ILOILO City – Has the international terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) entered Western Visayas?
That’s fake news, according to the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6). There was no truth to such information spreading on social media and text messages, said Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, regional police director.
According to text messages and social media posts, ISIS-affiliated groups in Mindanao were planning terror attacks in the region such as at Jaro Plaza in this city, site of the Jaro fiesta this Feb. 2.
“The messages spreading around are fake news. We request those who have received and will receive these messages to stop spreading them. Do not spread unverified information to prevent panic. Do not sow fear to the community,” said Bulalacao.
But he encouraged concerned citizens to immediately alert the police if they happen to spot persons or strangers acting suspiciously.
“We assure the public that the PRO-6 is on top of the situation. We have measures to monitor and prevent terrorist activities,” said Bulalacao.
The fake news spread hours after the bombing in a Zamboanga City mosque around 1 p.m. yesterday, said Superintendent Joem Malong, PRO-6 spokesperson.
The explosion left two people dead and four wounded. It happened three days after the bombing of the cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on Jan. 27.
Malong said some unscrupulous people wanted to sabotage the peace and order of the region, especially the popular Jaro district fiesta on Feb.2.
Still, the PRO-6 is not leaving anything to chance. “We are deploying more men to the field and utilizing all intelligence personnel,” said Malong.
The false messages emerged as thousands of Marian devotees from various parts of the country are expected to gather at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Candles (Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral) for the feast of Nuestra Señora dela Candelaria (Our Lady of Candles).
The Marian image was “canonically crowned” by Pope John Paul II on Feb. 20, 1981 and was named “Patroness of Western Visayas” by the Pope on April 21, 1982./PN