ARMM police check vehicles along a highway in Maguindanao province.
John Unson, file

Army, police call for calm amid 'bomb plot' reports on social media
John Unson (Philstar.com) - February 1, 2019 - 8:36am

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — Officials on Friday called for sobriety amid messages circulating on social media and on SMS warning of terror attacks.

The text messages started spreading after explosions ripped through a cathedral in Jolo town in Sulu last Sunday and a mosque in Zamboanga City early Wednesday morning. Security officials said the two incidents are likely unconnected

Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said Friday that people should refrain from spreading the text messages and Facebook posts claiming bomb plots and reporting seeing men going around with improvised explosive devices.

"These are practically whimsical and preposterous text messages and Facebook warnings, possibly instigated by a 'third party' either for fun or just to confuse people," Sobejana said.

Plainclothes police marshalls

The regional police office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao announced on Friday that intelligence agents have been deployed in strategic areas for further security against possible incursions by Islamic State-inspired terrorists.

Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares, regional police director, said he is grateful to the provincial peace and order councils in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao for cooperating with security measures.

The 6th ID operates in Maguindanao and in several towns in Lanao del Sur, where residents have reported receiving text messages with supposed security advisories.

Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, chairperson of the Maguindanao provincial peace and order council told reporters Friday that residents in the province should only listen to advisories from PRO-ARMM and the 6th ID.  

"The local communities are helping authorities maintain law and order. We just have to be vigilant. It is only with vigilance and patriotism that we can surmount the security challenges we face each day," he said.

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