ILOILO City – A 15-year-old boy sent policemen of Arevalo district scampering to find a house where he claimed he was taken to by abductors past 7 a.m. while on his way to school on Thursday.
Hours after he admitted to the police making the story up.
He blamed what internet experts now say is a viral hoax scare fueled by unnecessary media reportage – the “Momo challenge.”
It was around 12:30 a.m. yesterday when the boy and his mother reported to the Arevalo police station about the boy’s supposed abduction on Yulo Drive, Arevalo.
According to Inspector Benjie Ballejera, Arevalo police chief, they checked the places that the boy said his abductors passed – Santa Barbara, Cabatuan and San Miguel towns in Iloilo province.
“Late ‘ya na ini gin-ako sa amon Women and Children Protection Desk investigator (that he made the abduction story up),” Ballejara said.
The boy claimed he concocted the abduction as directed by the “Momo” application or he would be killed.
Despite the hassle, the Arevalo police released the boy. But he is not yet off the hook. Cops seem doubtful of the boy’s “Momo” excuse, too.
“The investigation is still ongoing kun paano naton ma-link ang iya pagbinutig sa Momo challenge,” said Senior Inspector Shella Mae Sangrines, Iloilo City Police Office spokesperson.
She, however, clarified the boy is not being considered a suspect.
“Victim ini nga bata. Base sa investigador ang tsura sang bata traumatized. Ang priority naton is ma-refer siya sa social worker para sa social intervention like counseling,” said Sangrines.
Sources said the boy was fond of playing computer games and often skipped classes and on Thursday he returned home almost at midnight.
Sangrines shared the following tips issued by the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cyber Crime Group on the “Momo challenge” scare:
* Tell them it is not real. – Just like any urban legend or horror story, the concept can be quite frightening and distressing for young people.
* Be present. – It’s important for you, as parent or guardian, to be present while children are online.
* Talk regularly. – As well as monitoring your child’s activity, it’s important for you to discuss it with them, too.
* Device setting and parental controls – Ensure that you set parental controls for your device at home.
* Peer pressure – Trends and viral challenges can be tempting for children to take part in no matter how dangerous or scary they seem.
* Real or hoax – As a parent it is natural to feel worried about certain things you can see online that may be harmful to your children.
* Report and block. – We advise that you flag and report any material you deem inappropriate or harmful as soon as you come across it. You should also block the account/content to prevent your children from viewing it./PN