Police officials belie reports of public disorder amid lockdown over COVID-19

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2020 03:23 AM | Updated as of Mar 20 2020 12:18 PM

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MANILA -- Police officials on Thursday urged the public to refrain from sharing unverified posts of alleged social unrest as it only induces panic among the public amid the Luzon-wide community quarantine. 

In an interview with ANC, PNP spokesperson PBrig. Gen. Bernard Banac said that some posts of alleged disorderly incidents in Metro Manila circulating on social media are unvalidated and unverified and does not help the peace and order situation.

"Kung ano man po ang mga naririnig na unverified naman, unvalidated at more chatter lang. Huwag na pong i-post sa social media. Dahil po kapag po ito'y na-share at hindi naman alam ang konteksto kung paano ito na-share kahit comment lang po na napakasimple eh this will cause panic and undue fear among the people," he said.

Banac said the public should remain calm. 

"We assure everyone that the PNP is on full alert, very vigilant and ready to respond to any eventualities. There should be no panic among the public," he said.

Banac said that the crime rate all over Luzon has decreased during the community quarantine which began this week.

"Wala pong halos nagpupunta sa ating himpilan ng pulisya, sa mga police stations natin para magreklamo na sila'y nabiktima or mag-report ng anumang insidente ng krimen. Wala pong nangyayari for the past three days, iilan lang po talaga ang napaabot sa'tin na may nangyari," he said. 

"Ang situation po natin ngayon ay napakaganda, napakatahimik kaya wala pong dahilan na ang publiko ay mangamba o matakot bagkus ay pigilan po natin ang ganitong mga nakakatakot na mga nakakapangambang mga post sa social media."

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Archie Gamboa said they are now tracing the authors of the circulating posts of alleged incidents in various places.

"The PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group is now tracing the authors behind the circulation of fake news in social media of a purported burglary and robbery in McKinley Hill, Taguig City and Binondo, Manila; and of alleged public unrest in San Andres, Manila all of which were both found to be hoax reports," he said in a statement.

"Our laws provide stiff penalties for persons who will propagate false reports, especially if committed during a period of national emergency."

Gamboa added that the PNP will deploy more policemen in the vicinity of commercial centers, vital establishments and residential communities to prevent individuals from taking advantage of the enhanced community quarantine.

"Although we have not received validated reports of crime incidents in NCR and surrounding areas, we are nonetheless alerting our field units to take preemptive action," he said.

"Local police units are instructed to coordinate closely with security managers of commercial centers and vital facilities, and leaders and barangay authorities of residential communities to establish neighbourhood watch systems that will alert police and residents of possible security situations."

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier placed the country under the state of calamity due to the increase of COVID-19 cases.

As of Thursday, the health department recorded 217 cases with the death toll remaining at 17 and 8 recoveries.