PNP allay fears of terror threats during Tacloban, Ormoc fiestas
Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros (The Freeman) - June 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

CEBU, Philippines - The official spokespersons of the Tacloban City Police and the Police Regional Office-8 belied fake news spreading that their commands received reports of possible bombings to be perpetrated by the Maute terrorist group during the June 29 fiesta in Ormoc City and the June 30 Tacloban fiesta.

Senior Inspector Jessica Ortega, head of the Tacloban Police Community Relations Office and the designated spokesperson for the City Police, did not deny the existence of any terror threat but said that the so-called ‘news’ spreading in the social media could be a call for the people to be on alert always.

"We should predict the possibilities that may happen on the fiesta day or any day as pre-emptive stance," Ortega said. “Having come across this unconfirmed news on bomb threat by the Maute group, the citizens should be vigilant and should cooperate with authorities."

PRO-8 spokesperson, Chief Inspector Maria Bella Rentuaya, for her part called on the support of the public in reporting information to authorities on suspicious actuations or objects that could mark the peace and order.

"The public should get hold of the hotline numbers of the PNP offices," said Rentuaya, while warming the public “not to immediately share in social media because this will cause fear to many people. They should first confirm it with the PNP." She reminded on the need for the people to be responsible in the use of social media.

Recently, posts of alleged police report, which the police classified as ‘confidential’ and should not be made public, scoot across social media sites.

Rentuaya told The Freeman that, as far as the PRO-8 is concerned, there “is nothing to fear on peace and order during the fiesta this June in Ormoc City and Tacloban City.

Tacloban and Ormoc are two major cities in Region 8, which are swarmed by visitors and tourists during their respective fiesta days, with the various related activities conducted by the church and the locals as well as the local government units.

Rentuaya however could not discount the possibility that the Hilongos town bombing during its fiesta last year could rekindle fear of terrorist threat among the public. She said that a strong communications network among the citizens, the police and military, and the LGU could be of great help to avoid the happening of any terror attempt.

For this year in Tacloban, a composite team called the Regional Task Group Pintados-Kasadyaan-Sangyaw (RTGPKS) 2017 was organized to ensure the maintenance of peace and order during the fiesta days.

RTGPKS involve not just the Tacloban City Police Office and the Leyte Police Provincial Office, but also the representatives of the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival and the Sangyaw Festival organizers and of the city government to map out safety measures during the conduct of the two parades and also the fiesta days.

Rentuaya admired the alert stance of private and state-run hospitals and radio groups following the spread of the bomb threat information, tagged by the PNP as fake news. Albeit for the threat to be staged on June 30 is for validation and confirmation yet, the stance of the hospitals she said is "a good response." (FREEMAN)

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