Students burn ‘momo’ effigy in Butuan City

STUDENTS of the Libertad National High School in Butuan City yesterday burned an effigy of the “Momo Challenge” figure to show they have nothing to fear about the imaginary creature.

The torching was made during   flag-raising rites at the school.

The effigy was made by officers of the Police Regional Office 13 as part of their ongoing effort on remove children’s fear of the creature and empower them instead.

“Ang intensiyon namin ay mawala ang takot ng mga bata sa Momo, yung fear nila na invisible ito, na masyado nilang katakutan,” said PRO13 director Chief Supt. Gilbert DC Cruz.

The Caraga police director confirmed that they were investigating a case of a 10-year-old student who was reportedly traumatized after playing the “Momo Challenge.”

“Hindi siya totoo at hindi dapat katakutan ng mga bata, kaya sinunog ‘yan sa harapan nila at mismong ang mga estudyante ang sumunog para ipakita na sila ang nasa upperhand na mawala ang takot nila,” Cruz said.

The Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) earlier called on parents and guardians of children to closely monitor their kids’ internet use to prevent them from participating in the deadly online “Momo Challenge,” where young participants are being persuaded to hurt and eventually kill themselves.

“We are appealing to parents and guardians to closely monitor their children’s internet use  amid reports and social media posts regarding this purported ‘suicide game’ disguised as the Momo Challenge,” said PNP-ACG director Chief Supt.  Marni Marcos Jr.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde also called on parents and guardians to fully supervise the internet usage of their kids to prevent them from falling prey to fraudulent online activities, including sex predators.

Marcos confirmed that the online “challenge” persuade children to hurt and eventually kill themselves in the guise of children-friendly YouTube shows, online games and a “chat mate.” The game has alarmed parents from different countries.

The official said that the “Momo Challenge” first hit the news in July 2018 when it was noticed by a YouTube user.

Marcos said that their research showed that a 12-year-old Argentinian girl died after being allegedly persuaded to harm herself and later take her own life by a grotesque-looking female figure seen through a mobile messaging application “WhatsApp.”

Marcos said they have yet to find a link between the trending “suicide game” and the unlikely death of the victim, same with the reported cases of “Momo Challenge” casualties in Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Europe.

The face of the “Momo Challenge” was found to be actually of a sculpture created by Link Factory, a Japanese special effects company. Reports say that unscrupulous individuals behind the “Momo Challenge” only used the cropped image of the “Mother Bird” (the real name of the artwork) due to its disturbingly bizarre appearance.

Marcos said  that web security experts claim that the “Momo Challenge” is likely a case of “moral panic” and is being sensationalized through media reports and social media stories.

It was even compared with the popular “Blue Whale Challenge,”     which is a “game” reportedly consisting of a series of tasks that are initially harmless before introducing elements of self-harm and requiring the player to commit suicide at the final challenge, as well as the “Bloody Mary Challenge,” wherein children would scare themselves by saying “Bloody Mary” three times in front of a mirror.

Marcos advised everybody to immediately report untoward incidents involving the “Momo Challenge” to the PNP ACG through hotline 414-1560 or visit the nearest Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit or any police station in their areas.