Sereñas: Stopping terrorism

THE recent bombing in Jolo, Sulu made screaming headlines and trending tête-à-tête for days. A week after, it still haunts the social media and mobile networks with spiels connected with the terror attack. Fact is, hours after the incident, spontaneous outpouring of reactions, speculations and rumors, not to mention graphic pictures of victims and devastation of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral, appeared and shared all over the internet. This is how we often unwittingly or wittingly react online; graphic, spontaneous and unrestrained.

What do we have to do to help stop terrorism? First and foremost, terrorism is defined under Republic Act 9372 otherwise known as The Human Security Act of 2007 as criminal act that "causes widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace." This law primarily criminalizes the act which supposedly sow widespread fear and panic among the populace. Philosophically, the same law could technically criminalize irresponsible social media and mobile phone users who recklessly share graphic pictures and share unverified information precipitating unfounded fear, panic, paranoia, and confusion in the minds of the public.

Bomb scare is here again. A number of bomb alarms were reported around the country recently. Iligan City Police EOD Unit, for one, has recently responded to a call of a suspected IED near the San Lorenzo Parish Church in Barangay Hinaplanon. Only to find out later that the suspected explosives were discarded rubbish. No matter how ridiculous diffusing a box of garbage looks like, fear of the real bomb is still there and one loud fart could send spectators in a pit of panic. Whew!

Terrorist groups, whether foreign or homegrown, have invariably one common purpose and that is to foment fear either thru actual or psychological attacks. In any case, mobile technology and the social media comes in handy. Terrorists are just as comfortable using communication technologies, as they are with weapons. Thanks to us, unwitting terrorists' accomplices for helping terrorists share, publish, broadcast and pass on the terrorists' narrative.

We are all guilty of this to some extent. The wanton disregard for the awful consequences of our willful, irresponsible and reckless habit of clicking and sharing actually helps publish, broadcast and pass on the message of the terrorists; fear. In so doing, we become “accomplices” of terrorists. Following the legal fiat that accomplices are as guilty as the principal, we practically become terrorist ourselves and this is what the terrorists want. They want us to shout their terror slogans and that exactly is what we are doing when we express our reaction without caveat that our message affects a whole lot of people. Our message scare, confuse or terrorize people and in so doing we became terrorists ourselves.

On that account, it is therefore wise to respond with prudence and caution that what we click and share does not perpetuate the intention of terrorists. Let us stop sharing graphic images and unverified terror messages. Let us stop terrorism in our own responsible way.


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