Now that the military is hunting down the rest of the Abu Sayyaf bandits who wormed their way to Bohol province, it’s up to both the government and the netizens to report only accurate, confirmed information on their presence anywhere in Central Visayas.
Despite the deaths of their comrades, it’s now definite that the Abu Sayyaf bandits have the capability to enter and wreak havoc in the region similar to what they’re doing in the farthest reaches of Mindanao.
It only took one person who happened to be married to a woman with relatives who are members of Abu Sayyaf for the bandit group to make the bold decision to land in Inabanga town, Bohol province, which is accessible by sea but difficult to enter by land.
One cannot dismiss outright the likelihood of these bandits entering Cebu province under cover and blending in with the population of the region’s urban centers like Cebu.
Though the Asturias police’s Facebook post appeared to have confirmed the Abu Sayyaf’s presence in their area by virtue of what happened in Inabanga, that same incident should also remind the police to be more careful in their social media posts lest they become as alarmist as the pranksters and gullible who post what they want on Facebook without verifying its authenticity.
By virtue of their status, anything the police say, whether they are just local units or not, will be assumed as true by the populace.
We trust that the police have their own ways of verifying and counterchecking information before they are posted on their social media accounts.
Better yet, the police can forward any intelligence reports to the Police Regional Office that will in turn submit these reports to Camp Crame for verification and immediate announcement.
There is a reason why intelligence reports involving security threats are not immediately announced to the public, and that is in order not to tip off the subjects of these threats who can get away the minute they smell the presence of the authorities cracking down on them.
In the Inabanga incident, the police had to rely on word of mouth from the residents who saw these bandits coming to shore days ahead of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Bohol province.
We can expect heightened security for the Bohol leg of the Asean Summit in the week ahead as well as an advisory to the visiting delegates not to stray off to areas where the bandits lie waiting for them. Which is too bad for the Bohol local governments and the province that had been preparing for the summit to show off their tourist attractions.
But their safety and the safety of the residents along with that of Cebu are paramount, and security would be a whole lot better and easier if netizens and the authorities keep a tighter lid and rein in any reports of sightings of these bandits and terrorist elements for verification and action.
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