Police caution netizens vs. spreading kidnap tales

BE CAREFUL about what you post or share on social media.

The warning once again came from the Philippine National Police after fake news of van-riding kidnappers in Cebu went viral this week.

Police Major Anthony Autencio, deputy chief of PNP’s Anti-Kidnapping Group Visayas Field Unit, said the post by one Brigs Granada Alvaro was “unvalidated, fake news” that had “no factual basis.”

Alvaro in a Facebook account that had since been deleted said that a white van with a suspicious-looking man and woman inside was parked in Barangay Poblacion, Danao City.

He claimed that while waiting to ride a trisikad at around 7 p.m., the woman asked him for directions while the man tried to sell him perfume for only P100 or at least take a sniff of the fragrance to see if he would like it.

Alvaro further narrated that he heard a child calling out for help from inside the van where there were huge boxes.

Danao City police chief Lt. Col. Maribel Getigan told SunStar Superbalita that they immediately checked on Alvaro’s post on Dec. 2, 2019, Monday and learned that it was a purely made-up story.

“Actually, when we read that post, we got that specific person who posted to ask him but then actually, there really was no such incident. It’s really fake news so our advice is though it’s fake news but let’s all be alert at all times because we really do not know,” Getigan said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

For his part, Autencio cautioned netizens against sharing unverified alleged incidents that could create panic and trauma.

Instead, he called on the public to immediately report to the police and not on social media.

Brig. Gen. Ildebrande Usana, Deputy Regional Director for Administration of Police Regional Office 7, said that people should be vigilant at all times.

“Be very careful, especially the young, because there are those who take advantage. Therefore, let us not leave this all up to the police. Parents should also do their part,” said Usana in Pilipino.

In San Fernando City, Pampanga, Police Regional Office-Central Luzon Director Brig. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia debunked on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019 the alleged presence and operation of van-riding kidnappers in the region.

Sermonia’s statement came after numerous posts regarding the alleged kidnappers onboard white vans and victimizing teenagers went viral on Facebook.

Sermonia said the Facebook posts are a “hoax,” as there are no validated reports or complaints filed before the Central Luzon police regarding the incidents as of Monday, Dec. 2.

“Wala pong katotohanan ang mga kumakalat na balita, partikular sa social media hinggil sa di-umano’y pagdukot sa mga kabataan maging dito sa ating rehiyon (There is no truth to the news circulating in social media about the alleged kidnapping of teenagers in our region),” he said.

But he said he directed all chiefs of police in the region to investigate the veracity of the reports in their respective areas.

He also urged the public to avoid falling prey to such unverified reports and refrain from sharing them on social media to prevent causing undue alarm to others.

He warned those who spread fake news on social media that they may face charges for violation of Presidential Decree 90 or the Unlawful Rumor-Mongering and Spreading of False Information order.

“Sa halip, hinihingi ko po ang inyong suporta, at para sa mga magulang ay alamin natin ang kinaroroonan ng ating mga anak at kung sila ay aalis ng bahay ay dapat alam natin kung saan sila pupunta (Instead, I ask for your support and for parents to know where their children are and if they are going to leave the house, ask them where they will go),” Sermonia said.

He assured the public the regional and local police are on standby 24/7 to ensure the safety and security of the community from any forms of criminality.

Instead of becoming a tool for spreading false information, Sermonia asked the public to report to the nearest police station or through the police hotlines their concerns for proper validation or action. (GPL, AYB, SunStar Pampanga, RHB)


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