any security-related issues for the safety of everyone,” he said.
Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Guillermo Eleazar said that there are no confirmed information about threats in Metro Manila, contrary to some social media posts and messages about the supposed plan of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to target malls and other populous areas.
“There are precautionary and preventive measures that are being done and I want to inform the public that there is no reliable or confirmed information about security threats here in Metro Manila,” Eleazar said.
The officials’ statements came after the twin explosions at the Jolo Cathedral in Sulu last January 27 where 22 people died and over 100 were wounded; and the grenade attack at a mosque in Zamboanga City on January 30 which killed two individuals and injured four others.