By Jennifer P. Rendon and Glazyl Y. Masculino
Police in the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo belied claims of abduction of schoolchildren in recent days.
The Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) denied reports of the presence of vehicles, particularly vans, that are allegedly going around the city to abduct schoolchildren.
“Indi matuod ini,” Major Shella Mae Sangrines, ICPO spokesperson, said.
Sangrines appealed to the public to stop spreading rehashed reports through social media and text messages.
At first, she said that they took it in stride after learning that such fake news was again passed on by netizens.
“But we soon found out that a good number of persons have received the message,” Sangrines said.
Apparently, the first person that started it all used the same information such as the van’s color and license plates.
“Even in Bacolod City, that also happens. They just changed the place,” she said.
Apparently, the claim spread in time for the opening of classes.
Sangrines has appealed to the public to stop spreading such misinformation.
It can be noted that reports of vans abducting children have also circulated in 2019.
“We validated those reports and found them to be untrue,” she said.
It’s highly possible, Sangrines said, that the ones behind the spread of fake news wanted to sow fear among school children.
Several years, text messages about abduction, or attempts to abduct, have been circulated in the city and province of Iloilo.
One of the text messages read, “alert kita guys. May mga grupo from Manila. Ari na sila subong sa Capiz kag nadakpan na ang isa nila ka grupo! Gapangkidnap sila mga bata kag teenagers. Kaina sa Balasan, tatlo gid ka dalaga ila nakuka. Please be inform sa iban kag alert gid kamo.” (Please be alert guys. There are groups from Manila. They are now in Capiz. One of their group members was arrested. They have been kidnapping children and teenagers. Recently in Balasan, they abducted three ladies. Please be informed and be alert.)
Further, the message also warned of the vehicles used by the alleged abductors: a green van with plate number XMM-507 and a white van (VXM-357).
The Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) also dismissed reports of alleged kidnapping here, calling it “fake news.”
Some netizens recently received a chain message being passed as a private message on social media, stating that “Please be alert, may grupo halin sa Maynila. Ari na sila subong sa La Castellana, Negros kay nadakpan ang isa nila ka upod. Ga pangkidnap sila bata kag mga teenager, baye man or laki. Kaina sa La Carlota, Negros, tatlo gid ka dalaga ila nakuha. Please be alert gid kamo. Halin ni ang message sa PNP BACOLOD. Palaptaha lang lihog. Indi lang pagpost, ipasa lang sa inbox ka mga paryente, utod, kaibigan, anak para hindi mabasa sang mga grupo. Please sacrifice para ni sa tanan. Thankyou.”
Police Lieutenant Colonel Sherlock Gabana, BCPO public information officer, said they’ve already seen it on Facebook. In fact, it was just the same message that circulated many times here previously.
“Indi na matu-od. Fake news na,” Gabana said.
Gabana said the message circulated again on social media after an 18-year-old girl was reported missing here and was later found dead last week. Based on police investigation, the teenager committed suicide.
“May nagsakay na naman siguro sa natabo kay tungod may nag post nga missing ang 18 years old. Panglabugay lang ni,” Gabana said.
With the said incident, Gabana reminded the public to never believe in social media posts, unless validated by authorities or reported through the tri-media.
Gabana said the public can always reach the local police to verify any report or information so that it could not cause alarm.