MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) appealed to the public to stop sharing an image of a PNP document discussing a supposed terrorist threat against mall giant SM – a report which police have marked as a hoax.
The supposed PNP memo, which has been widely circulated on social media, stated that Abu Sayyaf has asked for $15 million in one week or else they will “bomb the mall.” The information supposedly came from a mall employee.
A joint investigation conducted by the Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PROCOR) and SM officials, however, confirmed that the message is a hoax and did not come from any SM employee in the region.
"The Police Regional Office-Cordillera advises the public not to be alarmed by the circulating messages in social media" regarding the alleged threat.
“PROCOR remains in complete control of the situation,” it said. “The PROCOR leadership is asking the public to be prudent in believing and sharing unverified reports that may cause unnecessary panic and fear.”
The police added that, as of publication time, there is no information on any presence of Abu Sayyaf in the Cordillera region.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Oscar Albayalde echoed PROCOR stating that there is yet no information gathered that would back the content of the “viral” report.
In addition, PNP spokesman Dionard Carlos said the letter was part of internal PNP communication and is not for public use. He, however, did not confirm nor deny the memo's authenticity, and said it is up to the police intelligence group to confirm its authenticity.
"The text info about [the] threat directed at SM is not verified and it is a [standard operating procedure] to validate and take necessary precautionary actions to avoid any untoward incident," Carlos said.
"The captured screen shot of the memo... that was posted on [Facebook] by a certain Jesse Watari Bolante is uncalled for," PROCOR said. In addition, the PROCOR said Benguet police "did not confirm the threat but merely instructed his field units to coordinate with SM."
However, just like other reports received, Albayalde said the PNP is not taking the information lightly. The public is encouraged to remain vigilant and report to the nearest police station if they notice anything unusual for immediate and appropriate action.
“The public has nothing to fear, while we request the public to remain calm we ask them to remain vigilant and observant,” Albayalde said. “We have strengthened our target hardening measures in all fronts down to the police precint level.” – Rappler.com