Hoax bomb threat rattles Baguio

ONLINE threats of a bomb inside a mall have caused undue panic in the mountain city.

Social media was abuzz with panic when a hoax message from an SM official circulated detailing threats from a rebel group extorting money from the mall giant with threats of a bombing if not paid.

The hoax message from the SM official poser read "we got a call from Abu sayaf right now asking SM for money or else they are going to bomb the mall. We have one week to do that. We are on high alert right now.

Tell your love ones, friends and co - workers better avoid any SM branch for the meantime. Better be safe than sorry. We are doing close security after receiving the call this morning. Don't post on your walls as request of the officer. But do inform friends and relatives. Please private message only."

The viral message was sent to the social media pages of the police, which prompted an investigation.

Baguio City Police Office acting city director said the information is mean for all SM outlets nationwide.

"Having an SM in Baguio, we all pushed our resources to validate the info, we would like to solicit the cooperation of all sectors to be vigilant and alert not only in SM but in the whole city," Saculles said.

Saculles confirmed the bomb threat was verified early morning Friday.

"At 2:15 a.m. kaninang madaling araw, it was responded by our personnel and at 8:15 a.m., same response. We coordinated with SM to have patrol within the vicinity along the parking area and the delivey area," Saculles added.

SM City Baguio in a stament said the company to confirmed the information being re-circulated has been verified to be a hoax thru a joint investigation of the company and the local PNP in several areas. “The information did not come from any SM Officer. We continue to stay alert and committed to the security and well-being of customers, tenants and employees at all times," added the statement.

Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office – Cordillera is asking the public to be prudent in believing and sharing unverified reports that may cause unnecessary panic and fear.

Likewise, the PNP and SM continue to stay alert and committed to the security and well-being of the customers, tenants and employees at all times.

The captured screen shot of the memo from APD, Benguet PPO that was posted on FB by a certain Jesse Watari Bolante is uncalled for. The APD, BPPO did not confirm the threat but merely instructed his field units to coordinate with SM.

Further, the public is reminded to remain vigilant at all times and help the government in ensuring peace and order in the region.

PRO-COR regional director Chief Superintendent Elmo Francis Oco Sarona meanwhile appealed to the public to report to the police any suspicious persons, activities and unattended baggage in public, people checking areas or buildings, people trying to enter secure areas, or any untoward incident and crime situations through the nationwide Emergency Hotline 911 or to report to our local nearest police station or through our social media (PROCOR Website- www.pnp.procor.gov.ph; Twitter - @RDPROCordillera; and Facebook Page – PROCOR RPIO) or through the following hotline numbers: (074) 422-5515 or 09175302695 - Regional Tactical Operation Center; 09998851849-Regional Public Information Office.

The city played host to PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar and DENR Secretary Gina Lopez on the day of the hoax, catapulting the viral threat as top priority for highland cops.

Andanar was in the city with the staff of the Presidential Communications Group for the Asean Roadhsow while Lopez conducted a surprise visit to the nearby Antamok in Itogon, Benguet.

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