AMID several bomb scares which forced the cancellation of classes in three Manila universities last week, the Philippine National Police leadership yesterday warned anew that those behind such “cruel jokes” will eventually be identified and prosecuted over an offense which would lead to a lengthy jail term.
“We’re asking all Filipinos to please do not share text bomb messages although we remind everybody to always exercise caution and observe precautionary measures we are teaching,” said PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Benigno B. Durana Jr. in the wake of recent bomb scares circulated through text messages and the social media.
Durana assured that PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has ordered all security measures aimed at protecting the public especially in crowded areas such as shopping malls, churches, schools and universities, bus and jeep terminals, the LRT and MRT stations and other places of convergence in Metro Manila and other parts of the country 24/7 in the aftermath of the terror bombings in Mindanao two weeks ago.
Officials described as a cruel joke several bomb pranks that have circulated in Metro Manila in the wake of the terror attacks in Metro Manila. “We’re not taking these cruel jokes lightly. Our units led by the Anti-Cybercrime Group are in fact tracing the source of these malicious text messages,” Durana said.
The PNP leadership has asked the public not to believe in these false messages and avoid forwarding them to others since they could cause unnecessary alarm. “Iwasan po natin ang magkalat ng ganitong text messages at hindi naman nakakatulong sa ating lahat at bagkus ay nagdadagdag pa ng pangamba,” said Durana.
In the past, bomb hoax not only disrupted classes in major universities and work in public and private offices in different parts of the metropolis but also caused government money and precious manpower as police immediately sent five K-9 teams and bomb disposal experts to look for the supposed explosives.
In this light, Durana asked the public to remain calm and refrain from spreading speculations and wrong information which only bring confusion and fear.
The official asked the general public to send any information regarding the presence of suspected bombers, bombs and even persons sending bomb hoax to the hotlines 2920 and the PNP hotline 0917-8475757 and even their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
He emphasized that making a bomb joke is punishable by law and all violators will be arrested, jailed and charged in court.
Under Presidential Decree No. 1727 issued by the late President Ferdinand Marcos, “pranksters” who make false reports about bombs will be punished with imprisonment of up to five years in jail or given a P40,000 fine.
The government then declared as unlawful the malicious dissemination of false information or the willful making of any threat concerning bombs, explosives or any similar device or means of destruction and went after “pranksters” who convey, propagate or otherwise disseminate ‘bomb hoax’ by word of mouth or through the use of telephones, telegraph, the mail, and other means of communication for the purpose of causing or creating public confusion and disorder.