THE Philippine National Police yesterday allayed public fears spawned by a series of online viral videos of alleged abduction of persons for organ harvesting.
PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac likewise described as “fake news” the latest viral video of an alleged abduction of a 10-year-old boy in Bulacan.
“We admonish the authors of fake news regarding a series of purported abductions by suspects in a white van circulating in social media,” the PNP spokesperson said.
According to Banac, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) headed by Brig. Gen. Dennis Agustin is thoroughly investigating the series of viral videos of separate purported abduction of minors in Bulacan and Cavite and that of another person to identify the authors of these “fake news.”
He said that in the case of a 10-year-old boy identified only as alias “Melvin” of San Jose del Monte City in Bulacan, Banac said that the boy’s father, Rodolfo, has already appeared at the local police station to deny allegations that his son had been abducted.
The man told police investigators that the boy had run away from home on three separate occasions and the scars on the boy’s belly were from a medical procedure back in 2016.
Banac also said that a PNP-ACG report, which said that a teenage girl, allegedly from Cavite, was not abducted but was a “runaway” who inflicted injuries to herself.
Based on the result of Cyber Patrolling and Open Source Investigation of the PNP-ACG, Banac said that they have established that there were no recent abduction involving a group of men riding in a white van.
He explained that there were no police or media reports regarding those alleged incidents.
According to the official, the “fake news” about the presence of men riding in a white van and allegedly abducting kids have been circulating in social media as early as 2016.
The PNP-ACG and other police investigating units have found out that they were all hoax..
“While isolated kidnapping cases may have occurred in the past, no organized and simultaneous abductions were confirmed.,” he said.
Banac said that the PNP-ACG headquarters is monitoring online sources and validating those reports, in coordination with concerned Regional Anti-Cybercrime Units.
He said that in their assessment of online social media platforms, the PNP-ACG observed that viral news are being capitalized by Facebook Pages to gain more likes, shares, comments and interactions from their followers for profit.
“The public tend to immediately share such kind of unverified information to warn their loved ones. However, they are unintentionally helping the spreading of fear to the public. Hackers and cybercriminals are also using viral news to disseminate malwares imbedded in the links shared in social media platforms. This phishing technique can result to account take-over of victims, who will click on the links,” Banac said.
The PNP-ACG issued the following counter-measures to warn the public.
1. Continue to be vigilant in the surroundings, specially during night time and in secluded places;
2. Immediately report similar incidents to the nearest police stations for appropriate police response;
3. Do not disseminate unconfirmed reports to chatgroups or social media accounts which may cause fear and panic; and
4. Help suppress fake news by immediately reporting the post and the poster especially those that may cause public unrest.
Cybercrime incidents may be reported to the PNP-ACG through its hotlines 09985988116 and telephone number +63 (02) 414-1560 and Fax: +63 (02) 414-2199.