NATIONAL Capital Region Police Office chief, Director Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar yesterday assured Metro Manila and the rest of the country that shopping malls and hotels in the metropolis are safe amid bomb hoax circulated anew in the aftermath of last Sunday’s bombing of the Jolo Cathedral which killed 21 persons and injured over 100 others.
Eleazar told the Journal Group that Filipinos and foreign and local tourists should not fear going to shopping malls and hotels since adequate security measures are already in place in these areas a long time ago.
He also dismissed as a ‘mere hoax’ text messages that warned of an alleged plot to bomb a big shopping mall in the metropolis if they will fail to pay US$15 million. The text message, it turned out has been circulated at least two years ago.
Eleazar, however, said that although there is no real terror threat in the metropolis, they need all the help they can get from a vigilant citizenry whom he asked to report to the nearest police station any suspicious-looking movements of persons and unattended packages and most importantly, to completely refrain from circulating bomb hoax similar to the one circulated two years ago.
“We should live our normal lives. ‘Wag tayo paapekto sa nangyayari sa atin. Bagkus, tayo ay maghanda, magtulong-tulong. ‘Wag matakot mag-mall, ‘wag matakot,” he said.
According to Eleazar, all NCRPO districts are already in full alert and are coordinating with the security managers of all hotels, shopping malls and other places of convergence in their areas to ensure the safety of the public 24/7.
Under Presidential Decree 1727, the malicious dissemination of false information of the willful making of any threat concerning bombs, explosives or any similar device or means of destruction carries the maximum jail term of five years or a fine of not more than P40,000.
Last year, the Philippine National Police also alerted the public against hoax threat messages being circulated thru various platforms to spread fear amid a series of bombings in Basilan and Masbate provinces.
This time, NCRPO’s Eleazar asked the public to ignore a viral bomb scare triggered by a text released by a certain ‘Kyla Avonahceh’
“This is a replay of a similar hoax meant to sow alarm and panic among the citizens in Metro Manila, and done by people who are clearly enemies of the State or by irresponsible pranksters,” the official said.
Eleazar said that messages similar to the one released by ‘Kyla Avonahceh’ also circulated in social media right after the infamous Davao City bombing in 2016.
“I encourage the public to be calm but alert and vigilant. I enjoin our citizens to be aware of their surroundings and report to the nearest barangay or police facility any suspicious person or unusual behavior they may notice,” he added.