Some circulating reports about alleged kidnapping incidents were recycled from past cases.
This was the statement of Police Lieutenant Zosimo Ravanes Jr., deputy officer of the Anti-Kidnapping Group Visayas Field Unit, amid reported “van kidnapping” cases that are causing fear online.
Social media posts about alleged kidnapping incidents in Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental have prompted local authorities to look into them.
In a briefing on August 22, Ravanes told reporters that the unit is currently coordinating with the anti-cybercrime unit to probe the viral photos of the alleged kidnapping and attempted kidnapping victims that have been recycled from previous years.
Ravanes further noted that they have not received an official report or complaint so far.
“Officially, we have not received an official report or complaint that they were even attempted to be kidnapped. If you are one, please surface so we can take proper action,” Ravanes was quoted in a report as saying.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Janette Rafter of Cebu City also similarly stated that they are also tracing the person responsible for spreading such photos online.
Rafter also debunked two viral reports on alleged kidnapping in two areas in Cebu City—along Natalio Bacalso Avenue and Urgello Street.
Last July, a series of Facebook posts about missing females aged 13 to 25 years old in Bulacan also worried its residents.
The Bulacan Provincial Police, however, stated that its office has already investigated these reports.
PCol. Charlie A. Cabradilla, acting provincial director, then advised the public against sharing unverified information on social media.
“We are now encouraging the public to be skeptical of any material shared on social media platforms. The majority of these charges posted on social media are false and unsupported by evidence,” Cabradilla said in a statement.
“We must exercise accountability in the digital age, particularly when publishing content to social media networks. These may cause confusion, fear, and disorder in our community,” he added.
Tips on how to stay safe
While some are unverified, there are kidnapping cases currently being investigated and monitored by the authorities.
Some Filipinos advised fellow citizens to use the safety features and applications on smartphones in case of emergencies.
A Facebook page called Pasig City News recommended the “Emergency SOS” feature of iPhones and Androids.
“Just check your settings on iOS or Android and look for the SOS message. Three taps to the power button and magsesend siya ng messages that can include recordings, video, pictures and location to your emergency contacts na isesetup niyo din don at the same time,” the post reads.
Facebook user Maria Darlyn Romanillos, meanwhile, recommended an app called “Life 360” to notify friends and family about their whereabouts.
“Sobrang helpful saaming magkakaibigan. We’ve been using this app for months now,” Romanillos said.
“You can pin location dito na kung saan ka lagi pumupunta like work and bahay niyo, so magnonotif sa bubble (or group) na nag arrived ka safely sa pin location na palagi mong pinupuntahan, magnonotif din if you left na sa place na pinagstay-an mo,” she added.
The Police Community Affairs and Development Group in Eastern Visayas also released an infographic that listed tips on how to prevent being a vulnerable victim of kidnapping and how to stay safe on streets.
The information was a translated version of tips that are reportedly from UNICEF Agora.