The Philippine National Police is checking on reports that Islamic State members have entered the country by posing as fishermen, the PNP's spokesman said Tuesday.
PNP Spokesperson Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao said information about possible ISIS presence in Mindanao should not cause panic or alarm.
He said security measures in Mindanao have been heightened following the declaration of martial law in the area.
"Dito naman sa atin, sa Visayas and Luzon naman, ang security forces, the military, the intelligence community and the PNP are on top of the situation. We are doing our part in seeing to it that our people will be protected," he said.
Information about the possible presence of ISIS in the country surfaced after a confidential police document directing the Northern Mindanao Police to verify the report circulated online.
The document, dated February 27, 2018, was addressed to the regional and city directors of PNP Northern Mindanao. It advised intelligence operatives to validate a text message saying that ISIS bombers and bomb-makers have slipped into the country by pretending to be fishermen.
It said malls and plazas in major cities are being targeted by terrorists as well as major locations in Northern and Southern Luzon. The memo was signed by a certain Police Superintendent Rodolfo Hernandez.
Bulalacao confirmed the authenticity of the document and said that investigations are underway to find out how it was leaked to the public.
"Kasalukuyang iniimbestigahan itong insidenteng ito dahil apparently nagkaroon sila ng lapse sa pag-observe nila ng security protocol on documents security," he said.- report from Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News