HOWEVER, someone posted on the servants’ Facebook chats that last night’s Grand Feast of the Light of Jesus Family might invite a possible terror attack. The big Catholic event was expected to draw a crowd of 3,000 worshippers, with no less than Bishop Patrick Buzon as the Mass celebrant.
From a jihadist perspective, a juicy target indeed for suicide bombers. In fact, during Wednesday’s run through of the praise and worship event, a servant expressed such fears.
This despite the call of Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia to Bacoleños to stop spreading or sharing unfounded information or social media posts to avoid causing fear and panic.
“I appeal to all those spreading these unfounded information, whether intentionally or innocently, to stop immediately. It does not do any good to an already tense citizenry. Let us be vigilant but not paranoid,” Leonardia said in a press statement Tuesday.
Councilor Caesar Distrito, chair of committee on laws, ordinances and good government, warned the rumor mongers that they could face charges. Distrito said only the authorities can confirm if Bacolod is under threat.
Much earlier, Senior Superintendent Flynn Dongbo, acting director of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO), insisted that the rumor was baseless, adding, however, that police authorities are on full alert and continue to monitor and secure public places. Better safe than sorry.
“Text messages not from police, please do not spread,” Gumban said during the meeting of the interim Bacolod City Peace and Order Council.
In August 2015, a Saudi-bound Filipina who cracked a bomb joke at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport was arrested and detained. She was not allowed to board her flight and was charged with the offense which is punishable by a five-year jail term, a fine, or both.
I went to several malls this week. Police presence was visible, even if police authorities looked bored behind their desks. Otherwise, it was business as usual as the security guards did the inspection of bags.
The best acts of valor that we civilians can do in this situation is to act like everything is business as usual. Show defiance to the terrorists that we are unruffled. Let’s attend mass events. Hear Holy Mass. Go malling. Attend school or fiestas.
During the tyrannical rule of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, he enacted Presidential Decree 90, making rumor-mongering a punishable crime. Because of his tight control media over media, it has been almost impossible for citizens to have access to unbiased sources of information. Without checks and balance, rumors and hoaxes proliferated.
We are not under martial law. Despite political trolls and hoaxers on social media, source of information – and misinformation and disinformation – from multimedia sources remain unhindered.
I call on my fellow Bacoleños to monitor our authorities on terror threats.