BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Wednesday said the city’s situation has returned to normal immediately after being gripped by alarm caused by false reports on its peace and order situation that circulated on social media and text messages last week.
The mayor however appealed to the media practitioners and social media habitués to help erase the stigma caused by the red alert hoax by posting factual situations proving that the city is safe and peaceful.
Dept. of Tourism Cordillera (DOT-CAR) administrative assistant Ian Catacutan on Tuesday told the pre-disaster risk assessment meeting called by the Office of the Civil Defense Cordillera (OCD-CAR) that tourist arrivals had gone back to normal after a momentary slump triggered by the terrorist scare.
He said that because of the social media report, they were swamped with reports on cancellations of hotel bookings but these were only momentary. “Afterwards, everything has gone back to normal,” he assured.
The mayor did not discount the possibility that the misinformation was calculated to sabotage the city’s image prior to the holding of the Panagbenga festival later this month.
“I don’t like to give color to this incident but it cannot be helped considering the timing as it is only a matter of weeks before our grand festival and a big number of tourists from all over the country and even the world is expected on that date,” the mayor said.
The mayor however assured that the city in coordination with the law enforcement agencies is taking the necessary precautions against possible security threats especially with the important events slated in the city starting with the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) homecoming this weekend with no less than President Rodrigo Duterte as guest.
Law enforcement and line agencies last Tuesday also laid down their plans of action to ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of all the coming events in the city during the OCD-CAR meeting presided by regional director Andrew Alex Uy.
The scare was triggered last Friday by a social media post alleging that the city is on a red alert status due to possible terroristic attacks by the members of the National People’s Army and the Abu Sayaff.
The source cited the incident last Thursday when two buses of the Philex Mining Corporation were burned by suspected NPA members at Camp 4, in Tuba, Benguet.
It was also fanned by the sudden presence of some 300 police trainees who were deployed in various areas of the city as part of their training that will run for six months.
The mayor who was at that time in Ifugao to preside over the meeting of the Regional Peace and Order Council immediately belied the information after confirming from the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army top brass that the red alert notice did not come from them. /Aileen P. Refuerzo#