GOVERNMENT security officials on Wednesday, March 7, assured the public that they are on top of the peace and security situation in Northern Mindanao Region following the circulation of a fake police memorandum that went viral on social media regarding a supposed terrorist plot.
The Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao maintained that the supposed presence of foreign terrorists has not been verified and should not cause panic and fear.
"The bottom line is that said information whether true or not was already validated in the lower units. However, it was found out that the information is not true and negative presence of terrorists within the AOR (area of responsibility)," the PRO statement said on Wednesday.
The discredited document contains information about the supposed presence of Isis terrorists who sneaked into the country via the so called back door by posing as fishermen. The document also supposedly warns of supposed attacks to be mounted by the terrorists on cities in the region including Cagayan de Oro.
The memorandum also appears to be an order for provincial and city police directors to conduct validation on ISIS bombers and expert bomb makers.
PRO spokesperson Superintendent Lemuel Gonda said they are treating the proliferation of the fake police memo as a communications gap that affects operational security.
Gonda is referring to the statement of PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao regarding the authenticity of the document.
Gonda likened the viral document to cyber terrorism which, if not addressed, may cause panic and alarm to the public.
He said the police has launched a probe to identify who spread the document in social media.
Meanwhile, First Lieutenant Tere Ingente, spokesperson of the Army's 4th Infantry Division (4ID), said they are also checking and verifying the information.
Ingente said various military troops are already positioned in different areas to monitor and ensure that security and peace situation is not disturbed.
She said the military remains on alert against all possible terror threats.
"The information is still for verification kay wala pa tay ingon ana nga report as of now,"Ingente said.
Ingente urged the public to verify with the authorities before passing on similar information either through text messages or in social media.
"Terrorism is also destabilizing the security and peace and order of a certain place and if the public will panic because of the unverified reports then the source of the unverified information served its purpose of terrorizing the said place," Ingente said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 08, 2018.