Caloocan Mayor Oscar Malapitan yesterday assured the public of their safety from a suspected kidnapping group even as he ordered the police to implement strict measures to ensure their safety.
Malapitan said he had coordinated with Caloocan Police Sr. Supt. Noel Flores about reported similar incidents, but the police official claimed there were no reported disappearances of persons in all the police precincts in the city.
This came as posts on social media surfaced days ago that still-unidentified suspects roamed some places in Metro Manila, including Caloocan, onboard white or gray-colored cars and kidnapped persons.
But the Philippine National Police had already given interviews with the media dispelling the reports, saying this is “plain fake news.”
Flores said police have conducted patrol operations and regular checkpoints across the entire Caloocan, espcially around schools and places students are frequenting.
Malapitan likewise advised the public to be alert and report to the police if they notice suspicious groups or individual in their community.
He urged them to be always alert “because we don’t know where these reports are coming from.”
PNP spokesperson Police Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac had warned those causing undue public alarm on social media they could be charged with violating the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012.
“This [report] has no basis and is not validated,” Banac said in a briefing.
If there were indeed kidnapping cases in Caloocan or elsewhere, the families of the victims should immediately coordinate with them, he added.
“Please do not upload [on social media] immediately. Do not spread it. Instead, go to the nearest police station so we can validate the information,” Banac said.
In Pasay City, a task force was formed to investigate the disappearance of nine young people in the city in separate incidents between Nov. 20 and 22. Composed of eight men and a woman, they are between the ages of 15 and 23, the PNP said.
Due to the disappearances, the Pasay city government has ordered police and barangay officials to strictly implement the curfew hours for minors between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
Banac said that reports of abductions and missing persons should not be lumped together, pointing out that the missing person “might have simply eloped or ran away from home.”
“We are appealing to social media users to avoid sharing or forwarding these kinds of posts so as not to cause undue public alarm and panic. Let’s wait for the result of the investigation of a task force validating the report,” he added.